Congo Wildlife Safaris – Where to go for a safari in Congo
Kahuzi-Biega National Park: The Kahuzi-Biega National Park is named after the mountains Kahuzi and Biega and is located in the south of Kivu. A UNESCO World heritage site, the Parc National de Kahuzi-Biéga is famous for habituated Lowland gorilla trekking. The Eastern Lowland Gorillas have been threatened by poaching for a while now but efforts by government, conservationists and other well-wishers have now increased their numbers. Unlike mountain gorillas, tracking eastern lowland gorillas’ gorillas is relatively easy. Gorilla Permits to Kahuzi Biega can be got on short notice and the need to trek long distances on steep mountain slopes is avoided. Apart from gorillas, visitors on Congo wildlife safari can go to spot elephants, chimpanzee and several species of antelope.
Virunga National Park: The Parc National des Virunga is the oldest park in Africa and was formed in 1925 to protect the mountain gorillas. Found near Congo’s border with Uganda and Rwanda, the park is designated as a UNESCO world heritage site. The Stunning landscape and biological diversity found in Virunga National Park make it one of the most beautiful places to visit on earth. The two main activities while on tour of the park are mountain gorilla trekking and hiking the Nyiragongo volcano. However, visitors on a Congo safari can also spot the endangered but elusive okapi – a cross between a giraffe and a zebra. Visitors can choose to marvel at the forests, valleys, plains, savanna and swamps or spot Lions, hippopotamus and over 400 bird species. After mountain gorilla trekking in the Virunga National Park, visitors on a Congo safari can pay a visit to the world’s only mountain gorilla orphanage – the Senkwekwe Gorilla Orphanage near the Mikeno Lodge.
Garamba National Park: Though less visited, this is one of Africa’s great national parks and a UNESCO World heritage site. Visitors on a tour of the park should expect stunning views of unending African savanna and grasslands. The park is home to giraffes, hippos, rhinoceros, antelope and several species of birds. Unfortunately, the stunning collection of large mammals found in the park is threatened by massive poaching. Caution should be taken while visiting the park on a safari as rebels and armed groups from neighboring countries have sometimes taken refuge in the deeper areas of the park.
Salonga National Park: This is Africa’s largest rain forest and is one of the many UNESCO World heritage sites in the country. The sheer amount and variety of fauna and flora makes visiting this park a must. Visitors will spot peacocks, forest elephants, dwarf chimpanzee and the slender-snorted crocodile among many more species.
Mount Nyiragongo Volcano: The Nyiragongo volcano brightens the skies of Goma city and the Virunga National Park. The last eruption occurred in 2011 leaving over 100,000 homeless and surrounding areas filled with ash. The solidified mountain of lava created the largest Crater Lake in the world that still sends smoke up the sky and attracts thousands of visitors every year. Trekking up the Nyiragongo Volcano is a two-day event that includes sleeping on top the volcano after being rewarded with a breathtaking close view of the boiling crater.
Lola Ya Bonobo Sanctuary: One of the attractive places to visit while in Kinshasa is the Lola ya Bonobo sanctuary. Bonobos are endangered pygmy chimpanzees that in the wild are only found in the DR Congo. The Bonobos are relatively peaceful compared to their larger cousins but have faced great persecution and are hunted for their meat. Covering a forest area of about 30 hectares, the sanctuary helps protect youngsters left orphaned after the killing of adults. Staff and volunteers at the sanctuary feed them and protect them from being sold as pets in illegal markets.
There are many other activities that visitors can get involved in while on a wildlife tour in Congo that may not have been described in detail above.
Some of them include: –
1. Game drives to other national parks in Congo like Maiko which is near the capital Kinshasa.
2. Visiting water bodies like the great river Congo – or Lake Kivu with its beautiful islands and boiling methane gas.
3. Visiting the Livingstone and Boyoma Falls
4. Hiking mountains like Nyamuragira (near Nyiragongo) which is Africa’s most active volcano.
5. Visiting stone age caves like Dimba, Matupi , Thysville and Kakanda.
6. Visiting the Okapi Wildlife Reserve.