May to October is the dry season and is best for wildlife spotting; roads into Odzala-Kokoua are passable. Lango and Ngaga camps will operate May-Dec in 2013. Note, temps humid year round (approx 30°C).
November to April is sub-equatorial rainy season. Wildlife spotting is difficult due to access problems.
Air France flies from London to Brazzaville via Paris for around £790 return. Journey time is from 11 hours.
Lango and Ngaga camps have a capacity of 12 guests per week and cannot be booked independently. However, opportunities do exist for truly determined adventurers on smaller budgets to wildlife-watch in Odzala-Kokoua. From Brazzaville, buses run north up the N2 to Makoua, from where trucks or taxi-brousse may be arranged via Etoumbi to eventually reach the park headquarters in Mbomo; elephants can be seen in this vicinity.
For rainforest trips you’d need to employ a local guide – ask at park HQ. This would not get you to habituated gorilla families because access to them is strictly regulated, but it doesn’t rule out chance encounters and you’d certainly see other primates.
Elsewhere in Congo, a regular rail service with modern-looking trains runs from Brazzaville to the main coastal city of Pointe-Noire; first-class fares cost from £25 one-way. Taxi-journeys within downtown Brazzaville cost around 1,000CFA (£1.20).
The trip described here was all-inclusive; however, those travelling independently will find Congo relatively expensive – on a par with Europe for hotels, services and food.
Modern hotels are aimed at business travellers and therefore pricey; simpler accommodation can be found from around £30 per night.
National staples include starchy cassava (manioc), eaten with Congolese dishes such as spicy piri piri chicken or as saka saka (cassava ground with peanut paste).
In restaurants, dishes such as pizzas, river fish or chicken and chips frequent menus. These are inevitably accompanied by 750ml Ngok beers. At breakfast time, expect a Francophone ambience: coffee and baguettes.
From a crime perspective, Congo is relatively safe; healthwise, it’s pin-cushion time. Essentials include obtaining a yellow fever certificate and a course of anti-malaria tablets – ask your GP. Typhoid, hepatitis A and B, polo, meningitis and tetanus should be updated. DEET-based repellent and head-nets will battle bugs. Carry anti-histamine cream for bites and an EpiPen adrenalin injection if susceptible to anaphylactic shock. Check www.gov.uk/fco for Ebola virus outbreaks.
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