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More Inspired Journeys

An Inspired Journey

Based in The Republic of Congo. Inspired by the Aspinall Foundation and Ian Redmond

This unique journey has been inspired by the Aspinall Foundation and leading conservationist Ian Redmond. Ten guests will be given very special access to remote corners of the Republic of Congo (Brazzaville) in order to understand the plight of Western Lowland gorillas through the eyes of some of the most respected researchers, trackers and gorilla conservationists in the world.

"This is the first time Aspinall and Wilderness have been brought together for a very special chance to see Western Lowland gorilla conservation at its best".

The Aspinall Foundation has been working with local partners to protect gorillas in the Batéké Plateau since 1987. Years of hard work and experience has helped to slow down the rapid decline of these critically endangered animals. Frederic Marchand, the project’s head coordinator will personally receive this small group for two nights at their camp and research station and give you the best possible chance to see the very primates they are protecting.

In August 2012 lodge operator Wilderness opened two new eco-sensitive luxury camps in the Odzala-Kokoua National Park. The focus is on responsible tourism as a way to spread the message for these gorillas both globally and locally.

Ian Redmond is the leading primate conservationist specially brought in for this trip. He will travel with you throughout your stay and give an in-depth experience of Western Lowland gorillas in the reserve. This is the first time Aspinall and Wilderness have been brought together for a very special chance to see Western Lowland gorilla conservation at its best and without foregoing top-level comfort along the way.

You’ll witness gorilla trackers seeking out these extraordinary primates and learn some of the skills involved as you follow closely behind. Of course, these are wild animals and sightings can never be guaranteed. However, what we can guarantee is that you will be in the hands of people who have dedicated their lives to protecting these beautiful animals.

This is a very real and very raw experience of gorilla conservation deep in the rainforest. We only recommend this journey for those who are keen to spend days walking, kayaking and exploring in pursuit of these majestic primates. This is an adventure unlike any other and a rare chance to dive miles off the tourist trail and into something untouched by modern life.

Highlights

-  A visit to the Aspinall Foundation gorilla research station

-  Travel with expert conservationist, Ian Redmond

-  Gorilla tracking deep in pristine rainforest

-  Sundowners at sunset followed by exhilarating night rides

9th September

Arrival into Nairobi and a Game Drive

We believe that the best route into The Republic of Congo is with a stopover in Nairobi but we are, of course, happy to suggest alternative routes and make other arrangements to fit with your requirements. For those traveling via Nairobi, you will be met at the international airport and privately driven approximately 15 minutes to Ole Sereni Hotel on the edge of the National Game Park. After time to settle in and unwind we have arranged for an afternoon game drive into the park to give you a little taste of African Wildlife. There are no elephant in the park but it is home to the other 4 of the Big 5 and, although it is certainly not the remote experience you will have tomorrow in The Congolese Rainforest, this is a wonderful way to start your wildlife adventure. This evening Ian will join you for an early supper in the hotel’s excellent restaurant for some delicious African food with views over the park. We’ll make sure you’re back at the hotel early enough to get some good rest before your morning flight tomorrow.

Arrival into Nairobi and a Game Drive

10th September

Transfer to the Aspinall Base Camp

This morning, after an early, light breakfast you will be privately driven to Nairobi airport in time for your early morning flight to Brazzaville. On arrival you will be met and helped with customs and immigration before jumping into 4x4s and starting your adventure to Iboubikro, Aspinall’s base camp. The scenic three and a half hour drive winds you along the Batéké Plateau through red-rich soil to reach the thick tropical forest where the foundation runs 44,000 hectares of the Lesio-Louna Gorilla Natural Reserve and 130,000 hectares in the neighboring Lefini Fauna Reserve. Once you’ve settled in Frederic will introduce you to the staff, guides and researchers. This afternoon there will be time to explore the surrounding nature trails and, if you dare, have a swim in the cool waters of the river that winds past the camp. Dinner will be served in the open air of the camp’s boma this evening with Frederic and his team explaining the difficult problems they face in keeping these gorillas away from the brink of extinction.

Transfer to the Aspinall Base Camp

11th September

Full Day Gorilla Tracking

You will leave the camp before sunrise with the resident guides and trackers for a chance to hopefully see a group of Western Lowland gorilla. The Foundation have successfully reintroduced gorilla into this region, who have then gone on to mate and expand their numbers and this will be a fascinating insight into how this has been done. The gorillas can never be touched by anyone other than their nursemaids to prevent the spread of external disease but, should you find a group you will be able to watch from a distance as they play and tumble with uncanny human resemblance.

Full Day Gorilla Tracking

12th September

Flight to Odzala-Kokoua National Park

At about 9am this morning you will be privately driven back to Brazzaville Airport in good time for your onward charter flight to Odzala, Wilderness Camp. The scenic flight takes approximately two hours and includes a light packed lunch. On arrival at M’boko Airstrip, you will be met by one of your guides who will drive you to Lango Camp. The drive takes approximately 40 minutes with views of the deep green forest tickling the fringes of the open savannah. You will arrive in the late afternoon and, depending on time, freshen up before taking a short guided walk in the area around Lango Bai. This evening Ian Redmond will host a special dinner at the camp and recount his incredible experiences with infectious passion.

Flight to Odzala-Kokoua National Park

13th September

Full Day Exploring the National Park

There will be a light breakfast and steaming cup of Congolese coffee served this morning before you journey out with Ian and your guides into the forest. A final, confirmed itinerary will be sent to you nearer the time but today is likely to include a more thorough exploration of Lango Bai to see mineral licks, which are home to many bird species. During your stay you will also drive to the clearings along the forest edge, where wildlife such as Forest Elephant, Buffalo and Sitatunga are often spotted. After lunch and a rest back at the camp you will jump into game viewing vehicles to bounce through the forest and access more remote areas and perhaps take a boat trip along the river. Later in the afternoon sundowners will be served in the forest before taking an exciting night ride using spotlights in search of rarely seen and shy nocturnal creatures. Animals such as Pangolin, Golden Cat, Serval, Leopard, Aardvark, Spotted Hyaena, Emin’s Pouched Rat, Tree Civet and Mongoose have been seen by guides and guests here. This is also a good time to search for some of the many owls that inhabit the forest and both Long-tailed and Swamp Nightjars are common all year round.

Full Day Exploring the National Park

14th September

A day on the River

Today you will explore The Lekoli River in the Lango regions of the reserve. Look out for elephant, monkeys and birds as you sail silently downstream with the incredible sounds of the forest all around you. Chimpanzees are regular visitors in this area although it takes some luck to see them. After a morning on the river you will return to camp on foot through the Lango Bai. This afternoon’s safari will depend on local wildlife movements and could be a walking excursion in the Lango area or further afield to the Mbouebe Bai. Return to Odzala on another thrilling night drive in time for a delicious dinner at camp.

A day on the River

15th September

South-West Odzala and Arrival at Ngaga Camp

Early this morning you will have a light breakfast before departing on a thrilling three hour road transfer to Ngaga Camp. This will take you through open savannah, deep forests and the Mbomo Village on the edge of the national park. On arrival there will be time to settle into Ngaga Camp and enjoy lunch followed by a presentation on Western Lowland gorillas and what to expect when tracking the habituated groups in the area and how to behave in their proximity. In the afternoon you will set out on foot with an expert guide and tracker for your first exciting tracking expedition to view gorillas.

South-West Odzala and Arrival at Ngaga Camp

16th September

Gorilla Tracking

Early this morning you will depart on foot with your guides and trackers once again to hopefully seek out a band of gorilla in the area. This will begin at the point where they had chosen to next for the night and, at every step of the way, the guides will then explain how they are tracking them from there. Gorillas can move quickly through the forest and this will be an exciting morning that can often cover 5 – 8 kilometres in search of these primates and, with any luck, a great sighting up in the canopy. Brunch and a midday rest will then be taken back at the camp before a more leisurely walk in search of the beautiful birdlife and smaller mammals in the area. Return to camp to enjoy a sundowner on the main deck before dinner.

Gorilla Tracking

17th September

Gorilla tracking and farewell dinner

This morning, after an early wake- up and light breakfast, you will embark on another adventure in search of gorillas in their natural habitat. Return to camp to freshen up and enjoy brunch and a midday siesta. This afternoon you can rest at the camp or walk out on the forest with Ian and your naturalist guides. Return to camp to enjoy a last sundowner on the main deck as night begins to descend and the forest is alive with the sound of nature.This evening Ian and the guides at the camp will host a special farewell dinner.

Gorilla tracking and farewell dinner

18th September

Depart for Brazzaville

After breakfast you will be driven about 2 hours along dirt tracks to M’boko airstrip where you will board a private charter flight back to Brazzaville with plenty of time to connect with your evening flight back to Nairobi. Here you will have a dayroom at the Ole Sereni to give you privacy for a rest and a shower before connecting with your evening flight home.

Alternatively, for those travelling elsewhere, or who have opted for a different flight route, we are happy to arrange a night at Mikhael’s Hotel in the centre of Brazzaville.

Depart for Brazzaville

9th September – 10th September

Ole-Sereni

Spilling out into a national game park, this stylish, modern hotel is a fantastic option for those in transit through Nairobi. Only 15 minutes from the international airport but with views of lolloping giraffes on the grassy plain, it gives a real taste of open African savannah.

As you sit on the outdoor terrace, don’t be surprised if you see zebra wandering by to inspect your menu choice.

Ole-Sereni

10th September – 12th September

Iboubikro Aspinall Camp

Iboubikro is a rustic base camp in the heart of pristine tropical forest. The guest rooms are all together in a main lodge and are simple in design but each with proper beds and a fan to keep cool at night. The rooms are not en-suite but there is a separate bathroom with flush loos in the main lodge. There is an open thatched boma looking out over the river where meals are taken together. While Iboubikro has all the basic comforts necessary, which is impressive given its very remote location, it is important to note that this is a research station set up for gorilla conservation rather than tourism. This is by no means a luxury camp but its charm and attraction is found in the friendly staff and passionate conservationists who call this their home.

Iboubikro Aspinall Camp

12th September – 15th September

Lango Camp

This remote camp is tucked deep into the south central region of Odzala-Kokoua National Park. Each stylish en-suite cabin is raised above ground level with a private wraparound walkway and views out into the forest. The main lodge looks out over the savannah with a fire-pit on the open deck to relax under the infinite stars after a delicious home-cooked meal and an exciting day of adventure in the reserve. The camp has been beautifully designed but in keeping with local traditions so that the level of luxury doesn’t remove you from the sense of adventure.

Lango Camp

15th September – 18th September

Ngaga Camp

Ngaga has six private, en-suite raised cabins nestled into pristine primary forest. The main lodge looks out over the Ngaga river below and the deck is an excellent viewing point from which to watch wildlife coming to drink or feed. Here you are in the heart of a habituated population of Western Lowland Gorillas and in the hands of some of the best trackers in the world in order to try and find them each day. This is an equally stylish camp has been carefully set up with a light footprint and a base from which to study gorillas in their natural habitat.

Ngaga Camp

Ian Redmond

Ian is a world-renowned gorilla biologist who cut his teeth with Dian Fossey in Rwanda in the 1970s. His career as a tropical field biologist and conservationist spans more than 30 years in which he is renowned for his work with gorillas and elephants. He is best known for his work with mountain gorillas, and has been involved in more than 50 documentaries on the subject for, amongst others, BBC, National Geographic and the Discovery Channel. Redmond was also involved in the film Gorillas in the Mist spending some time with Sigourney Weaver so she could better understand her character.

Ian Redmond

Frederic Marchand

In December 2011, Frederic Marchand became the new Coordinator of our Lesio-Louna Project in Congo (Lesio-Louna Natural Reserve is the name of gorillas’ reintroduction area). Anthropologist and ethologist by training, Frederic has spent over 22 years in animal conservation and management of protected areas in West and Central Africa. He has worked as a project manager and expert consultant for various international organizations and NGOs and has particularly focused on the problem of conflict between elephants and human populations around protected areas. His last position was Representative of a Swiss Foundation and Director of a National Park in Togo, West Africa.

Frederic Marchand

Flights

We recommend the following flights:

Outbound with Kenya Airways London Heathrow to Nairobi 20:00 (overnight ) 06:30 KQ 101

Depart for Brazzaville the following day 073:5 09:05 KQ 550

Inbound with Kenya Airways Brazaville to Nairobi 23:55 (overnight) 05:35 KQ 552

Nairobi to London Heathrow 23:45 (overnight) 06:45 KQ 102

We can also include flights from the United States or other destinations so please do let us know where you are travelling from and we will send you the best flight routes with a quote.

Pricing Information

Prices per person, based on two sharing:

£8115
€9090
$12,820

The price quoted includes the following:

All accommodation in the Republic of Congo on a full board basis

Breakfast and dinner at Ole Sereni

A dayroom at Ole Sereni on 18th September (no meals included)

All road transfers as specified

Guiding and excursions as specified

Park fees and other entry fees

Charter flights to and from the Wilderness Safari Camps

 

The price quoted does not include:

Scheduled International flights - we can quote on these if they are required

Lunch in Nairobi

Travel insurance

Drinks and tips

Visas

Vaccinations

Any other extras

Single supplements (please contact us for details)

where you will go on the trip