Mangroves National Park is located in the furthest western point in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It sits in the mouth of the Congo River and the border of northern Angola. The park covers an area of 297 square miles (768 sq km) making it the smallest national park in the DRC.
Situated in the Congo River, this is the DRC’s only marine-oriented national park. It is also an important wetland under the Ramsar Convention. The mangroves differ from those found in the Sundarbans in Bangladesh and India. These mangroves are distinctive for the DR Congo area.
The wetlands of the national park are comprised of mangroves, lush forests, oak trees, walnut trees, red cedar, and African oak. Mixed in with the forest is a variety of brush vegetation and areas of grasslands.
The Congo River and mangroves create a habitat that is supportive of crocodile, hippopotamus, and the endangered manatee. Above ground, there are also reedbuck, bushbuck, and a variety of reptiles, amphibians, and birds. The African fish eagle, greater flamingo, kingfisher, and goliath heron are some of the coveted bird sightings.
Boating through the mangroves, the Congo River, and the inlets are how most travelers engage the national park. The mangroves are a unique and special ecosystem for Africa.
The mangroves in southeast Asia are renowned for having tigers. The mangroves here in the DRC offering unique encounters with the manatee. One of the most popular activities of the national park is boat tours along the Congo River.
The boar tours provide a chance for visitors to view the landscape of the mangroves and river shoreline. Travelers can also keep an eye out for the crocodile, hippopotamus, and of course the endangered manatee.
Manatees are large mammals that are affectionately known as sea cows. They are called sea cows because they are herbivores that graze on the grasses found along the riverbed. The Western Africa manatee is one of four species of manatees found across the globe.
The manatee can reach maximum lengths of 13.1 feet (4 m) and maximum weight up to 1,300 pounds (590 kg). However, they typically are about nine feet (2.74 m) and weigh around 1,000 pounds (453.6 kg). Females tend to be larger both in length and weight.
One of their most unique characteristics is the large flat paddle-shaped tail or flipper that propels them through the water. It is further unique having only 6 cervical vertebrae with all other mammals having seven.
Where the tail of the dolphin propels the animal with great speed, whereas, the tail of the manatee basically helps it glide along the riverbed. The manatee has no speed
Trails in Mangroves National Park
The majority of the experience of the Mangroves National Park is attached to the aquatic nature of the mangroves. Accordingly, boating amongst the mangroves is the most commonly engaged activity.
There are some bird walks and limited hiking opportunities found within the park. If more detailed hiking information becomes available, we will update you here.
As the only aquatic-based national park, Mangroves protects the mangroves forest and the diverse life they support. The protected waterways help ensure the survival of the endangered manatee.
It is imperative that travelers and service providers take the actions necessary to not infringe upon the mangrove environment that is the habitat for the manatee. The waterways and mangroves also provide habitat for a rich diversity in birdlife.
- Boat Cruises
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- Eco travelers, Mangroves National Park, https://www.ecotravelers.org/destinations/dr-congo/mangroves-national-park/, retrieved July 2020.
- Virunga National Park, Mangroves National Park, https://www.virungaparkcongo.com/congo-tour-destinations/mangroves-national-park-parc-national-des-mangroves/, retrieved July 2020.