Salonga National Park is the largest tropical rainforest protected area in Africa located at the heart of the central basin south of the Congo River. Salonga national park governed by l’Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature (ICCN) covers an area of 36,000 square kilometers stretching through the provinces of Mai Ndombe, Equateur, Kasaï, and Sankuru. Salonga national park situated in the pristine rain forest among the Congo Destinations and is very isolated and only accessible using water transport via Congo River and other minor rivers like the Lokoro River which flows through the center and northern parts of the park and Lula River in the south.
Salonga national park is a vast land and a re-known largest park in Africa protecting numerous animals. The park is divided into sectors that run along a series of parallel southeast-northwest trending river sheds thus covering three types of landscapes that is low swamp forest plateau, river terraces and high dry-forest plateau each dominated by its distinct vegetation type. These sectors are a northern blow and the southern block, Northern block is situated between Lomela and Loile rivers, valleys in the west and meandering with marshy banks, it stretches to higher land in the east with deeper valleys and rivers which run below cliffs. The southern block of the park stretches between Luilaka and Lula rivers, this sector is composed of clayey sands in the lower western valleys.
Salonga national park situated mid-way between the national capital city Kinshasa and Kisangani is a natural treasure sheltering one of the last remaining intact tropical forest in the world and also a home to 40% of the world’s bonobos. The park is greatly dominated by tropical rain forest with many dominant vegetation types such as swamp, riverine, dry land vegetation, grassland vegetation in the north sector and semi-deciduous forest which is found around the rivers. Among vegetation species covering the park in semi-deciduous forest include Staudtia stipitata, Polyalthia suavaeolens, Scorodophloeus zenkeri, Anonidium mannii and Parinari glaberrimum. Flood-liable forest species include Oubanguia Africana, Scytopetalum pierrianum and Guibourtia demeusei. Swamp forest species are Entandophragma palustre, Coelocaryon botryoides and Symphonia globulifera and many more.
Salonga national park is a UNESCO world heritage comprising of Masai rivers, streams, marsh lands and typical grassy lands called bias and marshes, the park is a home to a number of unique wildlife that is 51 mammal species, approximately 129 fish species and 223 species of birds. Among the mammals there is there is bonobo (pygmy chimpanzee pan paniscus) which is endemic to Democratic republic of Congo which are found in the northwest, northeast and southeast margins of the Park. Other mammals include forest and savanna elephants, giant ground pangolin, smutsia gigantean, tree pangolin, blue duiker, yellow backed duiker, water chevrotain, western bongo, African forest buffalo, leopard, spotted necked otter, Angolan cusimanse (mongoose), aquatic genet osbornicts, red river hog, hippopotamus, okapi, bush back, bongo, long tailed pangolin and many more. There is also primates in the park such as Angolan colobus, western African red colobus, thollon’s red colobus, black mangabey, red tailed monkey, Allen’s swamp monkey, Mona monkey, dwarf bush baby dryad monkey and many more.
Salonga national park is also home to a variety of bird species approximately 153 recorded bird species such as cattle egret, migrant black stork, yellow-billed stork, African grey parrot, the endemic Congo peafowl, black-bellied bustard and many more. Salonga national park is famous for sheltering the bonobos 40% of the world’s population, these bonobos are more concentrated in the southern region of the park, and the bonobos share a similar resemblance with the chimpanzees and 98.7% of their genetic with the humans. Bonobos are a bit smaller, leaner and darker than the chimpanzees.
Salonga national park was first established as Tshuapa national park in 1956 primarily to protect the ecological system and wildlife, in 1970 under the presidential decree passed by President Mobutu Sese Seko new boundaries of the park were demarcated. In 1984 the park due to its ecological system and unique wildlife it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984. Since 2015 Salonga national park is managed and operated by two authorities Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature and the World Wide Fund for Nature.
Salonga national park is a unique fascinating tourist destination offering breathtaking safari activities such as
Bird watching: Salonga national park is a bird haven offering memorable experience for birders, while bird watching in the tropical forests of Salonga national park you are guaranteed to see over 300 bird species such as black-bellied bustard, Congo Peacock, yellow-billed storks, Palm-nut vultures, black storks, cattle egrets, grey parrots, yellow-billed stork and many more
Wildlife viewing: Wildlife viewing safari in Salonga national park takes place through the savanna vegetation which favors the wonderful wildlife viewing, this safari activity is very mesmerizing as you encounter many animals such as Congo water civets, Allen’s swamp mangabey, tree pangolins, Golden cats, leopards, black colobus monkeys, giant ground pangolins, Golden-bellied Mangabey, dwarf bushbaby, Bonobo, elephants, Sitatunga, Potto monkeys, Wolf monkeys, duikers, Pygmy Cape buffaloes, white rhinos, Thollon red colobus, Angolan mongoose while you enjoy the beautiful view of evergreen vegetation.
Guided nature walks: Guided nature walks in Salonga national park is another exhilarating safari activity Wildlife viewing which takes through the forests, swamps of the park on foot. While on nature walks headed by a professional guide you will encounter much wildlife such as elephants, golden cats, leopards, golden billed mangabey, dwarf bushbaby and many more.
Fishing: Salonga National Park is crossed by many rivers such as Luilaka, Lula, Lomela and Loile Rivers where fishing sports take place, on this activity over 400 fish species are caught.
Cultural encounters: Salonga national park is surrounded by Iyalima people on its outskirts, in these areas you get to enjoy the refreshing extraordinary culture and way off the life of Iyalima people which includes tasting their locally made tasty food, traditional songs, dances, and stories.
Hunting: The more way of exploring the nature and wilderness of Salonga national park is on a hunting trip, hunting activity are carried out in a group accompanied by an armed ranger ad many animals are hunted.
For a wonderful safari experience it is best to go for a safari in Salonga national park in the drier months of June – august. In these months the vegetation cover is not too thick and there are no floods in the park since there is little rainfall.
Salonga national park is situated 100 kilometers from south of Boende between Kisangani and Kinshasa and can be accessed using a domestic chartered flight from Monkoto, Anga, and Mundja.