The first of a series of newsletters featuring all our Camps appeared last month. It showcased the people, personalities and activities of Mboko, currently the newest of our properties (at least until the Hotel Etoumbi is completed). This month we turn our attention to Lango Camp – a Camp that gives you a glimpse into one of the rainforest’s most spectacular treasures: the bai.
Since taking over the management of Odzala Discovery Camps our main goal with Lango was to make it as eco-friendly as possible. Situated on the edge of Lango bai – a clearing in the forest, usually with its own water source, and rich in salt and mineral deposits – Lango Camp is the gateway to one of Odzala’s greatest attractions and must-see locations.
After having removed all but the most essential Camp infrastructure, reduced the staff contingent from 20 to 5 (the rest now ply their trade at Mboko Camp) and made doubly sure that all the systems are functioning as they should, we were very excited to watch positive changes begin almost immediately.
Not only do animals such as forest buffalo, forest elephant, bushbuck and sitatunga come into the bai more frequently, they also stay for longer. One ‘complaint’ we had from a recent guest was that the Lango elephants moving through Camp each night had kept him awake! One of the culprits, a majestic old bull called Odzala, often roams between Mboko and Lango Camps as if to visit old friends. With the arrival of additional solar panels due later this year we will have successfully turned a full-scale safari Camp with a larger footprint into something closer to ‘a few huts in the forest’, much to the delight of our guests and neighbours (the denizens of Lango bai) alike.
Lango’s restaurant and viewing deck is built on stilts and connected to the rooms via a raised wooden walk-way – merely to stroll to your room is to take a tour through the canopies of the gallery forest where we often find orioles and flycatchers nesting. With only six rooms, all made from local materials like raffia palm and okala poles, Lango provides guests not only with an intimate experience but also a glimpse back in time to the West-Central Africa of centuries ago. The evidence of past civilisations still lies scattered around Lango in the shape of broken pieces of pottery, believed to be hundreds of years old. It is said that people in the area filled these three-legged pots with the mineral-rich water from the bai, left them in the sun to dry and then harvested the salts left behind. This was sold on to transcontinental traders.
Lango is a sunrise (i.e. east-facing) camp – enjoy an early morning cup of coffee freshly brewed and served with a smile by waiter Laurent Bouzangue before heading out on your bai walk.
Mboko Camp shares its specialist guides with Lango, and they can lead you on a variety of walks through the area. Would you prefer a stroll through the ancient dry forest to the west of Lango? Our guide Kerri DuPreez can take you there. How about a rough-and-tough march through mud and waist-deep swaps to get to places in the forest that very few people will see in their lifetimes? Then Alon Cassidy is the guide for you – he’ll make sure you love the experience, and also learn a lot along the way. Maybe you fancy a short walk into the bai itself, taking nothing but photos and facts and leaving nothing but footprints (although there is always a chance you might lose your heart there)? Guide Teske Erasmus loves taking guests into the bai – she is an expert on the resident bushbuck, among other things.
A light lunch with a Congolese twist prepared by chef Marley Ekassa will get you ready for the afternoon. After gorilla trekking and night walks at Ngaga Camp, kayaking down the Lekoli river between Mboko Camp and Lango and walking the swamps before lunch, a ‘sitting-safari’ on the viewing-deck at Lango might just be what your heart (and legs) desire. Make yourself comfortable behind the Camp’s telescope as you wait for animals – and birds – to visit the bai. Let the guides explain to you why massive flocks of African Grey Parrots first circle the bai in flight before making their noisy landing to feed. Ever wanted to see the elusive palm-nut vulture or spot a bongo in the Congo? Then Lango is the place to be. A troop of colobus monkeys have made their homes in and around Camp. The colobus, the most arboreal of all African monkey species, are famous for their immense leaps of up to 15m from one tree to another, their fluffy white mantle hairs and tails acting as parachutes.
On a clear evening, Lango’s viewing deck becomes a planetarium in its own right. Navigate the night sky with your eyes but be careful not to confuse a fire-fly passing by with a shooting star. Whether you wish upon a star or a bioluminescent bug, it’s hard to wish for a better place to be at that moment, than right there in the heart of Africa with thousands of miles of pristine Congolese forest surrounding you.
Thanks to all who met with us during ITB Berlin and WTMA; it was a pleasure to meet you! If you weren’t in Berlin or Cape Town don’t worry – we’ll also be at Indaba and We Are Africa. If you would like to set up a meeting you can email email@example.com – we look forward to sharing more of Odzala with you soon!