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My Safari to Dzanga Sangha: Gorillas,Forest Elephants, Pangolins, Bongo and Forest Buffalo


optig
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I have to say my safari to Dzanga Sangha was high on my list of favorite safari destinations. It ticked off all the boxes for having a fabulous wilderness vibe,incredible scenery and so few visitors I was amazed to learn that last year Sangha Lodge where I stayed only received roughly 80 visitors. I particularly enjoyed seeing the pygmies and learning about the culture. I also saw so many new species including bongo,forest elephants., forest buffalo, and two new species of pangolin. The birding was also excellent as well and I saw plenty of new species. 

 

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Forest elephants

 

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Bongos and elephants

 

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Pangolin

 

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Edited by optig
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Great sightings of Pangolin and Bongo

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Wow, Owen!  It sure looks like it did not disappoint!  I counted more than 30 bongo---makes my seven look a little paltry :D

 

Did you enjoy meeting Rod and Tamara?  My only regret is that they were not there when I visited.  How did you travel there---through Bangui?  I had to arrive via Cameroon but I understand that it is OK to travel via the capital now...

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Wowie Zowie!  Bongorama.  Climbing pangolin!

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Fantastic seeing all those Bongo, incredibly cool!

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What a privilege @optig to see all these relaxed bongos to enjoy the benefits of Bai.

 

One of the elephants has a light coloring, which stands out from the others. Is it due to the concentration of mineral salts in the skin?

 

I appreciate all this with great interest.

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fantastic sightings @optig! I know you've been wanting to go for a long time but wow, how your dreams came true especially with the relaxed bongos! such a good number, well better than I would have expected. 

Interesting that two elephants are almost yellow but probably due to the mud? since I see uncovered parts that are in their natural grey

 

amazing looking buffaloes with their fringe-like ears.

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I met Tyrone Mckeith, @johnweir and Ianthe Weerasooriya here in Nairobi. We flew to Bangui where we met by Sangha lodge's representative in Bangui.We then flew to the airstrip which serves the Dzanga Sangha National Park.

 

I have to say that the room though simple was quite comfortable.There was always hot water and plenty of it.I did not experience any problem with mosquitoes.There was plenty of food and I couldn't believe the quality and variety especially considering our location.Even something as basic as eggs needed to be flown in from Bangui.

 

The location of the lodge on the river was simply awesome.I made two boat trips down the river which were equally stunning.The bird watching was best in camp and on the boat trip down the river.

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@gatoratlarge Rod,Tamara and their son Elan were all the lodge,there was also a young couple from Belgium who were helping with the management.There were two lovely ladies,both of them were veterinarians,one of them was from Geneva,Switzerland and the other from Austria who were volunteering in the pangolin project.Yes we travelled directly through Bangui.

 

@Matias Cox @KitsafariI believe the yellow coloring is due to the mud.I am not really sure about that though.Thank you.

 

 

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@optig the scenery looks stunning and the "Golden" elephant is quite spectacular.

Looking forward to following along.

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Wonderful. Looking forward to the next installment. 

 

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Fantastic, @optig - you got some wonderful photos and it sounds like a great experience!

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We were joined by my great friend,Dave Matheissen,who was travelling through the Congo Brazzaville.He is a veterinarian from the US who has been on more safaris than I have and spent even more time on safari than myself.He was a great contribution to our group and my experience.This was a trip with many highlights,I found that the gorilla trekking here was better than Uganda.The gorillas here are semi habituated which means that one does not feel like the gorillas are posing for you like in Uganda,they are all quite active.Unfortunately I wasn't able to get any photos.The silverback was so huge I swore I saw 'kingkong'.

 

I also saw a huge troop of agile managbeys..They are in between vervet monkeys and baboons in size.Unfortunately they moved too quickly in the tropical forest for me to get some good photos.Again it was wonderful to see an entirely new mammal.As you can see I first discovered the bai in the Dzanga Sangha National Park when I was watching the American TV series 60 minutes.They were interviewing the elephant researcher Andrea Tekalo.Her years of research were bearing fruit and she had just come up with the first elephant dictionary,since then it has always been a dream of mine to visit the Dzanga Sangha National Park and see the bai.

 

As you can see I wasn't to be at all disappointed by the number of elephants I saw.I went there on 3 separate days and saw more than 100 elephants in each visit.I was amazed at the variety of colors due to the minerals and mud baths.Their were plenty of babies,youngsters,males and long tuskers.It was of course awesome to hear them trumpeting all the time.

 

The sighting of forest buffalo and bongo was just superb in the bai.Now that I have finally seen bongo in the wild I have to put them high in my list of favorite antelope.I think they are every bit as gorgeous as sable.I also thought that the forest buffalo are more beautiful than the normal one because of their distinctive color.

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Myself at the bai.

 

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My buddy Ianthe

 

 

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Edited by optig
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You look very serious in that hide! 

 

"I also saw a huge troop of agile manic bees." 

Did I read that right?

 

Nice going with gorillas too.  What a fab trip!

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Dzanga Sangha  definitely belongs in the holy grail of African safari destinations along with Katavi,Kafue,Mahale,Kidepo and others.It not only met my highest expectations it even exceeded them. 

Edited by optig
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Nice to see the wider views of the viewing platform at the Bai. It is bigger than I expected. 

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@optig It looks amazing, Owen. Were there any more people from our 2018 Zakouma gang besides Dave and Ianthe?

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@Galago Tyrone and John Weir  were with us.We all got along famously.We bonded together as a safari group and all of us agreed to go on safari together in the future.

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Wow, what a lovely safari Owen!

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What a lovely trip, especially with the pangolin.  I really appreciate the wider views of the platform, it gives you a feeling of how the place is setup. I imagine there are times it’s hard to know where to look.

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I'll echo others in saying that it sounds like a truly amazing trip and experience.

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