Dzanga-Sangha Special Reserve
Dzanga Sangha National Reserve is in Southwest Region of the Central African Republic.
The park is entirely covered in lowland rainforest and is situated adjacent to the Sangha River — a major tributary of the Congo River. Together with Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park in the Republic of the Congo and Lobéké National Park in Cameroon they constitute the UNESCO World Heritage Site Sangha Trinational.
Flora and fauna
Large mammals include the western lowland gorillas, forest elephants, forest buffaloes, bongo, giant forest hog, red river hog, chimpanzee, a host of monkey species, sitatungas and a number of duiker species.
Travel within Central Africa is not as scary as it sounds but it is within Central Africa where you will find Africa in its raw form, completely uncommercialised or changed by modern tourism and most outside influences.
From Bangui: Travel down to Bayanga by car from Bangui is one of the many routes to get to Dzanga Sangha and Sangha Lodge. Vehicles can be hired with drivers from one of several operators in Bangui. A stopover at N'gotto, a national park project with very comfortable accommodation at Encampment Le Buffel Rouge, is recommended. The trip can be done in one very long day's driving and with an early departure from Bangui in good conditions you can easily arrive before dark. It is also possible to charter a small aircraft from Bangui to Bayanga, approximately 1 hour's flight and cost dependent on the aircraft size are from $3500. Aircraft charters must be arranged well prior to your expected dates of departure. Approximate prices for aircraft rental for two trips (one to drop off, one to pick up, unless you plan to stay for less than a day):
- Aéroclub Bangui M’Poko ([email protected])—€1830 (1 200 000 FCFA), Cessna 182 with 3 seats
- MINAIR (Tel. 00236 610091)
- Cessna with 5 seats: €4300 (2 820 000 FCFA)
- Cessna 404 with 9 seats: €5500 (3 600 000 FCFA)
- Dornier Do 288 with 18 seats: Available on demand
From Brazzaville, capital of the Republic of Congo: it is possible to fly from Brazzaville to Ouesso in the north of the country on a scheduled Trans-Air Congo flight, and from there with the proper prior arrangements the Sangha lodge boat can collect you and transfer you upriver to the lodge. This is our most popular route for this trip.
From Yaounde or Douala, in Cameroon: it is possible to travel overland with a stopover in the towns of Bertoua and Yakadouma to Lebongo on the Sangha river where with prior arrangement the Sangha lodge boat can collect you and transfer you upriver to the lodge.
From Libreville in Gabon: it is possible to charter a plane directly to Bayanga, or to Ouesso and from there transfer to Bayanga By the Sangha Lodge Pirogue.
Fees/ and permits
Cost of activities (July 2011-June 2013)
- National Park entrance fees, €30/person per day
- Visit to forest elephants at Dsangha Bai , €60/person
- Gorilla tracking, €300/person
- Agile Mangabey tracking, €15/person
- Saline tour, €30/person
- Pirogue ride on the Sangha, €40/canoe (max. 3 people)
- Water drumming, €10/person
- Net hunting with the Ba'aka, €35/person
- Traditional Ba'aka/Bantu music and dancing, €35/person
- Crossbow hunting with the Ba'aka, €20/person
- Medicinal plant collecting with the Ba'aka, €20/person
- Cooking with Ba'aka women, €20/person
- Construction of leaf huts with Ba'aka, €20/person
- 4x4 incl. driver & fuel (up to 100km)
- Half day: €75/vehicle
- Full day: €150/vehicle
- Over 100km: €1/km
4X4 vehicles can be rented from a host of small, independent operators in Bayanga. The average cost is around €100 per day which includes a driver, but excludes fuel. Fees for vehicle hire in the park are listed above.
Pirogues (small motorised wooden boats) can be rented from Sangha Lodge for travel to and from either Cameroon or the Republic Of Congo.
- Gorilla tracking—Walk through the jungle accompanied by an international team of researchers on the trail of Western Lowland Gorillas
- Agile Mangabey tracking—Walk through the jungle to observe a troupe of Agile Mangabeys, a poorly understood species of monkey with a vast vocal repertoire
- Observing Forest Elephants—Walk through the jungle to a large clearing where dozens of elusive forest elephants (one of the rarest species of elephant) can be observed from an elevated platform.
- Saline tours—Follow elephant paths through the jungle to clearings and salines where a large number of forest residents can be seen (elephants, buffalo, sitatunga, bongos, monkeys, and more.
- Pirogue ride—Take a ride along the Sangha River in a dugout canoe (pirogue) and enjoy the park from a different, tranquil perspective. On some trips, you will meander through swamps to palm trees and watch as palm wine is extracted.
- Net hunting—Accompany pygmies on a hunt through the jungle for small animals. Collect leaves and plants to make delicious sauces back at their camp to accompany the day's catch, cooked up over an open fire.
- Collect medicinal plant—Accompany a group of pygmy women through the jungle to collect medicinal plants. Learn the secrets of the forest, passed down for millennia of Bantu women, as you search for leaves to press for sap or roll to apply various medicines to the eyes or ear.
- Music & dance—Spend an evening of singing and dance with a Ba'aka tribe.
Palm wine, a local speciality, is available at local bars.
There are 2 lodges:
Sangha Lodge is on the banks of the Sangha river in the heart of the forest, and is a quiet and relaxing camp from which to base yourself. [email protected]
Doli Lodge, far larger, is adjacent to the village of Bayanga. It is ideal for those who like to visit the local villages. The kitchen sometimes features a buffet of tasty African dishes.
Contrary to all accounts of travel in Central African Republic, there have been no serious threats to safety of travelers in the Dzangha-Sangha National Reserve. As of Feb 2023, the national park is under control of government forces, although caution should be taken if traveling in by road from Bangui.