Concealed under the dense cover of the jungle canopy, deep in Equatorial Africa, live isolated hunter-gather communities. Marginalised by society, the Congolese pygmies have enthralled explorers and anthropologists for hundreds of years.
A rare chance to immerse yourself in the Congolese jungle and experience a rare and privileged insight into the Pygmy way of life. Navigate remote waterways by packraft to reach the secluded Pygmy villages and seize this precious opportunity to immerse yourself in their unique existence in the heart of the Congo.
This Republic of Congo packraft expedition takes you to the heart of the Congo jungle to experience life with a small hunter gather community – known to anthropologists as Pygmies. The aim is to gain an understanding of their culture and way of life whilst living amongst them for a short period of time. The community is based in a number of villages dotted through the dense tangle of vegetation, some of which are shared with Bantu tribes, and they’re known to move to hunting and fishing camps when needed.
To reach the Pygmies, the expedition team first use versatile packrafts to navigate a remote jungle river for two days to reach the first of the villages. From here, the agenda is in the hands of the Pygmies, guided by the daily rhythm of their forest habitation. You and your teammates will live with them in the villages, assisting with the daily tasks necessary to maintain their successful existence in the jungle; collecting water, cooking and domestic chores. You will also join them on hunting or gathering sorties.
Why you'll love this adventure
- Use packrafts to paddle deep into the heart of the Congo basin.
- Experience a rare and privileged insight into the Pygmy way of life.
- Experience a rare and privileged insight into the Pygmy way of life.
- Gain an understanding of flora and fauna.
- Discover the intrinsic relationship Pygmies have with the forest.
- Immerse yourself in the Congolese jungle.
27 June 2022
9 July 2022
You will meet in Brazzaville, the capital of the Republic of Congo resting on the north side of the mighty Congo river. Make your way to the team hotel by 2000 on Day 1 for a team briefing. Transfers from the airport are the responsibility of team mates to arrange. Teammates will be advised of the hotel name in due course. After that, your first team dinner will invite an early night ready for the real journey to begin the following day.
From Brazzaville the team will fly north, over the savannah plains and then into tropical forest to Ouesso. From there drive to Pokola, a small town built up around the forestry industry in the far north of the country. Here you'll stock up on supplies before driving the final 250km north on dirt roads to the river.
On arriving at the river you'll inflate the packrafts – robust one man inflatable rafts – before paddling downstream through the forest for two days, wildcamping in hammocks en-route. For the full plan complete the enquiry!
Experienced international leader
Local translators with good relationships with the tribe and knowledge of their culture
Hammock accommodation throughout
All food (snacks and meals) and soft drinks
Internal transport as outlined in itinerary
Special in-country permits and permissions
International flights/ travel
Travel insurance (obligatory)
Congolese Visa if required
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?
Minimum fitness requirements
- Trek: Up to 10km through jungle
- Carry: Up to 20 kg whilst hiking to the village
- Paddle: Up to 25km a day
- Daily activity: Walking through jungle on hunting and gathering trips, trekking between camps
- Terrain: Tropical forest, some off-path movement, the terrain is flat with little undulation
- Climate: Hot, humid forest, temps averaging around 30 degrees. Possibility of tropical downpours
- Age: 21+
What will the food be like?
Whilst on the journey up we will be eating basic meals in local restaurants. On the river, we will be using dehydrated rations for two days. Once in the community, we will be eating basic staples in line with our hosts. Expect bland, repetition and small quantities. You will likely lose weight.
I’m a vegetarian. Can I join?
Teammates with dietary requirements are welcome to apply for this expedition and should state their specific requirements when applying. While we endeavour to welcome all dietary requirements on all our expeditions, it’s worth taking into consideration those unable or unwilling to eat as the Pygmies eat (which will include meat caught locally), could find it impacts their ability to immerse themselves in the community. You may also be required to bring their own suitable alternative.
What compensation are the community receiving for our visit?
This expedition is only possible through careful management of a sustainable relationship with the community through anthropologist Camille Oloa Biloa, with whom we have established appropriate methods of compensation which are sensitive to the village’s cultural norms. Supplies and gifts take the form of cooking pots, utensils and even machetes: metalwork which is hard for the community to acquire. We will also pay the village chief a park fee to camp within the settlements. We will not be introducing anything radically new, or arriving with large sums of money, as this could have an unintended, but significant negative impact.
Can I charge all my electricals?
This will be very challenging with limited access to power once the trekking and packrafting begins. Please ensure that you are self-sufficient in terms of charging your appliances by bringing things like spare batteries or power packs to avoid frustration. Lightweight solar panels are also useful but due to the shade of the jungle, might not work as well as usual.
Will there be telephone signal?
There will be mobile phone coverage in Brazzaville at the beginning and end of the expedition. There will not be signal in the jungle. Joining this expedition with the mindset of escaping technology and the day-to-day routine is advisable.
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