Why should one go to the Democratic Republic of Congo?

There is something mystic about the DRC. The extensive countryside is alive with colourful flowers, thriving fruits and luscious green plants. Here, immense mountain peaks are decorated with wisps of mist and giant primates roam the rainforests, masticating juicy leaves, swinging from vines and rolling teasingly in the dirt.

As a visitor to the DRC, time is spent climbing to great altitudes for impressive views, having close encounters with some of the world’s erratic creatures, and paddling through thick, wet rainforests in search of adventure. This country offers the most astonishing experiences and, by the very essence of its impressiveness and variety, deserves to be seen, appreciated and protected.

Isn’t it dangerous to Visit Democratic Republic of Congo?

It’s true that the DRC is a deeply distressed country. Beginning with the arrival of Europeans in the late fifteenth century, and the subsequent colonisation in 1885 by Belgium, extensive pillaging of the country’s rich natural resources, slavery and war mar its history.

Although the DRC enjoyed some prosperous years in the 1950s, the country fell apart again after independence in 1960 and continues to face waves of violence and war, kept at bay only in some regions by the huge UN peacekeeper presence. It’s because of this that the DRC still struggles to break free from its reputation as a country of ‘darkness’. The reality is that the DRC now, as ever, faces the huge challenges of protecting its rich and varied landscape, saving its precious wildlife and creating a more prosperous future for its people in a complicated political and economic climate.

Virunga National Park Congo

So is it actually safe to visit the Tourist Sites in Congo?

It’s possible to visit parts of the DRC safely. The harmless and most touristic areas of the country are Goma, Virunga National Park and Bukavu in in the east, and the capital Kinshasa in the west. Given that there are still serious security threats in the DRC for tourists, it’s best to visit with a tour operator who will know how best to keep you safe. The eastern region of the DRC where Virunga is located is still troubled by armed rebel groups, so tour operators will arrange armed escorts to accompany travellers at all times.

Where should one go while in Democratic Republic of Congo?

There are only a couple of regions of the DRC that travellers can visit at present. One of these is the spectacular Virunga National Park, home to about a quarter of the world’s critically endangered mountain gorillas.

This is Africa’s oldest national park and is famed for its thick forest, towering mountain peaks and ancient swamps. On the western side of the DRC is its capital Kinshasa, the world’s second largest French-speaking city. It’s known as the heart of central African music, and the bars in Bandal or Matonge are worth visiting to sample the local nightlife.

Can one go hiking while in Democratic Republic of Congo?

With its spread of vast mountain ranges and dense rainforest, the DRC presents some top-notch hiking. There are masses of options in Virunga National Park, including various hikes to see the legendary mountain gorillas, but adventurous hikers will also want to tackle Mount Nyiragongo. This active volcano towers over Goma in eastern DRC, emitting a strange red glow from its bubbling lava lake as darkness sets each night. The hike takes around six hours, climbing to 3470m through humid tropical forest, over scraggy lava rocks and past steaming springs, before being rushed into mist at the top.

At the summit, trekkers camp in small huts on the crater rim, from where the boiling waves of lava can be heard booming over each other like water in the ocean. The evening is spent wide in awe into the molten, fiery heart of the earth, and watching as the covered top of the lava lake steadily separates, revealing bolts of luminous orange liquid below.