Okapi Wildlife Reserve -Democratic Republic of Congo
The Okapi Wildlife Reserve was founded in 1992 and designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996. The reserve, which is located in the Ituri forest near the Uganda-South Sudan border, seeks to safeguard the indigenous Okapi population, which is the reserve’s signature mammal, as well as a variety of rare plants and animals.
Traditional pygmy hunter-gatherers of the Mbuti and Efe ethnic groups live in the reserve, which has long co-existed with wildlife. However, due to commercial bush meat and civil war upheaval, it is becoming impossible to keep the populations of animals up, and many have significantly decreased.
Attractions found in Okapi Wildlife Reserve.
The reserve is also home to endangered plants, primates, and birds. Okapis, elephants, chimps, crocodiles, buffaloes, bongo, leopard, dwarf antelope, giant forest hog, water chevratain, and other mammal species call the reserve home. In addition, the reserve is home to 17 different species of primates, the most of any African forest. Because this is a forest, there are no game drives and all animal sightings are done on foot as you accompany a group of Okapis over several nature trails. You may come across other species, so take in their views.
About 376 bird species call the Reserve home. It is a part of the larger Ituri Forest and includes Congo peafowl, Great Crested Grebe, White-naped Dove, Long-tail Nightjar, Common Swift, African Emerald Cuckoo, Nkulengu Rail, Great Blue Turaco, and Spur-winged Lapwing.
Other species of birds found in Okapi Wildlife Reserve include; Black-winged Pratincole, Bateleur, African Wood Owl, Speckled Mousebird, Bar-tailed Trogon, Crowned Hornbill, Cassin’s Honey bird, Cardinal Woodpecker, Black Bee-eater, Lilac-breasted Roller, Shining Blue Kingfisher, Grey Parrot, Red-headed Lovebird, African Broadbill, African Pitta, Mountain Oriole, White-spotted Wattle-eye, Albertine Sooty Boubou, Fork-tailed Drongo, Blue-headed Paradise Flycatcher, Collared Sunbird, Fan-tailed Widowbird, Brown Twin spot, Pin-tailed Whydah, African Pipit, Senegal Canary, Dusky Tit, Western Nicator, Lemon-bellied Crombec, Whistling Cisticola, Lesser Swamp Warbler, Red-rumped Swallow, Slender-billed Greenbul, Tit Hylia.
What to do in Okapi Wildlife Reserve.
Okapi Wildlife Reserve isn’t just about the Okapis, as previously said. Also, it includes several additional animals, making for extremely intriguing wildlife experiences for visitors who are fortunate enough to go there. It is home to chimpanzees, leopards, giant forest hogs and elephants, as well as water chevrotain and forest buffalo, as well as giant pangolins and golden cats. Other species found in the reserve include pygmy and forest antelopes, as well as several other antelope species and the African dwarf crocodiles.
The Okapi Wildlife Reserve is one of the best places in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to go bird watching. There are 376 species recorded in the reserve. Vultures and herons are two of the most prevalent species.
If you can’t fathom an African safari without visiting one of the continent’s indigenous tribes, the Okapi Wildlife Reserve will not disappoint. Mbuti pygmies are shorter in stature than their Bantu neighbors who live outside the reserve. They are primitive people whose lifestyles have not been significantly disrupted by contemporary civilization. The Mbuti and Efe pygmies, like the Batwa pygmies in Uganda, have lived in the Ituri forest for thousands of years as forest hunters and gatherers. After seeing the pygmies, you can go to their Bantu neighbors to see how their lifestyles differ.
Nature hikes with a guide can be arranged to some of the nicest spots in the forest. the Reserve, like many of the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s national parks, is still blessed with unspoiled wilderness that has yet to be found or visited by many. Because of their distance and limited road networks, some of Congo’s reserves and national parks have remained isolated and thus highly maintained. You may climb Mount Mbeya or visit the magnificent rivers of Nepoko while staying at the Reserve. Some of the most spectacular waterfalls you will ever see can be found in the Ituri forest.
Visiting the distant sections of Congo, particularly the Okapi Wildlife Reserve, is for people who are daring and want to do something out of the usual. Something truly one of a kind that they can tell your friends who are more familiar with the more well-known African safari destinations. Camping at the Reserve will provide you with the rare opportunity to experience authentic African wildness. The nicest camping spots are along the Epulu River.
Accommodation in Okapi Wildlife Reserve.
Accommodation facilities in the Reserve include; Hotel Kisangani, Vuvuke guest house and Plaza Hotel to mention but a few.
How to get to Okapi Wildlife Reserve in Democratic Republic of Congo.
Okapi wildlife reserve in Congo is situated along Congo’s border with Uganda and Sudan. The game reserve can be accessed by air from Kinshasha to Bunia and then drive to Epulu. Alternatively, visitors can choose to fly from Kinshasha to Kisangani and drive to Okapi which is about an 8 hours’ drive.