Paving the way for the large-scale expedition of 2010 an exploratory trip was organised in 2009. On 14 June 2009, 11 Congolese and nine Belgian researchers set off from Lisala by boat. Over three weeks they journeyed and plotted the route of nearly 500km to Kisangani.
 
During this forward mission the zoologists made a collection of specimens and tissues, while water analysis was carried out, soil samples taken, and the botanists made an inventory of the vegetation. With these experiences, the scientists were able to optimalise the fieldwork techniques used in the 2010 expedition. The 2009 project also yielded new geographic data, which in due course can provide more accurate maps of the region. These maps are of great interest because they are linked to the database onto which results from all the expeditions will be entered.