Maiko National Park lies suitably within one of the remotest forest areas in the Democratic Republic of Congo and spans up to 10885 square kilometers. It is divided into 3 (three) areas of province Orientale, Nord Kivu and Maniema. The three sectors feature the most stunning endemic wildlife species of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) call Maiko National Park their home. They include the Eastern Lowland gorillas, the Okapi and the Congo peafowl. It also inhabits forest elephants, the Eastern chimpanzee, Bongo, leopard and the endemic aquatic genet. However, this protected area 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. The Maiko forest comprises 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 originated from the Bakumu hunting reserve that was founded by the Belgian colonial administration mainly to protect the land and its biodiversity from being affected by mineral exploitation activities. Since they were defeated in 1964, most Simba rebels found road less and inaccessible area as the best for them to live. In 1970, president Mobutu founded Maiko protected area. More rebel groups made their base in the remote corners of the national park in the late 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 remote and inaccessible by all accounts, efforts to provide humanitarian aid such as schools and health centers started around 2010 and in the next years attempts to offer access to the protected area and basic facilities will hopefully come to fruition.
When to visit Maiko National Park
The Democratic Republic of Congo lies a stride Equator with about third of the state lying to the North and two thirds to the South. The climate is hot and humid in the River basin and cool and dry in the Southern highlands with a cold, alpine climate in the Rwenzori Mountains, Maiko protected area can visited by tourists through out the year while on gorilla trekking and any Congo safaris. This park features as one of the perfect safari destinations in Africa for tourists to track the rare Eastern Lowland gorillas while in their natural habitat. The forest covering predominates in the central and northern side of the protected area on the raised Itombwe forest plateau.
How to reach Maiko National Park
Situated within rain forest of Democratic Republic of Congo, Maiko National Park is only reachable by 4 by 4 safari vehicles. There is one 4 by 4 route that takes you from Bafwasende to some small villages within the park. There are many routes to help you reach to Maiko National Park but they all require a four by four safari jeep and overlanders may not be all that preferable for you to drive to Maiko National Park. More routes are available from Benin or Butembo, Goma or from Okapi Wildlife Reserve within DR Congo.
For travelers who may need to fly, they can fly and land in Bangoka International Airport (FKI) in Kisangani, Orientale province on scheduled or chattered flight. At Kisangani, you can travel to Maiko National Park by road. Kisangani is nearly 515 kilometers Northwest of Maiko National Park. Kinshasa Airport to Bangoka International Airport, Kisangani takes about 1 hour and 50 minutes.
Where to spend a night in Maiko National Park
For visitors on gorilla safaris or cultural encounters in Maiko National Park, you are encouraged to come with their camping gear since there are no safari lodges yet in the park for visitors to spend their nights.
- Check out the official guide to Maiko National Park