The Democratic Republic of Congo is among those few destinations on the African continent where you should ‘expect the unexpected’. The country prides in a diversity of different landscapes that include beautiful mountain ranges, verdant forests, waterfalls, rivers and lakes. There are various safari activities you can engage in here among which are tracking of the endangered mountain gorillas, canoeing, hiking to mention just a few.
Below we have highlighted a number of different activities to engage in as well as places to visit while on holiday in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Trek Mountain Gorillas in Virunga National Park
The Virunga National Park that covers an area of 7800 square meters found on the eastern border of DR Congo with Uganda and Rwanda is among the most popularly visited sites in the country. This being one of the oldest national parks on the African continent and in the world at large it was declared as a UNESCO world heritage in 1979 thanks to its rich diversity of wildlife and rich ecosystem. Unfortunately in 1994 due to the excessive poaching and the political unrest that was within the area surrounding the Park, majority of the wildlife species in this Park reduced in number. Today the Virunga is best known for its thrilling mountain gorilla tracking safaris where holidaymakers get an opportunity to have a personal encounter with man’s closest living relatives. Some of the other wildlife to see in this park include the blue monkeys, chimpanzees, the Golden cats, lions and Forest elephants in addition to many birds. Besides the gorilla tracking other activities conducted here include camping, hiking the Rwenzori Mountain as well as climbing the Nyiragongo volcano.
Set out on a cycling adventure
In the Democratic republic of Congo cycling is an activity meant for the brave hearted due to the rugged nature of its terrain. During his adventures you will get a chance to explore the different landscapes, and make stopovers in the villages to meet the local people with whom you will exchange stories and even share meals.
Hike the snow capped Mount Rwenzori
Standing at a height of 5,109 meters, the Rwenzori Mountain is the highest mountains in the Democratic republic of Congo and the third highest on the African continent coming after Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Kenya. This mountain is shared by neighboring Uganda and the Democratic republic of Congo and while in Dr Congo you can enjoy mountain climbing adventures as you make your way to the high peak of Margherita. This mountain is also referred to as the mountains of the moon and the surrounding lower slopes are very beautiful with verdant forested serving as home to different wildlife including Forest gorillas and the hard to find okapi. Currently different types of hiking tours are organized on the mountain slopes to cater for those who may not make it to the peak and these vary from short hikes that take just a few hours to longer hikes that made take several days.
Visit the Primates of Lola ya Bonobo
The Lola ya bonobo is the only sanctuary in the whole world for orphaned bonobos and it was established in 1994 by Claudin Andre. Lola ya Bonobo is a safe home for these primates which greatly resemble the chimpanzees and they are extremely intelligent and funnily resolve the majority of their misunderstandings with sex. When your visit you will be able enjoys a guided walk as you explore the various trails where you will get a personal encounter with these primates.
Visit Upemba National Park
The Upemba National Park is found within the katanga province and it’s terrain is comprised of a large verdant forest and several water bodies including lake Upemba as well as river Lualaba. The water bodies are habitants to different types of aquatic birds, large schools of hippos and giant crocodiles. Previously the Park suffered from the dreadful acts of poachers as well as militias but today the wildlife numbers are slowly increasing. The surrounding community that lives within this area are mainly fisherman, miners as well as cattle keepers so during your visit you will surely get an opportunity to have a visit to one of the local communities.
Hike Nyiragongo Volcano
There are a number of organized hiking adventures carried out on the Virunga Mountains which offer some of the best hiking experience for mountain climbers across the world. This mountain range comprises of eight (8) different volcanoes that extend into neighboring Uganda and Rwanda and they are also part of the Albertine Rift of the Great Rift Valley. Beside Mount Nyiragongo all the other volcanoes are dormant and during your hikes if lucky you might get an opportunity to see the mountain gorillas which live on the lower densely forested slopes of the mountains.
Explore the Frere Fillet Botanical Gardens
These botanical Gardens are very beautiful and worth exploring as they are home to various types of fauna including ancient trees believed to be many hundreds of years old. The Gardens also locally referred to as Kisantu offer a laid-back environment away from the busy and crowded City Life. You will also be able to see a number of some of the rarest orchards in the world. These Gardens were established by a Jesuit brother and were managed where under the management of missionary up to 1976 before management was handed over to the state.
Visit Garamba National Park
The Garamba National Park is a world heritage site covering an area of 2,000 square miles and it’s found within the northeastern part of the country. It was established back in 1938 and offers a wide variety of habitants including forests, open Savannah grasslands and undulating landscape. This is home to the last remaining population of northern white rhinos and in addition has a number of different animals such as elephants, giraffes, hippos and various birds.
Learn about the county’s history in the national museum
The national museum of the Democratic republic of Congo also known as the Musee National de la Republique Democratique du Congo is the best place to visit if you are interested in learning about the cultural history of the different ethnic groups of this country. The museum is located within the capital Kinshasa and it houses a great display of unique historical artifacts including the bronze bust of Leopold II and various Zairian arts. This site can also be visited on family tour
For adventurous holiday makers you can set out on a canoeing adventure as you explore the 3000 mile long River Congo it is a very thrilling adventure and highly recommended for persons interested in water sports.
Visit the vibrant capital Kinshasa
Kinshasa is the capital city of the Democratic republic of Congo and it is found on the river banks of river Congo. Although it does not have very many historical attractions it is a perfect starting point for many safaris in the DR Congo it offers a very lively night life with several bars, night clubs, karaoke places, famous restaurants and live band. On its outskirts is an equatorial Forest on the shore of Ma Vallee.
Visit the Zongo Waterfalls
The Zongo waterfall is located approximately one hundred and eighty kilometers (180km) from Kinshasa. This is among the must visit places while on holiday in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Guests here will be rewarded with breathtaking views of the surrounding as they also see a cloud of fog rise above the falls and tiny rainbows form.
Enjoy a cruise on River Congo
Cruises on the river Congo are among the most popular things to do in the Democratic republic of Congo while on holiday. This adventure is enjoyed by a large number of nature enthusiasts during which they will visit different islands, check out the smaller villages and see how these amazing people live in a world that appears to be far away. You will be able to see several fishermen casting their nets to make their catch. You will also see the various bird species in this area plus the rich marine life as you cruise down the course of River Congo
Visit Goma Town
Goma is among the major cities within the Democratic republic of Congo and it is situated on the northern shore of Lake Kivu within the Northern Province of Kivu in the Albertine Rift close to Mount Nyiragongo. This is the tourism capital of the Democratic republic of Congo being the major access point for all safaris o Virunga National Park
Enjoy a canoe ride on Lake Kivu
Lake Kivu is among the great lakes found in the Democratic republic of Congo and it is located on the border of DR Congo with Rwanda. It covers a total area of 2,700 square kilometers and it is home to a great variety fish species including the Nile Tilapia. a very large number of holidaymakers visits this lake because of its breathtaking scenic beauty that comprises of several green small islands with idjwi being the largest island. Doing the canoe rides you will enjoy the beautiful views as the sun sets and even visit some of these islands
Frequently asked questions on Democratic Republic of Congo
Do I need a Visa when going to the D.R Congo?
All persons visiting the D. R Congo with citizenship of Canada, Britain, USA, Australia and many other European countries together with a number of other African countries need a visa, a passport with a validity of six (6) months and a yellow fever certificate as proof of receiving the vaccine to enter this country. All Visas should be obtained before making your travel. Visa applications should be submitted to the Embassy of the Democratic Republic of Congo in your home country where they will take about two weeks to be processed.
What is the official language for the DR. Congo?
The official language spoken in the Democratic Republic of Congo is French however there are a number of indigenous languages prevalently spoken and these include: Swahili, Lingala, Kikongo and Tshiluba.
What is the official currency of the DR. Congo?
The official currency used in the DR. Congo is the Congolese Franc also known as the franc Congolais (CDF) and this presents as banknotes and coils. The coins are in 500, 200, 100, 50, 20, 10,, 5 and 1, whereas the coins are in denominations of 50, 20, 10, 5 and 1.
Are credit cards accepted in the D.R. Congo?
A number of large stores and hotels accept the use of credit cards with the most commonly accepted being the MasterCard and Visa. Traveler cheques on the other hand are mainly accepted in Kinshasa but are not highly recommended to use since they come with very high commission charges.
What is the local time zone for D.R. Congo?
The D.R of Congo lies in two various time zone which are the West Africa Time (UTC+2) as well as the Central Africa Time (UTC+1)
What is the electricity current of the D. R Congo?
The Electricity current of the D.R Congo runs of a voltage of 220V with 50Hz, and uses the Type C, E or F plugs. In case you are bringing your personal electric gadgets such as a hair dryer and hair iron, ensure that they have an adjustable voltage. Don’t forget to bring an adapter despite the fact that many hotels claim to provide them.
Is tipping Accepted in the D.R Congo?
Tipping is not mandatory in the D.R. Congo however it is considered as a polite way of appreciating the good service rendered to you. For that reason the question of how much to tip solely depends on you however you should keep in mind that a 10% service charge is included on all your restaurant and hotel bills.
Is alcohol consumption allowed in the D.R Congo?
Yes, alcohol can be bought from the various supermarkets, food hubs and bars and only persons above eighteen (18) years of age are allowed to consume it.
What is the best time to visit the D. R Congo?
When visiting the northern parts of the country, the best time to visit is in the dry season which normally begins in December to February while the southern part of the country can best be visited from April to October. During this time of the year, the temperatures ate warm while the humidity is high, so you are highly advised to pack lightweight clothing though they should be decent.
Because of its close proximity on the equator, the D.R Congo experiences a hot and humid climate within its river basin, the Rewnzori Mountains experience and alpine climate while the southern highlands are cool and dry. The average rainfall experienced in the country is about 80 inches.
The country is accessed by using ferry, road and air. There are flights to Kinshasa N’djili International Airport from Paris, Addis Ababa, London, Nairobi, Brussels and South Africa every week using international airlines such as South Africa Airways, British Airways, Kenya Airways, SN Brussels, Ethiopia Airways
There is a ferry for bulk goods and passengers from the Atlantic coast in the south west. Boats are available to cross Congo River. Alternatively, catch a train from Johannesburg to Lubumbashi. You can also travel by road using bus or private car crossing through the different border points.
Hotels and Accommodation is available in the capital Kinshasa while other parts of the country are not very secure for the evening!
The best time to visit DR Congo is the dry season which runs December to February in the northern part s while April to October is best for southern areas. Increased chases of showers and thunderstorms as you travel inland and further into central Congo.