Located in south central Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo is one of the unique and undiscovered tourist destinations in Africa and the world at large. It’s the third largest country on the African continent whose largest land area is covered by the vast equatorial forests a home to the rare mountain gorillas, a variety of primates, mammals and bird species. The tourism industry in the country was however shattered by the unending civil wars and corruption Congo experienced after the end of the colonial period but even today visiting the country for leisure is still visited by very few visitors.
The country is crossed by the equator and therefore has equatorial climatic conditions characterized by high temperatures in the dry season and heavy rains during the wet season. The northern part of the Equator receives a lot of rain fall between April and November while the southern part of the equator receives a lot of rain around October and May.
French, Kikongo, Lingala, Kingwana, Tshiluba are the commonly used languages in the area. English is also spoken by some few Congolese especially in the cities and urban centers however it maybe hard to find an English speaking person in the remote areas.
All tourists going to Democratic Republic of Congo are required to take yellow fever, meningitis, typhoid, polio, and cholera vaccinations. There are also high malaria infections throughout the country.
Tourists are advised to only take boiled and treated water especially while in poor sanitation areas.
Outstanding tourist attractions
Virunga National Park
Gazetted in 1925, Virunga national park was Africa’s first national park and it extends from the Rwenzori ranges in the north to the Virunga volcanoes in the south. The national park is a home to the endangered mountain gorilla species which tourists can view in their natural environment.
Other major wildlife attractions in the national park include chimpanzees, monkeys, birds, forest elephants, hippos, buffaloes, crocodiles, snakes, butterflies and beautiful scenic views created by the evergreen rain forests and the mountains the area has.
Much as Virunga National park seems so attractive to tourists, very few go to this park given the many travel advisories that it’s unsafe and insecure destination to visit! However according to Virunga.org gorilla trekking is open within the park. Therefore if you decide to take a gorilla safari in the Virunga National Park, security is one of the aspects you must greatly consider! If you are not sure of the safety you can as well visit Uganda or Rwanda the only two other countries to host the mountain gorillas in the world. The money collected from the visits to the gorillas is used in saving the mountain gorillas from extinction – fewer than 880 individuals are estimated to be surviving in the Virunga and Bwindi Forests.
The lake is located at the border with Rwanda covering an area of 2700 square kilometers. There are good resorts around the lake especially in Gisenyi (Rwanda) and lovely beaches where one can go for sun bathing. Boat trips and cruises are also carried out along the lake plus fishing.
There are some fishing villages around the lake which tourists can visit and learn about African traditional fishing methods plus the fish species in the lake.
It’s located the eastern part of the country and it is the gate way to Virunga national park and Nyiragongo volcano hike. Goma is strategic on the shores of Lake Kivu. Initially, Goma was a beautiful town with good accommodation facilities plus a fun night life which were destroyed by the 2002 mount Nyiragongo volcanic eruptions and the 2012 rebel invasions. Though it was liberated, the town is still not very safe for tourists. Thereforethose visiting the area are recommended to get accommodation facilities in Rwanda (Gisenyi area).
This is one of the active volcanoes in Africa located about 20 kilometers north of Goma town. It has a caldera and a permanent lava lake at its summit and it’s commonly visited by tourist for hiking. The volcano last erupted in 2002 and destroyed Goma town as well as killing over 147 people.
The mount Nyiragongo hike starts at 10:00 am and all tourist groups are led and guided by armed park rangers for security purposes. There are also many potters for hire but carry a load that does not exceed 50 kilograms. Tourists are expected to carry the necessary tools they need especially food, sleeping bag and enough sweaters to enable them with stand the cold conditions at the mountain summit.
It’s better to have an overnight trip because it’s hard to hike the mountain in a day if you are not physically fit.
Nyiragongo – a few years back the Volcanoes erupted
This is Democratic Republic of Congo’s capital city and the second largest city in Africa located on the southern banks of Congo Riverand about 515 kilometers from the Atlantic Ocean.
Tourists visiting the city can go for city tours and visit the Lola ya Bonobo – an orphaned Bonobo monkey sanctuary, boat rides, sport fishing and river safaris on the Congo River.
There are many entertainment centers in the city as well as good accommodation facilities but it’s not so safe to go to some areas especially down town because they are full of chaos and may not be safe for tourists.
For more tips about planning a safari to Congo visit www.congoinformation.com