Langoue research camp
Langoue is located in Ivindo National Park. Discovered by Mike Fay in 2000, the bai is a clearing in the forest frequented by many species of mammals and birds. Langoue is particular attractive to forest elephants and western lowland gorillas, both of which visit the bai regularly. Since 2001, the Wildlife Conservation Society has been conducting research programs at Langoue monitoring elephants and gorillas. There is a small team of researchers living at the research station close to the bai. It is possible to visit, though conditions are rustic, and all travellers must be prepared to be accommodating.
Accommodation at present is basic and only for the hardy African traveller but the wildlife and sheer wilderness of this untouched Eden is definitely worth it. Access to the camp is an exciting 3 hrs walk through the rainforest.any suspicious activities as well as gather scientific data along regular transects as part of mammal surveillance and botanical survey projects respectively. The camp is neatly set up with the basic facilities. There is a restaurant tent as well as four thatched canvas tents. Bucket showers are available and it goes without saying that warm water is on request. Electricity is available and video/camera batteries can be charged on site (both 220 and 110 VAC is available). Also available are computers with email and a satellite phone. You can make a phone call or send emails if you wish to contact loved ones while you are at Langoue.
How to get to the camp
To get to the bai, you must first take the train to Ivindo, a small forestry town in central Gabon. You will take the night train from Libreville, leaving around 09h00 pm, which arrives early in the morning. You will be picked up at the trainstation by someone from the Ivindo National Park staff and taken to the WCS Ivindo office, where you will have some time to rest, have breakfast and prepare for the rest of your journey. From Ivindo, you will be driven 75 km (about 3 hours) from Ivindo to the end of the road to Langoue. From here, it is roughly a 3 hour hike from the end of the road to camp. There is a steep hill at the beginning of the path that takes about 30 minutes to climb. From there, the path is flat. The heat combined with the intense high humidity makes the climb at the beginning more difficult than its equivalent in a cooler climate so come prepared for a hard walk. All visitors will be expected to carry their own baggage unless they have made arrangements directly with the Langoue staff ahead of time. Porterservice can be arranged but only when requested on forehand.
The Bai is a one hour walk from camp with a steep hill at the end. There are three platforms in trees along the edge of the bai that facilitates wildlife viewing. Guides are available to accompany you to the bai and on forest walks. Paths around Langoue pass through spectacular tropical forest with impressively large trees and exceptionally high biodiversity. Animals such as red river hogs, monkeys birds an occasionally gorillas and chimpanzees can sometimes be seen while walking through the forest.
Things to do
Discover the forest
During your stay at Langoue Bai Camp, you can head out into the forest on your own expedition with one of the eco-guides. The walks into or alongside the bai are amazing. Or camp outside on one of the platforms. The camp staff will provide you with hot tea and sleepingbags. But be aware; this is only for those who have been to Africa numerous times before and for those who doesnt know fear.
Animals at the bai:
Elephant and gorilla visitation at the bai is seasonal. Elephants are present more often during the rainy season, with peaks in April through June and November till January. Gorillas visits peak in April, June and July. Total numbers of gorillas and elephants in the bai are the same time rarely exceed 10 and 15 respectively. Furthermore, gorilla viewing is usually at a distance of roughly 200 meters, so come prepared with appropriate photographic equipment. Please be prepared for the possibility to not see them. As with any animal- based tourism, animal movement cannot be controlled and it thus cannot be promised that you will see what you came for. On the bright side, if you stay a few days, you will likely see elephants and forest buffalo and guaranteed to see sitatungas, monkeys and many interesting birds.
A note on Central Africa
For those visitors who have already visited western and souther Africa on safari vacations, the following is a note on the differences you will encounter when visiting Central Africa. This region of Africa is almost entirely forested with means many things for the visitor. First and foremost, it means that you will not have the incredible wildlife viewing as seen on a savannah. Animals are secretive in the forest and difficult to see. Once you arrive and spend some time in the forest, you will realize that the forest itself is the most exciting part of being here. Biodiversity is incredibly high, and there is no shortage of small and interesting things to look at if you are quiet and patient. Second, with the exception of the time you spend at the bai on the platform, you will not have the photo opportunities you have on safari. Again, this is a forest experience, and the forest is quiet, shady, cool and mostly dense. Lastly, remember that WCS is a conservation organization and not a real safari company. When you visit Langoue Bai, you will be considered guests of the research team. Come prepared for rustic conditions with a desire to look, to listen and to learn, and you will quickly begin to appreciate everything the forest has to offer.
And on great ape health:
In addition to the protection of visitors of Langoue Bai and their staff, WCS is also responsible for the health of the wild animals living in Langoue. Great apes are of particular concern because their similarity to us makes them vulnerable to a number of human diseases. For this reason, it is also required that every visitor to Langoue Bai provide proof that they have updated vaccinations for the following diseases:
Polio (not viral), Tetanus, Measles, Hepatitis A, Yellow Fever and Proof of recent negative skin test for Tuberculosis OR Vaccination. Please come with photocopies of doctors receipt or World Healt Organisation International Vaccination cards. Without this documentation, you will not be allowed to come to Langoue.
And because of the highly isolated living conditions at Langoue Bai, visitors need to provide proof of emergency medical insurance. Before departure, you need to send 2 photocopies of medical insurance information including phone numbers and details of evacuation procedures.