The Congo Basin Rainforest
The Congo Basin rainforest is the second largest in the world, in terms of area, just behind the Amazon Basin. This vast region is inhabited by 185 million inhabitants spread over 6 countries. While exploring this region, you discover 6% of the world’s forest area. More specifically, choosing to visit Central Africa means discovering 286 million hectares divided between Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, the Republic of Congo, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and the Central African Republic (CAR).
Its forest cover and peat bogs sequester the equivalent of ten years’ global CO2 emissions. Essential, this African region plays a vital role in global climate stability. More than 10,000 varieties of tropical plants and endangered species can be found in the region, 30% of which are native, such as forest elephants, lowland gorillas, mountain gorillas and okapis. In total, more than 400 mammal species, 700 fish species and 1,000 bird species live in the Congo Basin.
The Altitude of Central Africa's Rainforests
65% of the territory lies between 300 and 600 meters above sea level. Around a third, almost 30%, is located between 600 and 1,650 meters above sea level. Only 5% of this zone’s forests are situated between 0 and 300 meters. Finally, just 1% of these forests are montane, that is to say above 1,650 meters altitude.
The Congo River Basin
The biggest river basin in Central Africa and on the African continent is the Congo Basin, with a surface area of around 4 million km². With annual renewable water resources of around 1.3 billion cubic meters, it represents around 30% of Africa’s water resources. The average annual flow of the Congo River is 41,000 m3/second. Although located in six different countries, 85.3% of the Congo River Basin lies in the predominantly forested regions of four countries: Cameroon, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Republic of Congo. The Congo Basin has a complex hydrographic network composed of rivers, vast flooded forests, and lakes.
Congo Basin Climate Commission
In 2016, the Congo Basin Climate Commission, under the aegis of the African Union, was created by the countries of Central Africa. This was made possible by the joint initiative of Congolese President Denis Sassou-Nguesso and Moroccan King Mohammed VI by including all the states of the extended Congo River basin and the neighboring Atlantic and Indian Ocean basins. The objective of this commission is to accelerate the implementation of the climate transition and economic transformation of the Congo Basin in a perspective of sustainable development.
Find more information on its declaration (in French) by clicking here.
Three-Basin Summit on Biodiversity Ecosystems and Tropical Forests
Congo is recognized worldwide for its biodiversity. Brazzaville hosted the summit of the three basins of biodiversity ecosystems and tropical forests. The event took place from October 26 to 28, 2023, and broached environmental issues related to the Amazon Basin, the Congo Basin, and the Borneo Mekong Basin in Southeast Asia.
For more details, we share you the declaration here.
Rainfall in Central Africa
Average annual rainfall in this part of Africa is higher along the Gulf of Guinea. For instance, it reaches 3,000 mm in Libreville, the capital of Gabon, 3,200 mm in Gata, the capital of Equatorial Guinea, while it can rise to 6,000 mm south of the island of Bioko, which belongs to that country, 3,400 mm in the economic capital of Cameroon and almost 12,000 mm in Debunscha, a coastal village in Cameroon with one of the highest rainfall records in the world. Nevertheless, in the south of Central Africa, rainfall drops sharply to around 1,000 mm at the mouth of the Congo River. In northern Congo at Ouesso, average annual rainfall is 1,590 mm, compared with 1,345 mm in southern Congo at Brazzaville.
The Republic of Congo is an intertropical zone influenced by the dry Sahelian and South African anticyclones and the humid St. Helena anticyclone, also known as the South Atlantic anticyclone. On one hand is the Sangha region and its capital Ouesso, and on the other is the country’s capital Brazzaville. The average year-round temperature in Congo is 26°C/70°F, due to its proximity to the equator. However, temperatures can rise to 32°C/89.6°F in the wet season.
In the north of the Republic of Congo, the mornings are often beautiful and sunny, with the rains that rather come at night. This information is for guidance only, as no two years are alike. In fact, rain can be short and intense, just as it can last a few hours.
- Ouesso: Capital of the Sangha Region
The pleasant equatorial climate in northern Congo guarantees both humidity and warmth. At night, temperatures drop below 24 degrees. During the day, it can reach 30°C/86°F. Rains are regular throughout the year, with a peak between October and November. The rainy season remains a crucial period, as the rivers have a greater flow and allow navigation. Consequently, from the end of January to the end of March, when rainfall is at its lowest, navigation in the North is interrupted due to the lack of water.
- Brazzaville: Capital of the Republic of Congo
The sub-equatorial climate of southern Congo includes two seasons: the rainy season and the dry season. Rainfall falls between October and May, making way for a dry season between June and September. In October and November, the colors of the landscape are at their most spectacular, despite heavy rainfall.
Temperatures in Other Central African Countries
Temperatures in Cameroon range from 20°C/68°F to 28°C/82.4°F. Rainfall is highest between April and October.
In the Central African Republic, annual temperature reaches 33°C/91.4°F. Rainfall is heaviest between May and October. The best period is also during the dry season, from November to March.
The Democratic Republic of Congo has an equatorial climate in the center. Its climate is tropical in the south and north. The dry season takes place between December and May for the part north of the equator, and between May and September for the part south of the equator.
The countries of Central Africa enjoy magnificent biodiversity and bearable heat all year round.
In other words, there is no single best season to travel to Congo Brazzaville. Book from now your rainforest cruise with Expeditions Ducret!