Democratic Republic Of Congo is the second largest country in Africa located in Central Africa with untapped tourism potential. The country is gifted with various natural resources and because of its vast size, many have not been explored.

The country has however over time had insecurity issues caused by rebel activities which has discouraged many tourists from visiting. Most of DRC is covered with a tropical rain-forest which has encouraged Rebel activities as they have places to hide. This has however made it difficult for proper development of a good transport network. 

Wildlife

Democratic Republic of Congo has some of the most diverse wildlife in East and Central Africa. The country is part of the Congo basin covering 500 million acres with the world’s second largest tropical forest.

The Congo basin has diverse ecosystems from rivers, savannas, rain-forests, Volcanic mountains, swamps and seasonally flooded forests. These ecosystems are homes to wildlife species from largest land mammals to smallest wildlife species like insects and plant life.

The diverse ecosystems of Democratic Republic of Congo have various tropical plant species with over 1000 bird species recorded. There are also endangered wildlife like mountain and lowland gorillas, forest elephants, chimpanzees, bonobos among others. Many of these wildlife species are endemic to the Congo forests meaning you can only see them there.

Wild animals native to DRC include African buffaloes, African rock pythons, Black and white colobus monkeys, blue monkeys and Bonobos. Chimpanzees, elands, crocodiles, giant forest hogs, hartebeests, roan antelopes, okapi, warthogs, gorillas, water-bucks, lizards, lions and others are natives too.

Because of this wildlife diversity, 5 of Democratic Republic of Congo’s national parks are listed as World Heritage Sites. These include Kahuzi Beiga National Park, Salonga national park, Okapi wildlife Reserve, Garamba national park and Virunga National Park.

Mount Nyiragongo and Nyamuragira Volcanic Action
Mount Nyiragongo and Nyamuragira Volcanic Action seen from Tchegera Island. Courtesy Photo

“The Democratic Republic of Congo is home to three of the world’s great apes. Its offers the greatest wildlife Marvels”

Tourist Attractions

DRC has 6 of the Virunga massif Volcanic mountains. The Virunga massif is a mountain range of Volcanic mountains in northwestern Rwanda, southwestern Uganda and Eastern DRC.  Virunga massif mountains in DRC include Mount Nyiragongo, Mount Nyamuragira, Mount Mikeno, Mount Karisimbi, Mount Sabyinyo and Mount Bisoke.

Two of the Virunga Mountains; mount Nyamuragira and Nyiragongo have active vulcanization often seen from Tchegera island in lake Kivu. There are safaris of hiking mount Nyiragongo with an overnight at the summit where you see the hot lava lake. A hike to this active volcanic mountain offers great scenic views of the greater Congo basin and great lakes region. 

Mountain Gorillas

DRC is a home to Mountain Gorillas that are rare and listed among the World’s most endangered primate species. These inhabit the forested mountains of Virunga national park located in the eastern part of the Country. Mountain gorillas live in families of up to 20 individuals each being headed by a dominant male gorilla called Silver-back.

Each gorilla family is tracked by 8 tourists per day and allowed to stay in their presence for an hour. A hike to the Virunga mountains for gorilla safaris is very exclusive and offers unforgettable wildlife experiences.  Its no surprise that mountain gorillas are leading tourists attractions to DRC Virunga national park in particular.

Eastern Lowland Gorillas

In the forested Mountains of Kahuzi and Biega also in eastern DRC are Eastern Lowland Gorillas. These gorillas are the largest of all the 4 gorilla subspecies and are endemic to Democratic Republic of Congo. They are vegetarian just like other gorillas and mainly feed on fruits, plant leaves and other herbaceous species.

Lowland gorillas also live in families led by dominant males also called silver-backs. This silver-back usually determine the routine of other gorillas in its family as it has sovereignty over all others.

Just like mountain gorillas, lowland gorillas are tracked by only 8 tourists staying in their presence for strictly an hour. Lowland gorilla tours are classic and exclusive giving one a chance to meet other endemic wildlife species in the park.

Tchegera Island

This is a beautiful crescent shaped island in Lake Kivu offering magnificent views of the major Virunga volcanoes. The island is a perfect place to relax after a Nyiragongo hike or mountain gorilla trek.

Tchegera island has its own wildlife species from birds and many primates. While here you can do birding excursions, guided walks for primate watching or jump into lake Kivu for water sports. Adventure lovers usually do kayaking, boat cruises an swimming in the lake.

Other notable natural wonders include Congo River the second largest River on the African Continent and the Rwenzori Mountain Ranges.

Mountain Gorilla in Virunga National Park Democratic Republic of Congo
Mountain Gorilla in Virunga National Park DRC. Photo by Blue Skye Photos
Nyiragongo Volcano Democratic Republic of Congo
Nyiragongo Volcano DRC. Courtesy Photo
Best time to Visit

Democratic Republic of Congo can be visited anytime of the year if you want to be part of the adventures. The best time to visit though is in the dry season as there is usually minimal disturbances of rainfall.

Tourists who wish to visit DRC for wildlife adventures can fly into Rwanda’s Kigali Airport that is closest to Goma. Others fly into  Uganda’s Entebbe International Airport and then connect to DRC by road. 

Note that when in Uganda and Rwanda, you can only access Eastern DRC and the leading wildlife attractions there. For now there are no proper transport networks to connect the East and Western part. In-case you want to Visit DRC’s capital city Kinshasa then you would have to fly there directly.

Since most of the wildlife in Democratic Republic of Congo is untapped, a safari there is very exclusive and rewarding. The local Congolese people are very friendly and hospitable making the whole tour worthwhile.