The seasonal change is upon us and with the dry season in full swing rivers have shrunk to reveal sandy, pebbled beaches while a white film of clouds has been covering the sky most days only to clear slightly in the late afternoon just in time to allow the blazing ball of red to sink below the green horizon. The mornings have cooled down considerably but the breeze in the middle of the day is still most welcome.
Some incredible sightings, including amazing views of central chimpanzees, have been had at both Odzala camps recently.
Lango Camp continues to show off in terms of diversity of species with highlights this month having been a close encounter with completely wild western lowland gorillas in Ikessi forest. As we were making our way along the trail we heard something rustle in the marantaceae close by, we stopped to listen and the sound that greeted our ears was a loud bark from a silverback male gorilla. He obviously got as much of a fright as we did. Unfortunately we couldn’t get into a position to be able to see him but he continued to shake plants, chest beat and bark just to let us know he was still there and not all that impressed with our presence. Respectfully, we backed off slowly feeling in complete awe of having had the privilege to encounter completely wild gorillas.
But not to be overshadowed by the primates we have also had sightings of both red river hogs and giant forest hogs recently, with one of our red river hog sightings being enjoyed over a cup of morning coffee right from the Lango Deck as they fed peacefully in Lango Bai.
Sound is something we rely heavily on in the forest so often it is a good idea to just stop for a bit and
listen what is going on around us. On one of these occasions, while standing in the forest trying to
choose which route best to navigate, we suddenly heard quite a lot of noise coming from the direction we had just walked. A short time earlier we had passed a mud wallow frequently used by elephants and thought maybe this was the source of the action. We crept slowly back not knowing quite what to expect and there rustling in the bushes up front were at least ten red river hogs of all sizes, feeding, grunting, interacting and generally just creating a racquet.
Elephant sightings continue to be sporadic with most visits being at night as they utilise Lango Bai, but recently, also at Lango, we had the privilege of enjoying an elephant bull in camp for a couple of hours one afternoon. The Lekoli River also continues to attract elephants and three elephant bulls were surprised by us in a pirogue while having their afternoon swim.
At Ngaga relative abundance of fruiting trees has made gorilla viewing both rewarding and challenging. Gorillas will “follow the fruit” so to speak and can cover large distances trying to get from one fruiting tree to another which can make it difficult for us to keep or catch up. But then the reward could be to see them climbing trees to get at this much loved fruit. On one such recent tracking expedition we had just this type of experience. From the evening nesting site the Jupiter group had already moved a fair distance and had even crossed paths with another gorilla group. Due to the amazing skill of the tracker who was quickly able to discern the tracks of Jupiter’s group from the other group due to the number of sets of tracks we were quickly on the right track again. This particular morning they didn’t seem to be in the mood for a visit as we moved after them they kept moving further away and even crossed the path just behind us all in their great fruit search. But once again the amazing skill of the tracker was put to the test and he came out tops. Suddenly we found ourselves with marantaceae rustling on both sides of the path and a small clearing where the group had obviously spent quite some time devouring fruit. We crouched down and patiently waited as they made their way closer. Our persistence and patience was very well rewarded with three females crossing the path all with youngsters on their backs, one other female was more curious and climbed up one of the trees close by to make sure she knew what was lurking on the path before crossing and following the rest of the group to their next fruit feast.
An incredible sighting that definitely deserves a mention was a day time view of Lord Derby’s anomalure. These shy creatures, also known as flying squirrels, usually spend their days in tree trunk cavities only coming out to forage on certain trees at night. They have a specific flight path used every night and will go to great lengths to prune any vegetation that is in the way.
Both camps are in full swing preparing for guests imminent arrival. The recent addition of a new
walkway at Lango will allow guests easy access for walks heading out into or returning from the
bai. It is also a fantastic place from which to photograph any forest visitors to the bai and to enjoy a
sundowner after another adventurous day in the Congo.