The six-room Ngaga Camp - aka ‘Gorilla Central’ - is situated just outside Odzala, and is also the base for the world’s leading western lowland gorilla researchers. The opportunity to engage with them and learn about the subtleties of gorilla behaviour and social structure adds immeasurably to the Ngaga experience.
The main focus at Ngaga is of course venturing into the forest to track and observe the two habituated groups of gorillas whose ranges include the Camp. Accompanied by expert forest guides and incredibly skilled local trackers, your gorilla walk could last anything from two to eight hours as you search for clues – footprints, nest sites, chewed leaves and stems – as to where the gorillas have moved since they woke up that morning.
After years of locating the same two groups, the trackers have something approaching a sixth sense regarding the gorilla’s favourite feeding areas at different times of year, and even in different weather. This ensures a very high rate of success in finding the gorillas.
In contrast to the Rwandan / Uganda mountain gorilla experience, the dense nature of the forest vegetation means that the gorillas are approached while they are still actively feeding, rather than when they are resting. This means that you will typically see a greater variety of behaviour, from feeding and playing to tree-climbing or digging for roots.
It would take a stony heart not to find the playful youngsters completely endearing, and the massively built silverbacks never fail to impress. Your return journey may include a chance to cool down in the crystal-clear Ngaga stream below the Camp, before an afternoon siesta in your raised room, with its wraparound walkway offering unparalleled glade and canopy views.
Night forest walks are another unique Ngaga experience, as the eerie calls of the tree hyraxes echo between the trees. The gorillas may be sleeping, but this is when the unusual nocturnal mammals of the Congo forest emerge: things that go jump in the night.