Democratic Republic of Congo has diverse wildlife species and offers by far some of the most outstanding tour experiences. The country is now part of the East African community adding to the great tourism diversity the region has. In the Congo you will find endemics that occur only there and can not be found in any other place.
The country is among the less traveled destinations and a lot of it is still untouched. This gives one an opportunity to enjoy exclusive tour experiences that range from primate treks to the rich culture and heritage experiences. Let us look at some of the highly rated tour experiences that you must be apart of when exploring the Congo.
Democratic Republic of Congo is among the 3 countries with mountain gorillas. Mountain gorillas are primates with over 95% DNA similar to humans. This makes them among man’s closest wild relatives and mountain gorilla trekking tours are now among the highly demanded and sought after tour experiences in East Africa.
Mountain gorillas in Congo live in Virunga national park Africa’s oldest national park. The park is part of the great Virunga massif that is a chain of Volcanic mountains shared among the three countries of Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo. Mountain gorillas just like their name prefer to live in the forested mountains. They mainly feed on plant vegetation and bamboo shoots.
They live in families of up to 20 individuals or more that are led by a dominant male gorilla called Silverback. There are ten habituated mountain gorilla families that are open to tourism visitation. For now the park is currently closed due to insecurity issues but it offers incredible mountain gorilla tracking tour experiences. Unlike the other three gorilla parks, Virunga national park receives few tourists making it an ideal gorilla trekking destination especially for those who seek exclusive tour experiences.
Mount Nyiragongo is among world’s most active Volcanic mountains with its last eruption having happened in May 2021. The eruption was very destructive displacing over 364,000 people. Before the eruption mount Nyiragongo had gained momentum ranking among the leading adventurous tour activities in Virunga national park.
The mountain has a lava lake on it’s summit that is best seen early morning or in the evening. Hikers of this mountain would spend a night on the mountain summit to be able to catch a glimpse on the hot lava lake on the mountain. Much as hiking was temporarily halted, once open again the Nyiragongo will still offer by far the top mountain hiking tour experiences in the region.
It is over a year since the last eruption happened and so far no serious seismic action has been reported. We anticipate that by the end of next year maybe the mountain and park will be open again to tourism.
Democratic Republic of Congo is also home to the eastern lowland gorillas. Eastern lowland gorillas live in Kahuzi Beiga national park situated in Eastern Congo. These are endemic to the forested mountains of Kahuzi and Beiga and it is the only place to see them in the wild. Kahuzi Biega national park can be accessed via Rwanda to Bukavu on the shores of Lake Kivu.
Eastern lowland gorillas just like mountain gorillas live in families led by a dominant male gorillas. They are also vegetarian but are bigger in size compared to the mountain gorillas. Congo is therefore the only destination in the planet where you can enjoy two gorilla species tour experiences. Just like many other wildlife destinations in Congo, Kahuzi biega national offers exclusive tour experiences. There are few tourists to the park enabling one to enjoy the lowland gorilla trek without any disturbances.
For many other primates and savanna big five mammal experiences destination east Africa got you covered. You can visit Democratic Republic of Congo for the less disturbed and exclusive primate experiences. Kenya and Tanzania have the big five where you can enjoy classic savanna game drives. Uganda and Rwanda offer both the primates and savanna wildlife experiences.
Birding tour experiences
There are a number of bird species in Democratic Republic of Congo including endemics of the Albertine rift and the Congo forests. This makes the country among the ultimate birding safari destinations. Birding in the country is done in the major protected areas including Virunga national park. There are over 706 bird species recorded in the park. Some of the birds here include Yellow-Billed Barnet, Rwenzori Turaco, Narrow-tailed starling among others.
There are trails in the park that you can take on a birding expedition with chances of seeing other primates especially monkeys.
Other national treks in Congo also include golden monkey trekking in Virunga national park. The country much as it has gone through a number of insecurity issues it is still the best less disturbed wildlife destinations in East Africa. Tour experiences here can be enjoyed any time of the year. You can directly fly to Goma international airport if interested in Visiting Virunga national park. Alternatively you can fly into Kigali international airport and then connect to Virunga or Kahuzi Biega by road.
If interested in having a combined tour with Virunga and Kahuzi Biega you can connect to the two parks by Ferry along Lake Kivu.
French is widely spoken along with a number of Congolese native languages. English is also spoken but by few especially in towns. For easy communication and getting around it is advisable to get a local guide. The country can be visited any time of the year but the months of April, May and November have a lot of rainfall and double as a low tourist season. With the rainfall disturbances, some roads become impassable and tracking trails become hard to hike. This does not mean that you can not visit the country during these months. For birders it time when migratory birds set in.
There are many descent accommodation options in the major towns and near the parks that one can choose from. To avoid any inconveniences it is better to book lodging option within the proximity of the area you are visiting.