As the global community of tourists await a final end to the COVID- 19 scare which has crippled tourism around the world, many options await tourists who would like to explore beautiful safaris. The beautiful scenes in Democratic Republic of Congo has been tipped as a must- visit.
In a report by chimreports.com, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is a country blessed with incredible biodiversity.
Unfortunately, negative media publicity, civil unrest and political instability in some parts of the country have had a negative impact on its tourism industry. Yet, even with a breakdown of vital systems and poor governance structures, the country’s tourism potential is immense.
The DRC has some of the world’s most beautiful national parks coupled with a large variety of wild plant and animal species. A visit to the country will reveal stunning landscapes, endless green forest, water bodies and unique species like the elusive Okapi.
This diversity and abundance of resource in the Congo has made some people opine that if total peace prevailed, the country could easily become Africa’s number one safari destination.
What about security? It is wrong to generalize the security situation in Congo because not every part of the country is war-torn or facing civil strife.
The government and park wardens take the security of tourists seriously and visitors are taken through numerous security protocols before accessing national parks or any other tourist sites. Where the situation is dire, the authorities may suspend some of the activities.
Let’s discuss some of the tourist attractions in the Democratic Republic of Congo: –
The capital Kinshasa is one of the safe places in the country and has a strong diplomatic community as well as over ten million residents. While in Kinshasa, you can visit the “Symphonies Naturelles” with its cool forests and beautiful paths.
You can also marvel at the street art or visit historical buildings like the Musée National de Kinshasa. There is also the snake farm (serpents du Congo) and the central Market of Matongé (Marché Central).
Kahuzi-Biega National Park:
Located in South Kivu, the Kahuzi-Biega National Park is named after the two mountains of Kahuzi and Biega. It is a UNESCO World heritage site and famous for hosting Eastern lowland gorillas. Eastern lowland Gorillas are the largest subspecies of gorillas.
They have over the years been threatened by poachers but the government, conservationists and other well-wishers have put up joint efforts to preserve them hence their increasing numbers. Gorilla safaris in Congo and the Kahuzi-Biega National Park in particular are very exceptional.
It will reward tourists with pristine and rarely visited African wilderness. While tracking the lowland gorillas, visitors can also encounter elephants, chimpanzee and several species of antelope.
Virunga National Park:
Virunga National Park has been designated as a UNESO world heritage site because of the amazing landscape, fauna and flora. Formed in 1925 to protect mountain gorillas, the Parc National des Virunga is the oldest park in Africa.
The park is found near Congo’s border with Uganda and Rwanda. Virunga National Park is arguably one of the most beautiful national parks to visit in Africa due to its biological diversity.
Visitors have many choices of things to do while in Virunga.
They can marvel at the beautiful forests, valleys, plains, savannah and swamps. There are also Lions in the park, hippopotamus and over 400 bird species. The two main activities at the moment are mountain gorilla trekking and hiking the Nyiragongo volcano.
While hiking in the forest, you could even be lucky to spot the elusive okapi. When you have completed tracking the mountain gorillas in park, you have an opportunity to visit the Senkwekwe Gorilla Orphanage.
This is the only mountain gorilla orphanage in the world and is situated near the luxury Mikeno Lodge.
Mount Nyiragongo Volcano:
This had to be discussed separately. The Nyiragongo volcano has the largest crater lake in the world. It is also one of the few, if any, that are open to tourists. Though it last erupted in 2011, the Nyiragongo volcano brightens the skies of Goma city and the Virunga National Park.
Thousands of tourists visit Virunga National Park to see the boiling lava lake. It takes two days to trek up the Nyiragongo Volcano with a night spent in cabins.
Apart from the breathtaking views of the lava lake, visitors will be rewarded with amazing views of the Rwenzori mountains in Uganda, Lake Kivu, the over Virunga Volcanoes, Kahuzi Biega and Virunga National Park.
Garamba National Park:
This rarely visited place is a UNESO world heritage site filled with unending African Savannah grasslands. It is home to giraffes, hippos, rhinoceros, antelope and several species of birds. Like other parks in the DRC, there is increasing threat of poaching as well as rebels and armed groups from neighboring countries. In the future, this will be one of the most visited national parks in the country.
Salonga National Park:
The Salonga National Park has been ranked as the largest rain forest in Africa and a UNESCO world heritage site. There is so much to see in the park including dwarf chimpanzee, forest elephants, peacocks and slender snorted crocodile just to mention a few.
The park receives very few visitors but that will not be the case 20 years from now. If you can, be the first to visit so that you have the bragging rights one day.
Lola Ya Bonobo Sanctuary:
Away from the countryside, one of the attractive places to visit while in Congo is the Lola ya Bonobo sanctuary. This sanctuary is home to the Bonobos.
Bonobos are endangered pygmy chimpanzees that are only found in DR Congo. They are calmer and more peaceful compared to the common chimpanzee. Like almost all the other mammals in Congo, they are threatened by poaching.
This is a sanctuary of young chimpanzees that were left orphaned after the killing of their parents.
As earlier mentioned above, the DRC is endowed with many natural attractions which attract tourists. Some of them are not listed above such as;
1, Game drives in Maiko National Park which is close to the capital.
2, Visiting the beautiful water bodies like Lake Kivu and river Congo.
3, Touring the Boyoma and the Livingstone Falls.
4, Hiking mount Nyamuragira and Mikeno.
5, Exploring ancient caves like Dimba, Thysville, Kakanda and Matupi.
6, Visiting the Mbuti pygmies and the Okapi Wildlife Reserve.
It is no longer news that African Tourism has been projected as a cash cow Post COVID with several stakeholders brainstorming on the best way to market the huge tourism potentials of the continent.
The African Tourism community has been agog with excitements on marketing local destinations especially with the buzz generated in Nigeria since the announcement of the Naija 7 Wonders project organised by ATQ news.
Experts say, the huge revenue that have been lost by African Tourism over the years would be recovered in the unfolding months even as the COVID19 pandemic gradually fades away.
By Francis Ogwo