Republic of Congo Holidays

Having first visited the Congo in 2003, Chris has since returned numerous times over the years to battle bad roads and bureaucracy, stay in bush camps and private lodges, work alongside elephant and primate researchers of WCS and WWF and plan a trip to look for dinosaurs. We have done all the hard work, so you don't have to.

Why we like the Congo?

Simply, because it is the Congo. No other country holds the promise of adventure and importantly delivers quite like it. The bais, clearings in the forest, are a great place to view western lowland gorillas and forest elephants. For more adventure, roll up your sleeves and track primates in the forest - you will be in awe, not only at the scale of jungle around you but also the unerring skill of the trackers.

What to expect on your Congo holiday

The Congo is unfenced and untamed - so too is its camps which can be a little unnerving on your first night. Distances are vast so journeys can be arduous and delays and breakdowns are an occupational hazard of travel to the Congo. So why go? The fun lies in getting there - flying over an endless horizon of green and driving along dirt roads into the depths of the forest - and entering a world where few, let alone tourists have set foot. In a world of increasingly contrived travel experiences, what better way to put the fun back into adventure!

Some ideas for a Congo holiday

    • Experience the Congo in style - fly to Odzala, search for gorillas and watch elephants in the Bai under a full moon whilst enjoying a delicious single malt around the fire.
    • Jump in a 4WD to head off into the wilds, get a feel for the country and its people before camping in the forest alongside primate researchers and thousands of sparkling fireflies.
    • Search for the Fresco of Africa, a painting at the entrance to Brazzavilles Poto-Poto market showing the history of Congo. The market itself is also great fun.
    • Head east to Conkouati-Douli - mandrills, chimps, gorillas, elephants - and as it is on the coast - Manatees in the marine park. No roads, no camps but stuffed full of wildlife, so we are working on it...

Beyond the Ordinary

Let us help you plan an expedition to look for the Mokele-Mbembe, Congo's very own Loch Ness monster!

What are the lodges and camps like in the Republic of Congo?
Very much opposite ends of the scale. On the one hand you have Lango Camp and Ngaga Camp in Odzala, which are very much upmarket lodges, catering for those who prefer their safaris on a fly-in basis, with high levels of comfort and great food and wine after a day in the wilds (although make no mistake, step outside your room and you are very much in the heart of Africa!) These two camps have private bathrooms, hot showers, a selection of wine for dinner and are very comfortable, reflected in the higher costs. At the other end of the scale there are simple dome tents and basic cabins on raised wooden stilts, with a bucket of hot water provided each morning for washing and long-drop loos. These are aimed at those who prefer a more bush-camp adventure and prefer to be immersed in the forest and its wildlife. Simple meals are provided here and boiled, sterilised water for drinking, but as the camps also double up as research stations, they are designed for practical long term use in the rainforest. There is however a great sense of fun here, given many of the researchers live here permanently, so it is there home! In the cities, in Brazzaville in particular, there are numerous 3, 4 and 5 star international hotels to choose from, which are great for unwinding at the end of a trip, before flying home.
What is the time Zone in R.O.C?
The Republic of Congo is 1 hour ahead of GMT.
What is travel like in the Republic of Congo  
Very exciting, adventurous, frustrating, but never dull. Even when using the charter flights in and out of Odzala, changes in weather can cause unexpected delays and sudden showers can make roads impassable if driving. We use the most reliable 4WD possible, but given the terrible state of many of the forest roads, breakdowns are not uncommon, although our guides are also expert mechanics and people in the Congo are adept at overcoming any problem so whilst it might take a while, people will always find a solution. All of the parks require very long drives of a few days to get there, or if your budget is more flexible, then charter flights are the best option, usually done in 12 seater Cessna caravans. 
Where can I see gorillas in the Republic of Congo?
There are three main places where you can see gorillas in the Republic of Congo – one region in Odzala and two in Nouabale Ndoki National Park (Mondika region and Mbeli Bai region).  The Western Lowland Gorilla occurs in Odzala and is found here at the highest densities so far recorded for the species, in the area of Ngaga Camp, with the groups ranging in size from 10 to 25. There are two groups found around the Ndzehi Forest at Ngaga Camp: the Neptuno Group ( of 16 individuals) and the Jupiter Group (around 25 individuals). There are also gorillas found in Nouabale-Ndoki National Park, one of the wildest parts of the country, perfect for those looking for an even bigger adventure further north from Odzala. Whilst this region is harder to reach and accommodation much simpler, the atmosphere is wilder and the gorilla viewing here usually provides better sightings than those in Odzala given the habituation process has been established for longer. There are two groups open for trekking in Mondika, the Kingo and Buka groups, both monitored by researchers from the Wildlife Conservation Society, where you head out each day with the researchers to pick up the trail of the gorillas. The third area in which you can trek gorillas is in the area around Mbeli Bai a clearing in the forest which draws gorillas due to the plants found nearby. There are 180 western lowland gorillas in the area around Mbeli Bai, although unlike trekking in Odzala and Mondika where you search for the gorillas, Mbeli Bai has an observation platform where you base yourself for the day as the gorillas come to eat, so you remain stationary. 
Why should I travel to the Republic of Congo with Steppes 
Since Chris’ first visit to the Republic of Congo in 2003, he has continued to travel through this wild part of Africa over the years to ensure his knowledge is up-to-date in a country where things are constantly changing. From flying in to the relative luxury of Odzala a the camps at Ngaga and Lango, , to driving the length and breadth of the country spending time in wildlife research stations in the remote Nouabale-Ndoki National Park in the far north, Chris knows his stuff. He has explored the markets of Brazzaville, enjoyed pirogue rides along remote rivers, waded knee-deep through swamps and been stranded in remote villages, allowing him to understand better than most the unexpected challenges the Congo presents and how to keep them to a minimum when planning a safari here! Our partners in the Congo are the most experienced and established in the country and will ensure you are well looked after at every step of the way. 
What wildlife will I be able to see?
Chimpanzees, Gorilla’s, Elephants, Striped Antelope and an array of other rare and beautiful wildlife can all be spotted. It is also one of the last places to see the declining lowland Gorilla, the highlight of any trip to the Congo - the perfect place to see them is at Odzala National Park.
How do I get to the Republic of Congo
It depends on how adventurous you want to be. The capital, Brazzaville is the main access point, with regular flights here with airlines such as Air France, Kenya Airways and whilst there are a few options, none are currently direct. You can drive in overland from Cameroon if you are looking to visit the remote northern parks at Nouabale-Ndoki, but this requires some planning and can be very expensive
When is the best time to go gorilla trekking in the Republic of Congo
Given the rains in the Congo tend to arrive around October and continue through to April, it is best to travel outside of these times as heavy showers can severely disrupt travel and cause long delays, with many rural roads impassable and flights cancelled. It will always be hot and humid anytime of the year!
What advice would you give for photography in the Republic of Congo?
When photographing wildlife, bear in mind you will be in humid rainforests, with a lot of moisture around so lenses can become foggy very quickly. It is best to keep a small, dry cloth in an old film canister or similar to counter this, along with putting plenty of silica gel packets in your camera bag. A good zoom lens is essential and a minimum of 300ml is recommended, but 400 ml would be even better. Remember much of the photography in the forest will be in shadow, looking at dark subject matters a small monopod can be a good idea, or use a high ISO. It is also worth remembering that some camps have limited power supplies, so you may not be able to charge batteries every day - we recommend bringing spares. In the cities and markets photographing people may not always be appropriate so do ask first and strike up a conversation to put people at ease. A wide angle lens can be a great way to get a sense of place in the forest, or a sense of scale in the markets, but do bear in mind you will have to carry all of this! Do not take photographs of any military or government officials or buildings as they will likely confiscate your camera. 
Is it safe?
Yes. The Republic of Congo is not to be confused with the neighbouring DEMOCRATIC Republic of Congo. We have been running tours here for years and the safety of our clients is paramount. We remain in constant contact with government officials, tourism bodies, charities and lodge owners who update us on the political situation and the Congolese people are some of the most welcoming you will meet. You are usually safer in the remote camps – given the difficulty in getting there – than you would be in the larger cities, although when in the cities, common sense prevails in terms of keeping an eye on your valuable as you would in any large city. The opening up of new, upmarket camps is testament to the ongoing stability of the country. We also use the most established operators in the country, whilst also providing a 24 hour contact telephone number on the UK , which you can call and speak to somebody 7 days a week, 365 days a year for peace of mind. 
Can I charge ipads, phones and batteries etc at the lodges?
At the upmarket lodges there are generators that run throughout parts of the day, but in some of the smaller tented camps there are limited facilities so you may not always get the chance to charge batteries every day, which is why we recommend bringing spare camera batteries.
What visas and vaccinations do I need for Republic Of Congo?
We provide all the necessary paperwork for your trip to the Republic of Congo as different parks require different vaccinations and you will be given a list of medical vaccinations for some of the visits, where are very specific, including yellow fever. We do provide a comprehensive list in our confirmation pack, but if you require any more information, please do call.  
How fit do I need to be for gorilla trekking in the Republic of Congo?
Very. Outside of the cities, the going is very tough, with thick forests, bad roads and a developing infrastructure. Trekking here is much harder than that in Uganda and Rwanda given it is a tropical, lowland rainforest and will be muddy and hot, with knee deep water in some places, through very thick vegetation with gorillas moving around a great deal. Journeys can be long so you need to be comfortable in bumpy 4wd’s and sitting in small dugout canoes for a few hours at a time. To be honest, it is more important to be prepared mentally as even those who have travelled in Africa a great deal in a variety of lodges can be overwhelmed by the forest, but for those who persevere, the sense of achievement and rewards are incredible.
What should I take on safari to the Republic of Congo
Given you will be spending time in areas of high humidity with rain possible at any time, good waterproofs are essential as are good walking boots. That said, if you are caught in a tropical storm, no amount of expensive gear will keep you dry! A good, waterproof camera bag and rucksack is very important. If you are spending time in the more upmarket properties in Odzala, then facilities for drying clothes are available and most of what you will need is already provided in the same way that you are looked after in other upmarket African camps. If spending time in the more remote regions of Nouabale-Ndoki, then you would need to pack light given facilities are limited but a spare set of dry clothes goes a long way if you are caught in a shower, especially if on a boat as the wind-chill and breeze from moving, can make things cold very quickly.  A head torch is essential, as are Malaria tablets. Spare camera batteries are also a good idea given some of the remote camps are primarily research stations so whilst the do have generators, priority is given to scientific equipment and camera charging may not always be appropriate. A small hand towel can also be quite useful as you will sweat a lot in the 100% humidity. Given you are also potentially out in the forest all day, some clients take energy bars to supplement the lunches which are provided.
How long are the gorilla treks in the Republic of Congo?
It depends where you go. If visiting Odzala and Mondika, then you should be prepared for treks of between 2 - 8 hours, occasionally longer (the record is 11 hours!) as you will be following them through the forest as they move through thick vegetation, starting from a fixed point at the camp. When watching gorillas at Mbeli Bai, there is a short drive from the lodge, then an hours walk through the forest to the viewing platform, where you remain all day, with lunch being provided, although the gorillas do not always appear, so it is worth keeping an eye out for other wildlife. 
How close to gorillas do you get?
Officially 7 metres. Unofficially, much closer as the gorillas are surprisingly well camouflaged!
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10.5 hours from UK
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