A Trip to DR Congo is one of the most feared trips for those traveling to the sub-Saharan Africa this is due to the instabilities, civil wars and diseases which happen in some parts of the country for many years. However, for the past 5 Congo has stabilized in some parts of the country especially Goma which is also open for travelers. A trip to DR Congo is very adventurous giving you an opportunity to trek lowland gorillas, mountain gorillas and hike to the top of one of the most active volcanoes in the world Nyiragongo Volcano which recently erupted on 27th May 2021. Traveling with Eco Adventure Safaris we will make sure you are safe and choose to travel to safe places in Congo.
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has a surface area equivalent to that of Western Europe making it the largest country in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). DR Congo is great for adventure enthusiasts, it is home to various natural resources, including minerals such as cobalt and copper, hydropower potential, significant arable land, immense biodiversity, and the world’s second-largest rainforest. Congo is bordered by Rwanda in the South East, Uganda in the East, Burundi in the in the southwest.
All Congo Safaris tours are fully guided from the moment you step over the border to your departure back home. Almost all our tours start and end in Kigali (the capital of Rwanda), and we ensure that our guests are assisted across the border without any hassle. Members of our team will collect you as soon as you land in Kigali, and will remain with you until you enter Congo at which point the Virunga National Park team will take over. As the Park is responsible for the livelihood and infrastructure of the four million people who live around it, its officials, rangers and visitors are highly respected by the locals. You’ll be transported in our vehicles but escorted by official parks vehicles loaded with rangers, and will be made to feel safe and warmly welcomed by all whom you encounter. Virunga National Park has brought electricity, power stations, roads, schools, security and jobs to the area, and the locals are well aware of the fact that the tourism income generated by your presence is largely to thank for all of this.
What is the food like in DR Congo?
The food in DR Congo is fantastic! Do you want to test true local organic food, then DR Congo is best? The soil in central Africa is so rich that every single fruit and vegetable tastes exactly as it should. As the temperature is always right and the ground is so rich, harvests take place multiple times a year, and there is always a significant supply of fresh produce. Add to this the fact that there’s great fish and meat in the area and the local chefs are French-trained, and you’ve got a surprisingly impressive culinary destination.
Do I need special medication to travel to Eastern Congo?
The only mandatory preventative measure was a yellow fever vaccination. As a consequence of the actual pandemic that is rattling the entire world, apart from the yellow fever vaccination card, tourists needs to come visit their negative test result to showed at the point of entry. Moreover, they are subject to another COVID test done by INRB at all the point of entry to confirm that they are safe and do not constitute a risk not only to Congolese people but also to wild animals (gorillas) who are also at risk of catching the disease. The test cost 40$ only.
How to get a Congolese Tourist Visa?
The visa system to enter DR Congo are still stringent. You will need to wait for about 4 weeks to get a Congolese tourist from a Congolese embassy. That visa will cost you around 400$ after including the invitation letter and the visa per say. This visa is valid for a month or more and can allow you to hover around the entire continent-sized country easily. However, to facilitate visitors willing to experience Eastern Congo, the Congolese government has made a special agreement with Virunga National Park and Kahuzi Biega National Park through which you can get a visa in less than 2 weeks for as low as 105$. You just need to send your passport bio page to one of trusted tour operators and make a deposit for a tour in one or both of the two parks.
Is it safe to climb Nyiragongo?
You can’t escape the fact that Nyiragongo is one of the world’s most active volcanoes. So is it really safe to climb an active volcano? I would say yes, but the truth is that you never know. Walking around independently might be dangerous since volcanic area has fractures emitting gas, but locals know how to avoid them. Goma has its own seismologic observatory monitoring both Nyiragongo and its sister volcano, Nyamuragira, which is titled the most active volcano in Africa. Volcanologists should know well in advance what these giants are up to.
I want to hike the Mount Nyiragongo, what should I expect? What should I pack?
Park rangers lead the trek even if you have booked the trip through a tour company. Only one group can trek to the Nyiragongo summit daily and the group size is limited to 24 people, due to the accommodation capacity. During June and July, the treks can be fully booked, so assure your spot well in advance. The climb takes 4-6 hours depending on the weather conditions and overall fit of the group. It is possible to conquer Nyiragongo also on a day trip, but it will be a long and very challenging day (for sure). You must arrive to the Kibati ranger station before 9AM; the hike starts around 10AM.
Be sure to pack full rain gear, warm layers, long underwear, enough warm socks, gloves, a hat, and some snacks. When finally reaching the summit, you need to change to a dry base layer immediately. Don’t underestimate the conditions, as temperature at the summit might be near freezing and the risk of hypothermia is real. Sleeping bags can be rented for 10$. If you don’t have a cook with you, bring also enough food. A hot 3-course dinner can really make the day after an exhausting trek, when you are shivering from the cold night. So consider hiring either a cook or cooking utensils. Porters can be hired at the Kibati ranger post for 25$ and I strongly recommend taking one to save your energies. The maximum weight for one porter is 15 kg.
Congo National Parks
Congo is home to over 20 National Parks where you can do safari, many travelers prefer visiting Virunga National Park and Kahuzi Beiga National Park. Visiting both parks will give you an opportunity to see gorillas in Congo that is both Mountain Gorillas and Lowland Gorillas.
Virunga National Park is one of the most diverse tropical rain forests and oldest national parks in Africa mostly famous for mountain gorilla trekking in Congo, among other activities that can be done here during your birthday include Nyirangongo volcano hike, bird watching, Nature walks, Chimpanzee tracking and Habituation and these can all be booked for you by contacting us here.
Kahuzi Beiga National Park is best known for lowland gorilla trekking, it was gazetted in 1970 and the first lowland gorilla trekking experience was done in 1973, this type of trekking is only done here and this makes the park rank high when it comes to the lowland gorilla trekking. The Park has 12 gorilla families and out of these only 2 gorilla families are habituated and they are open for visitors to trek. The families are called Chimanuka and Mugaruka both named after a dominant silver back, Chimanuka is famous for many visitors given it consist of one of the largest gorilla family in the world with over 36 gorilla individuals.
Our Popular Congo to consider booking for your trip to Congo;
2 Days Nyiragongo Volcano Hike
3 Days Gorilla Trekking in Congo
3 Days Nyiragongo Volcano Hike
4 Days Nyiragongo & Gorilla Trekking
5 Days Nyiragongo Volcano Hike
5 Days Gorillas & Nyiragongo Hike
6 Days Gorillas & Nyiragongo Hike (You will see both Lowland and Mountain Gorillas)
What is the cost to see Gorillas in Congo?
The cost to see gorillas in Congo is determined by the style of travel you are interested in that is budget, standard or luxury. Gorilla permits are the most essential when you are planning to see gorillas in DR Congo. Compared to other national parks for gorilla trekking in Uganda and Rwanda that is Bwindi and Mgahinga and Volcanoes National Parks respectively gorilla trekking in Congo is much cheaper and affordable. Virunga National Park offers both normal and discounted gorilla permits for trekking mountain gorillas in Congo. It is during the high season or peak season of the months December, January, February, June, July, August, September and early October that the gorilla permit of Virunga National Park costs 400 USD per person per trek, these months the park receives many visitors because it is holiday season for many travelers and it is as well a dry season which makes it easy for the gorilla trek and walks through the trails in the Virunga forest. With this if you plan to visit Congo for gorilla trekking during these months we do advise you book your trek in advance atleast 3 months early so that you don’t miss out on the gorilla permits. Then for the discounted gorilla permits trekking in Congo Virunga National park these are offered during the off season months of early March, April and May then early October, November and early December annually at 200 USD per person per trek and this offer runs from 15th of March to 15th of May and then from 15th of October and 15th of December, the advance booking of the discounted permits is same to the normal permits and we do advice you book your spot in advance at least 3 months before the trekking date.
Our Congo tours and wildlife safaris are tailor-made and well-crafted to entirely suit your needs and budget. All our Safari packages are all inclusive of best affordable accommodation properties, 4×4 customized Safari vehicles with pop-up roof for your comfort travel and amazing wildlife viewing on your holiday as well as services of a well experienced driver guide, these as well can be customized to match your interests.
Eco Adventure Safaris is one of the best ecotourism operators in Africa and with our great experience in organizing amazing and affordable Congo tours we are able to offer you the best that African Safaris have to offer while preserving the biodiversity for future generations. Contact us here to help plan and book your trip to Congo.
Congo Gorilla trekking – Families
For Congo Gorilla trekking, the Virunga National Park has 10 Gorilla families habituated. They are the only gorillas available for tracking and tourism purposes. However, due to instabilities in the area the approximate number of gorillas in not quite known but the last census estimated them to be over 100 with about 7 newborns. Let’s look at the ten groups of these endangered gorillas present in this park for the purpose of Congo Gorilla trekking.
This is the latest family named after Rachel Baraka. Rachel Masika Baraka was one of the 26 women rangers among park’s wildlife force. She was killed in a Congo gorilla trekking while accompanying British tourists to Mikeno Lodge last year in Virunga National Park. Therefore, the park decided to name this family after that fallen hero. The group is led by the Silverback Baraka. Baraka is known to be the father to many Silverbacks in Virunga National Park.
Rugendo is among the first groups to be habituated alongside Rugabo and Zunguruka in 1985. At its formation, the group was led by the Silverback Rugendo which was unfortunately killed by rebels in 2001 in Bukima area. Rugendo is also known to be the father to many Silverbacks in Virunga National Park, namely; Mapuwa, Humba, Ruzirabwoba, Mukunda, Nyakamwe; Mburanumwe; Baseka; Kongomani; Lubutu and Bahati. After his death, his son Senkwekwe took over leadership of the group until 2007 when he was murdered with 5 other gorillas of his group by unknown people.
The group remained without leadership for a couple of months until 2008 when the solitary Silverback Bukima took over its leadership. Bukima was initially a member of Buhanga group and spent some time in Munyaga group before becoming a solitary Silverback in 2005. Rugendo group is currently headed by the Silverback Rugendo and composed of 9 individuals including 3 Silverbacks, 1 Blackback,1 Adult female, 2 Sub- adult females and 2 babies. Rugendo group is fond of moving around the Mikeno sector between Bukima and Bikenge and waiting for you for the Congo Gorilla trekking.
Munyaga group is found in Bukima area of the Virunga National park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The Silverback Munyaga was a lone wild Silveback before 1998. In February 1998, Munyaga met Buhanga group then headed by the adult female Nsekuye and took advantage of the absence of a dominant Silverback in the group and made himself the group leader. Later the group interacted several times with Kabirizi group until Munyaga lost all his females to Kabirizi group. After that, Munyaga disappeared for two years (2007-2008). Following his disappearance, Mawazo took over leadership of the group until today. Currently the group is made up of 9 individuals including 3 Silverbacks, 2 Adult females, 2 Juveniles, and 2 babies. All of them are ready to receive you in the Congo Gorilla trekking.MAPUWA
This group is found in Jomba area of the Virunga National Park in the DRC. Mapuwa group was formed in 1998 by Mapuwa Silverback. Mapuwa is a son to the Silverback Rugendo and evolved in Rugendo group. In August 1995, Mapuwa left Rugendo group at the same time as his brother Ruzirabwoba for solitary life. On 01/08/98, Mapuwa interacted with Lulengo group and grabbed 2 females (Kagofero and Kanepo) to form his own group – Mapuwa. Mapuwa group is currently composed of 22 individuals including; 3 Silverbacks, 3 Blackbacks, 6 Adult females, 2 Sub-adult females, 4 Juveniles and 5 babies. Mapuwa group is currently headed by the Silverback Mapuwa. The group has received dozens of visitors in the Congo Gorilla trekking.
Lulengo group is found in Jomba area of the Virunga National park in DRC. Initially known as Rugabo, the group’s habituation started in 1985 with the Silverback Rugabo as the group head. Unfortunately, Rugabo and 2 other females were brutally shot dead in 1994 in Jomba. Related to this incident, the juvenile Mvuyekure (current Silverback in Mapuwa family) was carried away by poachers with the aim of selling him off in Uganda; fortunately, Mvuyekure was rescued and the poachers were arrested and imprisoned.
So following the death of Rugabo, his son Lulengo took over leadership of the group which was composed of 12 individuals at the time. A couple of interactions that saw to the transfer of some individuals from Lulengo to other groups was witnessed, for instance; in 1998 Lulengo interacted with Mapuwa group and a good number of his members crossed to Mapuwa while in 2014 another interaction was noted between Lulengo and Rugendo – this saw to the transfer of the juvénile Lulengo from Lulengo group to Rugendo group. Currently, Lulengo group is led by the Silverback Lulengo and composed of 9 individuals including;1Silverback, 3 Adult females, 1 Sub-adult male, 1 juvenile and 3 babies.
This group is also found near the Goma area and its headed by the dominant silverback Kabirizi. The group has 34 members with two silverbacks.
The Group derives its name from the ICCN director who died in a fatal car accident in the 1990s. The group was formerly known as Ndungutse led by Ndungutsehimself who died during a rebel war in the area. The family has 19 members.
Bageni group is found in Bukima and Gatovu areas of the Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo – DRC. Bageni group is headed by the Silverback Bangeni and is composed of 26 individuals including; 1 Silverback, 2 Blackbacks, 10 Adult females, 1 Sub-adult female, 3 Juveniles, and 9 babies. Bageni group was formed in January 2013 after Bageni the silverback split from his father’s group (Kabirizi group). Bageni moved away with 20 individuals including his mother Mapendo and brothers and formed his own group called Bageni. Bageni family is among the calmest and preferred by visitors during the Congo gorilla trekking.
Nyakamwe group is headed by the Silverback Nyakamwe and found in Bukima area of the Virunga National park in the DRC. Nyakamwe group was created in 2014 as a result of the split in Humba group. Nyakamwe Silverback had internal conflicts with his brother Humba and ended up leaving the group on 20/04/2014 with 10 individuals, leaving Humba group with only 5 individuals. Currently, Nyakamwe group consists of 11 individuals including 2 Silverbacks, 1 Blackback,3 Adult females,1 Sub-adult female, 2 juveniles and 2 babies.
This family has 16 gorillas and one silverback. It is found in the Bukima area near the Goma sector. Humba is the dominant silverback and he heads this group himself. This is the calmest family in this park is it is preferred to be tracked by everyone. Humba split from the Rugendo his father in 1998. The group is visited by visitors tracking gorillas in the mikeno southern sector during the Congo gorilla trekking.
The best time to visit Burundi is in May, June, July, August and September every year. Congo has an equatorial climate with two rainy seasons which occur from March to April with a short rainy season and between October to December with a long rainy season, and the country has two dry seasons the long dry season from May to September and the shorter dry season between January and February.
The best time to visit Congo is during the dry season. This is true because when it is raining, it becomes hard to drive through the parks for wildlife viewing because of the heavy rains that make the trails too slippery.
Congo Weather and Climate
Knowing the Congo weather and climate is very important during planning your trip to Congo, this will help you understand how the weather and climate will be during your trip in Congo. In general, the climate in the Congo is an equatorial and consistent, but there are some variations between the northern and southern regions to bear in mind the rainy season. The climate is influenced by the topography and vegetation areas at high altitude.
The dry season in Congo occurs in the months of from May to September and the shorter dry season between January and February every year, during this time the average temperatures hover around 27°C/81°F in the afternoon and 16°C/61°F in the morning. During this time as well it can still rain especially in the tropical rain forests of Virunga National Park and Kahuzi Beiga National Park.
The wet season in Congo occurs in the months of October to December which is a long wet season and a short rainy season between March to April every year, during this time the average temperatures hover around 28°C/82°F in the afternoon and 16°C/61°F in the morning. During this time as well it can still be dry especially in the tropical rain forests. There is more rainfall throughout the country during these months, with a clear peak in April in the south. Most days have some sunshine as well. The rain can make travel more difficult.
What is the best time for Gorilla Trekking in Congo?
As Virunga is located on the equator, the temperature remains roughly the same (hot and humid) throughout the year. The notable difference is between the rainy and non-rainy seasons. Ironically enough, the best time to enjoy clear blue skies (particularly for photography purposes) is during the rainy months (April, May, October and November), as it can get quite foggy during the dry season. The good news is that it rarely rains for a full day, and the periodic spatters actually make way for beautifully clear viewing conditions
Guide to Hiking Mount Nyiragongo Volcano in Congo
Few things rattle residents of the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. For decades they’ve lived with wars and rebellions spilling out from their jungles—all while keeping a wary eye on the mountain with a halo of smoke looming over the region.
Congo’s Volcano is called “General Nyiragongo,” by local inhabitant of Goma because when he comes, everyone runs. Here one of the world’s most volatile volcanoes poses an existential threat. Every few decades, Mount Nyiragongo showers the city in lava. With tourism getting traction in the park local tour operators have emerged employing young people surrounding Virunga National Park. One tourist visiting the Nyiragongo Congo’s volcano generates jobs to up to 5 people. The guide, the porter, the driver, the park ranger and the cook. Young people who could turn to armed groups remain law abiding and contribute to the GDP thanks to around one thousands international visitors making it to the Nyiragongo Congo’s Volcano every month.
The Nyiragongo Volcano in Congo is one of the most active volcanoes in the world. It stands proudly on the border of Congo and Rwanda, sitting over 11,000 feet high. The volcano’s caldera (magma chamber) is almost one-mile-wide and it holds a deep lava lake. If you are looking for a hiking adventure, climbing to the top of the Nyiragongo Congo’s volcano and watching its bubbling lava at the summit is a must. So, before you decide on hiking Mount Nyiragongo, here are a few insider tips:
How to get there to Nyiragongo Volcano
Most tours operators start their package at the town of Gisenyi in Rwanda. For added convenience, the Nyiragongo Congo’s Volcano experience starts with you right as you descend from your flight at Kigali International Airport and from there, it takes an average of 5 hours to reach Gisenyi and cross into Goma, Congo. The volcano is around 9 miles away from the town of Goma. Few years back, it could be possible for you to rent a car, or pay around $40 to a taxi driver to take you to the Virunga National Park. For some reasons, the park has prohibited that practice and has made it compulsory for visitors to book transportation with tours operators during the Congo’s volcano experience. You will make sure to be in Kibati, the hiking starting point before 10 a.m. which is the departing time.
The cost of hiking Nyiragongo Volcano
Eco Adventure safaris is the best option for you as we will take care of everything including transportation to and from the volcano. Also, if you need more assistance with hiking, we will assist you with a porter- a person who will carry your backpack. Moreover, you should bring cash for tips as it is customary.
Our non-ordinary cook will carry snacks, drinks, and prepare dinner when you get to the summit. He will also serve belly-warming beverages to battle the cold temperatures. As you may feel dizzy because of the altitude, we will make sure to keep yourself well fed and hydrated during the Nyiragongo Congo’s Volcano experience.
In addition, accommodation is included in your price if you book all-inclusive package. Once you summit to the top of the volcano, there are 12 huts waiting, each with single beds. Bring lots of layers as the temperatures dip at night.
Be physically prepared
You don’t need to be an athlete to take on the Nyiragongo Congo’s volcano hike, as the duration is only two days. Nevertheless, it still is very demanding and you need to be in good health conditions. The surface is not even, and the volcano is rock-strewn. The altitude is extreme, so you may feel tired or dizzy, but don’t feel discouraged!
Everyone can climb the mountain at their own pace, be it fast or slow hikers. Always bear in mind that the summit is at 11,400 feet high, so it will be hard work. Whatever else you may want to carry to the volcano, you can always give it to a porter.
Have a packing list
The conditions in the hike are quite varying and extreme, so make sure you pack everything you need. As in any mountain, the temperatures may vary from hot in the bottom to freezing cold in the peak. That said, remember to pack all the warm clothing you can. Though there is a volcano lake in the summit, you will freeze.
There is also a lot of rain during the wet seasons (between March and May, and again in November) so have a change of clothes just in case. It would be a great idea if you also bring a sleeping bag to put on top of the mattresses of the huts, otherwise, you will feel cold. They are not well insulated and the mattresses are thin. Unless you are sure you don’t get sick in high altitudes, buy some Diamox to take during the hike. Some people just feel light-headed, whereas others get really dizzy.
For U.S. $100 you can rent a backpack stuffed with a sleeping bag, blanket, fleece jacket, and overcoat. Make sure to bring extra socks.
The Congo’s volcano hike starts at 6,510 feet and ends when you reach the summit, so it’s approximately 10 miles of walking up the mountain. You only get four stops of 20 minutes to rest, but not to worry if you are a slow hiker, the whole group has to stick together and take the pace of the slowest member. During the Nyiragongo Congo’s Experience, there will always be four armed guards, two who goes first and the remaining two who goes at the back. They check that no one is left behind. The weather may vary from sunny to foggy in a hot minute. Beware that you may climb the volcano but you may not be able to see the lava, as sometimes there is fog on the top and the crater gets covered in it.