Have you ever dreamed of visiting the heart of Africa, where nature and culture are rich and diverse? Do you want to experience the thrill of seeing wild animals, active volcanoes, and mighty rivers? Do you want to learn more about the history and heritage of one of the largest and most complex countries in the continent? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you should consider traveling to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in 2023
The DRC is a country that has faced many challenges and conflicts but also has a lot of potential and beauty. It is home to some of the most amazing tourist attractions in Africa, such as the Virunga National Park, the Nyiragongo Volcano, the Congo River, and the Lola Ya Bonobo Sanctuary. It also has a vibrant and diverse culture, with over 200 ethnic groups and four official languages. The DRC is a place where you can discover the wonders of nature, the resilience of people, and the spirit of adventure.
In this article, we will introduce you to some of the best places to visit in the DRC in 2023 and give you some tips and information on how to plan your trip. Whether you are looking for wildlife, scenery, history, or culture, you will find something that suits your interests and budget in the DRC. So, get ready to explore this fascinating and underrated destination, and prepare to be amazed by what it has to offer.
Best places to visit in DRC 2023
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has some incredible places to visit, offering diverse landscapes and unique experiences. Here are some must-visit destinations in the DRC:
- Virunga National Park: Home to endangered mountain gorillas, this park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and offers breathtaking views of volcanoes, wildlife safaris, and the chance to trek to see gorillas in their natural habitat.
- Kahuzi-Biega National Park: Another park famous for its Eastern Lowland gorillas. Visitors can also explore diverse ecosystems, including dense rainforests and volcanic mountains.
- Garamba National Park: Known for its diverse wildlife, including elephants, giraffes, and the last remaining population of northern white rhinos.
- Lola Ya Bonobo Sanctuary: This sanctuary near Kinshasa is dedicated to the protection and rehabilitation of bonobos, providing a close-up experience with these amazing primates.
- Kinshasa: The vibrant capital city offers a glimpse into Congolese culture, with lively markets, music, and art scenes. Visit the Livingstone Falls and the National Museum for a deeper understanding of the country’s history.
- Lubumbashi: Known as the mining capital, this city offers a mix of urban life and access to nearby natural attractions, such as Lake Tshangalele and Kundelungu National Park.
- Matadi: A city along the Congo River, offering stunning views of the river and surrounding landscapes. The Inkisi Falls, nearby, is a breathtaking natural wonder worth visiting.
Virunga National Park and Nyiragongo Volcano tours
Virunga National Park in Congo is famous for its diverse wildlife and Nyiragongo Volcano with its active lava lake. Tours to these spots offer incredible experiences like seeing gorillas and hiking to the volcano’s summit to witness the lava lake. Various tour operators organize these trips, providing transportation, permits, guides, and sometimes accommodations. It’s crucial to plan well due to volcanic activity and remote locations, ensuring you have the necessary permits and follow safety guidelines.
Bonobo and gorilla sanctuaries in DRC
In the Democratic Republic of Congo, there are sanctuaries for bonobos and gorillas. The Lola Ya Bonobo Sanctuary near Kinshasa cares for orphaned bonobos, while the Senkwekwe Center in Virunga National Park looks after orphaned mountain gorillas. These sanctuaries aim to protect and rehabilitate these endangered primates.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best time to visit DRC?
The best time to visit DRC is during the long dry season from May to September, with July markedly the driest month, followed by June. The temperature also drops ever so slightly during these months. There is a shorter dry period in January and February. However, you should always check the current security situation and travel advisories before planning your trip, as the DRC is prone to civil unrest and violence.
How much does it cost to travel in DRC?
The cost of travel in DRC depends on your itinerary, preferences, and activities. Generally, DRC is not a cheap destination, as transportation, accommodation, and visas can be expensive and difficult to obtain. You will need a tourist visa in advance, which costs around $100 USD. You will also need a yellow fever vaccination certificate and proof of sufficient funds for your stay.
The average daily cost for a budget traveler is around $50 USD, while a mid-range traveler can expect to spend around $150 USD per day. If you want to visit national parks and see wildlife, you will need to pay for permits, guides, and park fees, which can add up to several hundred dollars per day
Which is the tourist Centre in Congo?
Congo, a vast and diverse country, encompasses two distinct regions: the Republic of the Congo and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Both offer various tourist attractions alongside different challenges for travelers. Key destinations include:
- Kinshasa: The bustling capital of the DRC, steeped in rich culture and history.
- Lola Ya Bonobo: A sanctuary for orphaned bonobos, a major attraction near Kinshasa.
- Kahuzi Biega National Park: Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to endangered eastern lowland gorillas.
- Virunga National Park: Africa’s oldest national park, teeming with biodiversity and featuring mountain gorillas, chimpanzees, elephants, hippos, and the active Nyiragongo Volcano.
- Brazzaville: The serene capital of the Republic of the Congo, distinguished by colonial architecture and cultural sites.
- Odzala-Kokoua National Park: One of Africa’s oldest parks, renowned for gorilla tracking and forest safaris.
- Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park: A remote and untouched wilderness offering glimpses of forest elephants, bongo antelopes, and western lowland gorillas.
Each destination holds its own allure and attractions, making Congo a diverse and fascinating place for travelers.
How to plan a trip to DRC in 2023
Planning a trip to the DRC in 2023? Here’s what to consider:
- Visas: You’ll need a passport, visa, and yellow fever vaccination. Arrange these in advance.
- Safety: Stay updated on security situations, especially in the east. Avoid certain areas prone to violence.
- Cost: DRC isn’t cheap. Factor in expenses for transport, accommodation, visas, permits, guides, and park fees. Cash in USD or Congolese francs is essential as cards and ATMs aren’t widely available.
How many cities are in DRC?
According to the Constitution of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the country is divided into the capital city of Kinshasa and 25 named provinces. It also gives the capital the status of a province. Therefore, in many contexts, Kinshasa is regarded as the 26th province. The 25 provinces of DRC are further divided into 32 cities and 145 territories.
Each city is led by a mayor and is further divided into communes. Kinshasa is the largest city, with over 7.7 million people and about 15 million in its city-province area. Lubumbashi is the second-largest city with about 1.3 million people, followed by Mbuji-Mayi with 874,761 and Kisangani with 539,158
What is special in Congo?
Congo stands out for:
- Hosting the world’s second-largest rainforest, teeming with diverse wildlife like gorillas, chimpanzees, elephants, and bonobos.
- The Congo River, Africa’s second longest and deepest river, powers hydroelectricity and serves transportation and fishing across nine countries.
- A vibrant music scene blending traditional, colonial, and modern influences. Renowned musicians like Franco, Papa Wemba, Koffi Olomide, and Fally Ipupa hail from here.
- A complex history shaped by kingdoms, colonization, independence, conflicts, and resilience, with figures like Patrice Lumumba, Mobutu Sese Seko, and the Kabila family leaving their mark.
- Diverse ethnic groups (over 200 recognized) and languages, including French, Lingala, Swahili, and Kikongo, each with unique customs and beliefs.
Can you get a visa on arrival in DRC?
The Democratic Republic of the Congo’s visa policy states that all visitors must obtain a visa from one of the country’s diplomatic missions, unless they are from a nation whose citizens are exempt from visa requirements, can obtain a visa on arrival, or are eligible to apply for an e-visa online2. If visitors are arriving from a nation without an embassy, they can obtain a visa confirmation and then a 7-day visa on arrival (which can be extended within the DRC).
- Citizens of the following 6 countries can visit the DRC without a visa for up to 90 days: Burundi, Congo, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe
- Citizens of the following country can visit the DRC by obtaining a visa on arrival valid for up to 7 days: Mauritius
- Other nationals arriving from a country with no DRC embassy can apply for a visa confirmation (“visa volant”). A letter of request is sent via e-mail to the Direction Générale de Migration with a photocopy of the passport of the applicant and the inviting person or organization
What is the main town in Congo?
Congo is a name that can refer to two different countries in Central Africa: the Republic of the Congo and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The main town of each country is its capital city.
- With a population of over 1.8 million, Brazzaville serves as the capital of the Republic of the Congo. It is situated across from Kinshasa on the north bank of the Congo River. With colonial architecture and cultural attractions, it serves as a political, economic, and cultural hub.
- At over 13.3 million, Kinshasa serves as the capital and largest city of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is situated across from Brazzaville on the south bank of the Congo River. It is the third-biggest metropolis in Sub-Saharan Africa and the biggest and most populated city in Central Africa. With its busy markets and exciting nightlife, the city is energetic and hectic.
What is the main town of DRC?
Kinshasa, the capital and largest city of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), serves as the country’s principal town. Situated on the south bank of the Congo River, it is approximately 320 miles (515 kilometers) away from the Atlantic Ocean. Food processing, textiles, cement, and metal goods are some of the sectors that make it the nation’s economic hub. With a wide selection of literature, art, and music, it serves as a cultural hub as well.
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