Odzala National Park covers an incredible 13 600km2 (1.36 million hectares / 3.36 million acres) and represents an essential part of both the greater Congo Basin system and the groundbreaking TRIDOM Transfrontier Park which combines adjacent national parks in Gabon and Cameroon, as well as Congo.

Famed for its biodiversity, Odzala is renowned as one of the last refuges of the African forest elephant (listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN). Forest elephants are threatened by poaching for ivory, and by habitat loss due to deforestation. Elephant poaching was historically a significant issue in Odzala, but since African Parks (APN) took over management of the Park in 2010, a more effective approach to law enforcement has seen a number of poachers arrested. Forest elephants are now moving back into the Park – a sure sign that it is offering them sanctuary. The TRIDOM Trans-Frontier Conservation Area (TFCA) of which Odzala is part, now supports the largest forest elephant population in Central Africa.

Odzala is also famed for its primate populations; in particular, the critically endangered western lowland gorilla: a very significant population of these great apes survives in unspoiled natural habitat, alongside ten other diurnal primate species.

Odzala also boasts iconic West Central African fauna such as forest buffalo and bongo as well as dozens of little-known mammal species, from water chevrotain to palm civets. The next chapter in the Odzala story – an enlightened management approach helping local people see the benefits of eco-tourism, and allowing them to share in those benefits – is compelling. You too can be a part of this conservation success story.

The Odzala project can only be considered a holistic success if local people also benefit. Thanks to the pioneering work of Sabine Plattner Africa Charities (SPAC), Mbomo village now has a community centre and nursery school, helping to create a more cohesive society and giving the gift of education to young children who would not previously have been able to attend school. Deep in the heart of Africa, is a place where you can discover the true spirit of African exploration, and just maybe find yourself too.

ECOSYSTEMS

Odzala is remote; its location in the north-western Republic of Congo means that the human impact on the Park has been limited – vast areas of it are completely unvisited.

The Park lies within the catchment area of the Mambili River, flowing into the Likouala, which drains into the mighty Congo River and ultimately the Atlantic Ocean. The Mambili River, the main artery of the Park, reaches 100 metres wide in places. It is fed in its turn by the Park’s smaller permanent rivers, the Lekoli and Kokoua.

The Odzala area receives an average of some 1 500 mm (60 inches) of rain annually, which falls mainly during the two wet seasons (March to May and September to November).

The southern part of the Park, where two of our three Camps are located, is a rich tapestry of savannah punctuated with forest islands, and divided up by ribbons of gallery forest following the river channels. These unique ecosystems represent the struggle for supremacy between the ancient savannahs and the currently expanding forest biomes of the Congo basin. Swampy clearings known as bais provide some of the best places to view wildlife that is drawn to these open areas by the availability of mineral salts, water, and lush grazing.