Central African Republic (CAR) is a country with staggering rare natural beauty and some wonderful wildlife. It is one of the best places in Africa for encounters with huge forest elephants and western lowland gorillas, and the best place in the world, some say, to see butterflies. Currently there is a travel advisory against travelling to the CAR but we will keep this page up to date with the latest information.
Where in the world?
The Central African Republic (CAR) is a landlocked country in Central Africa. It is bordered by Chad to the north, Sudan to the northeast, South Sudan to the southeast, the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the south, the Republic of the Congo to the southwest and Cameroon to the west. A country of contrasts, The CAR is a place where the Sahara Desert meets tropical Africa, where the pastoral traditions of Africa’s tribespeople rub shoulders with the colonial architecture of imperial France.
Arrive into Bangui M’Poko International Airport and meet up with your guide. You will be assisted through Immigration to the waiting Cessna Caravan, and proceed to fly to Dzangha Sangha for your first night at Sangha Lodge. You will take a one hour flight over incredible forests as you head into the Congo basin. On arrival at the airstrip, the vehicle transfer takes around 15 minutes.
Today you head down by car to Bai Hokou (the drive takes around 90 minutes in 4x4s, provided by the WWF) where you will spend time tracking a group of Western Lowland Gorillas. Dzangha Sangha and its neighbor in Congo Nouabale-Ndoki National Park are the only places in the world where you can find habituated lowland gorillas.
Spend the day visiting the spectacular Dzanga Bai. After a one hour drive, you will be guided 2kms into the forest on foot. Dzanga Bai is large mineral rich clearing in the middle of the rainforest where forest elephants gather in large numbers to indulge in drinking the mineral rich waters that bubble up in places. The interaction between so many different groups of Forest elephants ensures that no one can ever tire of this place as well as the possibility of viewing some of the shy forest creatures like the Bongo, Giant Forest hog, Red River hog, Sitatunga and Forest buffalo.
Today you join a group of Ba’aka net hunters as they go about their daily hunter-gatherer lifestyle. Timings very much depend on where the Ba’aka are hunting that day, but on average the drive to meet them is around one hour. Usually guests spend two hours (or more) following the hunt. It is a fascinating experience to see and understand how the Ba’aka exist in the forest.
Heading upriver by boat you can hike to a series of waterfalls in the area. These will take you through the best examples of prime rainforest that you will ever see. Apart from the amazingly beautiful waterfalls, you will view some of the most spectacular trees imaginable. Climbing to the top of the falls will provide vistas over the canopy of the forest with the possibility of seeing the extremely rare and endangered Grey-necked Rock fowl.
Today is a day to relax with optional activities should you so wish. These can range from repeating any of the earlier activities done at Sangha lodge, or alternatively walking in the vicinity of the lodge, learning about the medicinal plants and birds and unusual forest dwelling animals and butterflies.
After breakfast, take a charter back to Bangui where you will connect to your international flight home.
“The CAR was so unexpected – We saw so much in a week and everything was new and different and we met some truly dedicated conservationists.”
Jan McLeod. September 2013
Reasons to visit
Tropical Rain Forest
The Congo Basin has over 500 million acres of rainforest, larger than the state of Alaska and stands as the world’s second-largest tropical forest. A mosaic of rivers, forests, savannas, swamps and flooded forests, the Congo Basin provides habitat for a rich and diverse collection of mammals, insects, plants, birds, fungi, butterflies and fish. The Primary forest has little undergrowth but a dense canopy of between 30-60 metres above the ground.
The Western Lowland Gorillas
Trek to see the mighty Western Lowland gorillas, physically different from their neighbours, the Eastern and Mountain Gorilla, the Western Lowland gorilla has a chestnut crown which is very visible in the silverback males.
The Ba’Aka Tribe
Immerse yourself with the fascinating Ba’Aka tribe who are nomadic pygmy people. Music is an important part of Pygmy life and casual performances take place during many of the day’s events. A forest hunt with this traditional hunter gatherer society is not to be missed.
Spend time with the researchers who protect and monitor the pangolins activity and behaviour each day. As you learn about their habitats and way of life, you will learn to appreciate this endangered species more than ever before.
The Lekoli River
Take an evening boat or kayak sundowners on The Lekoli River. As you drift downstream spotting wildlife, you will get an opportunity to explore the multitude of habitats that exist in this area and the chance to spot some of the shyer animals.
The Dhanza Bai is a mineral rich glade where all the forest dwelling animals visit including bongo, giant forest hog, forest buffalo and elephant, sitatunga, red river hogs and flocks of African grey parrots. An easy walk through the forest takes you to a tree hide which makes the perfect viewpoint for siting animals.