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Central African Republic: On the Edge of Adventure


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SafariChick

I also just caught up with the end of this report - absolutely loved it and I agree, the videos really bring it to life so well! So Grass walked through the water in bare feet, it looked like? Did you also @@gatoratlarge ? I would be a little worried about the parasite @@Jakob mentioned - even though it seems it was not a huge deal in the end, still one might rather avoid it if one could, I would think! Does one have to walk through water to get to the Bai at all times of year?

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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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Anomalure

@@SafariChick

 

I brought along a pair of gumboots, anticipating the stream crossing, but there's one part of the crossing where the water goes to about just above knees. Here, you can't use the boots (I tried the first day, but the water got inside them - luckily they dried as they were waterproof...) and you're best off just briefly going barefoot (only about 50 ft of this or so) - the riverbed is pretty sandy and sterile in this area, so it should be ok. After this, I just slipped to boots back on for the shallower water.

 

There's an area towards the end of the crossing where the riverbed is covered in elephant dung - I wouldn't go barefoot there (I suspect that's where the parasite was acquired)! Maybe crocs might be a good alternative as you'll never have to take them off (mud, etc. will still get in them though!).

 

This was how the crossing was like in July after a month or so of real 'rainy season' weather; not sure what it's like in the dry season, when @@gatoratlarge visited - probably a fair bit lower.

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SafariChick

@@Anomalure thanks for your clarification - very helpful!

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gatoratlarge

@@Super LEEDS Sorry for the tardy response---I've been on a little vacation (I know I really pushed it this year---was in Tanzania for 10 days so a trip report should be forthcoming on that) but I'm back and was delighted to just finish reading Anomalure's great report from Sangha---I don't fully know the answer to "least buggy"...I can say that sweat bees do not bite but can be annoying as they love to fly into orifices LOL like eyes, ears, nostrils...but the truth is that they are only bad in certain places (of which I do not know whether you can predict where) and I only felt annoyed to the extent I needed to put on that netting over my head about twice on my week there---if you wear a hat and glasses or sun glasses, that seemed to provide enough of a blockade to where they didn't bother me too much---I believe I was told the time of year I was there was particularly buggy but I can say it really didn't effect me much and the time of year I was there was best for bongo so there's a trade off I was more than willing to make. Perhaps Anomalure can tell you if bugs were bad in JUL --- I do know that Rod likes this time of year (JUL-AUG) best so...

 

@@SafariChick : As for crossing the small stream...I wore those training shoes that some athletes wear when they do the triathalons/kinda like a water proof show that dries quickly after running in all terrain...it worked well for me and they dried quickly...there's netting on the sides where water can run out...

 

@Optig I was sad to read Wilderness closed its two camps in Odzala...the truth is that when I was doing research, wildlife seemed much more abundant in Dzanga Sangha in comparison...when I see photos on the marketing pieces with solitary and singular animals, I just get the feeling that it's not as plentiful...I had the same experience in Gabon....I said earlier in this report that CAR was for me what I had hoped Gabon would be...it is a great place, but visit now or soon....things change rather quickly in Africa and rarely for the better unfortunately...

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SafariChick

@@gatoratlarge thanks for clarifying your footwear :) Also, you mentioned that you sensed CAR was better for wildlife than Gabon. That may well be. But I just came upon this article about Gabon that makes it look appealing too - though the gorillas are not habituated there (but they plan to work on that) http://magazine.africageographic.com/weekly/issue-58/gabon-gorillas-chimpanzees-loango-central-africas-oasis/

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Anomalure

Regarding the wildlife, I have to agree with @@gatoratlarge that Dzanga Sangha has the best wildlife in the region. I spent a while talking to Rod about Odzala (where his son Alon guides at the lodges, which by the way are still open, but not operated by Wilderness Safaris anymore - now Congo Conservation Co I think) and Gabon and while each area has some specialty species (Water Chevrotain at Odzala; Red River Hog, Red-capped Mangabey, Black Colobus in Gabon), overall Dzanga Sangha has the best wildlife and is the place to be for Forest Elephant, Bongo, and Western Lowland Gorilla which I think are the main highlights in the Congo Basin.

 

One thing I must say about Dzanga Sangha is that while densities of mammals are high (esp in Dzanga sector of NP and around Sangha Lodge), it takes time as viewing things in the rainforest environment is harder than the savannas, so give yourself a week or so to see the full diversity of species (and get good looks and maybe photos of course).

 

Regarding bugs, they weren't too bad. Just some sweat bees around Dzanga Bai and the Gorillas (use a head net and you'll be fine) and stray mosquitos in the evenings. Big driver ants on the trails were the worst (ouch!), but Rod will instruct you how to get bitten as little as possible.

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gatoratlarge

@SafariChick I read that article too and I'm glad to see it---I hope eco-tourism flourishes within all the region. I did not visit Loango which I would still like to do one day...but I think I can say without reservation that Dzanga Sangha is the best place in C Africa to see forest elephants and bongo, and it has habituated gorillas...Langouie Bai which I visited in Ivindo NP in Gbon had elephants, no where near the numbers of Dzanga and I was unlucky not to see gorillas which I think are commonly seen. Before I went, I was swept away by the descriptions in Michael Fay's mega-transect of a bai where humans had never frequented, apes never hunted and therefore curious of humans, not afraid, and elephants...all may be the case. Andrea (who incidentally used to be married to Fay) said when she saw the pictures of the bai in Gabon with the lush grass, her immediate thought was that if elephants were there in large numbers, it wouldn't look like that :) The pictures in that article are attributed to someone the article mentioned who is permanent there, meaning, those pictures have been taken over an extended period of time. Both are wonderful places, but in my experience, the wildlife experience and concentrations are much greater Dzanga Sangha. But I would love to see the whales in Loango, and do the circuit of lodges there one day. I also would love to see mandrills which you only get in Gabon (though not easy)....I heard a troop but we could not catch up with them....

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