Republic of the Congo

“Showcasing the Gems of the Congo Basin”

An opportunity to immerse yourself in the heart of the Congo Basin rainforest –a biological hotspot of global importance and the world’s second biggest rainforest, surpassed only by the Amazon.

Visit the Republic of the Congo

For most of us, the name Congo conjures up images of a complicated country with a difficult past. That may be so, but it is also a rugged, untamed area that remains one of the few places on Earth that you could still call truly wild.

It’s important to be clear from the offset, that the name Congo applies to two different countries; the Republic of the Congo and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). While they may share a border, their experiences over the last hundred years and also where they are today, make these two neighbours very different.

The DRC became part of Belgium’s King Leopold’s Congo Free State in 1885 which saw the local population ravaged by unfair practices, disease, violence and poverty. After the country gained independence in 1960, things arguably became even worse, and the country has been staggering painfully ever since.

The Republic of Congo on the other hand, while it certainly didn’t escape the brutality of colonialism, fared significantly better under the French, but still experienced decades of insecurity after it became independent in 1960.

Today, the Republic of the Congo now plays a leading role in African affairs and is investing more of its oil wealth in development and infrastructure. The northwest of the country lies within the rich tapestry of the Congo Basin and its pristine biodiversity, and it is here where the low-impact tourism camps operate.

If you’re thinking about an African location for your next trip, the Republic of the Congo might not be high on your wish list. But this dark horse is rapidly catching up with more established spots around the continent while providing the kind of adventure well away from established tourist locations that are becoming more and more popular in our oversaturated tourist world.

Republic of the Congo Safari Highlights

The Republic of the Congo may not have the same big-hitting names that you might find in Southern or Eastern Africa, but don’t let that fool you. If you’re looking for a well and truly off-the-beaten-track African adventure, this is where you’ll find it.

It is home to some of the finest national parks in all of Central Africa, including the Odzala-Kokoua National Park, the Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park and the newly designated Ogooué-Leketi National Park, providing the location for hundreds of bird species and countless mammal species, including rhinos, elephants – the occasional lion – and even the mysterious and rarely seen giant forest hog – the largest wild member of the pig species.

The country’s equatorial rainforests are also home to mountain gorillas and chimpanzees, along with numerous other primates. Trust us, a congo safari might not have the same ring to it as other established names, but with everything you’re looking for and only a fraction of the crowds, this is one location you should be visiting before things became more crowded.

The Congo Basin

Not so much an easily visitable single location, but rather a sprawling area measuring more than two million sq kilometres, making it the second largest rainforest on the planet after the Amazon.

The Congo Basin, which spans six countries, is not only thought of as the lungs of Africa, it is also its thriving beating heart, home to over 1,000 bird species, over 600 different tree species and countless mammals and primate, some of which are teetering on the verge of extinction.

The Congo Basin rainforest is a biological hotspot of global importance and is not only home to the world’s second biggest rainforest, but also its second largest river by volume, the Congo.

The Odzala-Kokoua National Park

The Odzala-Kokoua National Park, in the remote northwest of the Republic of the Congo, is one of Africa’s oldest national parks established in 1935. A rich tapestry of primary rainforest, savannahs, rivers and baïs (natural clearings), which all play an integral part in the Congo Basin.

Today  Ngaga Camp, Lango Camp and Mboko Camp – are quickly gaining traction with those who visit to experience one of the world’s last intact ecosystems; a haven for the Western Lowland Gorilla, Forest Elephant, Bongo and many more species of flora and fauna.

While Gorilla trekking is available in the Odzala-Kokoua, the number of lowland gorillas in the park has fallen dramatically in the last couple of decades, thanks to a combination of poaching and the 2000 outbreak of Ebola in the region. Gorilla conservation is thankfully rapidly improving, but still has some way to go in comparison with other African countries.

The Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park

Covering over 4,000 sq kilometres, the Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park is a contiguous lowland rainforest situated in the north of the country.

Regarded as one of the last intact forest ecosystems in the entire Congo Basin, the Nouabalé-Ndoki has remained thankfully free of logging, while its thick – almost impenetrable at times – vegetation continues to protect many of its endangered residents.

Home to the rare forest elephants as well as lowland gorillas, the Nouabalé-Ndoki is a national park of spectacular beauty that manages to come across as vast pristine rainforest rather than a regulated park.


The capital of this former French colony is Brazzaville, a city of just over 1.5 million that sits opposite its DRC counterpart, Kinshasa, on the Congo River. All visitors to Odzala-Kokoua National Park are required first to visit Brazzaville to complete immigration and customs formalities.

Like the capitals of most developing nations, Brazzaville has its good and bad sides, but generally speaking, it provides a charming, if a little rough around the edges, start to your adventure. Its splendid riverside embankment is the perfect place to while away a view hours slowly eating and drinking as you gaze out over the mighty Congo.

Fast Facts:

  • Also known as Congo-Brazzaville.
  • Former colony of France.
  • Captical city is Brazzaville.
  • Main language is French.
  • Population size in 2017 = 5 261 000
  • Borders with Cameroon, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo & Gabon.
  • Local currency is the Central African Franc – XAF/CFA

Why we like it:

  • Safe! Not to be mistaken for the DRC.
  • Incredible encounters with Western Lowland Gorillas.
  • Off the beaten path for intrepid travellers.
  • High standards of guiding and accommodation.
  • Incredibly important ecotourism operation for conservation of the forests.

When to go

Unlike in other parts of Africa, in the Congo, it’s not so much a case of dry seasons and rainy seasons, but rather; wet, wetter. wettest.

In the rainforest, rain is an essential part of the ecosystem and brings a cooling effect on balmy days. The big mammals do not migrate, meaning they are in the area year-round. For this reason, any time of year is a wonderful time to explore Odzala National Park.

A tropical climate is characterised by relatively heavy precipitation, moderately high temperatures, and humidity. The eco-camps lie just north of the equator where the primary low-rainfall season extends from June through September, with a gentle-rain season from December through February. It starts to get hotter towards the end of March.

With temperatures rising steadily, the short heavy rains begin towards the end of April with high rainfall through May. As the temperature declines gradually, rainfall drops steadily and the long low-rainfall season settles in mid-June.

July is one of the least wet and coolest months. Temperatures stay fairly low right through August, with rainfall increasing again towards the middle of September along with the temperature. September is usually the end of the low-rainfall season.

The heavy-rain season often begins in October, which can be one of the most variable months of the year. Temperatures are high but cool down a bit in November, which can also get very humid. This is the typical feel right through December when the rains start to simmer down.

Explore the Republic of the Congo

With mass tourism consuming many parts of the world like some out-of-control forest fire, a visit to a country like the Republic of Congo is like a refreshing step back in time.

Central Africa has certainly had its issues over the years, from which the Congo was definitely not immune, but out of the shadow has stepped a wonderful location that offers all the wonders of seeing animals in the natural habit, without the tourist juggernaut that often accompanies it.

Perhaps the best word to describe the Congo is raw. Its forests are thick, and its tourist industry is still behind other countries, but the result of it all is one of the most amazing countries you’ll ever have the opportunity to visit. If you’re into some rough and tumble travelling, and are looking to explore one of the last places on the planet that delivers unbridled adventures in truly wild areas, the Republic of the Congo is not to be missed.

When to visit Republic of the Congo

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Locations in Republic of the Congo


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Odzala-Kokoua National Park

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Safaris in the Rebublic of the Congo

Lodge 10 Nights Republic of the Congo 1 to 8 Guests All Year
Budget level: Top-End

“The 10-night package for the full Odzala-Kokoua National Park experience”

Lodge 7 Nights Republic of the Congo 1 to 8 Guests All Year
Budget level: Top-End

“The 7-night package combining all 3 fantastic eco-camps in Odzala”

Is the republic of Congo Safe?

When most people first hear the word Congo the mind usually jumps to the very worst. And considering what is still happening in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo, it’s hardly a surprise.

But let’s be very clear – this is not the DRC and the Republic of the Congo (also known as Congo-Brazzaville) is very safe with nominal incidents of petty crime and very seldom-heard issues of a violent nature.

It may carry a name that’s enough to send a shudder down the spine, but don’t let that stop you from visiting this wonderful country.


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How to get there and move around?

Odzala National Park can be reached by air from Brazzaville. As mentioned, if you’re planning on visiting the Odzala-Kokoua National Park you must visit Brazzaville to complete immigration and get the correct paperwork. Clients are required to obtain a letter of invitation (LOI) well in advance of their travels to the Congo, something that we can assist with in the lead-up to your trip.

From Brazzaville, scheduled 2-hour charter flights to the camps on Mondays and Thursdays offer a seat-in rate for guests and are the best option to reach the camps. These flights are included in one of the safari packages.

  • Monday & Thursday every week (Operating from Maya Maya airport to Mboko airstrip in Odzala and returning)
  • Flight to Odzala departs at 13:00 on Mondays and Thursdays / Return flight to Brazzaville departs at 09:00 am (2-hour flight).

Combing Odzala with Sangha Lodge in the Central African Republic:

  • Wednesday & Sunday every week (Operating from Mboko airstrip to Kabo – with a 4+- Boat journey to Sangha Lodge and returning)
  • A 30-minute flight from Mboko airstrip to Kabo
  • 4-6 hour boat journey on the Congo River to Sangha Lodge from Kabo airstrip

What Vaccinations/medical Certs are needed?

A yellow fever certificate is required for entry into the Republic of the Congo. However, an additional medical declaration form will need to be completed and returned before arrival to camps for any mountain gorilla trekking.

This includes confirmation from a medical practitioner that you are fit and healthy, do not have symptoms of TB and have had your polio and measles vaccinations to ensure protection for the gorillas. We do not require any certificates as proof, only the declaration form signed by your doctor.

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Do I need a Visa?

Yes, you will need a visa to visit the Republic of the Congo. We will provide you with a letter of invitation, which you need to present to the Embassy of the Congo nearest to you, or the immigration authorities on arrival in Brazzaville. We do advise you to get your visa ahead of travelling, nevertheless, ‘Visas on Arrival’ can be issued at the airport for clients given advance notice.

There are two ways to apply for a visa. We strongly recommend ROUTE 1 (most reliable), however, if there is no Embassy or Consulate for the Republic of the Congo near to you, please read ROUTE 2 (special arrangement only with the Congolese government for guests).

A Letter of Invitation is required for both application routes (arranged with us) but we cannot guarantee processing times for Letters of Invitation or visas as this process is managed by the Congolese government and is outside of our control.


  • Passport to be valid 6 months after arrival date.
  • International yellow fever vaccination certificate.
  • 2 printed copies of your Letter of Invitation (LOI) for visa application. (Keep additional copies in your luggage, as you must present a copy on arrival).
  • 2 signed Republic of the Congo visa request forms (country specific).
  • 2 passport photos in colour, white background.
  • 1 copy of return flight arrangements.


  • Contact your nearest Embassy or Consulate to enquire about their application process.
  • Have with you all the required documentation above.
  • 5 – 7 working days to process application once the documentation is complete (country specific).
  • Approximate visa fee: US$ 60 – US$ 200.


  • Please notify us if you require this type of visa when confirming your reservation.
  • Passport to be valid 6 months after arrival date.
  • International yellow fever vaccination certificate.
  • 2 printed copies of your Letter of Invitation (LOI) for visa application. (Keep additional copies in your luggage, as you must present a copy on arrival).
  • 2 copies of a Visa Assistance Letter.


  • For the full process, please enquire.
  • Travel with the above documentation in easy access.
  • At Maya Maya Airport (Brazzaville), you will need to fill in an immigration form and present your Yellow
  • Fever certificate. Let the officials know you are visiting Odzala Discovery Camps and require a Visa on Arrival.
  • Have your Letter of Invitation and Visa Assistance Letter ready. The officials will lead you through the process.

Visa fee: US$ 50 cash (2013 bills or later). No change will be available.

Our Tip

Although it certainly is more involved to travel here than in other countries in Africa, the rewards are truly spectacular. We highly recommend a long stay to truly get immersed in the jungle.

Please enquire with us for more detailed information!

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Contact SAFARI FRANK to get started on your safari of a lifetime!