A panorama of the region
The forests of the Congo River Basin stretch from the Ruwenzori Range
, on the flanks of the Albertine Rift in eastern DRC, to the Atlantic coast of the Gulf of Guinea.
The Ruwenzoris reach 3,000 m and the highest points are permanently snow-capped. Smaller mountain ranges are found around the Gulf of Guinea, such as the Monts de Alen and Monts de Cristal.
The second largest river in the world in terms of the amount of water it carries, the Congo River drains the basin as it cuts across the region. At the eastern side of the Congo River Basin there are swamps and lakes that play an important role in regulating the flow of the river.
A varied climate depending on latitude and altitude
The northern forests have a hot, severe dry season, which increases in intensity as one moves away from the equator. The forests of the western parts of the region have a much cooler dry season, with coastal areas subject to tropical monsoon climate conditions, especially in the Gulf of Guinea.
Rainfall and temperature patterns in Central Africa vary considerably, with unpredictable seasonal variations.1
Some of the heaviest rains in the world are experienced at the foot of Mount Cameroon, around 10,000 mm annually.
The central part of the Congo River Basin and the foothills of the mountain range that borders the Albertine Rift also receive a lot of rainfall (2,000 – 3,000 mm per year), while the rest of the dense forest gets relatively little (1,500 mm - 1,800 m per year).
Little temperature variation
There is little temperature variation in the lowland coastal forests, mostly because persistent cloud cover keeps mean annual temperatures between 26°C and 28°C. Things are cooler up in the mountains, where mean annual temperatures vary between 19°C and 24°C.2