Top Reasons to Visit the Republic of Congo (Part 1)

We live in a world of lists, and nowhere is this more true than in the travel industry. From “Top 10 cafés and restaurants in Baku’ to ‘Ten places to take your kids camping’ or ‘Ten safari destinations to visit before you die’, travel lists are hard to avoid. And that’s before you even get into the lists of what to pack…  Because at Odzala we like to think we’re right on trend when it comes to travel, and more importantly, to answer one of the questions we get asked most frequently, we decided to come up with our very own Top 10 list of reasons to visit the Republic of Congo. This month’s newsletter contains the first five reasons, and we’ll bring you five more the following month…

Reason #1: Bragging Rights
Imagine having Christmas lunch with your Aunt Mary and her new husband Bob and them telling you all about their European summer vacation in Paris: the tall tower made from steel, the glass pyramid filled with lovely paintings and how they sipped espressos at a pavement café. Now imagine telling them about your holiday experiences: tracking gorillas in the Congo and kayaking down the Lekoli River to catch a glimpse of a wild chimpanzee. Then sitting back with an ice cold local Ngok beer to watch an equatorial thunderstrom rolling in over the rainforest. Mary and Bob may just get jealous!

Reason #2: Western Lowland Gorillas
Research conducted around Ngaga Camp shows that the population density of Critically Endangered Western Lowland Gorillas is 4/km². The Republic of the Congo has a population of around 4.5 million people of whom some 66% live in the urban centres of Brazzaville and Point Noire. This means that in parts of northern Congo, human population densities in the rural north are likely to be less than those of the gorillas! With two habituated groups of gorillas living in the forest close to Ngaga – the Neptuno group with 14 members and the Jupiter group with 24) – a trip to Odzala offers perhaps the best chance to see these iconic primates in their natural habitat.

Reason #3: See western central Africa in safety
Mention to anyone you know that you’re planning a trip to Congo and probably the first question they’ll ask you will be, “Is it safe?”. The Republic of Congo (sometimes also referred to as Congo-Brazzaville) is a stable country that has been spared the traumatic recent history of its much larger neighbour and namesake. From a political and health point of view, the Republic of Congo is arguably among the safest countries in Africa.

Reason #4: Live your childhood dreams
A popular conservation website describes the Congo Basin as ‘A mosaic of rivers, forests, savannas, swamps and flooded forests… teeming with life. There are approximately 10, 000 species of tropical plants in the Congo Basin and 30 percent are unique to the region’. Isn’t this exactly the type of remote, wild place you dreamed of visiting as a child? The forests that Tarzan called home, and swung through on lianas?

Reason #5: Get off the beaten track
Tourism in Odzala-Kokua National Park is still in its infancy and guests can be proud of being some of the first people ever to visit this part of Africa. Whereas East Africa has been ‘open for business’ for decades, western Africa remains largely unexplored by tourists. Tour Operators and guests alike are always searching for off the beaten track destinations and Congo and Odzala tick all the boxes when it comes to adventure travel and authentic wildlife and community experiences in a place where few have been.

Next month we’ll bring you five more reasons to visit Odzala – just in case you still need persuading! In the meantime keep an eye on our Facebook page and Twitter feed for the latest news and images from Odzala, or check out our website:

We’re also delighted to announce that we’ll be attending PURE in Marrakech in September, so we look forward to meeting as many of you as possible there, when we journey from the rainforest to the souk.