What to Expect in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)

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The Democratic Republic of the Congo, also known as DR Congo, DRC, DROC, Congo-Kinshasa, or simply the Congo is a country located in Central Africa. The country was actually called Zaire.

The country is Africa’s second largest and has 79 million inhabitants. Besides the capital Kinshasa the country is woefully underdeveloped. There is no real infrastructure that connects the cities of Lubumbashi, Goma or Kinshasa inside the country.

Crossing the Congo is as much a nerve wrecking adventure as it was 50 years ago.

The country has suffered from corruption and a Soviet-style economy since independence from Belgium in 1965. It is a perfect adventure destination – you may say an ultimate adventure!

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Democratic Republic of the Congo – Security warning

The DRC is a country without infrastructure. Even the basics can be absent for a long time. Anything that resembles European or American standards will be expensive (that includes security).

Goma has seen rebel attacks and mass murders in those attacks. The city and area can change from quiet to a war zone in the matter of hours (but it may also be quiet for a long time).

The good news – there is no real evidence of foreigners being targeted in the DRC.

Good French language skills and a good local guide will be able to work wonders in the DRC.

Democratic Republic of the Congo – Flights

A good number of European and African airlines fly to Kinshasa N’djili Airport and some (notably Ethiopian) also fly to Goma International Airport.

Democratic Republic of the Congo – Visa

Visa are relatively easy to obtain against a fee ~$200 depending on your passport. The Democratic Republic of the Congo insist that you get the visa in your home country but exceptions seem to be possible (i.e. in a neighboring country).

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Democratic Republic of the Congo – Kinshasa

Kinshasa is being described as a city with minimal sights. No wonder given the state of things that the locals shy away from building more than what’s needed to survive.

Lola Ya Bonobo Sanctuary

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Lola Ya Bonobo Sanctuary frequently comes up as the best thing to do in town. The Bonobo sanctuary has lofty goals and has managed to reach many of them with lots of international PR.

A few markets and a national museum later you have done your share of Kinshasa exploration.

Surprisingly Kinshasa has a number of luxurious hotels including the very cool looking Kempinski Fleuve Congo (pictured below).

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Democratic Republic of the Congo – Goma

Just across from super-safe Rwanda is Goma (the city sprawls all the way to the actual border). Using the city as base you can do a number of cool destinations. Please see my disclaimer about security in Goma.

Nyiragongo Volcano

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This impressive volcano actually has a lava lake that you can see from the top. The climb up can be done in one day.

Gorilla Trekking

Unlike Uganda and Rwanda Gorilla Trekking in Congo (all countries share the Gorilla Trekking area) is really just that – you’ll be the only one that makes the journey That frankly can make things much more rewarding

Idjwi Island, Lake Kivu

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Lake Kivu is one of Africa’s biggest and most beautiful lakes. When you visit you can actually pay the ‘King of Idjwi’ a visit too (he still rules!).