Home > Blog > Adventurous Travel DRC > Trekking Bonobos in the Wild, join our July 2024 group

Trekking Bonobos in the Wild, join our July 2024 group

Trekking Bonobos in the wild DR Congo
Loving Bonobos in the Lomami National Park

Trekking Bonobos in the wild is an adventurous and rare experience that will bring you to the untouched DR Congo. The Bonobos are our closest living relatives, with more than 99% identical DNA. Moreover, Bonobos are endemic to the DR Congo.

The Bonobos are a very rare animal to see in the wild, while the landscape of the Congo is a visit to the true heart of Africa. Trekking Bonobos in the wild is not the Africa of Kenya or South Africa, this is raw, untouched, wild Africa. The experience of seeing the locals along the river going about their daily lives is something that, in all likelihood, can only be found in one or two places in the world. Yes, this is not an easy trip, but it can be very rewarding if you can handle the unpredictable environment that is the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Where to see the Bonobos in the Wild

Kwafrika Travel provides you a unique opportunity to visit Bonobos in the wild in Western Congo. This is done in partnership with local communities and the support of their customary power in Bolobo Territory, Mai-Ndombe Province, about 300 km north of Kinshasa, the capital of the DRC.

The trekking is done in the Mai-Ndombe forest, an area of 10 million hectares, which has some trees measuring between 35 and 45 meters. You will encounter with Bateke people who are known for living on the banks of Congo River. In Nkala and surrounding villages, the Batéké have a longstanding taboo on eating bonobos. They believe that the bonobo was first a human who failed to repay a debt and escaped to the forest to avoid being enslaved. Learn about their history, culture and tradition.

This experience can be done in 5 to 8 days as Tshumbiri is located 300 Km on the Congo River from Kinshasa, DR Congo’s capital city. It is done in harmony with Téké people who are a part of communities living in the area. For more check our featured itinerary to Tshumbiri

Why you should go trekking Bonobos in the wild

This is one of the few places in the world where regular tourists can see Bonobos in the wild, in their natural environment. In addition to trekking Bonobos in the wild, the extensive trip just to get to the forest is worth it. The sights on and along the Congo River are unique and beautiful as you pass villages and locals going about their daily lives. This is truly a-once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Moreover, if you care about conservation, thanks to bonobos permits and tourism activities that we are promoting  in the areas through tourists like you, the reserve is engaging in awareness raising programme in local villages to revive the bushmeat taboo; establishing a network of six community protected forest areas; employing local villagers as bonobo trackers; and developing small-scale development activities.

How to get there:

Kinshasa – Tchumbiri

Option 1;  Using a speedboat

Trekking Bonobos in the Wild (speedboat)
Crédit photo: ONG MBOU MON TOUR (coordo local)

This is the fastest option. You will embark from a private port in Kinshasa to reach Tshumbiri 4 hours later.

Option 2;  Using a comfortable motorized wooden canoe

Visiting bonobos in the wild, how to get there
crédit photo: ONG MBOU MON TOUR

This is the longest option to reach Tshumbiri, you will leave too early in the morning from Kinshasa. Get ready for 12 hours navigation. If you want to see more of local life and activities on the Congo River, this is right means of transportation for you to Tchumbiri. Discover the Congo River, its traffic and its inhabitants in a particular immersion formula approach. You will leave at 6 am from Kinshasa to reach Tshumbiri at around 6 PM.

Tchumbiri – Nkala

Jeep Toyota Landcruiser, Kwafrika Travel off-roading

On your arrival in Tshumbiri, you take a jeep which will take you to Nkala, a two hours drive on a unpaved road.

Where to stay when trekking bonobos in the Wild

Basic accommodation:

Credit photo: MBOU MON TOUR, NKALA 2023

We offer basic accommodation when visiting bonobos in the wild. There is no running water, we will avail solar panels for limited charging of camera batteries. There is no mobile phone service, unless you have a satellite phone. If available, you could have options to use our spacious tents with air mattresses that we could bring along.

What to expect in the forest

Western Congo, trekking bonobos in the wild

The trail when trekking Bonobos in the wild both in Nkala is mostly about 1 foot (30cms) wide, in some cases you will need to walk through knee high water. Also, you will climb over fallen logs, roots, rocks and other obstacles along the path. There are a lot of biting ants along the path, so tucking your pants into heavy socks is highly recommended.

What to expect the day of  trekking Bonobos in the wild:

Trekking Bonobos in the wild requires getting up around 3-4 am in order to hike through the jungle to the Bonobo nests before they wake up. The hike can take anywhere from 1-3 hours depending on where the Bonobos have made their nests. The rangers know where they are and will lead you there in the dark. Once you get close to the nests, you will wait in silence until the Bonobos wake up and the day begins to lighten. Once they have gotten accustomed to your presence, you will be allowed to follow the Bonobos as the move through the forest eating and socializing.

Note that you may be following a group as small as 3-5 or as large as 15-20, and be aware that they do not always come down from the top of the trees in which case seeing them or taking pictures can be very challenging due to the density of the jungle. After 3-4 hours (depending on where the Bonobos go), you will return to the camp / guesthouse.

Join our 2024 group tours to trekking bonobos in the Wild

Renting out a speedboat or motorized canoe, a 4WD jeep Toyota land cruiser and other fixed costs making it harder (or expensive) for one or two people to engage in one of our tours to trekking bonobos in the wild. Reason why, we always organize one yearly group tours. Next year, from the 10th to the 16th of July 2024,  we hope to bring a minimum of 5 people trekking bonobos in the wild, through this featured itinerary of ours to trekking bonobos in the Wild.

The itinerary is made of 7 days and 6 nights with a a cost 3 299  USD per person for a group of 5 people. The price includes: • A professional guide, English and French • Accommodation: hotel in Kinshasa, guesthouse and tents on the ground • Complete food (except drinks but with 1.5 liters of mineral water per person) • All transfers mentioned in the program. The price will not include: • Visa (540 USD per person) • Individual Insurance. • Accidents and sickness • Delays and cancellations • Inernational flights • Airport infrastructure tax (55 USD) • Contingencies.

If interested, get I you touch with us by talking to our of our travel specialist: +243 971 360 705 (WhatsApp), [email protected]

Tips & warnings:

(1) Note that unfortunately as for many countries in Africa, corruption is alive and well in the Democratic Republic of Congo. While the local guide will handle the payoffs to the local authorities (which will occur at almost every village you stop in), you should bring at least US$500.00 (in clean, post-2006 bills) in cash to handle unexpected emergencies. Credit cards and travelers cheques are useless.

(2) Bring a sun hat, lots of sunscreen and insect repellent. The canoes do not have any sun protection and it can get very hot during the day. In Kinshasa, along the river and in the jungle, you will need to spray yourself liberally with insect repellent, especially if you are travelling during the rainy season.

(3) Bring a waterproof bag for all of your possessions.

(4) Bring a fleece jacket, it can cool off at night time.

(5) A decent pocket knife, waterproof matches, and a small camp towel are also recommended.

(6) Bring anti malaria pills just in case.

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.