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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
November 08, 2012
"I am a world traveller and this was one of my Top 3 vacations ever! Kensington Tours did a great job with EVERY little detail, from the planning to being met and catered to every step of the way. Our favorite lodges were Tau Pan in the Kalahari, Botswana & Moon Mountain in Sossusvlei, Namibia. We especially loved the Batswana people and all the animals we saw at Camp Moremi on the Okavanga River. The highlight of our trip was actually our stay in Swakopmund when we stayed on the South Atlantic & went for an exciting boat ride to see all the sealife up close and personal (like a seal coming onboard the boat!), a rollar coaster dune ride in a 4 X 4!! the balloon ride over the red sand dunes over Namibia and several champagne brunches in the middle of the desert. Also, will never forget all the sundowmer game drives which ended with our favorite cocktail, watching the sunset with wildlife close at hand!
Unforgettable. Thanks Ivona for planning it all!"
October 26, 2012
"35 Goose Pond Road
Lincoln, MA 01773
Re: Steven Weru Kinyua, Kenya tour guide
We recently returned from a wonderful 8 day tour of Kenya with Steven, he is an exceptional individual. But one example: As we returned to the Samburu lodge from our first game drive, Steven pointed out a young, sick-looking lion in the shade of a tree. We observed it momentarily and soon returned to the lodge for dinner.
The next day Steven mentioned he had reported the weak young lion to the local Samburu ranger. Steven explained that due to the arrival of a new alpha male in his pride the young lion had likely been chased out before he was able to hunt for himself. He further explained that the young lion would be welcome back in a week or two, if he were alive. I pursued the full story w/Steven. The ranger Steven had reported the weak lion to had been unresponsive, indicating he would do nothing. Steven, unsatisfied w/that response told the ranger to report it to the Head Park Ranger, or he would. The Head Ranger agreed with Steven's analysis of the situation; bought 10 kilos of meat for the young lion; and directed his staff to feed it appropriately.
Steven understood the workings of that lion pride, and has an exceptional knowledge of all the wild animals of Kenya. Furthermore he has a passion for their well-being. He would not accept a lazy, disinterested response from the local ranger. During our trip in Kenya I had occasion to speak to groups of secondary school students. I related Steven's actions as an excellent example of a Kenyan's knowledge, passion and commitment.
One day Steven pointed out a cheetah. We saw the cheetah w/a young impala in its mouth. After the cheetah had choked the young impala, Steven explained the mother cheetah was calling her cubs --it was thrilling to see the 3 cubs come tearing across the plain creating a mini-dust storm in their wake. The mother gave the kill to her cubs. Steven explained they had to learn to open it up. Shortly she sent them off the kill, twenty paces or so, then froze, looking westerly. A lion, smelling the kill Steven explained, was moving off to the north about a 1000 yards away. Intent on the lion the mother cheetah remained frozen in place (as we're the cubs, mimicking their mother). After the lion passed the mother called the cubs back to the kill. Not 15 minutes later the lion came back, followed by yapping jackels, this time moving off to the east of the cheetahs. As soon as the lion appeared, the mother cheetah repeated her previous actions, sending off the cubs and freezing over the kill, intently watching the lion. Steven explained that the jackels were distracting the lion from the kill, knowing if the lion found the kill, nothing would be left for them. Again the lion passed off to the southeast, never able to find the cheetah kill.
This summary highlights events that played out over a 90 minute period. In that time several tourist rovers and vans came, took pictures of the cheetahs, and left. None of those tourists had a complete explanation of the scene that was playing out before us. Game-viewing w/Steven is a rich experience, a clear cut above the average.
In our time w/Steven we had lengthy conversations about the pluses and minuses of grass-burning, the challenges of maintaining wildlife corridors, park encroachment by locals, roadway underpasses for big game, etc. in addition we discussed ukabila and other political challenges facing Kenya. Steven Kinyua is an exceptional Kenyan guide. He has a wonderful sense of humor, and made our Kenya safari a wonderful learning experience we will cherish for years.
Mark Masterson, Ed.D."
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! I seriously doubt that two other people could have made this trip as fantastic and special as they did! Within days, it was like 4 friends were traveling together through the country.
Ismail did the tour in English and Spanish for us to ensure that we fully understood everything we saw and experienced. His passion for his country and culture was incredible and we learned an astounding amount about Moroccan history, food, agriculture, business, religion, fashion, and people. Through his shared knowledge, we have a deep love and appreciation of Morocco that we have would not have had otherwise.
We were so happy with all of the amazing places Ismail took us which included the common tourist spots but also a ton of local places tourist never experience. We were exceedingly thrilled and it enriched our vacation beyond any expectations. Ismail even helped us get jobs in Morocco; I kissed snakes and Armando worked in a public bakery. ;-) (see the pics)
We are also aware that we would not have experienced 10% of what we did had we done this trip alone or been on a large bus tour. Clearly, you have given us a wonderful gift of special memories, which we will never forget. We both want to return to see the north and of course we want to have Ismail and Said with us.
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 - which is the best gift of all!
Thank you from the bottom of our hearts,
Avi J. Moskovitz & Armando Silva
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!"
October 29, 2013
"My husband and I have just returned from the trip of a lifetime in Egypt. The sites were amazing and overwhelming. Everything was as promised. We had the most amazing pyramid view and Nile view from our hotels. Our itinerary included the most magnificent sites and we were accompanied by the most informative and friendly people. I highly recommend visiting Egypt. It is totally safe. Thank you to everyone at Kensington for this experience. It was so beyond our expectations!"
October 31, 2013
"From our greeter, who whisked us through customs in Johannesburg, to all our excellent drivers, guides and associates in Lions Sands, Cape Town and the wine country, everyone was highly professional, well dressed, well mannered, and well informed. Overall our tour worked like a superbly designed, technically perfect Swiss watch. An experience for the ages. Bravo!"
October 29, 2013
"This was a trip of a life time for me and I was never disappointed. Sylvia listen to me and give me exactly what I wanted in the way of a photo Safari as well as full tour of Cape Town and the wine country. I never had to wait one minute for a guide or any of the transportation provided. The people I dealt with along the way could not have been more courteous and friendly. I just cannot say enough about my experience with Kensington Tours, it was fabulous! "
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!"
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