Planting this idea in your head: A trip to the Dzanga-Sangha Biosphere

This is too early for planning in detail, but two reasons that I’m starting to think about a my tip to the CAR and the nearby Congo:

1. I heard that as of now, Rod Cassidy received funding to have Sangha lodge opened for another year-and-a-half but I don’t know what will happen afterwards.

2. I’m finishing up my thesis by the end of this year, and there’s no better time to go on a great adventure than right after I finish my hard work for school.

Well – there are other reasons to go there, like… have you seen the mammal list at the lodge?? Also, the black and white-bellied pangolins they rescued are basically semi-wild, going out to forage for ants and then coming back sometimes to hang out with Tamar and Rod. They hang around the vicinity of the lodge but are almost completely wild, and will likely mate with totally wild ones in the (near?) future.

Also it seems that the local people seem to get more efficient at finding their completely wild counterparts. And that’s aside from Pottos, Anomalures, Lowland Gorillas, forest elephants, 10-ish other species of monkeys and galagos, clawless otters, bongos, giant forest and red river hogs, and more. I don’t want to sound like a “birder” (JK) but there are also many many interesting bird species in the area, as you are all probably well aware of.

So I think Max Chiswick and I will be going sometime this coming Jan-March, and if there are 1-2 more people who would like to join, I think it could potentially make it a bit less costly per (and more awesome) for everyone 🙂

It will probably be a 2-3 week adventure in the region not including the international flights. More details tba later on, but if anyone is interested let me know here or via hotmail (yes, I still use hotmail.. lol):

Anyway, I will remind y’all about this again when it becomes more relevant, but I’m just planting the idea in your head so that it can ferment for a couple of months until you wake up in the middle of the night, screaming “I’M GOING TO THE CAR WITH TOMER AND MAX!”. You’re welcome.


  • vnsankar123

    I went in July and all I can say is that a visit to Dzanga Sangha is the most amazing wildlife experience I’ve ever had. Regarding some of the wildlife, Rod is a great source of information and will tell you everything you need to know on finding many interesting species. In Jan-March (main dry season), Bongo are apparently in the bai 1 in 2 visits, so very likely (more difficult later in the year). Hogs are more difficult (1 in 4 times in the bai for both). With regards to Pangolins, you have a good chance of White-bellied (Long-tailed is always very hard) Pangolin especially in the dry season as Rod can send trackers into the forest near the lodge at night to locate them by sound as they make a lot of noise foraging in the forest matter. You’ll have a great time – go before it’s too late! The pet Pangolins are amazing (so sad to hear that Oko passed away).

    By the way, regarding Congo Clawless Otter, they are very difficult unless you go to Dzanga Stream very early in the morning, when they are more likely – try to organize this; it might also be a good idea to stay in Bai Hokou Camp (that can get you Long-nosed Mongoose with luck). I’d recommend doing at least 2 trips to Dzanga Bai, lots of bai walks, and plenty of trips with Rod around the lodge to maximize species count. Good luck! I wish I could go again, but no time…

  • matthhias

    Damn… I don’t know if you ever wrote something like this before. But I’m afraid it is already having an effect on me…. Just looked up flights from Belgium 🙂

  • tomeslice

    Thanks Venkat! I will surely contact Rod a few months before and make sure he knows all my interests. I will also make sure to make a couple of visits to the bai and the Dzanga Stream 🙂

    I just saw that Oko passed away which is really sad. Incidentally they did just receive another rescue white-bellied/tree pangolin. Hopefully this one will do better!

    Matthhias…. GOOD! See you in a few months 🙂
    In all seriousness though, I will keep you updated when it gets closer and we start talking about possible dates.

    • vnsankar123

      If you’ve got any questions on wildlife or logistics (post-civil war), don’t hesitate to ask! In terms of getting to the park, I’d really recommend taking a plane from Yaounde – even a researcher I talked to (Carolyn Jost Robinson, who lived in Bayanga for several years) said to avoid driving via Cameroon at all costs – getting more people will definitely make the plane more affordable…

      Alternatively, you can also fly to Ouesso from Brazzaville and go through Nouabale-Ndoki (specifically Mondika and Mbeli), which will give you very good chances at Congo Clawless and if lucky, Spotted-necked Otters and better chances at De Brazza’s Monkey, which is now somewhat difficult at Sangha (Sangha Lodge is the only realistic site now – they were heard the day before I was there, but never during my stay – Rod joked he would hear one the day after!). By the way, if you go via Nouabale-Ndoki to Sangha Lodge (a 4 hr boat trip I think), ask the boatman to go by Bomassa Island if you can as there are apparently Allen’s Swamp Monkeys here; Rod tells me there are Red Colobus along the river N of Bomassa, so these will be 2 more species you can add. In general though as far as I know, Dzanga Sangha is better for mammals overall than NN.

      • tomeslice

        Thank you again!!
        Yeah, I’m hoping to do Mbeli Bai too while I’m in the area.. I was just reading about another species that’s found in the area but very rarely seen.. Giant Pangolin! So there r actually 3 of these guys in this ecosystem!
        I will definitely try to get these species! And I may hit you up with questions if I have any 🙂

  • tomeslice

    Abso-f***ing-lutely! I’m in.

    • tomeslice

      Well, they’re not fixed.

      I do believe we will have best chance to see Bongos, pangolins and some others during that season.. But in fact Max just told me he can’t go until the summer.. I will have to see how that fits with my schedule because I’m not sure summer is a good time to go. When r u thinking?

    • vnsankar123


      I went in July — this is a period of the rainy season known as the “short dry season”. We only had rain 3 times during our stay, always at night (generally dinner time) and often had time to do night walks right after the rain stopped. It generally only lasted a couple hours at a time when we were there.
      Rod says this (Jul-Aug) is his favorite time to be in the park – the trees are fruiting everywhere and everything is fresh and green.

      With regards to the wildlife, viewing is probably going to be tougher than in Feb-Mar. Your chances for Bongos and RR Hogs will definitely drop quite a bit (Bongo are FAR from guaranteed in Jul-Aug and same for hogs, you need luck!), but you’ll still see some Forest eles and Buffalo in Dzanga Bai and Sitatunga at Bai Hokou; you should see a few duiker sp., monkeys, and squirrels on trails in Bai Hokou and Sangha Lodge. You have a good chance of Palm Civet, Potto, and if you’re lucky, Hammer Bat on night walks, but Pangolin chances drop as the leaf litter is not as crunchy as in the dry season so they’re harder to locate. This is also a good time of year to see nesting Picathartes, if you’re interest. That said, I missed a family of RR hogs by minutes near Bai Hokou, GF hogs by a couple of hours in Dzanga Bai (Andrea had seen them early in the morning before I arrived on my first day), and had stacks of Bongo tracks at the first bai in Bai Hokou (animals had come to drink the previous night). Tracks of a BIG leopard in Bai Hokou too…

      Regarding Bonobos, I think Lomako and Kokolopori will be the best places. I’d love to do Kokolopori someday and see Bonobo and Dryas Monkey…

  • tomeslice

    Thanks again guys!
    So based on this info, I do think around the end/beginning of the year is the better time to go, as opposed to the “short” dry season.

    Delaying by a year might work… though I might be going on a search for the Andean Mountain cat around that time.. 🙂 And we need to ask Rod if he thinks the lodge will still be open then. But we can definitely move it to email. I will get to you as soon as I get back from Iceland. (Oh yeah, I’m in Iceland by the way.. just arrived yesterday and already managed to see my first ever Northern Lights display last night just outside Reykjavik and it was AWESOME!)


  • kittykat23uk

    I would be interested. Incidentally I am still trying to put together a small group to do Ethiopia this December 5-21st. main focus is on mammals. Please email me at jodale twenty two at if you are interested. Details are in post 2 on this thread:

  • tomeslice

    I would love to join the Ethiopia adventure.. unfortunately I don’t think I will be able to this year.

    But I will keep you updated on the CAR trip if and when it materializes. The list of interested participants is growing 🙂

  • Luc

    Hey Tomer,
    I’ve send you a mail to your hotmailadress the first of october. Did you receive it?

    • tomeslice

      Hi Luc,

      Good thing you wrote me here because I accidentally deleted your email. But now I found it!
      I was just going to ask if you are the same Luc that was with me in the Pantanal.. and now from your email I see that you are!
      How good to hear from you!! How has life been since 2010? 🙂

      Well, I’ll catch up with you via email.
      The list of participants is definitely growing.. So far there are about 8-9 interested participants.

  • vdinets

    If I may ask, what would be the approximate cost of a trip to Dzanga-Sangha?

    • tomeslice

      The short answer: Not cheap.

      The long answer: I don’t know yet, I will start researching the logistics in collaboration with Rod (who I’m already in touch with) once I submit my thesis.. Damn thing is taking up most of my time, currently 🙂 This will happen in November.

      • vdinets

        Could you please let me know when you find out? Who knows, maybe tomorrow I’ll go hiking in the Sierra and stumble upon a nugget the size of a pangolin…

  • tomeslice

    Of course I will!
    I will make a new post as promised, with all the details. Right now I was just trying to recruit 2-3 participants, and it’s turning out there are 9-10 people who are interested 😀

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