When someone thinks of the Democratic Republic of Congo, what comes in mind is the natural minerals especially Gold and Tropical rainforests. No one talks about tourism in this country. It keeps many tourists wondering whether DRC does not have any interesting attractions. But do you know that this country is one of the most endowed places in Africa in terms of attractions? Is it the Tropical rainforests, beautiful national parks, exceptional wildlife species such as the Okapi and the Congo peacock and other mammals such as Mountain gorillas and the Eastern lowland Gorillas? You can say it all. All these attractions are found within the borders of the enormous Democratic Republic of Congo. However, what ruins the beauty of this country is the endless conflicts/wars which discourage tourists from discovering the hidden gems of Congo and also tarnishes its image. Even when the security situation in the country has improved, many tourists still believed DRC is a battle field.
Nevertheless, the Democratic Republic of Congo is a home to several beautiful National parks, whereby some are even forgotten and you cannot imagine that they even exist and one of them is Upemba National Park. Its landscape is characterized by Afro-montane grasslands, tropical rainforests found at the higher elevations (Kibara Mountains), the Miombo woodlands, marshlands, wetlands/swamps, spectacular Lakes such as Lake Upemba and streams within the lower elevations. This National Park is a perfect destination for wildlife viewing, fishing and bird watching among others.
This National Park is situated in South-eastern side of the country and covers an area of 11,730 square kilometers (4,529 square miles) making it the largest National Park in Katanga Province of DRC. Upemba was established into a National Park on the 15th May 1939 making it one of the oldest National Parks in the African continent and is marked by Katanga Province and Lualaba River-Upper Congo River to the West.
This Park used to be one of the biodiversity hotspots in the World but in present times, the National park continues to be in danger due to activities of poachers, encroachment, pollution and activities of rebels and refugees. Upemba National Park is composed of several distinct ecosystems which include savannah plains from 1400meters/4593 feet above sea level to 1800 meters/5906 feet above sea level with craggy outcrops dividing the affluent of River Lufira which falls into the Kamalando depression and flows from there into the wetlands and Lakes (of about 585 meters) of the Upemba marshlands that surround the Lake and in the South is bordered by a straight and extended grassy plateau from Kayo to the Lufira. Upemba National Park’s deep valleys, Tropical rainforests, cliffs, Afromontane grasslands, waterfalls, the marshlands, Streams and Lakes form an extraordinary dissimilarity to its tremendous tract of Savannah, making it plausibly one of the most spectacular landscapes in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The ecosystems of Upemba National Park that include a system of Lakes, marshlands, wetlands, woodlands, tropical rainforests and Rivers support several species of fauna. These include several fish species for example over 30 species of Cyprinidae, Mochokidae, Barbus, Elephant fish (Mormyridae), Alestidae and Cichlid among others mainly found within the water bodies (rivers, lakes and swamps). There are numerous Amphibian species that include the Schmidt’s snouted frog (Mertensophryne schmidti)
The Park is also a home to several endangered bird species such as the rare shoebill stork, Racket-tailed rollers, barbets, Souza shrike, Scarlet-chested Sunbird, the spotted ground-thrush, Angola Lark, Dickinson’s Kestrel, Chestnut owlet, the seed-eaters, Flycatchers, the leaf-love, Nicator, the bee-eaters, the Honeyguide greenbul, the Cisticola, the fire finch, the Sparrow weaver, the Miombo rock-thrush and the wattled cranes among others. The mammal species within Upemba National park include Zebras, elephants, the Upemba lions, large herds of Buffaloes, baboons, Antelopes such as Oribis, bushbucks, Topis, waterbucks and elands among others.
How to Reach Upemba National Park
This Park is found in Katanga province, about 400 kilometers from the Angolan, Tanzanian and Zambian borders. This means you can cross to this Park through Tanzania border by both Air and land. By air, you can use Lubumbashi International Airport.
In conclusion, Upemba National Park is one of the most magnificent National Parks in Uganda and is a home to several wildlife species such as antelopes, buffaloes, elephants, zebras, Baboons and Upemba Lions among others. Several bird species such as the rare shoebill stork, Dickinson’s Kestrel, Honeyguide greenbul, the spotted ground-thrush, Racket-tailed rollers and wattled cranes among others.