Upemba National Park is largest national park in Katanga Province in the southeastern part of Democratic Republic of Congo and one of the oldest national parks in Congo. It was established in May 1939 on the basis of a Belgian royal decree because of its high value in biodiversity and it covers an area of 11,730 km2 (4,530 sq mi), 1.75 million hectares.
The park is home to over 1,.800 animal species including the big four i.e. lions, leopards, elephants and buffalo. It also has the Katanga impalas which is endemic to the park and it is the only national park in D.R Congo with cheetah and zebra populations.
The park varies from grassland at higher altitudes, forests, woodlands, lakes and wetlands at lowest altitudes. The park was designated as a UNESCO Biodiversity Reserve due to its a large concentration of mammals, reptiles, batrachians, birds, fish and a vast wetland.
Upemba National Park has suffered from threats like poaching, illegal settlements, illegal mining and hydroelectric interests that are against the conservation purposes and the park is lacking technical and financial resources to minimize these threats. The park rangers are have done a great job of protecting the park from poachers who hunt down elephants and this has helped to save more of these species to be visible in the park up to date in the Katanga. Parts of Upemba have also been taken over by the Mai Mai groups– a local heavily armed group that is way far better equipped than the park rangers who have very little equipment or support. In December 2012, Atamato Madrandele, Chief Warden of Upemba National Park, was ambushed and killed by Mai-Mai militia. Since the assassination of Atamato, the Park saw poaching gain momentum.
Activities done in the park
Game viewing is the famous activity done in the park and it gives you a great time to watch the wildlife in their natural habitants as well as feeding grounds. There are animals such as lions, leopards, elephants, buffalo, and the Katanga impala that will give you a wonderful experience.
This national park has a variety of bird species that make your birding tour memorable, because of the unique bird species for example the wattle crane, flycatchers, Nicator, honeyguide greenbul, Angola Lark, the rare shoebill, Cisticola, miombo rock thrush, racket-tailed roller among others.
The park has several villages within and outside were visitors can go to learn and also experience the life style of the local people. They can also engage in different activities like learning how to cook, making handy craft items that they can later carry back home to keep as a remembrance for their visit in Congo, participating in traditional music and dancing among others.
Since there are over 10 water bodies within Upemba National Park and 4 of them are controlled by the fishermen who pay an annual fee for using them. There are specific months of fishing where this activity can be open to visitors to come and enjoy this aquatic activity with guidance about specific fishing methods.
This is another engaging activity that is done to test your fitness levels as you hike the different hills, mountains and water falls. This is a rewarding activity that gives you a beautiful view as you reach the peak of the hill or mountain
The park also has various water bodies where boat cruises can be done to enable tourists spot various water birds and give them an amazing scenery while on the boat cruise.
Any park visitor can access a variety of accommodation facilities that can offer a comfortable stay while visiting Upemba national park, and these include luxury lodges, safari Bandas and camp sites as well.
Best time to visit
The park is open to visitors any time of the year though the best time of year to visit is during the dry season in the months of (October to January) when the water levels have dropped down.
Upemba National Park enjoys a short rainy season, which is from December to March. This is when the marshlands and lake basin floods. The heaviest rains are estimated to occur in February and March. From March to June the water levels are still high
How to get there
You can drive a long distance on road to the park or fly to the nearest airport and cut the long journey short. Upemba National Park is close to the Angola and Zambia border, and most international visitors fly into Lubumbashi International Airport, located 400 kilometers from the park. You can then hire a 4×4 to connect you to the park from airport or stop over in the nearest town to continue your journey after rest.
When planning a trip to Upemba National Park, consider going through a tour company or a tour operator to do the parking and managing the safari.
If you have plans of traveling to any East African country, for activities like mountain hiking, wildlife viewing, game viewing, wildebeest migration viewing, cultural experience Gorilla tracking, lion tracking, chimpanzee tracking, golden monkey tracking, volcanic exploration, , heritage sites visit plus your bucket list, consider https://africasafaritravellers.com/