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11-Day Bonobo Bonanza

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11-Day Bonobo Bonanza

11-Day Bonobo Bonanza, For many years, the chance to see the bonobo, arguably the most charismatic primate in Africa, has been limited to those with unlimited time and money. With their habitat deep in the recesses of the Congolese interior, you have historically had to journey to Lomako or Salonga to have a chance of a sighting. Now, though, the primates can be seen just hours from Kinshasa, making this the most accessible itinerary for bonobo-sightings yet.

Adventure involving bonobos and lowland gorillas in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) offers a unique opportunity to connect with two of our closest relatives in the animal kingdom. Here’s an overview of what such an adventure might entail:

Bonobos:

  • Habitat: Bonobos, also known as pygmy chimpanzees, are found exclusively in the forests of the Democratic Republic of Congo. They inhabit the dense rainforests of the Congo Basin.
  • Behavior: Bonobos are known for their peaceful and egalitarian social structure. They share over 98% of their genetic makeup with humans and exhibit fascinating behaviors, making them a subject of scientific interest.
  • Observation: Adventure with bonobos could involve trekking into the forest to observe these intelligent and social primates in their natural habitat. Guided treks with experienced trackers offer insights into their behaviors and interactions.

Lowland Gorillas:

  • Habitat: Lowland gorillas, specifically the Western lowland gorillas, inhabit the forests and swamps of Central and West Africa, including parts of the DRC.
  • Behavior: Lowland gorillas are the larger subspecies of gorillas, characterized by their impressive size and strength. They are herbivores, primarily feeding on plant matter.
  • Trekking Experience: Adventure with lowland gorillas might involve trekking through their habitat with the assistance of local guides and rangers. These treks offer a chance to observe these majestic creatures in their natural environment.

Highlights:

Kinshasa

Bombo Lumene

Bombo Lumene

Kinshasa

Tshumbiri

Nkala

Kinshasa

Tour End

Detailed itinerary

Day 1:Kinshasa

On arrival in Kinshasa you will be met by your Pictus Safaris tour leader and transferred to your comfortable local hotel. There will be a pre-tour briefing in the hotel this evening before dinner, with the remainder of the day at leisure for you to catch up on rest after a long inbound flight.

Main Destination:
Kinshasa (City)
Accommodation:
Pullman Kinshasa

  • Luxury hotel located in or near Kinshasa
Meals & Drinks:
  • Meals at own expense
  • Drinks not included

Day 2:Bombo Lumene

This morning, after breakfast in Kinshasa, we are met by closed 4×4 vehicles for the two-and-a-half hour transfer to the small reserve of Bombo Lumene. Not widely known outside of the expatriate community in Kinshasa, Bombo Lumene is one of the last vestiges of protected forest and savanna within driving distance of Kinshasa, and work done by a local NGO is ongoing to establish Bombo Lumene as an ecotourism destination.

Arriving at our basic tented camp, there will be time to settle in before we head out to explore the reserve this afternoon in closed vehicles. Charcoal burning and poaching means that much of the wildlife here has been extirpated but, remarkably, forest buffalo, black-fronted duiker and even red river hog still persist here and, with luck, we may glimpse them this afternoon.

After returning to camp for a local dinner, we will head out with spotlight for a night drive, where we will focus on forest duikers, as well as brush-tailed porcupine, genet and civet.

Main Destination:
Bombo Lumene
Accommodation:
Bombo Lumene Tented Camp

  • Budget tented camp located inside the park
Meals & Drinks:
  • All meals included
  • Drinking water (Other drinks not included)

Day 3-4: Bombo Lumene

The next two days are spent exploring Bombo Lumene at a sedate pace. Morning, afternoon and night drives will focus on the rare, charismatic species that persist here, most notably forest buffalo and red river hog. When not on drive, walks into the savanna and forest offer superb birding, and this is one of the only reliable places in the world to spot the elusive white-headed robin-chat.

Popular activities also include ‘floats’ down the river, swimming the in the safe, clear waters of the nearby river, and nature walks. Camp is comfortable, if basic, and is great place to relax as we acclimatise to the Congo.

Main Destination:
Bombo Lumene
Accommodation:
Bombo Lumene Tented Camp

  • Budget tented camp located inside the park
Meals & Drinks:
  • All meals included
  • Drinking water (Other drinks not included)

Day 5: Kinshasa

After a final morning in Bombo Lumene, we transfer back to Kinshasa and the modern-conveniences of our lovely hotel. The remainder of the day is at leisure ahead of a busy few days to come. An afternoon city tour can be arranged today at extra cost on request.

Main Destination:
Kinshasa (City)
Accommodation:
Pullman Kinshasa

  • Luxury hotel located in or near Kinshasa
Meals & Drinks:
  • Breakfast (Lunch & dinner not included)
  • Drinking water (Other drinks not included)

Day 6:Tshumbiri

After breakfast in Kinshasa, we transfer to the city port on the mighty Congo river. This port is exceedingly chaotic, and it will take us plenty of time to safely embark our speedboat for the five-hour journey upstream to Tshumbiri. Eventually, though, our journey will be underway, and we aim to arrive at Tshumbiri beach by mid-afternoon. From here, it is a car journey on narrow trails before we emerge at Nkala Village.

This village has been the site of an admirable effort by a local NGO to bring the benefits of bonobo tourism to the local community, and we are sure of an exceedingly warm welcome. We overnight in basic local guesthouses tonight, in preparation for adventurous days to come.

Main Destination:
Nkala
Accommodation:
Nkala Guest House

  • Budget guest house bordering the park without fences
Meals & Drinks:
  • Breakfast & dinner (Lunch not included)
  • Drinking water (Other drinks not included)

Day 7-9:Nkala

The next three days are sure to be both memorable and exhausting. Each morning, we arise before dawn, usually at 4am. We meet up with the local bonobo trackers and head into the nearby forest, aiming to intercept a family of bonobos as they descend to the forest floor from their nocturnal roosts.

The chances of a sighting are very high, although we should expect to have to battle through thick forest, wade streams and endure insect bites to do so. Eventually, though, we should emerge with the opportunity to spend time with and photograph these incredibly rare animals. Unlike chimpanzees and gorillas in East Africa, these are not habituated animals and they may sometimes be shy, so three days of trekking is needed to offer a good chance of an excellent sighting. Afternoons are spent in the village resting, and we overnight each night here too. Unfortunately, due to poaching, the chances of spotting any species other than bonobos is low.

Main Destination:
Nkala
Accommodation:
Nkala Guesthouse

  • Budget guest house bordering the park without fences
Meals & Drinks:
  • All meals included
  • Drinking water (Other drinks not included)

Day 10; Kinshasa

After breakfast, we return to the river today for our four-hour transfer back down the Congo to Kinshasa. On arrival at the port, we transfer once more to our comfortable hotel where we overnight and recover from a busy and taxing few days tracking bonobos.

Main Destination:
Kinshasa (City)
Accommodation:
Pullman Kinshasa

  • Luxury hotel located in or near Kinshasa
Meals & Drinks:
  • Breakfast (Lunch & dinner not included)
  • Drinking water (Other drinks not included)

Day 11: Tour End

Today, guests transfer back to the airport for their homeward flights.

Main Destination:
Kinshasa Airport (Kinshasa)
Accommodation:
No accommodation (End of tour)
Meals & Drinks:
  • Breakfast (Lunch & dinner not included)
  • Drinking water (Other drinks not included)

End of tour

  • Additional accommodation can be arranged for an extra cost.
  • You’ll be dropped off at the airport.

Price Includes

Park fees (For non-residents)

All activities (Unless labeled as optional)

All accommodation (Unless listed as upgrade)

A professional driver/guide

All transportation (Unless labeled as optional)

All Taxes/VAT

Roundtrip airport transfer

Meals

Drinks (As specified in the day-by-day section)

Price Excludes

International flights (From/to home)

Additional accommodation before and at the end of the tour

Tips (Tipping guideline US$10.00 pp. per day)

Personal items (Souvenirs, travel insurance, visa fees, etc.)

Government imposed increase of taxes and/or park fees

Some meals (As specified in the day-by-day section)

Thanks for specifically choosing bonobos African safari holidays…. we hope to meet again!!!

Best of 11-Day Bonobo Bonanza