Lomako-Yokokala Nature Reserve (3602 km2)

Lomako-Yokokala Nature Reserve

Lomako-Yokokala Nature Reserve is one of the beautiful nature reserves in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Lomako-Yokokala stretches covering parts of the Bas-Uele and Tshuapa Provinces, D. R. Congo and occupies the land area of 3602sq.kms.

lomako-yokokala-nature-reserveLomako-Yokokala Nature Reserve was created in 1991 and the main reason for its creation was to offer refuge to the bonobos. Like most protected areas, Lomako-Yokokala is managed by Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature (ICCN).

Why visit Lomako-Yokokala Nature Reserve

Lomako-Yokokala Nature Reserve is one of the very few sites on earth where bonobos can be viewed while in their natural habitat. This makes it a special destination worth considering for Congo safaris especially for primate travelers in Africa and the world at large.

Visiting the bonobos of Lomako-Yokokala Nature Reserve starts in the morning and you are expected to rise up very early. This is for you trek via the jungle to search for the bonobos nest to see them prior waking up. The trek through the Lomako-Yokokala jungles may last for 1 to 3 hours but this may depend on location of the bonobos in the course of the day or where they constructed their nests.

With help of ranger guides, they have wide knowledge on locating the bonobos. Upon getting the bonobos nests, you will be required to maintain silence till these apes rise up to start their day. Thereafter, you will follow them while they begin foraging and socializing, take pictures and more.

Usually, bonobos can be sighted in small groups of 3 to 5 members to large groups of 15 to 20 members. Most often, bonobos spend most of their time on tree tops and you can walk back after great learning about their behaviors and taking pictures.

Bonobos (Pan Paniscus) are unique creatures and a Congo safari to Lomako-Yokokala Reserve is worth every effort, time and monies. Not more than 20,000 of bonobos still live and they are endemic to the D.R. Congo. For any plans to visit bonobos in the wild, you should be prepared enough and pack well starting with sunscreen, sun hat, insect repellents, waterproof hiking boots, rain jacket, waterproof daypack/bag, first aid kit, bottled drinking, snacks and more.

In total, there are 10 primate species living in Lomako-Yokokala Nature Reserve including bonobos. Besides a magical encounter with the bonobos in the wild, there are lots of other great sights to enjoy especially along the Congo River. The reserve also protects the giant pangolins, Congo peacocks, After, you can navigate via the villages in the surrounding areas to experience the true rural life.

Getting to Lomako-Yokokala Nature Reserve

A tour in Lomako-Yokokala Nature Reserve is possible on 2-3 days Congo tour. This can be arranged by a reliable local tour operator in D.R. Congo. Getting to the faunal reserve is possible: you can fly from Kinshasa to the Mbandaka. You can also take a canoe or boat in case flights are cancelled. By flight, you can spend about 1 hour to get to Kinshasa.

Hiking through Lomako-Yokokala forest can take up to 5 hours to reach to the ranger camp. You can follow the trail which is 30cm wide and along the way, there are rocks, fallen logs, roots plus several other obstacles to encounter on the path. Besides, expect to come across many biting ants on the path and this is why you need heavy socks which you must tuck the trousers into to prevent them from entering.

The ranger camp is isolated and you will require some bottled water to keep you refreshed. The ranger camp is rustic and has pit toilets, run by solar panel.