Situated at the center of the Congo River basin-Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Salonga National Park is the most expansive tropical rain forest national park in Africa. It covers an area of about 36000 square kilometers and it was initially founded in 1993 as a nature reserve and later upgraded as Tshaupa National Park in 1956. Around 1970, it gained its boundaries and in 1984, it was designated into a World Heritage Site then 1998 it was listed as a World Heritage Site in danger due to civil wars and illegal poaching.
This park is crossed by several rivers at the central basin of the Congo River and it is located suitably within the untapped wilderness area. It features marsh swamps, plateau, rivers and rain forests. The northern region lies within the Equator province and the southern side is situated within Ksai and Bandudu. It features distinct landscapes that come with unique vegetation cover.
Wildlife species in Salonga National Park
Salonga National Park is famous for primate safaris and if you are a wildlife lover, this is one of the best places to enjoy your holiday. The notable wildlife species that this park boasts of include long tailed pangolin, tree pangolin, hippos, aquatic genet, bushbucks, water chevrotain, forest buffaloes, bush pigs, bongo, yellow backed duikers, sitatungas, okapi, African golden cat, giant pangolin, forest elephants, dryas monkeys, leopards, African slender snouted crocodiles, Congo peafowl, bonobos, thollon’s red colobus and others.
What to do while on safari in Salonga National Park
This park features diverse wildlife species that are worth catching a glimpse at while on safari. They include the dwarf chimpanzees, golden cat, giant ground pangolins, elephants, leopards, tree pangolins, duikers, Angolan mongoose, pygmy cape buffaloes, golden bellied mangabeys, dwarf crocodiles, wolf monkeys, side stripped jackal, white rhinoceros, red river hog, okapi, sitatungas, bonobos a mention but a few.
Would you like to see some of Africa’s primates? Salonga National Park is home to different communities of primates. There is the Golden-bellied mangabey (Cercocebus chrysogaster), Thollon’s red colobus (Piliocolobus tholloni), the Angola Pied Colobus (Colobus angolensis), Allen’s Swamp Monkey (Allenopithecus nigroviridis), the De Brazza’s Monkey (Cercopithecus neglectus) and the Black Mangabey (Lophocebus aterrinus). Salonga also harbors the bonobo, the enigmatic great ape known for their gentleness and its one of a kind female that dominates social life.
With about 300 bird species, Salonga National Park is remarkably one of the best birding sites in the DR Congo. They include the black stork, cattle egret, Congo peacock, yellow billed stork, grey parrot, palm but vulture, black bellied bustard and others. The park is also home to the Congo peacock, a majestic bird only found in the rain forests of the Congo Basin.
Other Safari Activities
The other exciting safari activities for you to take part in this park include fishing which is mainly conducted in the rivers at this park and you will need your own fishing gear to be able to take part in this lovely activity; hunting-this is ideal especially during the dry season mostly from June to August as this is characterized by short vegetation and no cases of flooding at the park; cultural experiences-for you to have the best of Congo’s vibrant dances and tasty food; nature guided walks-this allows you to explore in depth what this park’s habitats hold for the world and others.
Best time to visit Salonga National Park
Salonga National Park lies a stride Equator and receives rainfall amount of approximately 1700 mm every year. The dry season begins from June to August and this is usually considered as the most preferred period for safaris.
Lodges in Salonga National Park
For visitor overnight stay while on safari in Salonga National Park, the notable accommodation facilities include Hotel Amika, Douze Maisons Motel, Guesthouse, Hotel Med and others.
Getting to Salonga National Park
Salonga National Park is situated about 100 kilometers off south of Boende just in between Kisangani and Kinshasa. It can be reached by domestic charter flights from Monkoto, Mundja and Anga airstrips which conduct direct flights to the park. It is best explored during the dry season especially in the month of June to August.
In conclusion, Salonga National Park is one of DR Congo’s most stunning protected areas with distinctly diverse natural wonders that are worth exploring while you are on safari in Africa.