Wildlife Group Tour

Democratic Republic of Congo Group Tour - Bonobo Expedition in the DRC

13 days

from £pp
  • Set out on a pioneering journey to visit the world's rarest great ape, the bonobo
  • Meet these remarkable and endangered primates face to face at Yola La Bonobo
  • Join an expedition up the Lomako River, into the heart of the Congolese rainforest
  • Gain a privileged insight into the work of African Wildlife Foundation researchers

Join Steppes on a pioneering 13-day journey deep into the Congolese rainforest, in search of some of the planet’s most elusive primates. Alongside researchers from the African Wildlife Foundation, track bonobos and encounter them amidst the jungle of the Lomako Forest Reserve.

Sleeping in tents and dining on simple meals, this expedition is not for the faint of heart, but the rewards are immense, spending time in the Lomako Conservation Science Centre and meet up with the researchers from the African Wildlife Foundation.  Spending days days deep in the jungle to search for the bonobos and – in small groups – try to get as close as is safe to these remarkable creatures. Spend time observing the troop, watching as they play, eat and move through the jungle. Eventually, leave these elusive primates behind and begin the journey back to civilisation.

LOLA YA BONOBO

Begin with a visit to the renowned Lola Ya Bonobo. Meaning ‘paradise for bonobos’, this remarkable refuge is the world’s only sanctuary for orphaned bonobos. The animals here have largely been recovered from black market dealers. Now home to over 60 individuals, the sanctuary is dedicated to programs of education and reintroduction.

Meet some of the bonobos that live at Lola Ya Bonobo – have the chance to come face to face with these remarkable creatures. Learn about the care they receive here and how the rehabilitation program works.

LOMAKO EXPEDITION

Fly to Basankusu and set off by pirogue, deep into the forests of the D.R.C. This challenging and lengthy journey is necessary to reach one of the only places where wild bonobos survive - Lomako Forest Reserve.

Continue the following day by canoe and then on foot, trekking well beyond the reach of conventional tourism. Sleeping in tents and dining on simple meals, this expedition is not for the faint of heart. Eventually, reach the Lomako Conservation Science Centre and meet up with the researchers from the African Wildlife Foundation.

Accompanied by researchers, spend two full days deep in the jungle, away from the conservation centre. Search for the bonobos and – in small groups – try to get as close as is safe to these remarkable creatures. Spend time observing the troop, watching as they play, eat and move through the jungle. Eventually, leave these elusive primates behind and begin the journey back to civilisation.

WHAT IS THE ACCOMMODATION LIKE?

Very simple tents, pitched in the rainforest, in addition to comfortable hotels in Kinshasa.

What happens on a typical day?

Depending on where the bonobos have nested, get up in the dark, have a coffee and then walk to where the bonobos nested the previous evening. Wait until dawn and listen to their early morning chorus.  If the bonobos have nested four kilometres away, this might involve getting up at 3.30am to reach them by 5am. Alternatively, if they are only a kilometre away, waking up can be delayed by an hour.

Expect to be back at the campsite by about 8am or 9am, depending on how things pan out. Have breakfast and then spend the late morning and early afternoon relaxing. After the early start, this is a welcome rest. Head out again at 3pm or 4pm. Follow the rangers and try to identify where the bonobos are nesting. Stay with them in the forest for a while, before returning to camp at dusk or in the dark.  Depending on numbers, the group will be split into two or three smaller groups. This is done to minimise disruption to the bonobos.

What will the weather be like?

Hot and humid, with the chance of rain at any time. This is the heart of the Congo rainforests and you should be prepared.

Do you need to be fit?

Yes. The terrain is very challenging, muddy, swampy and thick with vegetation. 

What wildlife will you see?

Hopefully bonobos, but the area is also home to the Congo peacock, along with giant pangolins, bongos, leopards and duikers. Whilst these are rarely seen, you never know!



Departing on:
  • 23rd September 2017
  • 1st September 2018

For a detailed itinerary or to book your place on this tour, please contact us.

DEPART UKARRIVE UKPrice Excluding Flights (£)Flight cost fromSingle SupplementTour LecturerStatus 
23rd Sep 2017 5th Oct 2017 call call call Available
1st Sep 2018 11th Sep 2018 call call call Available

Itinerary at a glance

Collapse all
Day 1

Fly London to Addis Ababa

Day 2

Fly Addis Ababa to Kinshasa


Transfer to hotel


You will be staying at Hotel Memling

Day 3

Drive from Kinshasa to Lola Ya Bonobo


Visit Lola Ya Bonobo
Meet some of the bonobos that live at Lola Ya Bonobo – have the chance to come face to face with these remarkable creatures. Learn about the care they receive here and how the rehabilitation program works.

Meaning ‘paradise for bonobos’, this remarkable refuge is the world’s only sanctuary for orphaned bonobos. The animals here have largely been recovered from black market dealers. Now home to over 60 individuals, the sanctuary is dedicated to programs of education and reintroduction.


You will be staying at Lola Ya Bonobo

Day 4

Drive from Lola Ya Bonobo to Kinshasa

Travel from Kinshasa to Basankusu (Air Transfer Journey)


The port town of Basankusu is the last settlement of substance before the wilderness of the Lomako River begins.


Trip to Bonobo Release Site
Take a 30 minute pirogue trip to a nearby bonobo release site. It is here that the orphaned bonobos from Lola Ya Bonobo are returned to the wild.


You will be staying at Local Hotel in Basakusu

Day 5

Travel up the Lomako River to Lingunda


Take a pirogue trip up the Lomako River to Lingunda. This is a long journey that will last between 10 and 11 hours. The pirogues are fairly basic, with wooden stools for seating. There will be little protection from the sun, so appropriate precautions need to be taken - a wide-brimmed hat, long-sleeved clothes and sun screen.

Arrive in the afternoon and set up camp at the ICCN ranger station. There is a generator here, meaning that there will be some light and the possibility of charging batteries.


You will be staying at Mobile Camp at ICC Ranger Station

Day 6

Canoe Then Trek to the Lomako Forest Reserve


Continue on towards the Lomako Conservation Science Centre. Spend a further two hours in the canoes, before setting out on foot. This hike will take around three hours and the terrain is flat, although the walking will be muddy. Porters will be available to help carry any bags or camera equipment.

Set up camp at Lomako. Here, there will be light from solar panels and limited access to charging facilities for batteries.


Established in 1991, this vast, densely forested park was created to protect bonobos. It is one of the few places in the world where these endangered primates can be seen.


You will be staying at Mobile Camp

Day 7

Track Bonobos
Set out to track the bonobos. There is no typical day in the jungle, but days will loosely follow the following schedule.

Depending on where the bonobos have nested, get up in the dark, have a coffee and then walk to where the bonobos nested the previous evening. Wait until dawn and listen to their early morning chorus.

If the bonobos have nested four kilometres away, this might involve getting up at 3.30am to reach them by 5am. Alternatively, if they are only a kilometre away, waking up can be delayed by an hour.

Expect to be back at the campsite by about 8am or 9am, depending on how things pan out. Have breakfast and then spend the late morning and early afternoon relaxing. After the early start, this is a welcome rest.

Head out again at 3pm or 4pm. Follow the rangers and try to identify where the bonobos are nesting. Stay with them in the forest for a while, before returning to camp at dusk or in the dark.

Depending on numbers, the group will be split into two or three smaller groups. This is done to minimise disruption to the bonobos.


You will be staying at Mobile Camp

Day 8

Spend another day tracking the bonobos.


You will be staying at Mobile Camp

Day 9

Visit the bonobos one final time, at dawn.

Travel on Foot and by Canoe to Lingunda


Begin the retun journey, hiking then boarding the pirogues.


You will be staying at Mobile Camp at ICC Ranger Station

Day 10

Travel by Pirogue down the Lomako River to Basankusu


Head back to Basakusu by pirogue, spending all day on the river.


You will be staying at Local Hotel in Basakusu

Day 11

Travel from Basankusu to Kinshasa (Air Transfer Journey)


Transfer to hotel


You will be staying at Hotel Memling

Day 12

Transfer to airport

Fly Kinshasa to Addis Ababa

Day 13

Fly Addis Ababa to London

Destination Experts

Our experts have unrivalled firsthand knowledge of Democratic Republic of Congo

Bridget Cohen, Travel Expert

"Bridget had a great knowledge of the areas being looked at and given I have spent time in both countries, it required someone who completely understood the type of camps preferred."

"Bridget's service was very personal and friendly whilst maintaining a professional manner. All my questions were dealt with promptly and efficiently."

Read More

Chris Johnston, Travel Expert

"Chris was always there for any questions and we felt he was genuinely interested in making this next trip as memorable as possible - which it most certainly was!"

"Excellent advice and information on our very first Steppes holiday. Chris was exceptionally helpful and patient and he treated us as individuals instead of tourists, by taking time find out what we wanted from our trip."

Read More

For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.

Enquire about this holiday:

Group Size:

Min 6 / Max 8

Departure Date (S):

  • 23rd September 2017
  • 1st September 2018

This tour may involve longer hikes and will require a good level of fitness. The itinerary may involve long days visiting travelling to destinations.

Holiday Ideas in Democratic Republic of Congo

You are unique, so we believe your holiday should be too.

We listen to what you want and create a personalised itinerary tailored around you.

Your holiday. Your experience. Your way.

Can’t find what you’re looking for?

Call our Travel Experts on +01285 880 980
Start Your Journey

Expertise

  • Established for over 25 years creating journeys across 100 destinations worldwide
  • Exclusive access to the best private guides

PRICING

  • We negotiate the best rates with hotels and expert guides
  • Be protected from fluctuations in exchange rates

RESPONSIBLE STEPPES

  • Each time you travel with us we donate £5 to a local charity in the UK and £10 to an international charity

Fully Protected

  • Your monies are financially protected
  • 24/7 Emergency UK contact whilst abroad
 

Featured in the Press

Financial Times
The Telegraph
Sunday Times logo
CNT
Food and Travel Mag
House and garden
The Week
Wanderlust

Our Partners

Afri Cat
African Parks
Durrell logo
Galapagos Conservation Trsut
Meningitis_Logot
OF_Primary_Logo_Tan
Restless Development
Save The Rhino
Tusk Trust
World Land Trsut
Gorilla Doctors
 

Steppes Travel, 51 Castle St, Cirencester, GL7 1QD, United Kingdom

© Steppes Travel | Legal Niceties | Privacy Policy