DR Congo Travel Guide
Attractions in Congo
Despite the Democratic Republic of Congo being one among the least toured countries in Africa, slow by slowly the country is beginning to take ground in the tourism industry. Sadly, the past few years have been quite devastating with a number of internal conflicts that have scared away several tourists from the country. Today, the country prides in its equatorial verdant jungles, numerous rivers, Volcano Mountains, and the several high mountains.
Listed below are some of the best tourist attractions in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
One of the finest and yet amazing attractions in Congo is its incomparable rich abundance of wildlife which can best be explored by visiting the various National Parks spread out through the various parts of the country. Most prominent of all is Upemba National Park which is crisscrossed by river Lualaba and several lakes that are a haven to numerous hippos, various bird species and crocodiles. Other parks include Garamba National Park a sanctuary for leopards, elephants, giraffes and rhinos, and the Virunga National Park a habitat popular for its resident mountain gorillas in addition to lions plus elephants.
These are the most powerful of all rapids in the entire world
AAC Bonobo Nursery Sanctuary
Located within Kinshasa, the AAC Bonobo Nursery Sanctuary is a safe haven that houses orphaned apes of the endangered Bobobos species also known as the pygmy chimpanzees. This nursery is located within the American School campus found in Kinshasa. The sanctuary offers guided tours through the locality offering visitors an opportunity to observe these impressive apes. The Nursery is opened daily although at an affordable entrance charge.
Kisantu Botanic Gardens
Off the main road leading to Matabi lies the beautiful Kisantu Botanical Gardens which are offer a riverside tranquil setting characterized by a collection of centenarian trees. The gardens are an ideal location for to spend an afternoon or enjoy a picnic as you enjoy the wonderfully scented environs brightly colored by the beautiful flowers. The gardens are opened daily and entrance is free for charge.
This is the capital city of the Republic of Congo and it is popular for it rich assortment of ethnographic artifacts well kept within the Kinshasa University. Neighboring the city are the stunning presidential farm gardens of Nsele and the Kinkole fishing port. The city is a place worth visiting and also offers a wonderful nightlife.
Matonge Central Market
The amazing Matonge Central Market is located in the heart of the capital Kinshasa and is a very lively hub for trade. The pavements are dotted with fresh produce of fruits, food staff and other merchandize plus umbrella sheltered stalls erected daily for people to do their trading. The facility is overwhelmed by the number of traders who flock the place daily making it quite a busy and yet lively place.
Valle de la Lufira
The Valle de la Lufira is s perfect place for enthusiasts of birding, watching game and hiking as it is richly blessed with a diverse fauna plus flora cover. The UNESCO MAB Biosphere Reserve is located just adjacent to Lubumbashi. It is open daily and entrance is free for charge. It is a place worth visiting tgo explore the true
Congolese Flora plus the Fauna.
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is found in the heart of Africa sharing boundaries with Congo Republic, Rwanda, Sudan, Angola, Central African Republic (CAR), Burundi, Tanzania and Uganda…it is really a big country. The country is embedded in awesome tropical rainforests stretching to the borders of Rwanda and Uganda, scenic volcanic mountains shared with Rwanda, mineral rich regions such as Katanga, and the lower Congo River basin that sustains wildlife within the DR Congo. Tourist on DR Congo holidays and travel should look forward to a fascinating country and more so embrace mountain gorilla trekking in south eastern Congo
There are a few national parks in DR Congo with Kahuzi-Biega National park and Virunga National park from Kivu being more famous than others. These share boundaries with Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda and are particularly protected areas for mountain gorillas.
Nyirangongo volcano is the home of Mountain gorilla trekking in Congo in Virunga National park. Other national parks in DR Congo from the Congo Basin area include Garamba, Salonga, Okapi wildlife reserve and Maiko National park
The Congo River basin occupies a large part of Congo fringed by lush rain forest. Take a cruise on the river Congo in a boat from Kinshasa to Kisangani. Epulu river is a tributary off the Congo river and is good for fishing.
The "Academie des Beaux-Arts" is often considered a touristic site and is in itself and with its gallery a good place to meet the famous artists of this country. The central Market of Matonge in Kinshasha is a fascinating place to visit, good for fresh food supplies, souvenirs and gift items.
Other interesting places and tourist destinations in DR Congo include Kisantu botanical gardens, Symphonies Naturelles in Kinshasha and AAC Bonobo Nursery Sanctuary in Kinshasha. This sanctuary protects and cares for orphaned chimps, Bonobs (pygmy chimps) and other endangered apes that are rescued from poachers.
Congo Safaris, When To Go & Best Time To Visit
DR Congo tours are perfect all through the year. However remember that it lies in a tropical equatorial region with high records of rainfall. The region is malarial zone and you need your Malaria drugs and prescription. It is not safe in any way to visit Congo by your self, get DR Congo tours and travel packages from different Congo tours and safari operators inclusive if DR Congo flights, hotels in Kinshasha or from any other city a
y your DR Congo tours and holidays
The Democratic Republic of Congo is one of the largest countries from central Africa. It is actually ranked the second largest in Africa after Algeria. Commonly referred to as DRC OR DR Congo, this nation is most popular for its mineral and unfortunate history of civil wars and unrest.
It shares borders with Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi in the east, Central African Republic & Southern Sudan in the north, Zambia and Angola to the south, Republic of Congo in the west and the Atlantic Ocean also covers the coastline to the west. Lake Tanganyika however marks the border of DR Congo with Tanzania in the south east
History of DR Congo
The first settlers in DR Congo lived around 650 BC and created settlement near the fertile banks on Congo River. History of the Bantu People of Africa that occupy Eastern and Southern Africa is traced from the Congo river basin areas of Cameroon, DR Congo and other parts of Central Africa.
Congo has thus been around since the years of the early explorers and missionaries such as Dr. David Livingstone in the early 18th century. Many early explorers such as HM Stanley were sent to trace the origin of Congo River but such expeditions fell short on the rise of the colonial Era.
King Leopold II of Belgium sought major interests in Congo and his move to secure the nation for his monarch marked the beginning of the infamous Scramble of Africa. In 1848 to 1850 Leopold tries to sign as many treaties with the local chiefs in Congo tricking them into handing over their land for cheap gifts and cloths. In the conference of Berlin 1885, Congo was claimed under Belgium and was thus called Congo Free State or Belgian Congo later in 1908.
Rubber trees were grown in Congo Free State and this marked the start of ruthless reign of Belgian’s Leopold as many people were brutally made to work to produce rubber for the cars and automobiles in Belgium. Belgium took over the country from the king in 1908 and named it Belgian Congo as a result of increased pressure to suppress the bad acts and oppression of the natives in the former Congo Free State.
Congo also participated in the world wars and in 1948 worn a series of wars against Italy in northern Africa. The search for independence soon began by 1958 under leadership of Partrice Lumumba. Many political parties sprung up in 1960 and on 30th June 1960, Republic of Congo attained its independence from Belgium. Two nations were created in middle congo and other parts- Congo Leopoldville and Congo Brazzaville each named after their capital cities.
The early 60s were filled with political unrest and discontent among the highest political leaders. Mobutu, then chief of Army took over Congo with support of the army and changed the name to Republic of Zaire. A few changes came in 1970 with the different cities and towns renamed- Leopoldville became Kinshasa now the capital of DR Congo. Other cities whose names were changed included Kisangani (Stanleyville), Lubumbashi (elisabethville) and Mbandaka (Coquihatville),
In the 1990s there were demands for political changes and in 1996, Rwanda and Uganda made invasions and civil wars in eastern Zaire in the disguised desire to conquer the mineral rich Zaire region. In 1998, the country was taken over by Laurent Kabila with the help of the Rwandan and Uganda armies returning its name Democratic republic of Congo. The many political struggles were based on the desire to keep mineral deposits in the north and eastern parts of DR Congo such as Diamond, coltan, zinc and copper.
The long history of unrest has led to many deaths, tribal massacres and forced migration of the natives of Congo into Uganda and other countries.
People and Culture
DR Congo is one of the largely populated countries in Africa with nore than 65 million people. There are an estimated 250 tribes and ethnic groups in DR Congo but the biggest are the Kongo, Mongo, Luba and Pygmies from the congo rain forests.
The widely spoken languages include French, Lingala, Kongo Tshiluba and Swahili although each of the different tribes has unique indigenous languages. French is however the official language used in public administration and public offices.
Christianity is widely practiced in the country largely protestants and Roman Catholics. Other religions practiced include kumbanguism, animism and other obscure religious beliefs with traditional roots in Congo.
The country boosts diversity in culture with roots from the different tribal groups. Notable features include dressing, music, art and lifestyles. Some of the popular musicians who rose to fame in DR Congo and beyond include Kofi Olomide, Papa Wemba, Tshala Muana Awilo Longombaa and many others.
Tourism and Attractions
The landscape is largely made of rolling hills and lush valleys. On the eastern borders are active volcanoes such as Nyamirunga and another that have exploded more than twice in the last decade. The central and eastern parts are covered under dense rain forests are a habitat for different species of mammals and primates such as gorillas, chimpanzees, bonobo, and vervet monkeys among others. Other animals in DR Congo include hippos, African elephants, rhino and many others.
The country has 5 national parks that have been gazetted as World heritage sites under UNESCO and they include Garumba, Salonga, Okapi reserve, Kahuzi-Bienga and Virunga National Park. There eastern border shared with Uganda and Rwanda is famous for the Mountain gorillas, an endangered primate species. The country’s tourism sector attributes 40% growth to Gorilla safaris and gorilla tracking tourism.
The Congo River is dotted with several rapids, waterfalls, dense riparian forest with endemic tree species and has sustained Agriculture and fishing activities in the country.
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.