Hunters who like to be among the “first in” will be interested in hearing that safari operator Gert Saaiman claims he is taking hunting clients to The Republic of Congo next month. Also called Congo-Brazzaville or French Congo, the Republic of Congo has not seen organized hunting since Eric Stockenstroom of Congo Safaris pulled out in the early 2000s. The last report we have from there is from subscriber Cam Greig (Report ID 2886), who conducted a chasse libre hunt there in 2002. There have been rumors about reopening hunting here for years; none panned out. When I heard Saaiman was looking into it I contacted him, and here’s what he said:
“We are back from the Congo. It is difficult to find the words to describe our experience there, but they would include fantastic, amazing, incredible and extraordinary! Saaiman Hunting Safaris has acquired a hunting concession in the northeast area, bordering Cameroon and the Central African Republic.
“Nobody has hunted that part of the forest before, so it is essentially virgin territory and really makes for an exceptional hunting expedition. The rainforest environment affords refuge to a number of species, some of which are quite rare.
“We saw a lot of gorilla sign and even came across one in the open during the day – a sight that is hard to
describe. The species available on hunting quota include: bongo, dwarf forest buffalo, sitatunga, yellow-backed duiker, various other small duikers, giant forest hog; red river hog, crocodile and hippopotamus.
“Our camp is permanent brick buildings with thatched roofing. Each unit has an en-suite bathroom with flush toilet and shower with hot water.
“Operating a hunting concession in this area really is a pleasure. Logging operations created a good quality road network, although the logging companies have not been operational for quite some time. Flights to and from Brazzaville connect through Paris or London. Accommodation in Brazzaville is good, and the connecting flight to Ouesso brings us to within a mere 40-minute drive to our camp. This, of course, eliminates the need for a charter.
“The hunting season in Congo starts on 1 May and ends on 31 July, and we already have bookings for many of the available slots. A warm welcome from the president of the country and all his ministers set our minds at ease regarding the administration of the whole process. Everything from the documentation to the official meetings was handled very professionally, and we were received with great enthusiasm.”
Despite Saaiman’s optimism, hunters should approach this opportunity with measured expectations. Make no mistake; this destination and these first hunts are strictly for the experienced Africa hunter with a high tolerance for uncertainty. Just entering the country can be problematic. In January 2010, Congo standardized its visas, but many Congolese embassies and consulates continue to issue their own unique visas, which may be rejected upon arrival in the country. The new “official” Congolese visas are a passport-page-size sticker with the outline of the Republic of Congo map in the background.....