Republic of the Congo

A safari in Congo-Brazzaville presents a rare opportunity – the privilege and thrill of observing Western lowland gorillas, one of our closest relatives in the wild and exploring a thriving rainforest ecosystem, both of which create an aura of adventure and discovery.
The other Congo
The Congo Basin spans more than two million square kilometres across six countries and accounts for 18% of the world's remaining rainforest. Humans have occupied the area for over 50,000 years, yet it is still one of the most biologically diverse and species-rich areas on the planet, and the basin delivers clean water, food and shelter to more than 75 million people.

Congo-Brazzaville (as it is fondly called to distinguish it from its neighbour, the Democratic Republic of the Congo) also enjoys a pleasantly laid-back capital city in Brazzaville, idyllic beaches on its Atlantic coastline and a warm and welcoming Congolese culture.

La Sape, an abbreviation of Société des Ambianceurs et des Personnes Élégantes (Society of Ambience-Makers and Elegant People), is a social movement that goes back to the early 1920s when well-dressed men would spend large sums of money on designer clothes to wear at social gatherings. Its members are called Sapeurs, and they are affectionately known as the most fashionable people in all of Africa.

Sapeurism can be traced all the way back to the colonial period in Brazzaville and Kinshasa when house slaves were given clothing instead of money as compensation for their work. This inspired Congolese workers to combat inferiority levelled at them by their French and Belgian colonial masters, and made the workers adapt to their masters' styles but with a hint of their very own exaggerated high-fashion styles.

Suave suits, colourful bow ties, scarves - this is a subculture that has been passed on from generation to generation, and a visit to meet some Sapeurs in Brazzaville is a highlight of any trip here.

A truly spectacular African jungle
A land of primary rainforest hiding half the world's lowland gorillas, herds of forest elephants and forest buffaloes, chimpanzees, bongo antelope and many other creatures of the jungle, the country offers one of the most authentic ecotourism experiences in Africa. Boasting three little-visited national parks, the main attraction to this heavenly slice of West Africa is Odzala-Kokoua National Park, a nirvana for nature-lovers situated in the heart of the second-largest tropical rainforest in the world, harbouring critically endangered western lowland gorillas, elusive forest elephants and approximately 444 bird species.
Odzala-Kokoua National Park is in the country's remote northwest, one of Africa's oldest national parks and an integral part of the Congo Basin overlapping Gabon, the Central African Republic and the Congo. Bais are grassy open areas dotted across the rainforest and offer a rare chance to catch a glimpse beyond the ‘green curtain’ into the lives of forest dwellers. Various mammal species come to the bais on a regular basis in order to access vital elements such as water, minerals and salts, sedges and water-loving grasses.
Most notably, Odzala is one of the best places in Africa to get up close and personal to western lowland gorillas. Western lowland gorillas can be distinguished from other gorilla subspecies by their slightly smaller size, their brown-grey coats and auburn chests. They also have wider skulls with more pronounced brow ridges and smaller ears.

The northern rainforests in the heart of the Congo Basin comprise the world’s second-largest expanse of tropical rainforest. The mighty Congo and other large rivers drain this basin and provide a means of exploration through dense forests and access to remote national parks where endemic wildlife flourishes and traditional cultures persist.

For the ultimate African rainforest safari, we recommend continuing on to the Dzangha Sangha Special Reserve in southwestern Central African Republic.  Within this reserve lies Dzanga Bai, also known as the “village of elephants”, a large clearing in the rainforest where up to 400 forest elephants gather every day to drink at mineral-rich springs.

For those ready to heed the call of the wild – and are not afraid of adventure – the Congo awaits.


The world's largest diamond, the Cullinan, was found in South Africa in 1905. It weighed 3,106.75 carats uncut. This magnificent gemstone was then cut into the Great Star of Africa, weighing 530.2 carats; the Lesser Star of Africa, weighing 317.40 carats; and 104 other diamonds of nearly flawless colour and clarity. They now form part of the British crown jewels.


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