Okapi wildlife reserve is situated don’t the North Eastern part of Congo, the reserve derives it’s name from the only related animal to the giraffe known as “Okapi” (Okapiajohnstoni). it’s said about 5000 okapis stay here bordering Sudan and Uganda in the ituri forest. Okapi national reserve covers an area of 13,700 kilometers squared boasting with over 5000 Okapi can only be found in the Democratic republic of Congo in the world, it was discovered in 1901 the park occupies a out a fifth of the ituri forest with the ituri and Epulu rivers passing through the park.
The Okapi wildlife reserve was established as a reserve in the year of 1992 and was listed as one of the world’s heritage sites in 1996, the main aim of protecting this area was to protect the rare Okapi and preserve the unique culture of the indigenous Congolese pygmy people.
Okapi wildlife reserve is said to be home to over 300 species of birds, over 100 mammal species, 2000 leopards and over 4000 elephants, 3 species of crocodiles and 13 species of primates some diurnal while others are nocturnal, 1,500 species of plants, 14 species of forest ungulates can be found here. The Okapi animal looks like a short necked giraffe with stripes near its legs like that of a zebra.
Activities at Okapi wildlife reserve
Okapi national park is not only rich in Okapi but tourists can view a variety of other wildlife making it one of the top tourists destinations in Congo, some of the animals to see on a game drive include; elephants, leopards, chimpanzees, forest buffalos, water chevrotain, antelopes, giant ground pangolins, African dwarf crocodile, golden cat, Anubis baboon, pygmy antelope, giant forest hogs and forest Genet among the rest.
Okapi wildlife reserve is also a border paradise with over 370 species of birds recorded, some of the examples of birds found here are; herons, vultures and many more.
The people surrounding the Okapi wildlife reserve are the remaining forest people in the world who have lived in this forest for since ancient time they live by hunting and fruit gathering it’s very interesting to interact with this primitive people and know their ways of live.
They are also very short in stature compared to other people in the world. The semi- nomadic Hunter gathering lifestyle has enabled the pygmy’s to proper identification of various plant life, some of the plants are for their domestic used in healing cough, malaria etc.
Nature guided walks
Nature guided walks can be taken to the magnificent waterfalls of the Ituri and Nepoko rivers or hike to the top of Mount Mbeya at the edge of Epulu, the uncommon views are simply glorious and unforgettable
Tourists can get involved with the hunter gathering pygmy’s and go for hunting in the park with permission; this experience is very thrilling making you encounter the wilderness with lots of plant life, insects and butterflies to be seen.
Camping at Okapi national park can be done within the Epulu River.
Best time to visit
Where to stay
Some of the places where to Saturday while at Okapi wildlife reserve are; Vuvuke guest house, plaza hotel, hotel Kisangani, immo baje and many more.
How to get there
Okapi national park can be accessed by road or by air, the nearest city to the reserve is Isiro, Tourists can also travel a full day journey for Beni or Kisangani this will require a four wheel drive especially in the rain season.