This expedition provides a unique opportunity not only to see bonobos in their natural habitat but to contribute directly to their preservation when they need it most.
Sharing 98.7% of human DNA, bonobos are undoubtedly our species’ closest living relatives. But, endemic to an area just 500,000 km² within the Congo Basin and threatened for natural resources, we could see them wiped from the face of the earth in as few as 75 years.
The aim of this epic expedition is to travel deep into the jungle’s heart in the Democratic Republic of Congo to find human’s closest relatives, the bonobos. Supporting local conservation initiatives, the team will be among the first visitors to the new research and conservation centre deep in the Lomako-Yokokala Faunal Reserve.
Travelling by plane, boat and foot, the journey to reach the bonobo sanctuary is an expedition in itself. Led by expedition leader and conservationist, Chris Mahoney, this is the first official expedition into the reserve with the opportunity to witness these incredible animals in their natural habitat.
By taking teammates into the region, we hope to raise awareness and vital conservation funds towards the protection of the bonobos for future generations.
Why you'll love this adventure
- Trek and camp within the natural habitat of wild bonobos.
- Embark on an exclusive frontier wildlife expedition which hasn’t been attempted before.
- Travel via dugout canoe through remote jungle and keep an eye out for endless jungle wildlife.
- Opportunities to see four additional primate species; black mangabey, red tail guenoc, wolfi monkey and the black & white colobus.
- View rehabilitated bonobos from canoes in the Ekola ya Bonobo reintroduction sanctuary near Basankusu.
- Observe at close range, rescued bonobos at the Lola ya Bonobo Orphanage near Kinshasa.
10 September 2023
21 September 2023
This trip operator runs expeditions with framework itineraries, rather than guided tours with set daily plans. A fuller itinerary is provided in the handbook which is available on request or upon application to join the team.
- Professional trip operator expedition leader with full medical and communications kits.
- Specialist guides.
- All accommodation throughout.
- All meals and soft drinks from the arrival dinner on the first night until breakfast on the morning of departure.
- All transport as outlined in itinerary.
- All visas, permits and entry fees within DRC.
- International flights/ travel to and from the start and end points.
- All airport taxes.
- Travel insurance (obligatory).
- Tips to local guides (discretionary).
- Alcohol unless provided by hosts with meals.
- Personal equipment (full kit list in the Handbook).
Who is this trip for?
No previous experience of jungle terrain is necessary to join this expedition, but team members would benefit from trekking practice and being used to carrying 8 kg bags for multiple days. Teammates must be comfortable with the following.
Minimum fitness requirements
- Trek: trek for four hours per day for four consecutive days.
- Carry: up to 8 kg per person.
- Terrain: through close tropical rainforest, through potentially boggy and wet areas, crossing rivers.
- Climate: in a hot and humid environment.
- Swim: the primary mode of transport throughout this expedition is dugout canoe and river crossings may be necessary when searching for the bonobos each day. Being 100% comfortable around water is required and being able to swim will be very beneficial.
- Age: 21+
Bonobos (Pan paniscus) are a species of great ape found exclusively in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Sharing 98.7% of our DNA, humans are more closely related to the bonobos than any other animal on earth. In fact, bonobos are more closely related to us than they are to gorillas.
Unfortunately, they are also the most endangered species of great ape and could be extinct in the next 75 years, with scientists estimating that only 50,000 to 75,000 remain in the wild today. Found only in the Congo Basin, the world’s second largest forest system, almost three times the size of France, both deforestation and the bushmeat trade has left them vulnerable to hunting. With an uncertain future for the species, this ground-breaking expedition supports the bonobo and the Lomako conservation project.
When it comes to getting off the beaten track these guys can’t be beaten. They lead pioneering expeditions to some of the most remote regions on earth. The organisers are dedicated to creating imaginative experiences for adventurers around the world and their team of expert military guides are some of the most experienced in the industry. Nowhere is off limits and no idea is too crazy. They have achieved ground breaking world firsts such as mountain biking in Afghanistan and mountaineering in Iraq and their first ever expeditions to walk across Madagascar and pioneer white water rafting in South Sudan both made the headlines…. and a bit of history.
Being wild and wacky is one thing but with their background as commanders in the British Army and experienced team of specialists in every kind of terrain and environment means that all of their adventures are thoroughly planned and the safety and security of teams is always their highest priority. Expeditions can be inherently risky, but they do everything possible to minimise potential hazards and for that, and the utterly extraordinary trips they put on, we salute them.
DRC: Bonobos – Tracking Our Closest Living Relatives
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