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Odzala-Kokoua National Park

Odzala-Kokoua National Park

Situated in the north west/central region of the Republic of Congo, Odzala-Kokoua National Park is renowned for its pristine rainforests and biodiversity. Especially its primate populations make the park a burgeoning tourist destination.

Odzala encompasses the heart of the Congo basin, but its ecosystems include more than just the distinctive tropical rainforests. Its southern reaches are a mosaic of savanna and forest. Its central area is predominantly marantace forest where the highest densities of elephant and gorilla reside. As one proceeds north, the forest gradually transforms into typical tropical rainforest. The region is most unique for its many bais, forest clearings that not only provide respite for the wildlife from the dense jungle but also prime game viewing opportunities for visitors.

In addition to the gorilla for which it is most prized, Odzala is home to more than 400 bird species and well over 100 mammal species. The most coveted of its sixteen primate species are gorilla, chimpanzee, guereza colobus, grey-cheeked mangabey, and moustached monkey; though the chimpanzee, while regularly heard, is seldom seen. Significant populations of forest elephant roam the forests along with forest buffalo, red river hog, bongo, and numerous antelope species from sitatunga to duiker.

Viewing, much less having close encounters with these species, can be difficult in this dense and often un-navigable environment of the forests, swamps, and rivers. However, hides along the fringe of major bais, cruises on the park’s major rivers, and forest excursions with experienced trackers are the best methods by which to encounter the unique and thrilling wildlife of the Odzala.

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