Lobeke National Park
Lobeke National Park
5
What people are saying
Lobeke National Park – a very rewarding experience
Dec 2017
Lobeke National Park in Eastern Cameroon is certainly one of the most underrated wildlife experiences in Africa. The main reason is the lack of local infrastructure and the remoteness. It takes two days from Cameroon’s capital Yaounde on mostly bad roads and you will have to hire a private car with a driver. In the park, there are no flashy lodges nor are there hotels at the park entrance. Wildlife at Lobeke is best observed at the natural forest clearings called “Bai”. There are three or four of these clearings with wooden observation towers at the time of writing and you will have to walk 2 to 5 hours to get to them. Even with porters carrying food, supplies and tents, it can still be a fairly strenuous walk due to the rain forest climate. Also, be prepared to cross a few muddy patches and creeks where you will have to take your boots off. The camps are quite basic, a small forest clearing usually near a creek, where tents can be pitched and the toilet is a hole in the ground. You will be wet from sweating and humidity 24/7 and you will have to cope with a few insects, although it wasn’t too bad when we were there. All in all, it is not bad at all and for somebody who really enjoys the outdoors, it can actually be pleasant. Now for the reasons why it is a very rewarding experience: - You are in a tropical rainforest that is completely different from the usual East African safari experiences. There is always something going on around you and you will likely run into animals while you are walking from Bai to Bai. - You get to walk and actually experience nature as opposed to being driven in a safari vehicle. - You will see incredibly large flocks of Green Pigeons and Grey Parrots, as well as sweat bees, palm nut vultures, sitatungas, buffalo, gorillas and possibly forest elephants. In fact, we saw unhabituated gorillas every single day of our six day stay in December 2017! - You will actively support conservation and the local community by visiting the National Park and by creating job opportunities for porters, guides, etc. Your visit will also help to keep poachers away from the park. - You will be part of an exclusive group of tourists who visit this mostly unspoiled wildlife experience. Not many people know about it and even fewer actually go there. Most visitors go only to “Petit Savanne” and “Grand Savanne” (Djangui), the two most accessible Bais or forest clearings. However, also try to go to Ndangaye Bai. Only very few tourists ever visit it and you might have to insist on going there. The walk is longer and the last 20 minutes to the camp require wading through water, but the viewings from the platform are very good. We saw our only forest elephant in Lobeke there. You should ideally spend a week in the park. While you are in the area, also visit Dzanga Sangha NP in Central African Republic. The place to stay there is Sangha Lodge, where Rod and his team will make sure you are overwhelmed by forest elephants, gorillas and all the “luxury” you will need in a a very accessible rain forest experience.
andrew.sneddon.67
By andrew.sneddon.67
An Undiscovered Wildlife Hotspot
Mar 2017
Lobeke National Park is about as remote as can be - two long days drive from Yaoundé in the dry season. In the wet season roads might be impassable, and the journey would certainly take longer. I hired a car and driver through Central African Tours. The journey would be possible by public transport. Old and basic Alliance Voyages busses trundle through the jungle from Yaoundé - but you would have to add a day to your travel time. I broke the journey at Yokadouma where the Hotel Elephant is basic, but the staff friendly and helpful, which always makes a difference! Wildlife viewing in Lobeke centres around forest clearings, where mineral deposits prevent trees from growing. The forest animals and birds all visit the clearings to lick or eat the mineral rich soil, and so all you need is patience and luck - they will come to you! I visited Petite Saline and Grand Saline, both of which have viewing platforms from which to watch the clearings. Petite Saline is a three hour walk through the forest, and Grand Saline another 3-4 hours further. Both have basic rough campsites, but you need some tolerance to washing in streams, and using pit toilets. And to insects! However, the rewards are immense. Both days at Petite Saline I saw Western Lowland Gorilla families emerge out of the forest, and stay in the clearing for 45 minutes to an hour. I also saw Sitatunga - male, female and young - and Forest Buffalo, as well as numerous bird species. At Grand Saline I saw Forest Buffalo, Sitatunga and Red River Hog. I also saw the most amazing spectacle of thousands, if not tens of thousands, of African Green Pigeons and African Grey Parrots performing the 'bird dance'. Each morning and evening, vast flocks take off from the trees with the crash of thousands of wings, and wheel through the sky, swooping and turning, flocks merging, or passing through each other. The display in the morning was even more spectacular, as the sun was behind me, and hitting the birds, showing of the bright green of the pigeons. I'm really not sure why this sight is not better known. As the flocks landed, I watched a mongoose break cover to try to catch a bird on the ground..... Walking through the forest between the trailhead and the clearings, we heard or saw gorillas on nearly every occasion - seeing them is hard as the forest is so dense, but you are in no doubt that they are there - you can hear them crashing through the undergrowth, vocalising as they go. On one occasion the tracker told me Chimpanzee were close, but to be honest I didn't see or hear anything. We saw plenty of elephant droppings and footprings, but I did not see a Forest Elephant in Lobeke. The Bongo also eluded me, although I was told there were other clearings where they were common. I spent five nights camping, as well as two nights at Camp Combo, in a small cabin, from where you can visit the local Ba'aka tribe, and observe their way of life, as well as looking out for monkeys (Putty Nosed, Colobus) and Hornbills. My visit contributed to local employment, as you cannot just walk into the forest yourself. You would soon get lost, and you need the security of people who know where they are going and what they are doing. My 'entourage' consisted of a Ba'Aka tracker, my Cameroonian guide Emanuel, an armed 'eco-guard', two porters to carry tents, and all the food and water we would need, and a cook! There are dangers in the forest. Apart from Forest Elephant and Forest Buffalo, there are poachers - sadly just before my visit four elephants had been killed, but the eco-guards managed to capture those responsible. I combined my trip to Lobeke with the better known Dzanga Sangha National Park in Central African Republic. This must be one of the top wildlife destinations in the world. You may know it from BBC wildlife documentaries or National Geographic magazine. Despite travel advisories, this small corner of Central African Republic appears safe and stable. I stayed at the wonderful Sangha Lodge, run by Rod and Tamar, a South African Couple, who extended excellent hospitality. After five nights camping, the cabins, with hot and cold water and flush toilets seemed the height of luxury, and the food was delicious and well presented. Rod and Tamar are very interesting people, and the conversation is part of the experience. At Dzanga Bai, another mineral rich forest clearing, I added Forest Elephant and Giant Forest Hog, Agile Mangabey, Colobus Monkey and a Genet to my list of mammals, and visited two separate groups of habituated Western Lowland Gorillas for a close encounter. Habituated Gorilla visits can be hit or miss - in dense forest it can be difficult to observe them, unlike when they emerged into the clearing at Lobeke. The timing of the visit is important so that it does not coincide with a time the gorillas will be resting, or all you would see is motionless black mounds on the forest floor. My three visits allowed me some excellent viewing, including of twin babys (very rare!), althou one of my viewings was of mainly sleeping adults. You can ask the Ranger who will accompany you for extra time if you arrive when the gorillas are resting, or delay your departure - the Rangers will know when the gorillas are expected to be asleep. I also paid for a 'Mangabey Follow' where you walk through the forest surrounded by a troop of Agile Mangabeys, watching them melt in and out of the dense undergrowth as they walk along the ground or climb the trees. I spent a total of six full days in the park, and could have spent longer. The Bongo still escaped my sight. Walking in the forest in Dzanga Sangha, you need to be prepared to take off your boots and wade through, or along rivers. On forest trails you need to be aware that animals use them too. I encountered elephants twice on the trails - a little too close to such large animals. I booked my trip in the UK through 'Travel With Jules' to avoid having to send large sums of money to a foreign bank account. Using a UK agent obviously adds to the cost, but I considered it well worth it for financial security, and certainty that there would actually be someone waiting for me when I stepped off the plane. Also involved in the arrangements was Mama Tembo Tours, a well respected African tour operator. I have heard, and experienced first hand in the past, problems with the reliability of some Cameronian tour operators. If you have visited some of the better known countries of Africa, and want to try something different, why not give Cameroon and Central African Republic a go? There are species here you will not find together anywhere else in the continent, and the wildlife viewing experience, of standing on platforms in the forest clearings waiting for the animals and birds to come to you, is different, and very , very relaxing. You need patience, the ability to remain still, and the ability to remain quiet - I was told that most groups who visit see very little in Lobeke as they chat and move about too much. The gorillas in particular were very sensitive to human presence. Thanks to Jules at Travel with Jules, Emanuel from Central African Tours, my driver Mousa, and Rod and Tamar at Sangha Lodge, for making this a wonderful trip.

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curiousfornature
9 contributions
Dec 2017 • Friends
Lobeke National Park in Eastern Cameroon is certainly one of the most underrated wildlife experiences in Africa. The main reason is the lack of local infrastructure and the remoteness. It takes two days from Cameroon’s capital Yaounde on mostly bad roads and you will have to hire a private car with a driver. In the park, there are no flashy lodges nor are there hotels at the park entrance.

Wildlife at Lobeke is best observed at the natural forest clearings called “Bai”. There are three or four of these clearings with wooden observation towers at the time of writing and you will have to walk 2 to 5 hours to get to them. Even with porters carrying food, supplies and tents, it can still be a fairly strenuous walk due to the rain forest climate. Also, be prepared to cross a few muddy patches and creeks where you will have to take your boots off.

The camps are quite basic, a small forest clearing usually near a creek, where tents can be pitched and the toilet is a hole in the ground. You will be wet from sweating and humidity 24/7 and you will have to cope with a few insects, although it wasn’t too bad when we were there. All in all, it is not bad at all and for somebody who really enjoys the outdoors, it can actually be pleasant.

Now for the reasons why it is a very rewarding experience:

- You are in a tropical rainforest that is completely different from the usual East African safari experiences. There is always something going on around you and you will likely run into animals while you are walking from Bai to Bai.

- You get to walk and actually experience nature as opposed to being driven in a safari vehicle.

- You will see incredibly large flocks of Green Pigeons and Grey Parrots, as well as sweat bees, palm nut vultures, sitatungas, buffalo, gorillas and possibly forest elephants. In fact, we saw unhabituated gorillas every single day of our six day stay in December 2017!

- You will actively support conservation and the local community by visiting the National Park and by creating job opportunities for porters, guides, etc. Your visit will also help to keep poachers away from the park.

- You will be part of an exclusive group of tourists who visit this mostly unspoiled wildlife experience. Not many people know about it and even fewer actually go there.

Most visitors go only to “Petit Savanne” and “Grand Savanne” (Djangui), the two most accessible Bais or forest clearings. However, also try to go to Ndangaye Bai. Only very few tourists ever visit it and you might have to insist on going there. The walk is longer and the last 20 minutes to the camp require wading through water, but the viewings from the platform are very good. We saw our only forest elephant in Lobeke there.

You should ideally spend a week in the park. While you are in the area, also visit Dzanga Sangha NP in Central African Republic. The place to stay there is Sangha Lodge, where Rod and his team will make sure you are overwhelmed by forest elephants, gorillas and all the “luxury” you will need in a a very accessible rain forest experience.
Written 3 February 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

andrew.sneddon.67
Edinburgh, UK45 contributions
Mar 2017 • Solo
Lobeke National Park is about as remote as can be - two long days drive from Yaoundé in the dry season. In the wet season roads might be impassable, and the journey would certainly take longer.

I hired a car and driver through Central African Tours. The journey would be possible by public transport. Old and basic Alliance Voyages busses trundle through the jungle from Yaoundé - but you would have to add a day to your travel time.

I broke the journey at Yokadouma where the Hotel Elephant is basic, but the staff friendly and helpful, which always makes a difference!

Wildlife viewing in Lobeke centres around forest clearings, where mineral deposits prevent trees from growing. The forest animals and birds all visit the clearings to lick or eat the mineral rich soil, and so all you need is patience and luck - they will come to you!

I visited Petite Saline and Grand Saline, both of which have viewing platforms from which to watch the clearings.

Petite Saline is a three hour walk through the forest, and Grand Saline another 3-4 hours further. Both have basic rough campsites, but you need some tolerance to washing in streams, and using pit toilets. And to insects!

However, the rewards are immense. Both days at Petite Saline I saw Western Lowland Gorilla families emerge out of the forest, and stay in the clearing for 45 minutes to an hour. I also saw Sitatunga - male, female and young - and Forest Buffalo, as well as numerous bird species.

At Grand Saline I saw Forest Buffalo, Sitatunga and Red River Hog. I also saw the most amazing spectacle of thousands, if not tens of thousands, of African Green Pigeons and African Grey Parrots performing the 'bird dance'. Each morning and evening, vast flocks take off from the trees with the crash of thousands of wings, and wheel through the sky, swooping and turning, flocks merging, or passing through each other. The display in the morning was even more spectacular, as the sun was behind me, and hitting the birds, showing of the bright green of the pigeons. I'm really not sure why this sight is not better known.

As the flocks landed, I watched a mongoose break cover to try to catch a bird on the ground.....

Walking through the forest between the trailhead and the clearings, we heard or saw gorillas on nearly every occasion - seeing them is hard as the forest is so dense, but you are in no doubt that they are there - you can hear them crashing through the undergrowth, vocalising as they go. On one occasion the tracker told me Chimpanzee were close, but to be honest I didn't see or hear anything.

We saw plenty of elephant droppings and footprings, but I did not see a Forest Elephant in Lobeke. The Bongo also eluded me, although I was told there were other clearings where they were common.

I spent five nights camping, as well as two nights at Camp Combo, in a small cabin, from where you can visit the local Ba'aka tribe, and observe their way of life, as well as looking out for monkeys (Putty Nosed, Colobus) and Hornbills.

My visit contributed to local employment, as you cannot just walk into the forest yourself. You would soon get lost, and you need the security of people who know where they are going and what they are doing. My 'entourage' consisted of a Ba'Aka tracker, my Cameroonian guide Emanuel, an armed 'eco-guard', two porters to carry tents, and all the food and water we would need, and a cook!

There are dangers in the forest. Apart from Forest Elephant and Forest Buffalo, there are poachers - sadly just before my visit four elephants had been killed, but the eco-guards managed to capture those responsible.

I combined my trip to Lobeke with the better known Dzanga Sangha National Park in Central African Republic. This must be one of the top wildlife destinations in the world. You may know it from BBC wildlife documentaries or National Geographic magazine.

Despite travel advisories, this small corner of Central African Republic appears safe and stable. I stayed at the wonderful Sangha Lodge, run by Rod and Tamar, a South African Couple, who extended excellent hospitality. After five nights camping, the cabins, with hot and cold water and flush toilets seemed the height of luxury, and the food was delicious and well presented. Rod and Tamar are very interesting people, and the conversation is part of the experience.

At Dzanga Bai, another mineral rich forest clearing, I added Forest Elephant and Giant Forest Hog, Agile Mangabey, Colobus Monkey and a Genet to my list of mammals, and visited two separate groups of habituated Western Lowland Gorillas for a close encounter. Habituated Gorilla visits can be hit or miss - in dense forest it can be difficult to observe them, unlike when they emerged into the clearing at Lobeke. The timing of the visit is important so that it does not coincide with a time the gorillas will be resting, or all you would see is motionless black mounds on the forest floor. My three visits allowed me some excellent viewing, including of twin babys (very rare!), althou one of my viewings was of mainly sleeping adults. You can ask the Ranger who will accompany you for extra time if you arrive when the gorillas are resting, or delay your departure - the Rangers will know when the gorillas are expected to be asleep.

I also paid for a 'Mangabey Follow' where you walk through the forest surrounded by a troop of Agile Mangabeys, watching them melt in and out of the dense undergrowth as they walk along the ground or climb the trees. I spent a total of six full days in the park, and could have spent longer.

The Bongo still escaped my sight.

Walking in the forest in Dzanga Sangha, you need to be prepared to take off your boots and wade through, or along rivers. On forest trails you need to be aware that animals use them too. I encountered elephants twice on the trails - a little too close to such large animals.

I booked my trip in the UK through 'Travel With Jules' to avoid having to send large sums of money to a foreign bank account. Using a UK agent obviously adds to the cost, but I considered it well worth it for financial security, and certainty that there would actually be someone waiting for me when I stepped off the plane. Also involved in the arrangements was Mama Tembo Tours, a well respected African tour operator. I have heard, and experienced first hand in the past, problems with the reliability of some Cameronian tour operators.

If you have visited some of the better known countries of Africa, and want to try something different, why not give Cameroon and Central African Republic a go? There are species here you will not find together anywhere else in the continent, and the wildlife viewing experience, of standing on platforms in the forest clearings waiting for the animals and birds to come to you, is different, and very , very relaxing.

You need patience, the ability to remain still, and the ability to remain quiet - I was told that most groups who visit see very little in Lobeke as they chat and move about too much. The gorillas in particular were very sensitive to human presence.

Thanks to Jules at Travel with Jules, Emanuel from Central African Tours, my driver Mousa, and Rod and Tamar at Sangha Lodge, for making this a wonderful trip.
Written 19 March 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
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Lobeke National Park (East Region) - All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go (with Photos) - Tripadvisor