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Odzala-Kokoua National Park

"Odzala’s biodiversity is nothing less than exceptional"

This absolute paradise for nature-lovers is situated in the second-largest tropical rainforest in the world, home to critically endangered western lowland gorillas, elusive forest elephants and approximately 444 bird species.

Odzala-Kokoua National Park in the Republic of the Congo is one of Africa’s oldest national parks, designated in 1935. In the heart of the Congo Basin covering a massive 13,500 km2 area, Odzala lies in the second largest rainforest in the world after the Amazon. The Congo Basin spans across six countries, covering more than two million square kilometres and accounts for 18% of the world’s remaining rainforest. Humans have occupied the area for over 50,000 years, yet it is still one of the most biologically diverse and species rich areas on the planet.

Odzala’s biodiversity is nothing less than exceptional, and is home to over 100 mammal species. While it is best known for its lowland gorilla and chimpanzee populations, there are numerous other species resident in the park, including thousands of forest elephant, buffalo, and many antelope species.

Mammals: Forest elephant and buffalo are found in the forests of Odzala, along with healthy populations of bongo antelope, sitatunga, bushbuck, giant forest hog and red river hog, numerous duiker species from the large yellow-backed duiker to the tiny Bates’s pygmy antelope and many others species, too numerous to mention.

In terms of primates the western lowland gorilla and chimpanzee are amongst the most well-known, but other noteworthy primate species include the black and white colobus, two species of mangabey and the De Brazza’s monkey.

Birdlife: More than 440 species have been recorded. Among these are the African grey parrot, which occurs in huge flocks in roosts comprising thousands of individuals. Other favourite species include the grey-necked rockfowl, forest swallow, Zenker’s honeyguide, Gosling’s apali, black-eared ground thrush, grey ground thrush, eastern wattled cuckoo-shrike, Verreaux’s batis, Bates’ weaver, yellow-capped weaver and Rachel’s malimbe.

Odzala is one of the most botanically diverse areas in the world, with more than 4,400 plant species recorded. The southern section of the park is mostly savannah-forest mosaic and forest galley ecosystem. The centre is dominated by Marantaceae forest, while further north, the park is covered by primary rain forest. Natural forest clearings, called ‘bais’ provide incredible opportunities to observe wildlife more clearly than in the dense vegetation of the tropical forest.

When to Go

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Why we like it

  • Safe! Not to be mistaken for the DRC.
  • Incredible encounters with Western Lowland Gorillas.
  • Off the beaten path for intrepid travellers.
  • High standards of guiding and accommodation.
  • Incredibly important ecotourism operation for conservation of the forests.

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