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Okapi Wildlife Reserve Congo – Animals, Facts & More

The Okapi Wildlife Reserve is situated in the northeastern part of Congo, at the Ituri forest bordering Uganda and Sudan.

The reserve derives its name from the Okapi, an animal related to a giraffe, though it looks more like a zebra.

The park was primarily established to protect the unique Okapi and other wildlife, not forgetting to preserve the indigenous pygmy tribe.

Okapi Wildlife Reserve

The Okapi Wildlife Reserve covers an area of about 14,000 square kilometers and is home to over 5,000 Okapis, 2,000 leopards, 4,000 elephants, 14 species of forest ungulates, 1,500 species of plants, and 17 species of primates, 14 of which are diurnal and 4 are nocturnal.

Congo is the only place in the world where you can find Okapi.

Wildlife & Birds

The Okapi Wildlife Reserve is one of the best places for wildlife viewing in Congo, with 101 mammalian species.

Some examples of animals found in the reserve are water chevrotain, forest buffalos, elephants, leopards, Okapis, bongo antelope, crocodiles, forest giraffe, aquatic genet, giant ground pangolins, golden cat, endemic Bonobos, and much more.

The reserve is also home to over 300 species of birds, some of which are endemic to this region.

Examples of birds include the African pygmy goose, knob-billed duck, African grey parrot, yellow-crested helmets shrike, and Grauer’s cuckoo shrike, to name a few.

Cultural Encounters

Within the boundaries of the Okapi Wildlife Reserve, you can encounter the true forest people, the Mbu and Efe pygmies.

They are believed to have lived in the Ituri forest for over 500,000 years, maintaining a purely African traditional lifestyle of hunting and fruit gathering.

You can interact with these forest people and learn about their way of life, including how they use different plants for healing various illnesses, their hunting and fruit gathering skills, and their short stature compared to other people around the world.

Forest Hiking & Nature Walks

The Okapi Wildlife Reserve offers a glimpse of true wilderness and jungle.

The reserve boasts stunning views of untouched nature.

You can hike to the top of Mount Mbeya for unforgettable views of Africa and encounter various primates, wildlife, butterflies, different plant and vegetation species, and much more.

Tourists can also take walks to various spectacular waterfalls within the three rivers found in the park: River Epulu, River Ituri, and River Nepoko.

Okapi Conservation Project

The Okapi Conservation Project was established in 1928 to manage the Okapi breeding program, conservation, and research.

It also provides education about Okapis to locals and tourists alike.

Accommodation

Tourists visiting the Okapi Wildlife Reserve can stay in hotels such as Hotel Kisangani, Vuvuke guest house, Plaza hotel, and many others.

The Okapi Wildlife Reserve is located at the border of Congo, Uganda, and Sudan.

To reach the reserve, one must fly from Kinshasha to Bunia and then travel to Epulu by road.

Alternatively, you can fly from Kinshasha to Kisangani, one of the nearest towns to the reserve, which is about an 8-hour drive away.

The best time to visit the Okapi Wildlife Reserve is during the dry season for better wildlife viewing.

If you plan to travel during the wet season, make sure to use a four-wheel-drive vehicle, as the roads can become impassable.

The dry season typically runs from June to August.

The reserve was established in 1992 and was recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1997.


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