Odzala aims to use responsible lowland gorilla-orientated tourism as a catalyst to spread the rainforest conservation message both globally and locally.
The Odzala experience is undertaken from two intimate, sensitively constructed camps that leave as light a footprint as possible and blend into this remote forest environment: Lango Camp, on the edge of the savannah and with access to the Lekoli and Mambili Rivers, and Ngaga Camp in the heart of a marantaceae forest.
Odzala is blessed as a result of encompassing numerous habitats, from dense primary forest to forest fringe, savannah, wide, languid rivers and forest bais and salines. The latter two are swampy, grassy areas that are dotted across the rainforest and offer a rare chance to catch a glimpse of the forest dwellers. Various mammal species come to the bais on a regular basis in order to access various elements from minerals and salts, to sedges and water-loving grasses to water. These bais range in size from less than a hectare to more than 10 hectares and represent the best chance of seeing forest wildlife.
Viewing at the bais takes place from raised platform hides, or miradors, and requires patience. The bais we visit in Odzala-Kokoua are relatively small and as a result offer the opportunity for close-up viewing of various species. Viewing of birds and mammals in tropical forests anywhere in the world can be challenging. The dense environment and slow-going through the undergrowth mean that a great guide with a comprehensive knowledge of behaviour and calls is essential to get the best sightings.
Odzala has the highest number (11) of diurnal primates for any forest block in central Africa. Apart from Africa's highest concentration of western lowland gorilla and central Africa's highest density of chimpanzees, other fairly visible species include guereza colobus and grey-cheeked mangabey. Agile mangabey, De Brazza's monkey, Allen's swamp monkey, crowned monkey, black and white colobus and putty-nosed monkey are all regularly seen in their preferred habitats.
Forest elephant, a recently recognised full species, are also frequently observed both in savannah areas and forest fringe as well as along the Lekoli River. Charismatic forest buffalo is also abundant. Antelope diversity is equally exciting and includes bongo, sitatunga and black-fronted duiker. Red river hog, harnessed bushbuck, grey duiker and Peters' duiker are regularly seen in the M'boko and Lango areas while a number of other difficult-to-observe forest duiker species are occasionally encountered. Hippo occur in the Lekoli River but are secretive and rare. Night drives can deliver spotted hyaena, golden cat and water chevrotain.
Odzala also harbours 430 bird species including many specials such as Black Guineafowl, White-crested Tiger-heron, Congo Serpent-eagle, Vermiculated Fishing-Owl, Grey-headed Broadbill, Grey Parrot and Forest Swallow. Forest birding can be frustrating but persistence will be rewarded with jewels such as Black-and-White Casqued Hornbill, Lyre-tailed Honeyguide, Gabon Woodpecker, Chestnut Wattle-eye and several understorey skulkers such as greenbuls, alethes and akalats