icon
Welcome to the Jungle Gorillas in the Mist A Walk in the Forest A Glimpse of Local Life A Warm Welcome Chest-Deep in the Baï Sundowners on the River All Experiences

Our Story

At Kamba African Rainforest Experiences (formerly Congo Conservation Company), we create wilderness experiences in the Congo Basin that introduce this remote and barely-visited region to the wider world. Our goal is to create a sustainable, home-grown economic model that can keep more damaging alternatives at bay.
We operate three lodges in Odzala-Kokoua National Park, creating authentic and deeply personal immersions within a pristine and fragile ecosystem through our signature Kamba Journeys. Connecting our various lodges is easy and our Journeys provide guests with safe, stress-free, and enriching ways to follow the footsteps of the great explorers in the Congo Basin.

We handle the entire trip, including domestic transportation (by private plane, boat, kayak, and road), all activities, expert guiding, gorilla tracking permits, meals and drinks, and any pre- or post-trip stays in Brazzaville.

We take care of all the details so that you can focus on the rainforest environment and the wildlife that calls it home. Our hope is that you will fall in love with the Congo just as we have — and join our cause as a fellow Guardian of the Forest.

How We're Different

EXCLUSIVE

Our lodges are the only private concessions granted inside the Republic of Congo’s immeasurable national parks, providing a fortunate few with the chance to truly immerse in one of Africa’s last pristine ecosystems.

SMALL SIZE

We limit all departures to 12 people maximum, ensuring an intimate and personalized experience for all guests.

SCIENCE-BASED

Kamba was founded to support primatology research and conservation; our approach to wildlife viewing remains respectful, observant, and science-based.

POSITIVE IMPACT

Along with our partner Sabine Plattner African Charities (SPAC), we support efforts in conservation and local community development.

IMMERSIVE & AUTHENTIC

All of the above ensures that our guests experience the Congo in a way that’s rare, privileged, and life-changing.

EXCLUSIVE

Our lodges are the only private concessions granted inside the Republic of Congo’s immeasurable national parks, providing a fortunate few with the chance to truly immerse in one of Africa’s last pristine ecosystems.

SMALL SIZE

We limit all departures to 12 people maximum, ensuring an intimate and personalized experience for all guests.

SCIENCE-BASED

Kamba was founded to support primatology research and conservation; our approach to wildlife viewing remains respectful, observant, and science-based.

POSITIVE IMPACT

Along with our partner Sabine Plattner African Charities (SPAC), we support efforts in conservation and local community development.

IMMERSIVE & AUTHENTIC

All of the above ensures that our guests experience the Congo in a way that’s rare, privileged, and life-changing.

Our Mission

Kamba’s steadfast commitment to protecting the Congo Basin motivates everything we do, from empowering local communities and developing sustainable tourism models to creating awe-inspiring experiences that change our guests’ perspectives on the world.

Ultimately, our goal is to prepare the next generation of Congolese to continue our efforts in establishing conservation-based tourism in the Republic of the Congo and across Africa.

How we achieve those goals is expressed through what we call the KARE Framework:

K
KNOWLEDGE

Creating transformative experiences for visitors to the Congo Basin spreads awareness of its vital importance — both as a carbon sink that helps counteract global warming, and as a habitat for rare and wonderful flora and fauna.

A
ADVANCEMENT

Funding education, health care, and training opportunities for local residents helps them achieve economic self-sufficiency while maintaining their traditional way of life, and demonstrates the value of preserving their natural heritage.

R
RESEARCH

Backing scientific endeavors in the Congo Basin — through our founder’s support of the research station at Ngaga, led by renowned primatologist Magdalena Bermejo, and with partners such as the Wildlife Conservation Society — deepens our understanding of biodiversity and helps protect threatened species.

E
ECOTOURISM

Generating sustainable economic opportunities in the Congolese rainforest ecosystem, while minimizing our own footprint, enhances its monetary value as compared with logging, mining, poaching, and other destructive enterprises.

KARE
KNOWLEDGE

Creating transformative experiences for visitors to the Congo Basin spreads awareness of its vital importance — both as a carbon sink that helps counteract global warming, and as a habitat for rare and wonderful flora and fauna.

ADVANCEMENT

Funding education, health care, and training opportunities for local residents helps them achieve economic self-sufficiency while maintaining their traditional way of life, and demonstrates the value of preserving their natural heritage.

RESEARCH

Backing scientific endeavors in the Congo Basin — through our founder’s support of the research station at Ngaga, led by renowned primatologist Magdalena Bermejo, and with partners such as the Wildlife Conservation Society — deepens our understanding of biodiversity and helps protect threatened species.

ECOTOURISM

Generating sustainable economic opportunities in the Congolese rainforest ecosystem, while minimizing our own footprint, enhances its monetary value as compared with logging, mining, poaching, and other destructive enterprises.

Our History

image
Sabine Plattner

It all started in a forest — not in the Congo, but in postwar Germany, where Sabine Plattner grew up curious and fearless, exploring the woods as often as she could. “For me, the forest was life.”

Sabine’s fascination with nature eventually led her to the Republic of the Congo and its mythic rainforest. On a visit to Mbomo, a village outside Odzala-Kokoua National Park, she recognized the residents’ urgent need for better health care, education, and economic opportunity. She also met Dr. Magdalena Bermejo, a world-renowned primatologist who had been studying the devastating impact of the Ebola virus on the local gorilla populations.

Traveling by plane, pirogue, and vehicle over bumpy roads, with peanuts and Nescafé the only nourishment, Sabine fell in love with the Congolese forest. A former teacher, she resolved to establish schools and clinics in the area.

Sabine also determined that promoting wildlife-based tourism in the area would demonstrate to local residents the economic value of their natural heritage and persuade them to protect it — preventing destruction from poaching and logging and ensuring a sustainable future for their communities.

Together, and with the support of the Congolese government, Plattner and Bermejo turned the gorilla research camp at Ngaga into a lodge welcoming international guests — and Congo Conservation Company was born. Ngaga was soon joined by two other lodges in the Odzala area, Lango and Mboko.

Read More

Our Impact Projects

Along with our charitable partner Sabine Plattner African Charities (SPAC), Kamba is committed to maximizing the positive social and environmental effects and minimizing the negative impacts of our footprint in the Congo Basin. Here’s what we’re doing to ensure this.

8 8
Carbon Footprint

Our operational carbon footprint is relatively small, and we continue to invest in greater solar capacity. The amount of cloud cover in the Congo Basin, however, means we must supplement it with other energy sources. Low-energy light fixtures, solar-powered devices, and ongoing staff and visitor awareness initiatives are helping us reduce energy usage.

On the positive side, we help preserve 1.3 million hectares of rainforest, savanna, and winding wetlands that act as globally significant carbon sinks. Scientists estimate that every hectare of Congo’s tropical rainforest sequesters 300 tons of CO2e per hectare — making us the custodians of 390 million tons of CO2e!

Sabine Plattner’s interest in Dr. Magdalena Bermejo’s primate research led to the establishment of the Research Station adjacent to Ngaga Lodge, where studies of the critically endangered Western Lowland Gorillas have been done since 2012. Among other subjects, Bermejo’s research focuses on gorilla behavior and socialization. Bermejo has also established an interdisciplinary research network involving various universities contributing to conservation research in Africa. With the goal of building the next generation of Congolese scientists, Dr. Bermejo supervises graduate students from the University of Brazzaville, young primatologists who benefit from the wealth of expertise provided by members of the SPAC Research Network. Ngaga has become one of Africa’s most important primate research destinations, where scientists are able to test new, tourism-focused research products for conservation.

The core of the Kamba brand is enabling life-changing interactions with the Congo Basin — an ecosystem whose survival is threatened by logging, mining, poaching, and other human activities. Because the rainforest absorbs carbon from the atmosphere, it’s crucial for combating global warming. We work closely with the Congolese Ministry of Forestry and Economy; the Wildlife Conservation Society (which manages Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park); and African Parks (which manages Odzala-Kokoua National Park) to support anti-poaching initiatives, research and training, and community awareness and empowerment. Ensuring that local people are invested in sustaining their natural resources protects the rainforest from potentially more destructive forces.

Water is not in short supply in the Congo Basin! That lets us sustainably source water onsite for use in the lodges. Wastewater is captured, treated, and tested to international standards before it reenters the natural environment. We only use eco-benign or biodegradable wood sealants, paints, and cleaning products. Our integrated waste management plans include composting all food and biodegradable waste and stockpiling recyclables (glass, metals, plastics) until they can be safely transported to Pointe-Noire for processing.

We’ve turned the challenge of sourcing locally in a remote area into an opportunity to make a significant impact. We focus on two critical areas: procuring locally produced building materials, furniture, and fittings; and sourcing quality fresh produce from growers and suppliers in the area. Both initiatives also help mitigate our carbon footprint by reducing the amount of cargo we fly in. Our chefs enjoy incorporating local fruits and vegetables into their menus: safou, a fruit rich in fatty acids that tastes a bit like avocado with a hint of lime, as well as coconut, cassava, palm fruits, nuts, okra, and wild ginger, which is delicious in cocktails!

Kamba’s sister charitable organization, Sabine Plattner African Charities (SPAC) has been spearheading local community development initiatives in the areas where we operate since 2013. SPAC’s efforts center on education, early childhood development, and empowering people to act sustainably and independently to create a future for their rainforest home. SPAC has built and operates a number of early childhood development centers in communities in northern Congo: two flagship centers in Mbomo and Bomassa as well as five satellite centers in villages bordering Odzala-Kokoua. For ages three to six, our kindergartens focus on lessons heavily infused with conservation messaging and relevant to growing up in the region. The teachers adopt an active learning methodology that privileges participation by the children and lets them experience their own creative powers.

The after-school youth program includes activities such as sports, theater performance, dance, games, and school coaching, as well as “life skills training” around health, hygiene, and nutrition. The goal is to help the children become active, dedicated, and independent adults. We believe it is important that girls as well as boys participate in these activities. Moreover, by identifying parents and adults as community role models, we can ensure that other families have access to social, emotional, physical, and intellectual development.

The concept of ecotourism is to provide visitors with ethical, sustainable access to natural resources while operating in a manner that’s low-impact, non-consumptive, and locally oriented. For Kamba, in addition to the initiatives described elsewhere on this page, that translates into a few key principles. Limiting our capacity to a small number of guests helps us reduce our footprint while creating an intimate, comprehensive rainforest experience. Providing sustainable jobs and vocational training to local residents ensures their participation in protecting the ecosystem (an effort supported by SPAC’s primary education programs). And generating economic benefits and opportunities for our employees, suppliers, partners, and neighboring communities helps diversify the Congolese economy in a sustainable way.

The Kamba experience spotlights the local cultural heritage. An increasing number of our staff have grown up locally and bring sacred stories and ancestral knowledge to the guest experience. Our guides integrate local lore — which plants are used medicinally, the mythical significance of certain animals —  into their interpretive narrative. Meals embrace local ingredients and techniques, and our interior design incorporates Congolese motifs and materials.

Internal culture is paramount as well. Our people, and their families, make Kamba. We hire and nurture committed, friendly, passionate, guest-centric professionals who love living and working in the incredible wilderness that is the Congo Basin. Hiring locally, team-building, vocational training, and personal career planning all contribute to our positive impact on our people.

Become a Guardian of the Forest

Subscribe to our newsletter to receive inspiring stories about the Congo Basin and updates from researchers and conservationists working to preserve the rainforest and the wildlife that calls it home.