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DR Congo is mostly known for lowland and mountain gorilla tracking in Africa. Today let us look at Okapis in Congo. If you are looking for the best safari destinations that offer visitors with authentic African experiences then look no further than Okapi Wildlife Reserve. The reserve was established in 1992 and became a World Heritage Site in 1996. Its creation was largely to offer refuge to the rare okapi, plant species and other numerous wildlife species together with the lifestyle and culture of native people and others.

Okapi wildlife reserve extends up to 13700 square meters of the Ituri forest and it is credited for its intense plant and animal diversity in Africa. About 5000 out of the 30000 okapis thrive within the reserve and this represents approximately a sixth of the okapi population on earth today. The okapi feature as the only famous cousin of the giraffe with similar striped pattern on the hind and a deep purplish coat. The reserve also rewards visitors with its most spectacular sceneries especially from most of the waterfalls on the Ituri and Epulu Rivers. About one 5th of Ituri forest lies within okapi wildlife reserve with a Pleistocene largely covered by thick evergreen “Mbau” and humid semi rainforest, swamp forests that thrives along the shores and clearings locally called as “edos” and Inselbergs.

Saving okapi in DR Congo

Okapi Wildlife Reserve is also proud of more than 101 mammal species, 17 apes some of which include the 13 diurnal and 4 nocturnals, 7500 chimpanzees and others. Approximately 1500 rare plant species are found within the reserve. Besides, Okapi Wildlife Reserve features as one of the Important Birding Areas in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and about 376 bird species call this protected area their home most of which include the endemic Congo Peafowl (Afropavo congensis), the golden napped weaver, yellow legged weaver, lyre tailed honey guide and black collared lovebird. The biggest number of forest ongulates thrive within the reserve with 14 species that include the six (6) types of Cephalophus and not to forget the intense number of forest elephants that count about 7500 individuals plus the bongo, the dwarf antelope (Neotragus batesi), Leopards, forest buffaloes, the giant forest hog, the water chevrotains (Hyemoschus aquaticus) and variety of indigenous species from the Congo River Basin.

When to visit the Okapi Wildlife Reserve

Okapi Wildlife Reserve can be visited at anytime of the year, but it can be best explored from June to August. These months are characterized by limited rainfall.

For visitors who intend to visit this reserve, remember to obtain visa for Republic of Congo, malaria and yellow fever vaccination certificate and these documents should be obtained a week or two weeks in advance. You may also require a trekking permit for the Okapi Wildlife Reserve and usually clients are encouraged to travel in groups.

How to reach to Okapi Wildlife Reserve

Okapi Wildlife Reserve lies 40 kilometers west of Mambasa along the route between Beni and Kisangani and its main headquarters is found about 300 meters from Epulu town. For visitors who are in Kinshasa, you can take a flight up to Bunia where you will continue up to Epulu where the okapi wildlife reserve can be easily reached. As well, flights can be arranged from Kisangani or you can opt to rent a 4 (four) by 4 (four) safari car take about 8 (eight) hours’ driving to Okapi wildlife reserve. Another option is available for visitors who are in Uganda, whereby they can take flights from Entebbe International Airport but visitors are encouraged to spend a night prior visiting the wildlife reserve.

Where to stay in Okapi Wildlife Reserve

Okapi Wildlife Reserve has no luxury accommodation facilities but visitors can spend a night in one the nearby budget, mid range and camping options at the headquarters. The best areas for your stay over include New Cosmos Hotel which is located around Bunia, Vukuke Guest House and Guest House Du Canon around Kisangani and others.

With above discussion, Congo has much more to offer than gorilla tracking. Okapi Wildlife Reserve is one of the few safari destinations in Africa that offer visitors with true African experiences given its untouched natural wonders. If you are interested in exploring more about the rare okapi and other rare bird species in the DRC then consider this reserve a must to include in your bucket list.

Kisiizi waterfalls is both a natural and significant cultural/historical attraction in Uganda because what you will see when you visit the area is not just a waterfall but an area that used to be a death trap. This magnificent waterfalls lies within River Kyabamba, at a stone throw away from Kisiizi Hospital in Rukungiri district bordering Kabale (dubbed the Switzerland of Uganda due to its numerous Hills) in the south-western side of Uganda.

The beautiful Kisiizi waterfall is at around 40 meters high and pours its waters into a deep gorge before proceeding with the flow of the mentioned River. Tourists who visit the waterfalls are always welcomed by a spray from the falls at over 100 meters away and this welcomes you to the mysterious yet sad history of the area. Much as tourists always add this attraction during their longer gorilla trekking or wildlife safaris, you can also make a short trip to this site because it is not only that waterfall you will amazed at but also other interesting attractions such as the numerous bird species, cultural experiences and the nearby forest.

Historically, this waterfall is said to have greatly contributed to the moral value of Bakiga people because it used to be a place where pregnant unmarried girls were thrown as a way of teaching other girls how to behave well. When a girl form the area got pregnant before marriage, she would be escorted by her father and brother to the top of the falls then pushed down the cliff and eventually dies as a way of avoiding premarital sex in society. However, what anyone fails to understand is why the men responsible wouldn’t also be punished? This story reminds us of the adulterous woman in the Bible who was accused of committing adultery but no one mentioned the man with whom she was committed the formidable act with.

This act went on but stopped when one of the victims was brought to the site but had a perfect plan in that she held her father and brother and all the three of them fell down the cliff and died. This is when the practice came to an end because members of the society thought the girls would not allow dying alone but instead with their brothers and fathers. Besides being a cultural site, the area around Kisiizi waterfalls is also a birding Paradise with numerous species of birds including the Pied Crows, Yellow-backed weavers, Grey crowned cranes, African black-headed Oriole, Long-chested eagles, white-browed robin-chat, African Paradise flycatcher, Malachite Kingfisher, Black-headed weavers, Grey Herons, Ross Turaco, African firefinch, Augur Buzzard, Double-toothed weavers, Haddad Ibis, African Harrier hawk, Hammerkop, yellow-billed storks, Lesser stripped swallow, African pied wagtail, black-winged red Bishop, Purple-breasted sunbirds, Scarlet chested sunbirds, Speckled mousebirds, Mottled widowbird, Mackinnon’s Fiscal, Black kites, Bronze Mannequin, the Emerald spotted wood Dove and many others. This makes bird watching one of the must-do activities around the waterfalls.

Besides that, Forest walks are conducted within the nearby Forest but also picnics can be enjoyed from the area. These walks also reward tourists with the stunning views of the Kigezi hills and valleys.

Also, tourists can enjoy cultural experiences within the villages around the waterfalls. While here, you can visit some of the homesteads to see how a typical family goes around with daily activities such as cultivating gardens and harvesting food in addition to preparation of the local cuisines and also enjoy it.

If you are interesting in taking photographs within a natural and beautiful area, then the Kisiizi waterfalls is where you must be during your visit within the region. The backdrop of the waterfalls, birds and lush forest are perfect for photography.

How to Reach the Kisiizi waterfalls

Kisiizi waterfalls are found at approximately 400 kilometers from Kampala City, only 22 kilometers South of Rukungiri Town and about 46 kilometers north of Kabale Town.

Are you planning to visit Africa’s finest Gorilla trekking destination; Bwindi Impenetrable National Park for gorilla trekking safaris? Are you confused about where to spend your nights during the trip? If the answer to the questions is yes, then the Mantana Tented Camps are what you need to book with for a memorable gorilla safari. These Camps are owned and managed by the Mantana Safari Company, one of Uganda’s oldest Companies.

These Camps are lavishly furnished and decorated with large tents at the heart of the wilderness offering a combination of excitement and comfort to guests who visit the accommodation facility. There are 8 spacious tents with each of them featuring en-suite bathrooms with showers, private veranda, serene bedroom, living/seating area and dressing room. There is a dining area where full-board meals are offered and a bar is present at the site.

There is also a restaurant and well equipped kitchen that is managed by qualified chef who prepared both local and foreign cuisines for guests as well as committed and hospitable waitresses who serve food and drinks on time. The bar is well stocked with all kinds of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. The accommodation facility is popular for the serene environment and a perfect place to unwind after a tiring gorilla trekking day and you can enjoy open fires that bring the true taste of a traditional African night. Any guest who visits the Mantana Tented Camp agrees that it offers standard facilities that suit guests accompanied with hospitable staff especially the waiters/waitresses who deliver timely services without delay.

Besides in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Mantana Safari Company also owns beautiful Lodges in other Parks such as Mantana Tented Camp in Kibale Forest National Park at about 2 kilometers before Kanyanchu Park Headquarters, Mantana Lake Mburo Tented Camp situated within Uganda’s smallest savannah National Park-Lake Mburo National Park.

In conclusion, Mantana Tented Camps within Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is a magnificent and lavish accommodation facility for tourists who visit the country for gorilla trekking safaris. Some of the facilities to enjoy include 8 spacious tents with en-suite bathrooms, dining area where full-board meals are served, a well stocked bar with all kinds of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, well equipped kitchen that is managed by qualified chef who prepared both local and foreign cuisines for guests as well as committed and hospitable waitresses who serve food and drinks on time.