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Central African Republic: On the Edge of Adventure


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gatoratlarge

@@inyathi you are correct, I whiffed on the pair of picathartes! In my own defense I wasn't expecting to see them at all and it was a slippery climb as it had rained earlier in the afternoon so all my camera stuff was buried in my back pack. During nesting season I think they can be expected to come back rather quickly but apparently it's not the time of year and so they didn't return while we were at the falls. It was a cool bird, something sort of prehistoric about them.

 

Security wise, that part of the country is pretty isolated from the rest of the country. I think things only got hot for a short period. I think it's important that people visit as if tourism dies out then it's vulnerable to other money making interests with logging, poaching, mining, etc...it is a special place for sure. Quite frankly it was everything I wanted my trip to Gabon to be! I just found it in CAR! Lol

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I have been fascinated by the equatorial forests of central Africa since Michael Fay's National Geographic sponsored mega-transect captured my imagination some 15 years ago. In fact, soon after I book

There are many many more elephant pics and I can hardly choose to show which ones...numbers swelled to about 100 elephants in the bai at its peak late afternoon/ dusk but groups drifted in and out thr

Well I can't seem to post a link to my Facebook album like I used to be able to but I'll add some photos as they always tell the story best:  

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SafariChick

Absolutely fantastic report - I have been wanting to go there ever since I heard about this lodge and have been following them on Facebook, as others here. I also saw some of your photos on Facebook but didn't realize it was you, one of "us" Safaritalkers! Thank you so much - this makes me want to go even more!

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Hi @@gatoratlarge

 

Fantastic images and trip report. Am sorry to have missed you by just a few days. Am so glad you saw the bongos.

It was me who has been pining over the bongo. Christians reference to 48 may have been to our sighting a few days prior of 39/bongo and 47/forest eles.

 

You are so right that people NEED to visit this lodge. The sightings are unmatched elsewhere.

 

Rod and Tamar are both lovely. Open, caring and gracious persevering in most difficult circumstances

 

How AMAZING is Pangy?!?!

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gatoratlarge

@ImSA84 thanks very much!

 

@safarichick: thanks! I'm glad it inspires you to go-- it's a World Heritage Site for a reason. A unique place for sure. For the intrepid visitor with a couple weeks to spend, I understand there's a bai in the Congo (maybe Dzanga-Ndoki?) downriver a ways which especially noted for the large number of gorillas that regularly visit. In the future I could easily see linking these two areas on the same trip: Dzanga Sangha Special Reserve for the great forest elephants, the habituated gorillas and then a visit to the bai to the south to see the gorillas visit the bai---using the river for transport between the two. Would be a very compelling trip indeed.

 

@@wenchy. I am sure you must be who they mentioned and the bongo numbers match up! I'm with Game Warden, I must see pictures and read about your trip!! I fell in love with Pangi!!

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Marks

Truly incredible...greatest elephant show indeed! What an intrepid adventure (which has clearly paid dividends in sightings and experiences).

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SafariChick

@@gatoratlarge can you say a little about the gorilla-viewing at Bai Houkou? How does it work, do you have to hike a long ways to get to the gorillas? Or are they just hanging around there? How do you get there from the Lodge - is that on the pirogue? Were all of the excursions day trips, or did you sleep away from the lodge for any of them?

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gatoratlarge

@@SafariChick. I'd say Sangha Lodge is about a half hour from the park entrance. You typically have to make a cursory stop there to check in when you are going into the Dzanga Sangha Special Reserve. Once you enter the park, I'd estimate about a two hour trip to get to Bai Houkou which I was told was approx 30 kilometers but the road conditions are challenging. Once you reach the ranger station near Bai Houkou you likely do not have too much of a hike to see Makumba' s family group but of course gorillas can change location. I'd say it was about a half hour hike before we saw Makumba which I think Is fairly typical.

 

The other group which I've forgotten the name, is larger, but favors a denser forest location. I think Makumba frequents the bai and so you perhaps have a better shot to see home in the clearing and with good lighting.

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SafariChick

@@gatoratlarge Thanks, very interesting! How many members does Makumba's family have, if you know?

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TonyQ

What and amazing trip - superb sightings and photos. Thanks for the link to the facebook page - it works for a non-facebook person!

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gatoratlarge

@@SafariChick Makumba's group is four or five now. He's aging although I'm not sure how old. I think his group was as many as 11 or more but there's been attrition. Other silverbacks have taken some of the females and some females have left for greener pastures. A young male comes back to the group but is not well tolerated by Makumba I was told. There is a larger group that I did not visit and two additional family groups being habituated according to my guide.

 

@@TonyQ glad you can see them! I think .... told me how to make the link work

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wilddog

Have ben looking at the title of this Trip report for a while but wanted to wait until I got home to read it and really savour it. It was worth the wait.

 

Those pictures of the cavorting elephants................... and the bongos................ Wow. Brought a lump to my throat to see all that beauty. Thanks you so much for telling us about it and sharing the pictures @@gatoratlarge.

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Soukous

thanks for sharing @@gatoratlarge - what a terrific trip.I never thought I would ever want to return to the CAR but now I just think I might.

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gatoratlarge

Thank you! @@wilddog I found it to be so different than other safaris in East and southern Africa but every bit as compelling---there is not the variety in terms of species and the forest is tougher to see things, but I know I've never seen a better elephant display and there are such other interesting species that you won't see elsewhere

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gatoratlarge

@@Soukous where did you go in CAR? and when did you go? Was it a good trip? And what did you see? : )

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Game Warden

Ah, @@Soukous, does that mean another historical trip report?

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jeremie

Wow, amazing trip. I am astounded by the concentration of animals in the bai.

This TR make me want to visit CAR!!!!

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Soukous

Ah, @@Soukous, does that mean another historical trip report?

sadly not - it is all in this one... http://safaritalk.net/topic/12179-a-journey-back-in-time/

 

@@gatoratlarge I went through CAR as part of a 5 month overland journey in late 1980/early 1981.

My recollections are of a very poor country with little development outside the capital Bangui.

The country was in turmoil as Bokassa & David Dacko were playing musical chairs with the presidency and there was a lot of tension in Bangui.

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optig

I can only say this is truly awesome stuff. I'll definitely visit the Central African Republic, probably in combination with the Congo(Brazzaville).

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gatoratlarge

@Soukous WOW I just went through your TR!! That was one heck of an adventure!! I can hardly believe it. I'm going to go back and read every word...just amazing

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graceland

@@gatoratlarge

 

I read this report on another forum; but I have just re-read it here. Absolutely awesome adventure and good to see CAR is back on the page! Your report and terrific dialogue with photos will certainly have wheels spinning here on Safaritalk.

 

Quite an adventurous group hangs here so I am sure Rod's camp will be getting a few inquiries!

 

Now I need to read @@Soukous and his overland adventures!

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gatoratlarge

@@Game Warden: I read Rod's interview on SafariTalk and it was one of the sources of information where I was able to follow the situation on the ground and probably what prompted me to 'friend" Rod on FB and then follow up to see about the re-opening of the park. I also donated a small amount as they needed funds to keep operational at the time. The article I'd love to read---for some reason I can't read it without flashplayer which I used to have so I'm not sure what's going on there...must be some security thing my IT group has disallowed! I'd love to read it though. Can't get enough of the CAR at the moment : )

 

@@graceland -- yes I re-posted on another (I think far less active) forum as I think people need to know it's possible to go and visit now. So much misinformation with the double whammy of ebola in West Africa and then the political news from Central Africa---I wanted folks to know that I visited quite safely and that I'm no dare devil with a death wish! LOL It's just that takes some determination and persistence to get to, but the rewards are worth it.

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gatoratlarge

Starting to get some videos up from my trip. I'm far from a pro on the videos but they sometimes give you a better feel and one of the things I like most is the sounds of the forest. It's a noisy place in the best sense of the word:

 

 

 

Hope you can see these...

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