The Okapi Wildlife Reserve, established in 1992, helps protect the habitat of the okapi and many other species, as well as local indiginous people, the Mbuti Pygmies. The Reserve encompasses 13,700 square kilometers of the Ituri Forest in the northeastern portion of the Democratic Republic of Congo, in the very heart of Africa. Listed as a World Heritage Site in 1996, the Reserve represents a global effort to preserve rare plant and animal life and a significant human culture.
The established preserve protects the Ituri lowland rainforest of the Congo River basin. It harbors a healthy population of about 5,000 okapi, 4,000 elephants, 2,000 leopards, 13 primate species including chimpanzees, three species of crocodile, and many other rainforest species such as forest buffalo, antelope, water chevrotain, and a wide variety of birds and insects. It is considered as one of the most important sites for bird conservation in mainland Africa.
The reserve is the only place where you can see the Okapi (Okapia Johnsonii) in its natural habitat. A walk trough the sanctuary takes about an hour, but can be easily combined with other activities such as birding or a visit to the villages of the Mbuti Pygmies, who are considered to be one the few remaining “forest people” of the world. These trips can vary from a 3 hour walk to even spending the night with the Mbuti.
Accommodation and meals: See Epulu Guest House or Mambassa Catholic Mission.