Do you desire to experience the extraordinary? If yes, then go off the beaten track and visit on the exceptionally vast Protected Areas in Africa. At the heart of the Central basin of River Congo exists a UNESCO World Heritage Site (declared in 1984) that measures over 33,350 square kilometers making it DRC’s and Africa’s largest Tropical forest reserve/National Park and the world’s second largest Tropical Forest National park after Tumucumaque National Park in Brazil.
This remarkable site was established in 1970 and is rich with biological diversity because it is a home to over 51 mammal species including several endemic endangered species that include the Bongos, the African slender-snouted/false crocodiles, Bonobos, the native Congo peacock, Dwarf Chimpanzees and the forest elephants among others. Other interesting attractions present in this Park include129 fish species and over 223 bird species. Sincerely with such an interesting destination at your exposure, why wouldn’t you choose the Democratic Republic of Congo as your next African safari destination?
Salonga National Park is situated at the heart of the Democratic Republic of Congo and covers an area of 33,350 square kilometers (3,335,000 hectares/12,877 square miles) making it the largest Forest National Park in DRC and Africa in general and the second largest Tropical Forest National Park in the entire World after Tumucumaque Mountains National Park (inside the Amazon Rainforest) in North-western Brazil that spans at 38,873 square kilometers/15,009 square miles.
This magnificent Park was established in 1970 (the same year as Maiko National Park and Kahuzi-Biega National Park), and became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984. Comprised of two separate sectors (North sector being in the Equateur province and the Southern sector lies in three provinces i.e. Equateur province, Ksai and Bandudu), Salonga National Park is remote and can only be reached/accessed by only water and air transport. This vast Park is a biodiversity hot spot blessed with a variety of flora and fauna, and is characterized by varying landscapes that include Riverine areas, low plateaus intersected by a number of rivers, high plateaus and mountainous areas, each one of them made up of different vegetation zones, but most of the Park’s landscape is covered by a Tropical rainforest, and fewer parts mostly the River beds and deep valleys are covered by Marsh Swamps.
What to see within Salonga National Park
There are over 51 exceptional mammal species within this Park and the common species include primates such as the most exciting primates-the Dwarf or Pygmy Chimpanzees, also called the Bonobos (Salonga is the only Park found in Bonobos’ range and holds at least 40% of the World’s Bonobos population). These riveting Primates are natives to the Southern Congo River Basin rainforests. Other primates that call Salonga home include the Thollon red colobus monkeys, dryad monkey, mona monkeys, West African Red Colobus Monkey, Allen’s swamp monkey, golden bellied mangabey, Red-tailed monkeys and the endemic Black Colobus monkeys, Forest Elephants, aquatic chevrotain, Leopards, Pygmy buffaloes, the Endangered Okapi, Congo aquatic civet, Tree Pangolin, Hippos, Golden cats, dwarf bush baby, Serval cats, Antelopes such as yellow backed duikers, Pottos, Bongos, Long tailed pangolin, Sitatunga and Bush bucks, Red river hog (Bush pigs), Giant ground Pangolins, Angolan Mongoose, Cape Buffaloes (African Buffaloes), side-stripped jackals among others. The reptiles found within the waters of this National Park include the African slender-snouted crocodiles.
There are also more than 300 bird species that call this Park home, and the popular ones being the Congo Peacock. Other notable bird species likely to be encountered include the Black-bellied bustard, cattle egret, black stork, yellow billed stork and grey parrots among others. There are also over 130 fish species within the Rivers of this National Park.
Best Time to Visit Salonga National Park
This Park sprawls in the Equatorial region hence experiences an annual rainfall of 1700mm and the region is always flooded for much of the time. The best time top visit is during the dry season from June to September.
How to Access the Park
This National Park is situated about 100 kilometers/62 miles South of Boende (half way between the Kinshasa-the capital and Kisangani). Regardless of the biodiversity, tourism rate in Salonga National Park is low because of inaccessibility of the Park (it is extremely isolated and far from major roadways). The best way to access the Park is either water or air transport. The good thing is that chartered and scheduled flights are organized within several airstrips within the Park, and they include Anga Airstrip, airstrips at Monkoto and Mundja. Some Parts of the National Park are almost inaccessible except by boat only.
Regardless of the endless conflicts, The Democratic Republic of Congo is a country blessed beyond imagination and one of the best attractions that this country takes pride in is the Salonga National park-the largest Forest National Park in DRC and Africa and the second largest in the whole World.