Those on the group flights arrive in Brazzaville early afternoon and are transferred to the hotel. The afternoon is free to relax after the long flight. We will meet the whole group this evening for dinner and a briefing.
Brazzaville, the Republic of Congo's capital, is located on the banks of the Congo River, and is more low-key than neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo's capital, Kinshasa, just across the river.
Today is a long day's driving. We depart Brazzaville after an early breakfast and head north towards the town of Ouesso. Due to the poor safety records of domestic Congolese airlines, this long drive is the only way of accessing the Nouabale Ndoki National Park. It also gives us the opportunity to get a feel for the country itself. Our destination is remote and this is all part of the adventure.
The drive should around 12 hours though we will make some stops along the way to stretch our legs.
Day 4 - 6
This morning we continue our journey into the Congo Rainforest, taking a boat, a car and another boat to finally reach Mbeli Research Camp in time for lunch.
We spend the next 2.5 days experiencing the untouched wilderness of Nouabale Ndoki National Park. Most of our time will be spent at Mbeli Bai, 45 minutes' walk away from our camp, where we can observe wildlife from a platform in the tree-line.
Mbeli Bai is a large clearing covering 13 hectares and is regularly visited by Lowland gorillas, sitatungas, buffalos, Forest elephants, Red river hogs, otters and crocodiles to name a few. Due to the sheer size of the bai, we recommend you bring binoculars, and zoom-lenses.
Since the mid-1990s, researchers from the Wildlife Conservation Society have been continuously monitoring the local Lowland gorilla population along with other wildlife here and have learned a lot about the gorillas' behaviour and social interactions. This is the place, for instance, where the use of tools by Lowland gorillas was first witnessed.
This morning we leave Mbeli Research Camp and head to Mondika. The journey takes about 4 hours and involves a 2 cars, a boat and some walking. This research camp was also established in order to monitor Lowland gorilla behaviour and has been open to tourism since 2007, it featured in a BBC documentary - The Secret Gorillas of Mondika.
We will have lunch at Mondika before going for a jungle walk late afternoon to learn more about the local environment, flora and fauna.
Today the group we will go to visit a habituated group of Lowland gorillas - this family is led by Kengo the silverback. Because the number of tourists who can visit Kengo's family at once is limited, some of us will visit in the morning and some in the afternoon. The length of the hike to the family group can vary but the visit normally lasts about 2hours. Those who are not spending time with Kengo and his family will be in the forest tracking and learning more about the area and its inhabitants.
Today we start the long journey back to Brazzaville. After breakfast we leave Mondika for Bomassa, arriving early afternoon. After a quick picnic lunch we will board our motorised boats heading back to Ouesso where we will spend the night.
We retrace our steps with another long drive back to Brazzaville, making a number of stops along the way.
Our last day in country, we spend the morning exploring Brazzaville. We go out and explore the the Congo rapids, Ba Congo and have time for some last minute shopping at the Poto Poto market before going for lunch on the river banks. Those on the group flights will then be transferred to the airport in time for the flight home.
Those who've opted to do the Bonobo extension into Kinshasa will depart this morning (see below for more details)