Finding the Okapis in the Congo with the Pygmys

Hi all!

I am brand spanking new to this group and I’m seeing that most of you have Okapis on your list to see. This would be very spontaneous and I’m not sure where all of you are in the world but I am very tempted to go to the Congo to try and see them.

My dates could be in the June 8-19 range of this year (and basically this month).

I am very well traveled but would appreciate a well traveled animal obsessed person to go with me if possible- I thought I would throw it out there. It would not be an easy journey from the looks of it.  Sightings are absolutely not guaranteed, none remain in captivity as they were all murdered and so it would be a long shot.

The upside is you would get to go hunt and hike with a pygmy tribe to try and find the Okapis and other incredible animals are there too. Not to mention the rainforest is ancient and unique.

Let’s also not forget the #1 cause of death for wild okapis is stray bullets.

Maybe I’m crazy.

Does anyone have any thought or has anyone done this trip before? I would love advice.



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  • Jon Hall

    Hi Katie – great to meet you. Hope you find us friendly here as well as odd and rare! Yes this trip is very high on my list though I cannot do it this year. Is the park open to visitors? We tried to go a couple of years ago but they would not allow visitors because of the security problems there.

  • Martin Singfield

    I assume that you’ll be searching in the Ituri Forest. I note that the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office advises against all travel to the province of Ituri. You may want to check with the relevant authorities whether its safe to travel to this part of DRC. I travelled to DRC in 2017, when I visited Lomako-Yokokala Nature Reserve located in Bas-Uélé and Tshuapa provinces. Whilst the UK FCO didn’t (and still doesn’t) advise against travel to these provinces, travel around the interior of DRC is very problematic. Our passports were checked at numerous internal checkpoints as we made our way through the country, and the guards were constantly on the lookout for bribes. We were lucky in that we were accompanied by a representative from African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) and sometimes people from the national parks service, but even then travel wasn’t easy. We were also required to provide the DRC embassy in London with a copy of the NGO agreement between the DRC government and the AWF in order to obtain our visas in the first place.
    It would be great if you could make it to the park and find Okapis, but you’ll need to be very careful.

  • Ian Thompson

    Hi Katie,
    As Jon and Martin indicate, this is a very challenging/practically impossible trip to do legally and potentially a dangerous one to do illegally. If you are still interested I’d be happy to discuss some possible ideas. My e-mail is

  • Original Nature

    This is what the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs website indicates about the Central African Republic:

    It is suggested to read carefully the rest of the travel recommendations.

    Information on the security situation

    Although the official curfew has been lifted, it is strongly recommended not to be in the streets after dark, to limit travel in Bangui to the strictly essential and it is not advisable to travel outside the capital.

    Violence against the civilian population continues and, despite the deployment of international troops (MINUSCA, EUTM-RCA, etc.), violence could unfortunately resume at any moment. Particularly serious is the situation outside the capital because of the very limited state presence.

    The areas close to the borders with neighboring countries are particularly dangerous (Cameroon, Chad, Sudan and also the Democratic Republic of Congo and even the Republic of Congo).

    Armed conflict and criminality
    Travel in the country is discouraged. Even the capital itself is currently not safe. It is recommended never to travel alone, especially at night.

    High-risk areas: (should be avoided)

    The whole country is in a high risk zone, not even the presence of international troops can guarantee security in the areas where they are deployed so it is recommended to avoid traveling in the country.

    Security risks can come from attacks by armed groups as well as from acts of common criminality due to the lack of security forces in CAR.

    The neighborhoods of PK3, PK5, PK12 in Bangui and the cities of Bambari, Berberati, Bossangoa, Ndele, Sibut and Kabo, among many others, as well as the Bangui-Garoua-Boulai road, are particularly dangerous.

  • danhps

    Hi! I’m in Nairobi at the moment but I’m soon heading to DRC to visit Kahuzi-Biega & Virunga National Parks as well as the Lwiro Primate Sanctuary and the CRSN research centre. All my contacts have said it is not possible to try to go see the Okapis at the moment, but if you’ve been able to arrange something I’d love to join. My email is Give me a shout!

  • Mattia from Italy

    Hi Katie, I am in contact with a Catholic missionary in Eastern DRC. The situation is still very, very dangerous. It’s impossible even to go there for ordinary volounteering, let alone to go for tourism…


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