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This is untouched Africa. Remote Odzala-Kokoua National Park in the northwestern region of the Republic of Congo is unlike any other African experience, a place where animals you encounter may be seeing humans for the first time. The wildlife is unique to the rainforest habitat of the Congo Basin, elusive and challenging to spot, but that very challenge is part of the thrill of Odzala.

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Ours was just the fifth group to ever visit Lango and Ngaga Camps, though we never would have guessed that from the capable staff and comfortable accommodations. In Lango, we traveled by boat and walked through the marshes finding the forest elephant, recently acknowledged as a distinct species of elephant. Along the river, we spotted several species of monkeys and a troupe of chimpanzees, a very rare treat, never knowing what awaited us around the next bend. In Ngaga, we trekked through the dense forest to find the western lowland gorillas. We were successful on both days, spending time with gorillas who, over the last few years, have been habituated to humans by researchers studying their ecology.

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Having traveled to Africa over a thirty-year period, I’ve had many wonderful experiences amongst the wildlife, landscapes and people of this great continent. Odzala is not for first-time safari-goers or for those who want to see masses of many types of animals. This is a true adventure and exploration with rewards that transcend the images captured and species sited – a visit to a world before man.

Photos and text by 7-time WT adventurer Charlotte Bailey, Lowland Gorillas of the Congo

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