The Conkouati-Douli National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located on the coast of the Congo. Bordering the Congo and Gabon, this unbroken band of Equatorial coastal splendour is a meeting point of unique terrain—rainforest, the Noumbi river system, and Atlantic Ocean beaches.
This ancient lost world of wonder is renowned for its remarkable coastal scenery, quite unlike anywhere else in the world. Because of its lack of tourist infrastructure, it remains one of the most remote and hidden diamonds-in-the-rough of the Congo. This is the only protected marine park in the Congo that offers an unrivalled wilderness experience.
Migratory birds, western lowland gorillas, chimpanzees, and forest elephants can be found in this mixed environment. The dazzling incongruent scenes of beaches, floodplain forests, lagoons, and savannah give rise to some of the world’s most startling scenes. The most impressive sight of all are scenes of nesting leatherback turtles covering the white beaches of the coast.
Conkouati-Douli National Park is off the tourist route, which means it can be tricky to access. Antonio-Agostinho-Neto International Airport serves Pointe Noire and is located roughly 100 kilometres from the entrance of the national park. The national park is a mysterious destination, well-worth the adventure of getting there.
A World Heritage Site is a landmark or area with legal protection by an international convention administered by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. World Heritage Sites are designated by UNESCO for having cultural, historical, scientific or other forms of significance.
Birds move around areas of low resources to high resources and therefore migrate seasonally for food and nesting locations.
The beaches of Conkouati are some of the most vital regions in the world for nesting leatherback turtles. Five different species of turtles nest on the beaches of the park. Other interesting marine life to spot includes luminescent fish species, manatees, whales, and schools of humpback dolphins.
Primates such as the colourful mandrill, western lowland gorillas, chimpanzees, and vervet monkeys are found in abundance. The rainforests of the Congo provide an ideal habitat for these primates.
Commonly spotted mammals include the sitatunga and red river hogs. The number of buffalo and forest elephants in the area is increasing, and sightings are becoming more prominent. In previous years, the numbers dropped drastically.
Migratory birds move to the Congo and are normally found close to the banks of the Noumbi River. On the shores of the ocean, there are abundant aquatic birds. The hairy slit faced bat, Senegal coucal, and the blue breasted bee-eater are just a few of the exciting birds to spot. In total, there are 298 species of birdlife in the Conkouati-Douli National Park.
The Congo Basin is a lush area that enjoys heavy rainfalls. The dry season is the best time of year to visit because of the short grass and thinned out vegetation. The tropical climate of the Congo has two distinct seasons, the wet and the dry season. The dry season is from June to August and the fierce rain season is September to May.
Conkouati-Douli National Park is a birder’s paradise. The remote region means that avid birders can potentially spot lifers and unique migratory birds on the checklist. Birdwatching safaris in this part of the Congo are popular.
Boat cruises in motorised pirogues on the Noumbi River introduce visitors to birdlife nesting in reed-lined shores, providing a unique way of seeing unusual terrain. There are also areas where tourists can fish—these fishing safaris need to be arranged before arrival.
Whales, dolphins, manatees, and leatherback turtles can be spotted on the beaches in the national park. Guided walks to try and find primates is also one of the main activities in Conkouati-Douli National Park.
Accommodation in Conkouati-Douli National Park is rustic. The remote location means that only basic amenities are provided (bedding, hammocks) and often hot water is not available. The national park is only home to eco-lodges. Visitors desiring more luxurious accommodations are encouraged to stay in Pointe Noire, 100 kilometres from the park.