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Congo (DRC) Gorilla Trekking & Safari Tours

Congo, the Heart of Darkness. Who hasn’t dreamed of setting foot in that mysterious jungle-clad country in Central Africa? The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is mostly off-limits to travelers. However, after a long period of inactivity, Virunga National Park reopened to visitors more than 10 years ago. Gorilla treks and Nyiragongo volcano climbs are the name of the game here. Tracking mountain gorillas is rapidly becoming one of the world’s most rated wildlife encounters. And Virunga NP, with its top-notch facilities, excellent guides and low visitor numbers, is perhaps the most serene place for such a mind-altering experience.

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1-17 of 17 Congo (DRC) gorilla & safari trips, holidays, vacations and packages

6 Questions About DR Congo Tours

 
 

6 Questions About DR Congo Tours

Answered by Ariadne van Zandbergen

What are the main tourist attractions in DR Congo?

“The DRC is one of only three countries that are home to the endangered mountain gorillas. Tracking these gentle giants on the slopes of the Virunga Mountains is the number one tourist attraction in the country. The vast Virunga NP is one of Africa’s most biodiverse conservation areas and aside from gorilla trekking there are other iconic activities on offer, most notably climbing the Nyiragongo volcano. Looking over the rim into the world’s largest lava lake at night is an incredible not-to-be-missed experience. Finish your DRC trip with some relaxation on the beautiful Tchegera Island on Lake Kivu. Also worth a visit is Kahuzi-Biega National Park, which protects one of the last groups of eastern lowland gorillas. Tracking lowland gorillas is equally rewarding to the more-published mountain gorilla experience. Getting here usually involves a boat trip on the scenic Lake Kivu on the border of Rwanda and DRC.”

1

How does gorilla trekking in DR Congo compare to other countries?

“The gorilla trekking experience in Virunga NP is very similar to what is offered in Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda. The same one-hour time limit to spend with the gorillas applies. However, as visitor numbers are still very low in DRC, the experience feels more exclusive and the setting more remote. The number of permits allocated per gorilla group is only four for smaller gorilla groups and six for larger gorilla groups. This is less than the eight permits allocated per group in Uganda and Rwanda. An overnight stay at the magnificently located Bukima Tented Camp before your early morning trek will make the experience even more special. You’ll be separate from any other visitors and you’ll start your trek from camp. Last but not least is the difference in price. A gorilla trek in DRC costs US$400 per person (sometimes less in the low season). This is a fair bit cheaper than the cost in Uganda (US$700 per person) or Rwanda (US$1500 per person). ”

2

Is a DR Congo safari safe?

“Visiting Virunga NP and Kahuzi-Biega NP in Eastern DRC is considered safe. The country has a long history of political turbulence and unrest, which makes DRC as a whole an unsuitable tourist destination. However, as the DRC tries to attract visitors to Virunga NP and a lesser extent Kahuzi-Biega NP, security measures have been put in place to make a return visit from Rwanda very straightforward and secure. However, the situation can change, so always check with your operator before booking.”

3

Can I extend my East African safari with a trip to Congo (DRC)?

“Most people don’t visit DRC in isolation. Instead, it makes a perfect extension to a classic safari in Kenya or Tanzania. A short flight gets you to Rwanda’s capital city, Kigali. From there it’s a short drive to the DRC border and on to Virunga NP. You will be tracking gorillas the next day. A gorilla trek in DRC also slots well into an extended holiday in Rwanda where you can enjoy a couple of nights in the country’s Big Five destination of Akagera National Park and chimp trekking in Nyungwe Forest National Park. Wildlife densities in Akagera NP are not comparable to the most famous reserves in East Africa, but this off-the-beaten-track destination is incredibly scenic and rewarding in its own right.”

4

How much do holiday tours to DR Congo cost?

“Most people come to DRC for a mountain gorilla trek and to climb Mt Nyiragongo. A typical 4-day package from Rwanda’s capital of Kigali, including these activities, costs between US$1800 and US$2200 per person. A 3-day package from Kigali to track lowland gorillas in Kahuzi-Biega NP costs US$1200 per person. You can combine both packages or stay extra nights in Virunga NP to do a second gorilla trek or a chimpanzee habituation walk. A 10-day tour to Virunga NP, where you get to stay in different areas of the park, do two gorilla treks and spend a couple of nights on an island retreat on Lake Kivu, costs around US$6000 per person.”

5

What is the best time of the year to visit DR Congo?

“The best time to visit DRC is during the Dry season from June to September. Eastern DRC, and Virunga NP particularly, has a very wet climate. It can rain at any time. However, June to September sees less rain and the forest trails tend to be less slippery. March to April and October to November are the peaks of the short and long rains. You’ll get good deals on lodges over this time and gorilla trekking fees might be reduced too. Make sure you bring lots of waterproof clothing, though, and be prepared to get wet a few times. The drier period between the long and short rains, December to February, is great to travel too. It shouldn’t be too wet and there are very few visitors around at this time.”

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