For friends and family following our progress, I can safely report that one half of the Eeva & Nick adventure duo have made it to the WWF Project HQ in Bayanga.
I am safely in the Central African Republic (though I’m pretty sure that is an oxymoron). Eeva is safely tucked up in a missionary in Yaoundé recovering from a viral infection and will join me in a week. This was the latest in a serious of obstacles including missed connections, accidents, wrong flight dates and illness that have been thrown our way in the last month. Sometimes you just have to persevere to achieve your goals. We’ve almost both made it.
If you want a bit more background to what Eeva and I are up to then read our About page.
This is my 3rd day at the Park HQ. I arrived by light aircraft (sitting next to the pilot and the only passenger on the plane). The photo at the top of this post is a quick shot I got a few minutes before we landed. The Sangha River is in the foreground, the Congo Basin stretches for miles and miles in the background.
It is not possible to overstate how remarkable this place is. It is truly one of the natural wonders of the world. Stunningly beautiful and very remote. On the 2:30 hour flight from Yaoundé, 2:20 minutes were spent flying over dense, uninterrupted rainforest. It has one of the highest densities of forest animals of anywhere in the world. There are some wonderful people here too. Extremely dedicated and impressive conservation professionals, doing crucial work.
From a practical point of view, the Park HQ is a disperse collection of a dozen or so buildings on the edge of the forest. There is a small number of conservation staff, Ba’Aka pygmies (who are employed as trackers) and rangers on site at any given time. In total the Park employs around 200 people. 20 mins walk away is the village of Bayanga, which is home to about 5,000 souls in wood and grass buildings, lined up on dusty red roads. Relatively tidy and quaint by African village standards, there are basic supplies from the shop and seasonal fresh produce in the market. We sleep in a WWF shared house, a simple, but pleasant brick building. In the forest camp, we sleep in wooden huts or tents.
Tomorrow I head two hours deeper into the rainforest, to Dzanga Bai, to the forest camp where I will be based for the majority of the work. I will be out there for about a month at a time.
I’ve not yet had a huge amount of time to reflect and write up what I’ve experienced so far, but there will be plenty time over the next month – so expect a flurry of updates at the end of November when I come out of the forest and have internet access again.