Located in remotest tropical rain forest areas in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Maiko National Park is one of the most spectacular protected areas that you should consider in your bucket list while on safari in Africa.
This park covers an area of 10885 square kilometers and it is undoubtedly one of the largest conservation areas in the DR Congo. Maiko is divided into 3 (three) areas; Orientale province, Nord Kivu and Maniema. Each of the provinces features remarkable wildlife species that are worth exploring while you are on safari in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
The notable attractions for you to spot out in the park include the rare Eastern Lowland gorillas, the Okapi and the Congo peafowl. Though gorilla trekking has not yet been conducted in the park, there is a great potential to habituate some gorilla families within the park for tourism.
Other animals to see in the park include African forest elephants, the Eastern chimpanzee, Bongo, leopard and the endemic aquatic genet and many more. Unlike other protected areas, Maiko National Park has had less conservation attention not only on national level but also the international attention as well as management support ever since it was formed around 1970. Its forest consists of a vast carbon sink and its conservation is of global value especially when it comes to controlling the further impacts of climate change.
Maiko National Park came into existence from the Bakumu hunting reserve which was established by the Belgian colonial administration to offer protection to the land and its biodiversity. Since they were defeated in 1964, most Simba rebels found road less and inaccessible and this area became the best place for them to live. In 1970, president Mobutu of DRC established Maiko protected area. More rebel groups camped within the national park between 1990s and around 2007. The first survey on this protected area was conducted in 1989 while more thorough surveys were surveys were done around 2005, 2006 and 2010. Whereas the park is known for its remoteness and inaccessibility, efforts to provide humanitarian aid such as schools and health centers started around 2010 and in the next year’s attempts to provide access to the park and basic facilities will hopefully generate some fruits.
When to visit Maiko National Park
The climate of Maiko National Park is generally hot and humid in the River basin and cool and dry in the Southern highlands with a cold, alpine climate in the Rwenzori Mountains and this makes the park to be an all year round destination for safaris.
Getting to Maiko National Park
Maiko National Park is famous for its inaccessible routes and it can only be reached using a 4 by 4 wheel safari car. You can take on Benin or Butembo, Goma or from Okapi Wildlife Reserve within DR Congo.
Alternatively, you can fly and land in Bangoka International Airport (FKI) in Kisangani, Orientale province on scheduled or chattered flight. At Kisangani, you can connect up to Maiko National Park by road. Kisangani is approximately 515 kilometers Northwest of Maiko National Park. Kinshasa Airport to Bangoka International Airport, Kisangani takes around 2 hours.
Accommodation in Maiko National Park
Maiko National Park has no accommodation facilities and for visitors on safari in DRC, you are advised to come along with your camping equipment.
In conclusion, Maiko National Park is one of the remotest protected areas in the Democratic Republic of Congo that you should consider in your travel plan. For authentic African experiences, this is one of the destinations that you shouldn’t miss to pay a visit. It serves as the second best destination after Kahuzi Biega National Park where the lowland gorillas are inhabited in the DR Congo.