Central African landscapes are mainly broad plateaus fringed by etched ridges and hills. The most significant feature which shapes the geography is the Congo River. Four major rivers, the Congo, Sangha, Likouala and Ubangi, meet in the Congo Basin. As a result, an extensive marshland has formed at this confluence. Second, only to the Amazon River Basin, the basin drains to the west through a narrow neck into the Atlantic Ocean. To the north, a low divide separates the Congo from the Chad Basin and the Sahel Plains. To the east lies the Nile Basin and the volcanic Virunga Mountains. To the south of Central Africa is the Zambezi Basin.
The equatorial zone from the Atlantic Ocean to the western Rift Valley falls under the influence of the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ). The ITCZ is a low-pressure belt, which results in a band of heavy precipitation around the globe. Consequently, the climate is steamy and wet, although July and August generally receive a little less rain. To the north, it becomes dramatically drier — the Saharan hot air masses to a peak in January. Seven months without precipitation create an arid climate in the south, reaching the driest peak in July.
Abundant evergreen forests cover equatorial Central Africa. Beyond these are savannas, mangrove forests along the coastline and thorny scrub in the arid regions to the north and south.
The most famous park is the Virunga National Park in the Congo. A plethora of wildlife lives here from elephants, lions, hippopotamuses, warthogs, forest hogs, okapis, and mountain gorillas on the volcano slopes.
Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park (NNNP) is in the north of the Congo. The forest is part of the Sangha Tri-National Forest nominated a World Heritage Site in 2012. Substantial populations of large mammals include forest elephants, western lowland gorillas and chimpanzees. Swampy, forest clearings are known as a ‘bai’ create convenient windows to see shy forest animals.
Dzanga-Sangha National Park in the Central African Republic is renowned for its biodiversity, and the iconic Dzanga Bai. At times up to 150 forest elephant could gather at the bai, and occasionally the elusive bongo.