YZ recommends Ngaga Camp to travellers seeking adventurous accommodation with excellent access to Odzala–Kokoua National Park, home of the lowland gorillas! Owned and operated by Odzala Discovery Camps, it is one of three camps located in or close to the park – the others are Mboko and Lango. Ngaga is described as ‘gorilla central’ and we think it’s a brilliant base from which to head out on gorilla treks, nature trails, and much more! Please note, the minimum age requirement is 15 years, as it is not possible for travellers aged 14 years and younger to participate in gorilla treks, for safety reasons.
ACCESS & LOCATION:
The national park is usually accessed via 2-hour charter flight from the Republic of Congo’s Maya-Maya international airport in Brazzaville. This flight is available from Monday to Thursday, and private flights can be booked for Fridays and over the weekend. From the airstrip in Odzala–Kokoua, it’s a 3-hour road transfer to the Ndzehe Concession. However, there’s also the opportunity to transfer all the way from Brazzaville by bus, courtesy of Odzala Discovery Camps’ own Toyota Coaster. This journey takes 12 hours and involves a river crossing by ferry.
ACCOMMODATION & FACILITIES:
A warm welcome awaits you at Ngaga, regardless of how you choose to get here! The camp is set in dense forest and blends beautifully into the natural surroundings due to its locally sourced building materials. All of its structures are raised above ground level, for an adventurous treehouse feel! A flight of wooden steps leads up to the communal lodge, which contains the lounge, bar, and dining area. The lounge and the bar are found at one end of the space, featuring comfy seating, antique-y coffee tables, and amazing views over the forest floor from an adjacent deck. The camp’s dining area, on the opposite side, includes a large table where everyone eats together, seated on hand-carved chairs! Ngaga also has a star-deck complete with fire-pit, on a level about halfway between the ground and the lodge – this is a great spot for social gatherings. Finally, there’s a river deck too, fabulous for post-trek drinks, private dining, and even cocktail parties!
Guest accommodation at Ngaga consists of six chalets, elevated above the ground on 3–4 metre stilts! These are linked to the communal lodge along wooden walkways – the walkways include a full circle of each chalet to provide 360-degree views and incorporate a private deck with two deckchairs. Inside, the floors are wooden, with a few rugs for cosiness. There’s a double bed or twin beds with mosquito netting, bedside lighting, a bench, and a seating area featuring two easy chairs and a couple of tree trunks serving as occasional tables. The en-suite facilities are positioned behind the bed’s headboard and comprise flush toilet, washbasin, and shower with hot and cold running water. This space also contains cupboards for clothes and other belongings. Additional amenities include a fan, a plug socket with multi-national converter, and complimentary toiletries. Valuable items can be stored in the camp’s main safe.
The main activity available from Ngaga is tracking gorillas! These are western lowland gorillas, in two habituated groups. Every trek is led by knowledgeable guides and uses a network of trails within the forest. The majority of treks start out in Odzala–Kokoua on foot, though it’s sometimes necessary to drive out to the gorillas’ location. On the way through the forest, you can enjoy sightings of other species including forest elephant, buffalo, giant forest hog, and a few primates – De Brazza’s monkey, Angolan talapoin, mantled guereza, and Tana River mangabey. There’s also some brilliant birdlife!
Once you have found one of the gorilla groups, you have an hour in which to observe its members as they go about their daily lives – foraging, feeding, sleeping, and at play. It’s a really memorable experience. Additional activities at Ngaga include exploring the forests of Ndzehe along further nature trails. The smaller lives of the area – the fungi, orchids, and insects, for example – are well worth a close look. If you get a bit hot during your wanders, you can cool off by swimming in a forest stream. You can go for night walks too, to check out the nocturnal sights and sounds of wildlife. And anyone who likes to take in a little culture while on safari will be keen to accept invitations to visit the local Ombo village, to find out about the lives of the Ombo people.