Located within the remote areas of North-eastern Democratic Republic of Congo in the provinces of North Kivu, Orientale and Maniema is Maiko National Park that covers an area of 10,885 square kilometers/4203 square miles/1,088,500 hectares of dense Tropical rain forests and was established in 1970. Maiko National Park is divided into three sectors/regions with each standing astride the provinces of North Kivu, Orientale Province and Maniema province. Maiko National Park is characterized by a thick Equatorial rain forest and two main Rivers i.e. River Oso and Lindi. Due to the poor condition of the roads leading to and within the National Park, tourists are advised to use 4WDs and there are no accommodation facilities within the Park, so it is advised to bring camping equipment.
This Park is one of the most remote and inaccessible Parks but is popular for three breathtaking Congo endemic species that include the endangered Eastern lowland gorillas (Gorilla beringei graueri), the endangered Okapi (native to the Democratic Republic of Congo) and the Congo peafowl. However this Park is also a crucial site for the conservation of the endemic aquatic genet, Leopards, African forest Elephants, the Bongo and the Eastern Chimpanzees and is managed by the Institut Congolais la Conservation de la Nature (ICCN). Much as it contains some of the most sought out attractions, it has always received limited National and International attention or management/conservation support ever since it was established in 1970, and actually it is one of the forgotten National Parks of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Surprisingly, Maiko Forest also comprises a wide carbon sink and its preservation/protection is of global significance in the prevention of further climate change. Because of the inaccessibility and remoteness of this National Park, it is not frequently visited by tourists but instead a hideout for the Simba Mai Mai rebels who inhabited the area after being defeated by the Government in 1964 following the assassination of then Prime Minister-Patrice Lumumba. Stability has now been restored within the area but tourists still fear to visit the Park.
What to see within Maiko National Park
Maiko National Park is a home to wildlife species like the endangered Eastern Lowland gorillas (there are over 800 eastern lowland gorillas in this Park). This Park together with Kahuzi-Biega National Park are the two only places in the entire world where you can see the largest gorilla species. Others include the endangered Okapi-the exceptional mammal that look like zebras yet they are actually the only surviving relatives of the giraffes, African forest elephants, Bongos (Tragelaphus Euryacerus), aardvark and Eastern Chimpanzees among others.
The Congo Peafowl-the large underground bird specie from the Congo and real pheasant native to Africa and you would be lucky to see them, only if you visit this Park. Other bird species include the Rwenzori Turaco and Handsome Francolins among others.
Besides Maiko National Park, tourists to Democratic Republic of Congo can visit other destinations such as Virunga National Park renowned for the Mountain Gorillas, Kahuzi-Biega National Park popular for the Eastern Lowland Gorillas, the Okapi Wildlife Reserve for the endangered Okapi native to DRC and Salonga National Park-the largest forest National Park in DRC and Africa.
In conclusion, much as Maiko National Park is remote, inaccessible and one of the forgotten National Parks in Democratic Republic of Congo, it is a haven to 3 of Congo’s rare and most sought after species such the endangered Eastern lowland Gorillas, endangered Okapi and the Congo Peafowl.