Okapi wildlife reserve is situated in the northeastern part of Congo at Ituri forest bordering Uganda and Sudan. The reserve was established in 1992 and was recognized by UNESCO as a world heritage site in 1997. The reserve derives its name from Okapi, an animal related to a giraffe though looks more of a zebra, and the park was mainly established to protect the unique Okapi and other wildlife not forgetting to preserve the indigenous pygmy tribe.
Okapi wildlife reserve covers an area of about 14,000 kilometers squared endowed with over 5000 Okapis, 2000 leopards, 4000 elephants, 14 species of forest ungulates, 1,500 species of plants and 17 species of primates 14 of which are diurnal and 4 nocturnals. Congo is the only place in the world where you can find Okapi.
Wildlife & Birds
Okapi wildlife reserve is one of the best places for wildlife viewing in Congo with 101 mammalian species, some of the examples of animals found at 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 so much more.
Okapi wildlife reserve is endowed with over 300 species of birds some of which are endemic to this region, some of the examples of birds are; African pygmy goose, knob-billed duck, African grey parrot, yellow-crested helmets shrike, and Grauer’s cuckoo shrike to mention a few.
The true forest people live within the Okapi wildlife reserve boundaries that are the Mbu and Efe pygmies who are believed to have lived in the Ituri forest for over 500,000 years or more with purely African traditional lifestyle of hunting and fruit gathering. You can interact with the forest people and learn their ways of lives like how they use different plants for healing several sicknesses, their hunting and fruit gathering skills. The pygmies are also very identical by their short statures compared to other people around the world.
Forest Hiking & Nature Walks
Okapi wildlife reserve is one of the places in the world that describe the true wilderness and jungle, the reserve boasts with stunning views of nature untouched. You can hike the top of mount Mbeya for unforgettable views in Africa and come along various primates, wildlife, butterflies, different plant and vegetation species and so much more. Tourist can also take walks to different spectacular waterfalls within the three rivers found in the park that is river Epulu, river Ituri and river Nepoko.
Okapi Conservation Project
The conservation project was established in 1928 to manage the Okapi breeding program, conservation and research. It also provides education about Okapis to the locals and tourists as well.
Tourists visiting Okapi wildlife reserve can sleep in hotels like; Hotel Kisangani, Vuvuke guest house, Plaza hotel, and many others.
Okapi wildlife reserve is located at the Congo, Uganda, and Sudan border, to reach the reserve one must fly from Kinshasha to Bunia 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 8 hours drive.
The best time to visit Okapi wildlife reserve is in the dry season for better wildlife views, if you’re planning to travel in the wet season ensure to use a four-wheel drive vehicle as the roads sometimes become impassable. June to August is the dry season.