Odzala-Kokoua National Park (often referred to simply as Odzala) spans 3.36 million acres in the Congo’s northwest region. Remote and off the tourist radar, it is one of the oldest protected parks in Africa, and prime territory for African forest elephants and western lowland gorillas. This makes research and conservation efforts vital to the continued success of these animals after years of poaching and habitat loss. We love this park not only because of the wildlife and off-the-grid adventure, but also because the camps we work with are dedicated to sustainable eco-tourism and gorilla trekking.

A biodiversity hotspot, Odzala is made up of dense tropical forests, savannah punctuated with forest islands, open marsh areas, and impressive rivers including the Mambili which spans over 300 feet wide in sections, the Likouala, Kokoua, and the powerful Congo River. It’s this lush landscape that draws so much wildlife – more than 500 species. In addition to the gorilla and forest elephant, wildlife includes chimpanzees, red-tailed monkeys, forest buffalo, sitatunga, and some species of duiker.

It’s not all about wildlife, though. Some seventy villages lie around Odzala, ranging from only a handful of inhabitants, to several thousand residents. The local people are primarily Bantu and forest dwellers (pygmies). Guests may have the opportunity to visit a local village to learn about life in this incredible forest.

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Lara Ray