Congo National Parks

                                                             

Nyiragongo volcano Lava Lake

Nyiragongo volcano Lava Lake

  Congo national parks

The DR Congo has some of the biggest, most ecologically important, and most endangered nature reserves on earth. With its big grasslands, savannahs, woodlands, and rainforests, the country offers refuge to some of the critically endangered species on the planet. The country also has the biggest tropical rainforest reserve. The Virunga National Park has the largest population of birds, mammals, and reptiles in Africa. The northern white rhinoceros, almost extinct, finds a home in the Garamba National Park. Despite the bad economy, the civil wars that closely annihilated endemic species, the National park of the Congo have provided a Sanctuary to many animal and plant species.

List of Congo national parks

  • Virunga National Park

Virunga is Africa oldest and most amazingly diverse national park. Established in 1925, it also straddles the western shores of Lake Edward and covering 7,800 square kilometers. A landscape of savannas, forests, swamps, lava plains, erosion valleys, and the glaciated peaks of Virunga National Park. There are also 2 active volcanoes – Nyamuragira and Nyiragongo. Classified as a globe heritage place in 1970.

Created in 1925, Virguna national park covers a big area in the heart of the Albertine Rift Valley in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. With its volcanoes, river valleys, tropical forests, and lakes, the park has almost unrivaled diversity of landscapes and ecosystems.

These areas offer a home to many uncommon and dying out species, most popularly the critically rare mountain gorillas who live in Virunga’s volcanic forests, accounting for approximately 1/3 of the international population. More than two-hundred mammal species live in the park, adding lions, okapis, forests, savanna elephants and hippos, together with 109 recorded reptile species, 710 species of birds, 22 species of primates and 80 amphibian species.

Add humans into the mix, anyway, and things take a darker turn. Armed war has plagued the area for decades, and clashes with smugglers and militia have outcome in the death of the more than 180 park rangers in Virunga over last twenty years.

Today, some six-hundred brave rangers risk their live every day to save the park, the animals, and all the other species that call Virunga home. And while they continue to perform the work, the park itself has been closed to visitors since June 2018. The closure was enforced after rebels killed 1 park ranger and abducted 2 British visitors. The visitors was later released, but the park was closed until the end of the year.

Mountain gorillas

Virunga is home to about 1 quarter of the worlds mountain gorillas. And it is the just park to host 3 of the great apes to add the eastern lowland chimpanzees and gorillas. In addition to the big hippo colonies, forest elephants and savanna, lions are many rare bird species can also be found in the famous park. Virunga is also house to the endangered okapi.

  • Garamba National Park Kahuzi-Biéga National Park

The national park placed in the eastern  area of the Democratic Republic of Congo. It is approximately fifty kilometers west of Bukavu town in the Kivu area, adjacent to the Western side of Lake Kivu and the border of Rwandan. It was created to primarily save the last remaining population of the Gorilla beringei graueri or eastern lowland gorilla. The park is one of the few last refuges of this rare sub-species of Eastern gorilla. The popular Diane Fossey, protege of the equally popular Dr Louis Leakey actually did her studies here before moving on to Rwanda.

It is guessed that there are only six-hundred gorillas remaining all through the park, earning it a place in the list of UNESCO World Heritage place. Anyway, ongoing fighting in the Congo and the resulting poaching, looting, and burning of the forest has decimated approximately sixty percent of that population. As an outcome, the Kahuzi-Biega National Park was also added in the list of World Heritage places in Danger.

Despite the clear dangers, people still continue to visit this location just to experience being in an initial tropical forest and spot the diverse wildlife as well as the last few remaining graueri gorillas. Aside from the gorillas, the place is also house to some elephants and antelope. This big park area is dominated by the 2 extinct volcanoes from which is named after, Mount Biega and Mounta Kahuzi. In the part of the Kivu area, Mount Kahuzi is the highest park.

Usually, the condition in the Congo is extremely volatile as armed wars erupt every now and then. Anyway, visits to the park are doable as long as the important precautions are taken. Visitors who have gone there report that the condition has improved a bit and tourism is required in order to support conversation efforts in park ranger and scientists.

Wildlife

The park was placed on list of the rare parks in country since more activity by elephant ivory and poachers for white rhino was on the rise. Some of the mammals in the park contain forest elephants, savannah giraffe, forest buffalo, hippo, olive baboon, waterbuck, hartebeest, golden cat, kob, colobus monkey, bush pig, warthog, monogoose, roan antelope, chimpanzee, de brazza monkey, colobus monkey, and endangered white rhinos.

Accommodation

For every visitor will feel more relax and enjoy his or her safari when there are best accommodations around the park and some of the top accommodations in the park contain: Garamba Safari Lodge: most of the parks guests are invited to stay at Garamba Lodge which overlooks the Dunga River and is likely the most charming and luxury property of the country. The luxury camps contains of 10 immaculate chalets and a remarkable central lodge building plus restaurant. The lodge has some of the most attractive and lavish visitor facilities in Central Africa.

 

  • Kundelungu National Park

The Kundelungu national park contains of Savannah plains with Miombo woodland in different areas whereas, Kundelungu national park is completely covered with Miombo.

The ecosystem is largely grassy Savannah type of immense stepped dotted with forest galleries, features of Katanga, and the fauna that is supposed to shelter would contain: monkeys, snakes, warthogs, Porcupines, Jackals, Hippopotamuses, buffalos, a big range of birds such as pelicans, marabouts, egrets. To a little extent, there are a few lions, zebras, leopards, cheetahs, but no one knows special.

Park facts & history

Kundelungu national park is placed near to Upemba national park in Katanga province. It was primary established as a national park in 1970 covering a region of 7,600 square kilomters with Lofoi falls, a 165 meters top waterfall.

The park was a private hunting ground although today, this is illegal. It is placed 180 kms North of Lubumbashi from the plateau with Lake Upemba an ecological area that adjoins to the Katanga area. They are pretty similar with the remarkable Upemba National Park despite the fact that they are somehow different in terms of vegetation and habitat i.e. Kundelunga national park contains of Miombo woodlands where as Upemba national park contains both the Savnnah Plains and Miombo woodlands.

Flora and Fauna of the park

The park contains of mainly grassy Savannah and forest galleries typical of the Katanga area where as the Fauna that inhabits the park contains, Jackals, Antelopes, Warthogs, Porcupines, monkeys, snakes, buffalo, Hippocampuses as well as birds like marabou strokes, egrets, and pelicans. It has an extremely charming terrain that will provide you stunning memories that will last forever.

How to get to the park

We advise every traveler transferring to the amazing National Park to transfer on the journey using a 4×4 wheel car so as to transfer amazingly. The road leading to the park is well groomed. You will drive until you reach the best point of the park i.e. station of katwe which contains a shelter and a camp at the top of the falls in which you can spend an overnight.

While here, you will have charming views at the Sunset. There is no power in the lodges so we suggest travelers to carry the necessary equipment like: Sleeping bags, flashlights, food and waters as well as guards to use throughout the night.

Getting around

Since the roads have already been groomed, so now much more secure than before and a best 4 x 4 fleet remains perfect to drive on all the roads of the park. The falling point of the reserve is the Katwe station which has a shelter where it is easy to lodge for the night, and the same price of the lodge can also be paid for 1 camp at the top of the falls where charming views of the sunset can simply be observed-with equipment and guards availed.

The ICCN must be paid for in advance in addition to buying the $40 expatriate license and paying $15 per vehicle. The lodging is right but rudimentary and without power, so, it is forever advised that you carry everything with you before leaving Lubumbashi, such as water and food including that for the driver as well as guards. But if you are camping, then you will need to carry a sleeping bag and flashlight.

  • Maiko National Park

Maiko national park is found in the eastern part of the Congo placed close to the western rift valley west of Kisanganisouth  of Lake Kivu bordering Rwanda. The park covers a big area approximately 10,885 squared divided into 3 sectors of Kivu, Maniema, and Orientale. The park is one of the most remote places of Congo hence extremely primitive tribes.

Maiko national park was primary declared as Bakumu hunting reserve in the year of 1949 by the Belgian colonial government with the word being derived from the people who lived around the park called as the Kumus.

Maiko national park boast with extremely rich diversity hence supporting different wildlife, the park is characterized by tropical rainforests and 2 rivers Lindi and Oslo. The park contain 3 of Congo endangered species that is Congo okapi, peafowl, and the Grauers gorilla.

Activates at Maiko national park

Gorilla trekking

Visitors can go on gorilla trekking safari at the great Maiko national park. There are also a number of other primates that visitors can come across during the gorilla trekking some of the primates are: chimpanzees, red tailed monkeys, okapi, and many more it is said that gorillas in Maiko number up to eight hundred.

Bird watching

Bird watching at Maiko national park can be done at different areas even while on a game drive or during gorilla trekking.

Wildlife viewing

A part from gorilla trekking visitors can go on a game drive and enjoy amazing views of other wild life such as: bongo, leopards, elephants, okapi, aquatic genet, bongo, and Congo peafowl to mention a few.

Excellent time to visit

The Congo basin like within the equator and the climate is warm and humid with rainy seasons but the top time when roads are simply passable is in the drier season and for clearer views of widlife as the vegetation would not thick.

Flora and fauna

Three of the country’s amazing endemic animals occur here: The Eastern Lowland Gorilla, the Congo Peacock and the Okapi. Also forest leopards and elephants. The park is house to different endemic & rare species and, almost definitely, many rare species yet to be documented. Anyway, the attendance of former rebels who have made their homes in the park, along with illegal mining and poaching means that lots of species are threatened with extinction. One example, a new gorilla subspecies  primary documented in a 2005 survey was not found and trusted extinct in 2010 survey.

Getting in and around

Accessibility of this park in democratic republic of Congo is among the difficult thing and the park is hard to be visited as matched to Upemba national park, Virunga national park, and Kahuzi Biega national park. View the different ways and routs of getting around Maiko national park while on Congo Safari trip routs, that lead to Maiko national park, whereby you can either begin your journey from Benin or Goma or Butembo, or from Okapi wildlife reserve as they are allocated in Congo.

There is only one 4 x 4 road leading from Bafwasende to some little villages within the park. There are some off-piste 4×4 tracks for just the most die-hard overlanders in rightly-equipped vehicles can tackle.

Where to stay

Maiko national park has got extremely restricted accommodation; most times travellers are suggested to come with their camping gears and camp within the villages of the park or at any designated camping place.

  • Mangroves Muanda Marine National Park

Mangroves national park is covering an area of 770 kilometers squared making it the smallest protected place in the Democratic republic of Congo, the park is placed in the Moanda territory at the beginning point of the great Congo River. Mangroves national park derives its title from its renowned mangrove trees distinctive from the ones found in south Asia.

This park is also under Ramsar and known as a Ramsar wetland system, it is house to the endangered manatee population in Congo, the regions flora and fauna is extremely big supporting a big range of wildlife.

This park was established in 1992 it is characterized by mostly Mangroves, green forests and wetland the other 2 areas are the riverside and the coastal strip place.

Activities at Mangroves national park

View plant species

A part from Mangroves visitors mostly those interested in botany can view a big range of plant life such as cocoanut trees, oak trees, red cedar,Wal but trees, and many more this combine with grasslands from wonderful views of the park.

Boat cruising

Visitors can take boat cruises in the Congo River and view crocodiles, hippos, manatees and a lot of aquatic birds plus a reward of wonderful view of the national park.

Wildlife viewing

In the midst of the remarkable mangrove tees visitors can view a lot of wildlife for example bush bucks, reedbucks, monkeys, snacks, and manatee.

Fishing

The Congo river is packed with different fish species which makes fishing the top recreational activity perfect for the visitors after their wildlife encounter. Anyway, the visitors must be capable to come with their fishing gears.

When to visit

The wet season is a famous time to visit because the plants seem to bring on a full new meaning of green tropical forestry. It is vital that whenever you pick to visit the place, you forever dress rightly for warm and humid weather and can be prepared for mosquitoes present by bringing along powerful mosquito repellents. Many different organizations are presently working on keeping this place of the Democratic Republic of Congo saved, free from poachers and risks that may cause damage to the life found within its lands. There are rare privilege of being capable to view even part of this wonderful national park is a lifetime experience that cannot never be forgotten.

You will be capable to view a big range of animal life and diverse plant so as to enjoy the true feel of Democratic Republic of Congo. With additional eco-awareness to this specific place, it leaves you with no doubt that Mangroves national park will continue to be must-view when visiting.

Going to this natural wonder of the globe permits you to view a wide range of diverse plant and animal life and get a true feel for what makes up the Democratic Republic of Congo. With additional eco-awareness to this specific area, there is no doubt that this park is a must view and is value visiting.

  • Okapi National Park

This park in north eastern area of Ituri Dr Congo is sometimes known as just a wildlife reserve. Okapi national park is named after the endangered antelopes species Okapi that just live in this place of central Africa.

The park is dominantly packed with Ituri forests which mark the boundry with Uganda and Sudan in the east and thus occupy more than 70,000sqkm, the park just occupies a 5th of the forest place which is 14,000sq km. The forest is drained by 3 rivers Nepoko, Epulu and Ituri which also meander through the reserve region.

The reserve takes its title from the okapi that live in its forests. These rare creatures are notable for the zebra-like markings on their legs, but are most largely related to giraffes, hence their other general names: Congolese giraffe, forest giraffe, or zebra giraffe. Some 30,000 okapis survive in the wild today, of which approximately 5,000 lives in the reserve.

In total, the reserve is home to 101 mammal species and 375 documented species of birds. These contain seventeen species of primates, a guessed 7,500 forest elephants, water chevrotains, populations of dwarf antelopes, forest buffalo, giant forest hogs and bongos.

Along with the rangers who save the park, and other guardians of these forests are the Efe and Mbuti hunters who roam the reserve. Both are pygmy peoples, with adult males usually reaching a height of at most four feet and eleven inches.

Best time to visit Okapi wildlife reserve

Initially, this riveting place was closed due to the rebel activities in the place, but with the restoration of peace in the area, visitors are now attracted to visit the place. Even with the restoration of peace in the area, some visitors will fear to visit except for the adventurous places and those who know that sometimes you ought to take dangerous to explore some amazing things. In terms of climate/weather. The top time to visit this place is the dry season from June to August when there are less rains.

How to reach the Okapi wildlife reserve

This park can be accessed via road and air transport. After landing at Kinshasa, local chartered flights (cost between $500 and $750 for one-way) can be arranged by MAF light to Bunia then to Epulu town where the park is placed. It is best for visitors to travel in a group in order to share the cost. With road transport, after landing in Kinshasa, you proceed to Kinsangani then use 4WD vehicle to reach the Epulu town, and then proceed to the Okapi wildlife reserve and this trip take approximately 8-9 hours.

With an amazing place like the Okapi wildlife reserve the home to five-thousand endangered Okapi found in the Democratic Republic of Congo, several leopards, elephants, Anubis baboons and Bongo Antelopes among others, you have to make a tour to DRC to experience wildlife safaris in an unexplored place.

  • Salonga National Park

Salonga is the world’s second biggest tropical rainforest national park and the biggest in Africa. It is very isolated in the center of the Congo River basin, accessible only by air or water. It is the habitat of many common endangered spices, notably the bonobo, the forest elephant, the Zaire peafowl and the African slender-snouted crocodile.

The park was established in 1970 and has 2 separate sections, one south and one north of Monkoto; dense equatorial forest offers habitats for elephants, parrots, antelope, and a big range of apes and monkeys – including pygmy chimpanzees, special to this part of the globe. Park visitors observe the animals from motorized river boats.

Bird watching

Bird watching is one of the best activities conducted within Salong national park with more than three-hundred species that call the site home. You will discover that half of the birds here are locals/natives of the country and they contain the black-bellied bustard, yellow-billed storks, Congo peacock, palm nut vultures, cattle egrets, black storks, and grey parrots among others. Do not guess less from Africa’s biggest tropical rainforest national park but the best.

Wildlife viewing

Salong national park helps a big range of wildlife species, some of which are even endemic to the areas or park around the Congo River Basin. Animals to look out for add the Congo water civets, tree pangolins, Allens swamp mangabey, black colobus monkeys, leoaprds, Bonobo, dwarf bush baby, Mangabey, potto monkeys, white rhino, Pygmy cape buffaloes, wolf monkeys, Angolan mongoose, Thollon red colobus the red River hogs among others.

Cultural encounters

Salonga national park is bordered by the Lyalima people who can be visited by visitors to discover their stunning culture and way of life. You will be entertained in some their invigorating very old songs and dances and also have a flavor of their tasty foods.

Fishing

Besides the bird species and wildlife, visitors interested in exploring the aquatic life of this park can go on a fishing tour and it is done within the rivers but visitors are forever suggested to move with their fishing gears/equipments so as to carry out this activity. This park is a home to over four-hundred species of fish that can be caught.

Hunting

Besides the usual activities visitors undertake in African parks, those that visit Salonga national park can explore more of the wilderness by undertaking a hunting tour but should be conducted in the firm of an armed ranger guide. All visitors interested in exploring this place can do it during the drier months from June to August when the activity is not extremely dense and there are no foods thus providing extremely clear and wonderful views of the wildlife species as much as it can be visited all year around.

  • Upemba national park

Upemba national park is placed within Katanga province which is the biggest province in the south eastern Democratic republic of Congo. Upemba national park is divided into 2 sectors, the lower section with Lake upemba and another savanna grassland. Among the best congo safari locations to be visited in the Upemba depression, a green area of marshes and lakes adding the eponymous lake upemba, and bordered by the Lualaba river, and also its higher part is in the dryer kibara plateau mountains. Upemba national park safari and wildlife can be included with Kundelungu national park which is adjustment to each other.

Lake upemba

Lake Upemba has a highest depth reported to be just 3.2 metres and it is a place of intense algae growth. The watercourses of the area fluctuate according to the season and the water level in the lakes is top from March to June, and low from October to February. Many of the bodies of the water in the place are characterized by extensive swamps, with Nile Lecttuce, papyrus and water caltrop among other species.

Upemba national park

This national park, though place din Katanga province, is 400km from the border of Zambia and Angola, it also borders Tanzania – although Tanzania and Katanga province does not share a land border but the border was within Lake Tanganyika. Rainfall is approximately 120 cm and this means that the accessibility of upemba can begin with water transport crossing from Tanzania by Air or Land. Check out Lubumbashi international  Airport in Lubumbashi to obtain international Flights to permit you book a Congo safari in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Fishing

There are 10 fishing lakes within the park 4 of which are managed by the park fishermen are generally with a fishing fee yearly and the main fishing months are from March to November, visitors can also engage in this activity and limited to specific fishing technique.

How to get there

Visitors can reach the park from Lubumbashi one of Katanga’s capital  which is approximately four-hundred kilometers from the park, the park also boarders Zambia and Angola. Visitors can get here by air via Lubumbashi airport. The park can also be accessed via Lake Tanganyika in Tanzania.

Where to stay

There are a big range of locations where to stay depending on visitors choice and budget some of the accommodation sectors are in campsites, luxurious lodges, bandas and many more with well vanished rooms to make you relax.

 

Things to do in Upemba national park

There are 10 big fishing lakes subject to legal exploitation to their resources. Fishermen have formed domestic cooperatives and they fish between the months of March and October but how well this is enforced is hard to asses. There is a proof to advise that fishing continues all through the year and that the use of illegal nets is general practice.

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