Trip to Gabon and the Congos, primate expedition
The fascinating and rich wildlife of this part of Central Africa will be the focus of this pioneering and unique trip to Gabon, Congo and the Democratic Republic of Congo, formerly known as Zaire. In this "Primate Expedition" the great wild apes will become the focus of our interest.
We will go out in search of wild gorillas in the Loango National Park in Gabon. We will walk in the Lope National Park in search of baboons, here during the months of July and August they usually gather in groups of about 300 individuals.
Crossing the Congo River on a remote border, we will enter the Democratic Republic of Congo, where the Malebo Site is located, home to several wild bonobo families.
Wildlife of Central Africa
Besides the impressive visits of the great apes of Central Africa, with all probability in this trip to Gabon, Congo and Zaire, we will have many more encounters with the different wild life of the region, since we have matched this Primate Expedition with one of the best months to enjoy the abundant wild life of Central Africa
Loango National Park and Akaka Jungle, Gabon
The months of July and August are a great time to go sailing on the Gabonese coast and watch humpback whales.
Inside the Loango National Park, in Gabon, there is a paradisiacal place known as the Akaka jungle. During the months of July and August, the dry season, the waters descend considerably, leaving behind appetizing grasses and numerous insects, which attract a large number of elephants, buffalo and many other herbivorous mammals.
In the Akaka jungle it is also possible to see different primates such as chimpanzees, baboons and lowland gorillas, as well as crocodiles and even predators such as the leopard.
In this natural paradise of the Akaka jungle we will spend two nights.
Loango Gorilla Project
Continuing with the trip to Gabon, we will visit the gorilla housing project in the Loango National Park in Gabon. Run by the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, the Loango Gorilla Project has managed to habituate a group of western lowland gorillas for tourist observation and is currently in the process of habituating a second group. If you want to know more about gorilla habituation processes visit our gorilla post
Lope National Park, Gabon
Located in the heart of Gabon, the Lope National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, has an extraordinary and unusual combination of savannah pastures and tropical rain forests, a formidable diversity of fauna and flora and important archaeological remains such as cave paintings.
Possibly the highlight of the Lope National Park is the "Mandrill tracking".
Tracking of mandrills in Lope (Mandrill Trekking)
Mandrills are known for being the largest of all monkeys, for the large number of individuals that form their groups or troops and especially for the incredible colors of the adult males.
Because mandrills regularly cross the savannas, Lope National Park is one of the few or only sites where researchers and travelers can more easily observe them in the wild, making tracking mandrills in Lope one of the best experiences on a trip to Gabon. We must not forget that the largest group of primates ever recorded, was a group sighted in Lope of more than 1,300 baboons, a real treasure.
The sighting of mandrills in Lope is easier during the months of July, August and September when they cross the savannahs and the males that live the rest of the year in solitary conditions, join the enormous groups to reproduce, but as usual in this type of visit the encounter is not guaranteed. The visit is realized on foot following the coordinates that send the radio collars that have been placed in some specimens, which facilitates the finding with the troop of mandrills. They are usually found in a group of about 200 or 400 individuals.
We will spend two full days in Lope where we will be doing the follow up of the mandrills (included in the price of the trip to Gabon and Congos) and making some optional visits or activities.
Tracking and sighting of wild bonobos in Congo DRC (Zaire)
Along with the common chimpanzees, bonobos are our closest living relatives and share more than 98% of our DNA. They are only found in the Democratic Republic of Congo, south of the famous Congo River. Bonobos are known for their matriarchal nature, peaceful behavior and lively sexual activity.
Not far from the Congo River in the southwest of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire) there is the Malebo Site.
Malebo is home to several families of wild bonobos and the third main objective of this trip to Gabon, Congo and Zaire.
Malebo Site in DRC
In the community forests of the villages of Nkala and Mpelu, known as Malebo Site, live several families of wild bonobos.
Malebo is located in a unique habitat formed by a mosaic of forests and savannas, a fantastic place for the traveler to enjoy watching these primates in the wild.
In Malebo, there are three groups of wild bonobos that are habituated (visit our post to learn more about a primate habituation process). Malebo Site has an eco-tourism project managed by the local communities where accommodation is offered in the village. In addition to visiting the bonobos, we will enjoy the opportunity of sharing with the inhabitants of the village for several days. We will spend the days doing some optional activities such as: bicycle routes, night walks in the jungle, fishing outings, etc. or just relaxing.
Highlights of the trip to Gabon, Congo and Zaire
- Humpback whale watching trip, Gabon
- Loango National Park, Gabon
- Camping in the Akaka jungle and hiking trails to discover the abundant fauna, Gabon
- Visit of the western lowland gorillas, Loango National Park, Gabon
- Hospital, Dr. Scheweitzer Museum, Gabon
- Lope National Park, Gabon
- Mandrill Tracking in Lope National Park, Gabon
- Lekedi Wildlife Reserve, Gabon
- Poubara liana bridge, Gabon
- Leconi Canyons, Gabon
- Crossing the Congo River in local canoes
- Two excursions for the sighting and tracking of wild bonobos in the DRC
- Traditional dances in DRC
- Bicycle routes in the forests and savannas of Malebo, DRC (optional)
- Lesio Louna Reserve and Blue Lake, Congo
- Explore Brazzaville, the capital of the Congo and enjoy a party. We will try to meet some "sapeurs" and get to know their culture
The different visits that we will make in this trip in Central Africa of gorillas, mandrills and bonobos must be made in small groups, normally of a maximum of 4 people, with possible daily limitations and/or sometimes to make the visit in alternate days not to bother or to modify the habits of the primates.
This expedition is planned with 4 or 5 days of flexible margin in case we have to wait some day to make a visit. These days will be free days available to each one, in which each traveler will be able to carry out some optional activities or relax where we are staying.