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Visiting Western Gorillas in Loango:

What to Expect and What to Bring

 

Visiting the habituated gorillas in Loango National Park is a unique experience.  We hope that you have an enjoyable time being in the forest and seeing the gorillas. To improve your visit, here is a brief explanation of what to expect as well as suggestions for what to bring with you.

 

What to Expect:  

You’ll leave the Loango Lodge by 9 am and travel by boat in the lagoon for approximately one hour before arriving at the Yatouga camp.   This is where the ‘gorilla team’ lives, so you’ll be able to get a glimpse of what it is like to live at a research camp in the forest. Here, you will also be given a briefing of the rules for visiting the gorillas.  Next, you’ll travel by boat (10-30 minutes) to the drop off point for entering the forest.  From that location, you’ll walk between 10 minutes and three hours before reaching the gorillas. The gorillas move through the forest in an unpredictable way so we cannot know in advance exactly where we will find them, but we communicate with and then meet up with the advanced team that has located the gorillas earlier in the morning. You will always be accompanied by experienced staff.  Hiking in the forest is likely to include walking through mud, small streams, and swamps so expect to get wet and muddy.  We use a network of trails as well as walk off-trail to find the gorillas, under and over branches, logs, and vines.

The visit with the gorillas will be for approximately one hour.   We typically see the gorillas from a distance of 10-30 meters away, but sometimes they feed on fruit more than 30m up in trees. There is a lot of tree cover and undergrowth in the forest so it can be remarkably dark. The staff will help you to see where the gorillas are in the forest. The gorillas may be resting, playing, feeding, or traveling through the forest during your visit.

After your time with the gorillas, you will walk back to the boat and then return to the Yatouga camp before the boat ride back to the Loango Lodge.  The total amount of time you will spend in the forest can vary between 2 – 8 hours.

Loango is a rainforest, which means that it rains quite a lot.  We do not go into the forest when the rain is heavy for safety reasons. If it rains when we are in the forest we will do our best to ensure you see the gorillas. 

 

What to Bring:

-Plenty of water and a pack lunch. We never know how long we will be in the forest.  We offer tea and coffee at the research camp, but there is no food available.

 

-Footwear:  It is very likely that you will get your feet wet and there is a good chance you will walk through small streams or swamps. Therefore, we recommend wearing sports sandals (such as Teva or Keene), running/athletic shoes or low hiking shoes. Big/high hiking boots and rubber boots are not recommended.

 

-The gorilla team typically wears t-shirts and shorts.  Long trousers are fine, but expect to get wet.  Please try to avoid wearing bright colors. Bring a raincoat or poncho. Be sure to have a waterproof bag for any electronic equipment.

 

-Binoculars, if you have them.  

 

-Don’t forget a sense of adventure!