Congo Safaris & Gorilla Trekking Tours
Travel agents offer the best gorilla trekking tours in Virunga national park and other safaris to the best destinations in the DR Congo. These experiences can be further extended to other East African destinations for wildlife safaris such as Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya and Tanzania
The democratic republic of Congo is among the top tourist destinations on the African continent with several attractions that interest travelers from across the world. The most done tourism attraction in DR Congo is mountain gorilla trekking which can only be done in Virunga national park and Kahuzi Biega national park in case you are interested in trekking the eastern low land gorillas. These two national parks host a large number of mountain gorillas and eastern low land gorillas. DR Congo does not only have gorillas for tourism but also there are wild life species such as chimpanzees where you can take part in chimpanzee trekking or chimpanzee habituation experience in Virunga national park. Those that love primates can spare some time and take a visit to Senkwekwe Gorilla Orphanage which is situated opposite Mikeno lodge in Virunga national park to visit the orphaned gorillas and also, they can take a visit to Lwiro Chimpanzee Sanctuary situated 10km from the Kahuzi Biega National Park. In Lwiro chimpanzee sanctuary they can be able to visit chimpanzees.
In Virunga region, DR Congo boasts of having the world’s most active volcano that is Mount Nyiragongo which last erupted in May 2021 where travelers can go hiking. Travelers are so fascinated by this hike to the lava crater at the summit of mount Nyiragongo where they are able to see boiling lava and spend a night before they descend back to the starting point of the mountain.
The DR Congo also has other national parks and reserves where tourists can go and visit different animals such as elephants, rhinos, okapis, and many others. DR Congo safaris & tours take you to the best destinations and a traveler can book with travel agents to be able to be part of the amazing journey.
Congo safaris & tours activities
Congo safaris & tours are very amazing, operators organize gorilla trekking which is the top engaged in safari activity in the country. Gorilla trekking in DR Congo is done in Virunga national park and Kahuzi Beiga national park though, there are some eastern lowland gorillas in Salonga National park.
Other places where a traveler can be able to encounter mountain gorillas is Uganda in Bwindi impenetrable national park and Mgahinga gorilla national park. In Rwanda you can find them in volcanoes national park. Congo safaris can start and end in Uganda and Rwanda.
Other primates’ activities that a traveler can engage in during DR Congo tours include the Chimpanzee trekking and chimpanzee habituation in Virunga. In Uganda chimpanzee trekking can also be done in Kibale national park, Kalinzu forest, Budongo forest and Kyambura gorge. For the case of Rwanda, trekking chimpanzees can be done in Nyungwe forest national park.
Chimpanzees are another kind of primates that can be found in Virunga national park. During chimpanzee habituation or chimpanzee trekking in Virunga national park, you will hike the jungles of the park in search for these gentle primates being led by rangers or researchers. Chimpanzees are playful and noisy as they jump from one tree to another in search for what to eat. Chimpanzee habituation was started in 2014 and it begins very early in the morning at 5:30 when the chimpanzees are awake before beginning their search for what to eat. Chimpanzee habituation permits in Virunga national park cost $100 only.
Other mammals that can be found in Virunga national park include the golden monkeys, Dent’s mona monkey, red tailed monkey, olive baboon, central African red colobus, grey cheeked mangabey, hippos, Africa bush elephants, common warthog, waterbuck, giant forest hog and so many others.
Therefore, when you book your Africa tours to DR Congo, you may also add activities in Uganda and Rwanda to spice up your East African safari experiences.
Congo safaris are cheap and affordable amazing tour packages that any traveler can decide to book just in case they are interested in gorilla trekking, mountain climbing, cultural tours and other safari activities. The DR Congo is located in Central Africa and its named after river Congo that flows throughout the country. DR Congo covers a total area of 2,344,858 sq km making it the second largest country in the continent after Algeria. The country is bordered by over 9 countries that is to say Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Zambia, Central African Republic, Uganda, Angola, Republic of Congo and Central African Republic.
The DR Congo has a lot of attractions to offer to tourists most especially those that love to explore and discover. DR Congo has untapped and wilderness plus unmatched biodiversity that is very rear to find in most African countries, it is indeed a gem worth a visit. Notwithstanding the on and off wars in the country, the country has a number of tourists that flock it.
Many of the travelers who visit DR Congo go to do mountain gorilla trekking in Virunga national park but there is a lot that the country has to offer such as hiking mountain Nyiragongo which is the most active volcano in the world with a lava lake at the summit., chimpanzee trekking, game drives, eastern low land gorilla trekking in Kahuzi Biega national park and a lot more!
Most Visited National Parks In DR Congo
The national parks of DR Congo offer a wildness that is unmatched in Africa. From the jungle forests of the Virunga national park that are a home to a number of rare and endangered primates such as mountain gorillas in Virunga national park to the savanna plains of maiko national park that offer splendid game viewing.
Virunga national park
This is the top destination safari in DR Congo for one to have full fun of their DR Congo safari tours. Virunga national park lies in the north eastern park of DR Congo bordering the Rwenzori mountains of Uganda in the north and volcanoes national park of Rwanda in the east. The park includes part of lake Edward, Semiliki river valley, and some parts of Rwindi, Rutshuru and Ishasha. The park was gazetted in 1925 and is the oldest national park in Africa and was declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 1979. Virunga national park is managed by the Congolese Institute of Nature and Conservation.
The Virunga national park has unique and active chain of volcanoes that are rich in the diversity of inhabitants. Some of the active volcanoes include the Nyirangongo mountain that recently erupted in may 2021 and has a lava lake at its peak, mountain Mikeno and mountain Nyamurangira which is also an active volcano.
Attractions and activities in Virunga national park
The following are some of the activities you may incur on your Congo Safaris & Gorilla Trekking Tours;
Mountain gorilla trekking is the top most done activity in DR Congo. Visiting the country without trekking endangered mountain gorillas renders you a safari incomplete. Virunga national park has over 200 mountain gorillas with 8 habituated gorilla families that are open for trekking at any time of the year. The park has Kabirizi which is the largest and most common gorilla family with 32 individuals.
Irrespective of the gorilla group that you are trekking, gorilla trekking normally begins early in the morning with a briefing at the park headquarters where you are always taught about the rules and regulations of the trekking. After the briefing, the ranger leads the trekkers and they head into the forest to look for these endangered mountains. Once they located the mountain gorillas, the trekkers are allowed to be around these gentle apes for a maximum of 1 hour while observing them and taking pictures. Gorilla trekking permits in DR Congo cost $450 in the dry season and $200 in the low season and can be purchased at the park headquarters or ay trusted tour operator but due to high demand in dry season you are advised to book your gorilla permit in advance of 3-4 months to avoid inconvenience
Senkwekwe gorilla orphanage
Senkwekwe gorilla orphanage is the only orphanage center for mountain gorillas in the whole world that was opened in 2010 after there was need to rehabilitate, treat and safeguard the mountain gorilla babies that were left behind after killing of their mothers by rebels in 2007 when the park was used as a hideout for rebels. The orphanage centre has since taken care of a number of gorillas and also acts a centre for rehabilitation and treating of the hurt lowland gorillas from kahuzi beiga that are rescued from poachers and meat traffickers.
The Senkwekwe gorilla orphanage gives tourists a chance to have some good them with orphanage gorillas as they interact with them and learn about their behaviors. The gorillas in this orphanage are very welcoming and are very attacked to humans as you will see them their caretakers. The Senkwekwe gorilla orphanage is situated in Virunga national park and travelers that would like to visit or volunteer could inquire at the park headquarters.
Mountain Nyiragongo was formed as a result of volcanicity and has a permit with the world’s largest lava lake and the volcano stands at 6,500ft. Mountain Nyiragongo last erupted in May 2021 and people hike for the sole purpose of viewing the largest lava lake has seen several tourists visiting Virunga national park. Treks to the top of mountain Nyiragongo start at Kibati which is about a 30 minutes’ drive from Goma. The rangers lead the hike to the top and there are porters that can be hired in case you have heavy luggage such that you have a less burden of stuff while hiking.
Hiking to the summit of mountain Nyiragongo takes about a day and travelers get to spend a night at the cabins on top of the volcano and then descend the next day which is actually faster as it takes only 3 hours at the very most. Travelers should carry heavy or warm long-sleeved clothes for the summit is very cold – don’t be deceived by the lava lake that it would be warm.
The Batwa community
Th Batwa group of people are a community of people that were originally forest dwellers who majorly depended on fruit gathering and hunting for their livelihood- they are the only known people that ever lived with the endangered mountain gorillas and all the other wildlife of the Virunga massif without tampering with them. The government however evicted them from the national parks and they relocated to the nearby places where they do live though unhappy because they prefer the forest as their homes. The Batwa group of people therefore share their life story and skills with those travelers that would like to walk through the Batwa cultural trail that sees them demonstrating their way of life say how they gathered fruits, how they collected joey, the hunting skills that they used plus several plants that acted as medicine to them. They also show you how they cooked food, how they made fire using sticks, their traditional dances and songs that they do at the end of the trail will leave you fascinated. The money they get from visits is used to educate Batwa children and also buy other needs.
There are so many unique plants and animals in Virunga national park that can’t be found anywhere else on the African continent it therefore, makes nature walks so interesting and wonderful experience of travelers that they shouldn’t miss out on. Taking guided nature walks through safe sectors of the national park rewards travelers with beautiful scenery and views of the landscape with wonderful sights of volcanoes such as mountain Nyiragongo. While on these nature walks, tourists should be on the lookout of different primates, birdlife, mammals and much more.
Kahuzi Biega national park
After mountain gorilla trekking in Virunga national park and the mountain Nyiragingo hike to the lava lake at the top, the next best tourist attraction that most travelers as for in DR Congo is the eastern lowland gorillas and Lwiro chimpanzee tracking in Kahuzi Biega national park. The only place where one can trek eastern lowland gorillas is Kahuzi Biega national park as well as maiko national park but it does not give the option of trekking.
Kahuzi Biega national park covers a total area of 2,316 square miles and is located on the border of DR Congo and Rwanda just next to Lake Kivu in the town of Bukavu. Kahuzi Biega national park was established in 1970 and is one of the largest national parks in the country. In 1980s, the park was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its vast forest and unique mammal species. The name Kahuzi Biega is got from the two dormant volcanoes found in the park edges- Mount Biega and Mount Kahuzi.
Kahuzi Biega national park is managed by the Congolese Institute of Conservation of Nature in partnership with the World-Wide Fund and the Wildlife Conservation Society.
There are about 137 mammal species and 350 bird species that have been so far recorded to be in Kahuzi Biega national park. The eastern Lowland gorillas are the commonest animals in the park and these eastern lowland gorillas can be found in two sectors of the park the highlands and the lowlands.
Major attractions of Kahuzi Biega national park include the abundant plants that are best seen and experienced when on a nature walk, the animals of the park which include mammals, primates, birdlife, waterfalls and so many more are all attractions worth visiting. Mountain Kahuzi and mountain Beiga, waterfalls and a lot more are also worth a visit. The biggest attraction of the park, however are the eastern lowland gorillas that tourists travel all the wat from their countries to visit.
Activities in Kahuzi Biega national park
Kahuzi Biega national park is among the best travel destinations in DR Congo that is less crowed and relatively virgin with lush green forests, great topography, lakes and rivers. It is another amazing place to visit for the best Congo Safaris and tours to give you a true African wilderness feeling. Below are some of the things to do in Kahuzi Biega;
Eastern lowland gorilla trekking
This is the main activity done in the park. The Eastern lowland gorillas are also endangered species and near extinction due to poaching and animal trafficking. In 2013, about 145 eastern lowland gorillas were recorded in the highland sector of the park. While comparing with the figures that were established in 1990 of 600 individuals, you realize that their population drastically reduced and need urgent attention to protect and conserve the Eastern lowland gorillas for future generation.
If you are looking at Eastern lowland gorilla trekking experiences, you will hike through the dense tropical forest and highlands of Kahuzi Biega National Park while searching for the near-extinct eastern lowland gorillas. This tour takes 30 minutes to 6 hours depending on the location of the gorillas. Once you encounter them, spend a full hour with them, the dominant silverback will keep a keen eye on you to ensure safety of his family and on a lucky day the juveniles may play around you and may even approach you. Visitors are strongly advised to listen and follow instructions from their ranger guides at all time. Eastern lowland gorilla trekking permit costs only $400.
Volcano hiking to Mount Kahuzi offers spectacular views of Bukavu town and Lake Kivu. Yes, a hike to the summit of Mount Kahuzi takes about 4hours depending on the physical fitness of the climbers and descending to the bottom takes like 3 hours. However, hiking to the top of mount Biega takes about 6 hours and also the same hours to descend to the bottom. The vegetation cover for both mountains is different.
Another suitable mountain for hiking is Mount Bugulumiza which is 2400 meters above the sea level. Climbing this mount gives magnificent views of the entire surrounding landscape including mount Kahuzi and Biega.
Climbing Mount Bugulumiza is a 6km trail and starts near the Tshivanga Visitor Centre, hiking through terrain regularly occupied by Chimanuka gorilla family and it takes about 3 hours return.
The cost of hiking each mountain is $100 per person per trek
Packing List for Congo Safaris & Gorilla Trekking Tours
If you are planning Congo safaris & gorilla trekking tours, you require to prepare yourself very well in order to execute the very memorable experience. DR Congo being a developing country, there are a few good places to acquire some of the essential things needed while on a safari. Yes, it is possible to acquire some equipment in Goma and Bukavu town if you are interested in gorilla trekking but as a foreign traveler, locating the right outlet or shop may be difficult. Therefore, we recommend you to purchase some of the essentials before travelling to DR Congo. For example, there is no telecommunication network in Kahuzi Biega national park as we wrote this article except in the main town of Bukavu. Internet used at the park headquarters is tapped from a large satellite dish and is only available during the day.
Below are some of the things you need to pack for your during your Congo safaris & gorilla trekking tours;
Adapters and batteries:
To ensure that your gadgets such as laptop, phones, cameras etc are on throughout your stay in DR Congo, you need to carry the adapters and batteries. If possible, we highly recommend to pack solar powered chargers. And for the case of devices that cannot easily be charged, carry extra batteries.
Bottled drinking water and light snack:
Hiking the mountains or trekking the gorillas in DR Congo may cause thirst and hunger because these experiences require physical fitness and trust me expect to sweat. Therefore, always pack at least two bottles of water to drink in case your feel thirsty and some snakes to eat in case of hungry when an activity is prolonged.
Yes, most lodges have mosquito nets, but the mosquitoes also bite outside the hotel room and even in the jungles during any activities. Therefore, carry mosquito repellents and make sure to sleep under a mosquito net.
The right clothing:
Travel destinations such as Virunga and Kahuzi Biega national parks are covered with vast rain forests, hence it may rain any time any day! Even during the dry season, rains can surprise at any time, therefore it is necessary to a rain jacket / coat and warm clothing.
For travelers with any medications prescribed by their respective health workers for any allergies or sickness, travel with them during your safaris and tours. DR Congo has limited health facilities. Most guests tend to pack anti-diarrhea and pain killers.
We recommend to take malaria pills two days before visiting DR Congo and any other East African travel destination for safaris and tours. It is important to note that you are required to present a yellow fever vaccination card at the boarder point before crossing over to DR Congo.
You need a camera to capture the beautiful landscapes, animals and birds. The camera should be waterproof to be efficient in case of rains.
Most wild places in DR Congo have no hydro-electricity and many hotels use solar panels and generators that can still go off and leave you in pitch darkness hence a need to pack a torch just in case.
Toilet paper and towel
Sometimes the activities you book for DR Congo safaris and tours may take longer than expected and you may need to ease yourself in a makeshift hole in the African Jungle therefore come prepared for anything that might happen during your trip.
A sleeping Bag and sheets
Travelers planning to hike mount Nyiragongo and those looking at setting up a tent in one of the campsites, you need to carry a sleeping bag and at least two bed sheets. Under normal circumstances camping costs $50 without a tent. The $50 is for the food and guards. A tent and sleeping bag can also be hired at $5 per night.