One of Africa’s oldest national parks, Odzala-Kokoua National Park in the Congo comprises the world’s second largest rainforest and is home to the majestic western lowland gorilla.
First designated a national park by the ruling French administration in 1935, the park covers some 8,450 miles of pristine rainforest. On average, the forest receives fifty-nine inches of rain per year during its two wet seasons from March-May and September-October. These abundant rains create the beautiful forest, rivers, and marshes within the park. The two main rivers, the Lekoli and Kokoua flow into the Mambili channel. The Mambili in turn flows into the great Congo Basin. A major feature of the park is the bai or swampy, grass areas that provide open land for other larger mammals to roam.
A wide variety of wildlife call Odzala-Kokoua home, but the main draw to the park is the western lowland gorilla. Deep within the rainforest, the marantaceae forest creates the perfect habitat for the around 22,000 lowland gorillas as well as other primates including the putty-nose monkeys, crowned and mustached monkeys, and the rare chimpanzees. These primates are very much at home in the trees. Two families of gorillas have been habituated for visitors: the Neptuno and the Jupiter.