Odzala-Kokoua National Park is a truly remote place for the ultimate adventure seeker. The protected area was proclaimed a national park by the French in 1935, making it one of the oldest on the continent. Odzala is part of the Congo Basin which has the second largest rainforest in the world after the Amazon. Abundant trees in this pristine place are the lungs of the earth and the region’s preservation is vital in battling climate change.
Located in Congo’s northwest region, the vast area is home to lowland gorillas, chimpanzees, and red-tailed monkeys. The gorillas, a critically endangered species, live in groups of up to 20 and can be seen moving through the thick marantaceae forest. It’s a deep green wilderness with hills cut by streams and rivers, and it feels like it has never been seen by human eyes.
The biodiversity in Odzala is astounding. Dense rainforests, open savannahs, rivers, and swamps lie below blue skies and cotton white clouds. The Lekoli and Kokoua rivers are the local life force, and clearings in the middle of the jungles attract forest elephants, forest buffaloes, and gorillas. Wildlife ventures out of the thick forests to drink the water and eat the vegetation around the marsh clearings, nourished by mineral-rich soils. Catch sight of a majestic forest elephant with its long, straight tusks, making its way through the lush forest with massive palms hovering above; it’s a sight that will forever remain in your memory.
There are more than 100 mammals found here, including leopards and spotted hyenas. Spot an African dwarf crocodile lying on the banks as you canoe through the waters on a safari and hear monkeys chattering in the trees. Close to 450 species of birds of birds flutter through the foliage, many with beautiful, colorful feathers. Groups of African Grey Parrots with their vivid red tails gather in flocks. This is one of the few places in the world where you can admire these birds in the wild. Listen for the distinct call of the green coucal and see thousands of African green pigeons in flight.
Odzala is very sparsely inhabited with a few Bantu and Pygymy villages scattered throughout, making it feel unspoiled. It is a far flung destination that a wildlife enthusiast would want to visit on a safari adventure.