Central African Republic
Situated on the banks of the great Sangha River in Central Africa, Doli Lodge is the perfect place from which you can explore the wild rainforest, and experience its extraordinary wildlife and traditional communities. You can witness Africa’s greatest concentration of forest elephant as they gather at the “grand central junction” of Dzanga bai—a natural clearing in the rainforest. Led by skilled BaAka trackers, you can follow the striking silverback Makumba, a good-looking gorilla with a tall crest and muscular form, and his habituated group of western lowland gorillas. Hike along elephant paths, through clouds of butterflies, and along bais inhabited by red forest buffalos, herds of busy red river hogs, rare situtunga and bongo antelopes, flocks of noisy African grey parrots, and specials such as Hartlaub’s forest ducks.
Join clans of BaAka, traditional hunter-gatherers of the rainforest, as they sing and yodel and search for edible leaves, medicinal bark and roots, and small game to bring back to their villages. Experience Bayanga village life, maybe catch a local game of basketball, and take traditional canoes called pirogues along the Sangha River to see the natural process that produces palm wine from the forest. Meet and learn from our partners and researchers at WWF and WCS, people in the field who are dedicated to conservation and sustainable travel in the Dzanga-Ndoki National Park. In short, this adventure is one of the world’s greatest and rarest experiences.
Welcome to Bangui! On arrival from your international flight, you will be met and transferred to your hotel.
Early this morning you will be met at hotel reception by your private driver and vehicle, and depart for to Bayanga (approximate drive time 12 hours). Arrive at Doli Lodge in the evening, in time for a late dinner.
Early this morning, step into the rain forest of the Congo Basin and set off along elephant paths, through cool shallow sand streams and clouds of butterflies, until you reach the top of an observation platform that looks out over a natural salt lick. This type of clearing, called a “baai,” is frequented by scores of forest elephants who exhibit wonderful interactive behaviors: meeting and greeting each other, sniffing, trumpeting and challenging, and sinking their long trunks deep into water-logged holes in search of minerals—a practice not unlike taking a multi-vitamin pill. Here you’ll meet field biologist Andrea Turkalo the world’s leading expert on forest elephants, who has lived in Dzanga Sangha for 20 years, and works to decipher the elephants’ vocal communication as she compiles the world’s first “elephant dictionary” from her perch on the edge of the baai.
Early this morning after breakfast depart for Bai Hoku research camp (approximately 1 hour drive). On arrival at Bai Hoku depart with the tracking team that consists of a Ba’Aka pygmy tracker and WWF researcher. The team will depart camp with information on where the gorillas slept the previous night. As soon as the nest site is found, the team then follows the traces the gorillas have left while moving and feeding. The search for the western lowland gorillas follows elephant paths and narrow trails. The pursuit can be strenuous as gorillas can sometime cover significant distances before finding a fruit tree of choice. Tracking can take one to two hours before establishing contact with the western lowland gorillas, and an encounter cannot be guaranteed. Please Note: Gorilla trekking occurs twice daily. Each session, two groups of 3 guests are allowed to gorilla trek for a total of 12 guests per day. The morning trek ends back at Bai Hoku at noon and the afternoon trek will begin. A Gorilla Trekking Permit is required (included in cost).
In the afternoon, after a picnic lunch depart with the tracking team in search of the Agile managbeys. These monkeys are medium sized monkeys (males 7-12kg, females 5-7kg) which very much live up to their generic name by their vibrant nature. The group can be observed at leisure at distances of under 10m whilst their active hands rummage through leaf litter in search of insects, investigating and extracting all that is possibly edible from holes in trees, digging up mushrooms, storing seeds in their cheek pouches, and grooming their companions. The group followed at Bai Hokou is of an exceptional size, numbering more than 200 individuals, ranging in an area, and focused around the bai system. The habituation process allows this otherwise secretive and relatively unknown species to be easily observed in the dense vegetation.
After breakfast set off to get a glimpse of daily life in Bayanga on a visit to the village with one of our guides. People are more than happy to show you around in their small shops. There is also an opportunity to work on the Doli Lodge community craft project. The local bar has a nice view over the Sangha River and is a good place to get a taste of the Bayanga spirit. Return to Doli Lodge for lunch before embarking on the afternoon activities.
Dugout canoes (pirogues) are carved out directly from the trunks of trees. With a little chance, taking a trip in one of these canoes, you have the opportunity to catch sight of pretty kingfishers, eagles and other birds. Discovering Bayanga from the Sangha River allows you to experience a completely different aspect of life in the rain forest. The skill of the canoe-men (piroguiers), standing upright at the stern of the boat, steering you across frequently strong currents, is impressive. If you like, just bargain with fishermen over the price of a good fish or simply enjoy the tranquility.
Head out to learn about the extraction of palm wine. To witness the extraction of palm wine you have to board a dugout canoe that will take you to part of the Sangha River which meanders though a lush swampy area. It is here that is found the raffia palm trees. The extraction is carried out from standing palms and the sap flows for several hours into a container. A process of alcoholic fermentation takes place over 5 to 10 hours. The end product is a pleasant drink that is reminiscent of the musty taste of wine. In Bayanga, you can find "buvettes" (small bars) selling palm wine where you can taste the fermented juice. Palm wine rarely contains more than 4% alcohol and it contains supplementary calories - vitamins, calcium and other important nutritional elements - always welcome bearing in mind the physically exhausting work that village men sometimes have to accomplish.
The day begins with a visit to the Ba’Aka villages, where Ba’Aka people join you in your vehicles and accompany you into the heart of the forest. Along the way excitement grows and the Ba’Aka sing and chant with anticipation. Carrying hand woven nets and gathering baskets they head into this pristine environment searching for food—edible plants and roots, medicinal barks, and Africa’s smallest antelope called duiker. The Ba’Aka disperse, yodeling to each other as they efficiently orchestrate their centuries old tradition of hunting and gathering, striking their nets and pulling them down repeatedly. At the end of the hunt they come together and share their bounty, according to tradition, before you all drive back to their villages, surrounded by harmonic singing and great green canopies.
After brunch set out for Bai Hoku research camp for another chance to spend the full day following elephant paths through the forest that lead to the wildlifes’ favored spots. Often these are clearings and salines, crossed by streams, and kept open by the elephants. Sometimes these can also be particular fruit trees. With a bit of luck you will not only see forest elephants and buffalos, but also sitatunga, bongos, monkeys and traces of other animals. The sounds, smells and the luminous green of the vegetation create a very unique atmosphere. This evening enjoy traditional Ba’Aka dance.
Today in the early morning you will begin the return drive to Bangui with your private vehicle and driver. On arrival in Bangui you will be transferred to your hotel.
Very early this morning you will be transferred to Bangui Airport in time for your international flight home.
At the JM Residence, a friendly staff is carefully trained and on-hand 24/7 to help ensure the comfort of guests at this quiet and pleasant hotel in Bangui.
Doli Lodge, located on the wooded banks of the Sangha River in Central Africa, contains wooden buildings, most raised above the ground on stilts. The living quarters have a terrace with view of the river and come equipped with fans and ensuite washrooms. Doli Lodge's good, clean accommodations, restaurant and bar offer you all of the necessary comforts after a day spent exploring the rainforest.
Shayna Maislin ,
April 21, 2014
"I would highly recommend the tour guide that we had in the Serengetti . He was extremely knowledgeable, very helpful and courteous. We all agree that Kensington has first class staff working for them in Africa. All the camps that we stayed at were absolutely beautiful except perhaps for the one in Lake Manyara. All in all it was a spectacular trip!"
Janine Chey ,
April 21, 2014
"Our trip to Masai Mara via Kensington ran very smoothly. We stayed at the Mara West Lodge. Beautiful location atop a ridge overlooking the Masai Mara plains. Our luxury tents were quite comfortable and the staff/service at the lodge were great. Meals were very nice especially the daily soups. Our guide, Steve, was also great...so knowledgeable and eager to show us many interesting things. He planned our daily game drives and took us on a nature hike one afternoon. He clearly knows and understands this ecosystem. He has an amazing eye, finding animals in fields of tall grasses. Our entire family had an amazing time, trip of a lifetime...would love to go back!"
Justin Yax ,
April 21, 2014
"Once again, a perfect trip. From Elizabeth's planning to Godfrey's guiding, we could not have asked for a more thorough and well planned safari. I can't wait to come back and do it again, this time with a Kilimanjaro climb added onto the trip!"
Nancy Frierson ,
April 21, 2014
"The entire trip was superb - all the transfers, the lodging and the food, the safari experience and the knowledgeable guides. The guide's ability to spot an animal and identify it at a great distance allowed us to see and photograph all the animals on our list and then some. The lodgings were even better than we had hoped and the staff could not possibly have been better. Our trip of a lifetime turned out to be just that."
Avi J.Moskovitz ,
February 03, 2014
"We finally returned from the most magical vacation in Morocco and we cannot thank Lily and Kensington Tours enough!! This trip was beyond amazing and we are so appreciative for everything done to make this trip happen last minute for us!
We had a spectacular tour guide that spoke 8 languages, Ismail, and the friendliest and warmest driver, Said, whom made the experience absolutely phenomenal! Not only did we learn and see, but we laughed, danced, ate like pigs, kissed camels and snakes, ran in the Sahara desert under the stars, and enjoyed life - the best gift of all!
Ebony Hoskins ,
October 18, 2013
"I am so happy that I used Kensington Tours to help with my dream trip to Cape Town South Africa. I was looking for a well respected tour company that planned private guided tours that was not going to cause me my leg, lol. I begin searching companies by reputation and value. I narrowed it down to Kensington Tours because of the quality and value. I felt taken care of prior to my departure due to the detailed itinerary.
From the time of got off the plane to the time I headed back to the states, I was in excellent hands. The service was EXCELLENT! I will definitely use Kensington again. Certainly, a trip of a lifetime!"
Hanne Jones ,
October 24, 2013
"I have travelled all my life. I've combed much of Europe, from The arctic north in Norway to the streets of Seville in Spain, the beaches of Cannes and Nice in France and the medieval heart of Bologna in Italy. I've been on two African safaris (one tented, one not), both "luxurious." I've been on more than a dozen jaunts to India, some guided, others not. Over the years I have discovered that I had rather be lost and disoriented in a foreign country than submit once again to the unbending schedule of a guided tour. Hence I had given up tours of any kind, until Molly Kelly, an American Express travel agent, suggested I might want simply to list the places my friends and I wished to see in Morocco then let Kensington Tours make accessing them in an orderly way not only possible but thoroughly enjoyable as well. And this Kensington Tours did. They pulled our disparate destinations together and designed a far, far better route than we could ever have done on our own. They satisfied all our requests and threw in delicious additions, areas of interest we had never considered or even heard of. Our accommodations were well within our means and wonderful. Our guide and driver, not to mention our Mercedes SUV, could not have pleased us more. In other words, thanks to Molly and her recommending Kensington Tours, we had a sensational holiday. "
Anthoula Korina ,
September 05, 2013
"Africa had always been a myth in mind since I was child that was up until a week ago. I just returned from an epic safari adventure! Kenya, Tanzania and the Maasai are sorely missed.
Words cannot fully express the magic of this ever-flowing journey. It was awe-inspiring, breathtaking, free and powerful. My mind keeps playing tricks on me; thinking rather hoping that I'm going to see a giraffe cross a busy NYC street :)
The memories will resonate for a lifetime. To boot, I went on this trip solo; female traveler. Not sure any of it would have been possible w/out Kensington Tours!!! Thank you..."
July 12, 2013
"I had a wonderful trip visiting the mountain gorillas in Uganda. We were able to get really close to the gorillas and watched their interactions with each other. The local people are so gracious and made every minute a delight. The accomodations were great. I loved waking up in the morning to the sounds of the forest. The added luxury of a massage was a great way to end the trip!"
July 26, 2013
"Our family of 6 traveled to Morocco for a 9 day Imperial cities discovery, I was absolutely amazing. Our guide Lahcen Zaaim was the best guide we have EVER had and we have traveled to many countries. There was not one subject that he was not knowledgeable about. He made the trip sooooo memorable. He was so flexible and when he picked us up in the mornings to head out, he was talking nonstop to tell us soo much about everything we were seeing. There was soooo much to see in Morocco and he made sure we saw it all.. He truly has a gift in the touring business, you feel as if your leaving your best friend when the trip is over. When we got to the airport in casablanca, he spotted us before we saw him and of course, we asked him, how did you recognize us? He even went as far as to get the King of Moroccos artist to meet us at our riad the night before we left to return home late to do our names in moroccan arabic to frame, They were beautiful, He showed us a picture of the Kings Face he had done for the Palace! Lily Baffour from Kensington planned our trip and she was amazing, planning everything as she thought we would like based on what I told her. She did an Outstanding job and literally sent our Iteniaries by next day air in a beautifully done spiral bound personally book for each family that was going on the trip, SOOOOOO IMPRESSED and she even got the guide we requested!!!! I cant say enough about this trip and Kensington, we will definitely use again!!! We experienced a VERY different culture in going to Morocco and thats what we wanted, a Very different exotic trip and thats what we got!!!! Again our accomodations we Top Notch, staying in the TRuly authenic Riads, they were SOOOOO Luxurious, Plan on taking another suitcase or buying one there because you will buy more things to bring home than any other trip because of all the Handicrafts there, especially in Fes!!!
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