The Democratic Republic of the Congo, also known as DR Congo, the DRC, Congo-Kinshasa, East Congo, or simply the Congo, is the southernmost country located in East Africa and Central Africa.
It is sometimes referred to by its former name of Zaire, which was its official name between 1971 and 1997. Thereafter below are some of the best tourist places to visit in Congo on your safari.
Virunga National Park
The Virunga National Park, formerly named Albert National Park, is a 7,800 km² National Park that stretches from the Virunga Mountains in the south to the Rwenzori Mountains in the north, in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, bordering Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda and Rwenzori Mountains National Park and Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda.
Democratic Republic of Congo’s biggest single draw is this superb national park – the first in Africa – which has been rejuvenated in recent years to offer a superb range of attractions.
Trips here are normally focused on visits to the multiple groups of habituated mountain gorillas within the park, as well as to do the magnificent hike to the top of the active Nyiragongo volcano, where you can stare down into a bubbling lava lake in the massive crater below.
However, there are many other activities on offer, including chimp treks, mountain climbing and bird watching.
This is Africa’s hauntingly beautiful, beating heart and rarely is it possible to recommend somewhere so full heartedly. A lot of activities in this park as below.
Perhaps Democratic Republic of Congo most magnificent single sight, active volcano Nyiragongo soars above the city of Goma and the surrounding Virunga National Park and sends plumes of smoke into the sky, before becoming a flaming beacon visible for miles around after sundown.
The trek to the top is an absolutely unmissable experience, with those who undertake the five-hour climb being rewarded with views into the volcano’s explosive lava lake below.
Climbing Nyiragongo Volcano
Beautiful and brooding, Nyiragongo Volcano is perfectly safe to climb as its serious eruptions can be reliably predicted.
Those who do undertake the five-hour climb (US$300per person) are rewarded with views from the crater’s rim, down into the earth’s smouldering heart and the world’s largest lava lake.
The hike to the rim is just 8km, but takes between four and six hours and is done in five stages. Climbers need to leave by 10am to ensure they reach the top by nightfall.
Do not be late as you will not be able to climb. Guides and armed security are included with your permit, but consider hiring your own porter (US$12 per day, maximum weight carried 15kg) and cook (US$15 per day) at the small ranger post at the start of the climb. Warm clothing is essential.
Accommodation on top, which is included in the permit cost, is in one of the super simple A-frame shelters built on the crater’s rim.
Gorilla Trekking in Virunga
There are few experiences in the world more memorable than coming face to face with a wild mountain gorilla in the wild, and this is one the best places in the world for it.
There are six habituated families in Parc National des Virunga, and you will be assigned a group to visit by the rangers based on how many people are tracking and the current location of each group.
The ideal time to meet a gorilla family is from 10am to 11am (which means a 5.30am departure from Goma).
Therefore gorilla trekking safaris have become so much loved in the Virunga National Park and Kahuzi Biega National Park due to the fact that the gorilla trekking permit is so much discounted at $ 400 USD and $ 200 USD and today you find a client doing double, triple or quadruple trekking in Democratic Republic of Congo which is not much common in Uganda or Rwanda where the permits are a bit expensive at $ 700 USD and $ 1500 USD respectively throughout the year.
Senkwekwe Gorilla Orphanage
Provided you make it back from your gorilla track in a timely fashion, it should be possible to visit the world’s only mountain gorilla orphanage, which is integrated into the grounds of the Mikeno Lodge.
Named after the silver back that died defending the Rugendo group against gunmen in the infamous 2007 massacre, the orphanage is home to four gorillas, including Ndakasi and Ndeze, both massacre survivors.
Chimpanzee Tracking in Virunga
Virunga park authorities also offer chimp tracking near the headquarters at Rumangabo (US$100 per person). The habituated group consists of 12 individuals and chances of seeing them are generally excellent.
Groups of four people leave Mikeno Lodge at 6am for the tracking and time with the group is limited to one hour. Unlike gorillas, chimps are fast moving, love to climb high into the canopy and are more wary of humans.
This means you won’t get as close to a wild chimp as you will to a mountain gorilla, but don’t let this deter you
Rwenzori Mountain Treks and Climbing
Virunga National Park also offers spectacular trekking and climbing trips to the Rwenzori Mountains in the north of the park. Known also as the “Mountains of the Moon,” the Rwenzori reach a height of 5,109 m (16,761 ft) and contain the largest glaciers left on the African continent.
Those who trek and climb in the Rwenzori will experience a stunning variety of landscapes, including bamboo and giant fern forests, alpine meadows and lakes, and snow-capped peaks.
The flora and fauna of the Rwenzori is equally diverse. Forest elephant, Okapi, chimpanzees, and numerous bird species make the Rwenzori their home. The best weather in the Rwenzori usually happens from January through mid-March and June to late August.
There are four huts in the Rwenzori: Kalonge (2138 m/7014 ft.), Mahangu (3310 m/10,859 ft.), Kiondo (4200 m/13,779 ft.), and Moraine (4350 m/14,271 ft.).
Please note: trekkers and climbers must be at least 15 years of age. Permit price does not include transport. Transport options can be found.
Lola ya Bonobo is the world’s only sanctuary for orphaned bonobos. Since 2002, the sanctuary has been located just south of the suburb of Kimwenza at the Petites Chutes de la Lukaya, Kinshasa, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Lola ya Bonobo is the only place in the world that you can meet your closest living relatives face to face. Imagine sitting quietly watching the bonobos emerge from the forest, or having young bonobos dance around you.
Visiting Lola is a once in a lifetime opportunity that only a handful of people in the world will ever experience, and at the same time, you will contribute to the on-going conservation of bonobos.
Lake Kivu is one of the African Great Lakes. It lies on the border between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda, and is in the Albertine Rift, the western branch of the East African Rift. Lake Kivu empties into the Ruzizi River, which flows southwards into Lake Tanganyika.