Maiko National Park in Congo stands as a remarkable destination for wildlife enthusiasts, offering the unique opportunity to track eastern lowland gorillas, making it the second national park in Africa to provide this thrilling experience, following in the footsteps of the famous Kahuzi Biega. Nestled near Benin, Maiko National Park boasts an array of captivating wildlife encounters, including chimpanzees and various other primate species.
Maiko National Park is situated in the heart of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, nestled in one of the most remote and pristine forested regions near Benin. This national treasure blankets a vast expanse of 10,885 square kilometers and shares its borders with the Okapi National Game Reserve, as well as the provinces of Orientale and Maniema. Managed diligently by the Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature (ICCN), Maiko National Park stands as a critical sanctuary for the preservation of endemic wildlife species.
Within the lush confines of Maiko National Park, one can encounter the elusive genet cats, the majestic leopards, the enigmatic African forest elephants, the elusive bongo antelope, and the charismatic eastern chimpanzees. Established in 1970, Maiko National Park was once a refuge for the Samba Mai Mai rebels until their defeat in 1964, marking a turning point in its history.
Maiko National Park proudly houses a thriving population of eastern lowland gorillas, estimated to exceed 800 individuals within the park’s pristine wilderness. Tracking these gentle giants is a profound experience, allowing visitors to witness their natural behaviors in their native habitat.
Bird enthusiasts will find themselves captivated by the avian wonders of Maiko National Park. Here, the magnificent Congo peafowl, a large and distinctive ground-dwelling bird species, can be spotted gracefully navigating the forest floor. The park also hosts iconic species such as the Rwenzori turaco and the striking francolin. Among the feathered treasures, one can encounter the northern double-colored sunbirds, as well as trogons and turacos, creating an avian symphony that resonates through the park’s lush canopies.
Reaching Maiko National Park is an adventure in itself. The park can be accessed by road or air transport, with Kisangani town serving as a primary hub approximately 515 kilometers away. While there is a road leading to small villages within the park from Bafwasende, it’s essential to note that the roads are not well-established. Therefore, it’s advisable to embark on this journey with a reliable four-wheel-drive vehicle in good condition. Additionally, Maiko National Park is conveniently accessible from Benin, Butembo, or the Okapi Wildlife Reserve, offering various entry points for intrepid travelers.
Regrettably, Maiko National Park does not offer traditional lodging facilities. Instead, visitors have the option of camping within the park, an exhilarating experience that brings you closer to the heart of the wilderness. However, for those choosing this option, it’s essential to come prepared with your own camping equipment.
The best time to embark on an adventure in Maiko National Park is during the dry season, which typically extends from late July to early September and from mid-December to late February. These periods offer more favorable weather conditions and increased opportunities for wildlife sightings and gorilla tracking.
For those seeking to unravel the mysteries of Maiko National Park and partake in the awe-inspiring experience of tracking eastern lowland gorillas, this hidden gem of the Congo promises a journey into the heart of pristine wilderness, where nature thrives, and unforgettable encounters await. For more information and assistance in planning your expedition, do not hesitate to contact Trek Africa Expeditions.