Our last day in Odzala-Kokoua National Park. At a civilised time we walked down to breakfast in the main dining/entertaining area of the Mboko camp. It was warm and the morning was lighting up giving us a great view across a section of savanna down towards the Lekoli river. Breakfast was a sumptuous affair and once sated we drove down to the boats to cruise down the river and walk in a few areas of the forest we had not yet seen.
“The purpose of life, after all, is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.”~Eleanor Roosevelt
The light was low down among the trees where the boats were moored. About fifty metres upstream of the boats, were heard an elephant breaking branches.
“The biggest adventure you can take is to live the life of your dreams.”~ Oprah Winfrey
We quietly made our way up the river on foot to get a decent view of this forest elephant bull without disturbing him. After seven days in Odzala you do not get precious about getting wet.
We watched this one tusk forest elephant bull happily feeding undisturbed at the edge of the river. This must have been paradise for him with abundant food, water and protection of the reserve.
After watching the bull elephant for about half an a hour we left him in peace and wandered back down the river to the boats. From there our Odzala guides, Daniella and Adi, took us by boat down the Lekoli river to explore further. The forest was alive with wildlife. This male Forest buffalo heard our boat and looked up to ensure we were just passing.
“One way to get the most out of life is to look upon it as an adventure.”~William Feather
We stopped at one of the small inlets along the river to go walking in some of the drier parts of the forest. There were forest openings, not quite the size of a bai, but do not be fooled, these marshy areas can be problematic if you do not know what you are doing. This next image shows Adi wading through the marshy area which got deep and difficult to get through in places .
Further on in a drier section, the walking was easier and the area opened up into beautiful glades.
It was clear to see that Wild Eye’s Andrew Beck was in his element.
We carried on walking through the open sections along the side of the forest finding these stunning areas with grey parrots calling all around us.
Around lunchtime, much to our surprise, Daniella and Adi produced a picnic lunch on some rocks by the edge of a beautiful open area next to the forest. We spent a happy hour or so relaxing and chatting over lunch. The bird life all around was spectacular with many Grey parrots and different species of hornbills continuously flying past.
After lunch we walked back towards the boat but this time through the long savanna grasses. I am no entomologist but even I was intrigued by the variety of insect life we found on the way. One species of insect that caught my imagination was a stunning rainbow shield bug on some yellow berries on a shrub along side the path.
Along the animal paths there were sprinklings of shrubs with beautiful wild flowers such as this Melastromastrum segregatum.
Verdant vegetation overhanging the river. This looked to be a species of wisteria fighting for light with another tree with beautiful white flowers. There is so much food for the monkeys, parrots and nectar feeders. The forest also provides abundant fruit resources for frugivores such as parrots, hornbills, turacos and barbets.
“People don’t take trips, trips take people.” ~John Steinbeck
Once back in the boat we travelled back upstream towards the Mboko camp. When we drew level with the Lango bai entrance, Adi got a fleeting glimpse of a Forest elephant. He reckoned that we may be able to get into a position where we could see the Forest elephant in the open and get some good images. We went up the Lango tributary as far as we could and it soon got too shallow for the boat so we hopped out and proceeded on foot through water. Adi was 100% right we got to see this bull Forest elephant come into the open.
This bull immediately saw us and was not happy. After walking a few paces he stopped and accessed what we were doing and decided to give us a mock charge. It was just for show as we were not close to him and there was plenty of thick mud between us.
After telling us that he did not want us any closer he backed away and walked through the bush and made his way down river. We walked back to our boat and managed to get some decent images of the bull crossing the Lango tributary.
“There is a language going on out there – the language of the wild. Roars, snorts, trumpets, squeals, whoops and chirps have meaning derived over eons of expression…we have yet to become fluent in the language – and music – of the wild.”~Boyd Norton
Not far from where the bull crossed the Lango tributary there was a feeding frenzy in an adjacent small section of the swamp which attracted Little egrets, Yellow-billed egrets, and a Palm-nut vulture.
“Like winds and sunsets, wild things were taken for granted until progress began to do away with them.”~ Aldo Leopold
After the the sighting of the elephant bull, the light was starting to fade as the evening quietly crept in. We celebrated the end of what was a fascinating day sitting in the boat with a sundowner and watched mother nature’s spectacular light show at sunset.
“Man is but part of the community of nature on our blue planet. Our arrogance and ignorance blinds us into thinking we are superior. Humility and inquisitiveness reveals that we have much still to learn about the natural intelligence in our wild community and how to live in harmony with it.”~ Mike Haworth
A special thank you to the team at Odzala for your hospitality and showing us your incredible wild place. To our guide in Odzala, Daniella Kueck thank you for showing us around your vast piece of tropical heaven. Your knowledge and enthusiasm were inspiring. To Andrew Beck from Wild Eye, thank you for putting together an absolutely fascinating trip which turned into an adventure with cameras. Many more to come.
“If you are always trying to be normal you will never know how amazing you can be.”~ Maya Angelou
I am always so impressed by the quality of people, their dedication and clear conceptual approach to building a tourist destination without compromising the wildness and balance of the area. To the Congo Conservation Company and African Parks you are doing wonderful pioneering work in combining conservation, tourism, wildlife research and community integration into what looks to be an effective sustainable model and blueprint for recovering many of our decimated wild areas in Africa. Hats off to you for your great work!!!
Explore, seek to understand, marvel at its inter-connectedness and let it be.
Have fun, Mike