Salonga National Park is a remote site situated within the heart of the Congo River Basin of the Democratic Republic of Congo, in Africa’s untouched wilderness and covers an area of 36,000 square kilometers (3,600,000 hectares) making it Africa’s largest and World’s second largest Tropical rainforest National Park. It was first established into a Nature Reserve in 1933, as Tshuapa National Park in 1956, later became a National Park 1970 and a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984 but extends across Sankuru, Mai, Kasai, Ndombe and Equateur Provinces.
This Forest National Park is drained by numerous Rivers at its Central Basin of the Congo River and due to its remoteness, it can only be accessed through air and water transport. The landscape of this Park is characterized by rainforests, marsh swamps, plateau and rivers that offer shelter to a wide range of wild animals such as Dryas monkeys, Okapi, Golden cats, bush pigs, Thollon’s red colobus, yellow-backed duikers, forest elephants, Hippos, Pangolins, Bonobos, bushbucks, Sitatunga, African slender-snouted crocodiles and leopards among others. Salonga National Park is found at about 100 kilometers from south of Boende Town between Kinshasa and Kisangani and can be reached by water or air transport (with domestic charter flights operated directly from Mundja, Monkoto and Anga airstrips to the Park.
Also, many forest, marsh and aquatic species of birds such as the yellow-billed storks, cattle egrets and black storks call the Salonga National Park home. These and more beautiful attractions of this exceptional Park can only be explored by engaging in the activities that include;
Bird watching is one of the top activities conducted within Salonga National Park with more than 300 species that call the site home. You will discover that half of the birds here are natives/residents of the country and they include the black-bellied bustard, Congo Peacock, yellow-billed storks, Palm nut vultures, black storks, cattle egrets and grey parrots among others. Don’t expect less from Africa’s largest Tropical rainforest National Park but the best.
Guided nature walks
Unlike game viewing that is conducted on a vehicle, guided nature walks are done on foot thus tourists can have an up-close encounter with the attractions of the Park especially wildlife (like Allen’s swamp mangabey, tree pangolins, Golden cats, leopards, black colobus monkeys, giant ground pangolins, golden-bellied Mangabey, dwarf bush baby, Bonobo, elephants and many others), butterflies, birds, trees and plants.
Salonga National Park supports a diverse range of wildlife species, some of which are even endemic to the Park or areas around the Congo River Basin. Animals to look out for include the Congo water civets, Allen’s swamp mangabey, tree pangolins, Golden cats, leopards, black colobus monkeys, giant ground pangolins, golden-bellied Mangabey, dwarf bush baby, Bonobo, elephants, sitatunga, Potto monkeys, Wolf monkeys, duikers, Pygmy Cape buffaloes, white rhinos, Thollon red colobus, Angolan mongoose ad the red River hogs among others. Even if it’s mainly characterized by thick vegetation, there are places with savannah vegetations that favor wildlife viewing.
Besides the wildlife and bird species, tourists interested in exploring the aquatic life of this Park can go on a fishing trip and it’s done within the rivers but tourists are always advised to move with their fishing equipments/gears so as to carry out this activity. Salonga National Park is a home to over 400 species of fish that can be caught.
Salonga National Park is surrounded by the Iyalima people who can be visited by tourists to discover their extraordinary culture and way of life. You will also be entertained in some of their invigorating traditional dances and songs and also have a taste of their delicious foods.
Besides the usual activities tourists undertake in African Parks, those that visit Salonga National Park can explore more of the wilderness by undertaking a hunting trip but should be conducted in the company of an armed ranger guide. All tourists interested in exploring this site can do it during the drier months from June to August when the vegetation is not very dense and there are no floods thus offering very clear and breathtaking views of the Wildlife species much as it can be visited all year round.