Trip to Congo "Congo River Expedition" + Virunga (gorillas and volcano)
On this trip to Congo (DRC) we will embark on a 1,000-kilometre journey along Africa's main river artery and the backbone of the Democratic Republic of Congo. This country cannot be understood without travelling along its rivers and experiencing them first-hand, as they represent the main link between the people, the cities, the ocean and the outside world.
An epic expedition in the heart of the African continent, which will take us to discover the "universe" of the Congo River where the river people struggle every day to get by. In a surreal and at the same time tremendously interesting country where there are hardly any roads or infrastructures, the Congo River and its tributaries are everything.
All life happens in its waters and on its shores, from the ceremonies, to what gives them their daily sustenance, so that simply sailing becomes an open window through which to observe worlds very different from our own.
Summary of the trip to Congo
This 22-day trip to Congo starts in the east of the country, in Goma to be precise, possibly the most dynamic city in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Sweetly, along the shores of Lake Kivu, the route will take us to old colonial towns that preserve their architectural heritage, bustling weekly markets and impressive night markets, fishing villages, old palm oil factories, abandoned palaces, laboratories and libraries lost in the jungle, impressive herbaria with collections of unique plants, villages that preserve ancestral ways of making a living. As always, we will learn about the current realities of the country, where poverty and corruption are rampant, as we will experience first-hand, and where practically nothing seems to work. Problems that add up to over-fishing, deforestation, monoculture or absolutely brutal and uncontrolled overpopulation rates that scare anyone, as you will be able to see. To compensate, we will visit interesting ecological and sustainable development projects that offer a glimmer of hope.
The traditional culture in this part of the Democratic Republic of Congo has been practically annihilated by the different Christian groups and other sects that have absorbed the population. We will try to go deeper into the few traditional ceremonies that still remain in this part of the country, mainly the Mongo and Ekonda groups. During the tour we will be attentive to the different celebrations and ceremonies with which we might coincide. Also, if the conditions are right (nothing is easy in this country), we will leave the Congo River for a hundred kilometres to enter a region known for its great drummers.
We will end our trip to Congo in Kinshasa, a chaotic city, full of traffic jams, dirty and polluted but home to excellent museums, art galleries, huge markets not to be missed, a nightlife like nowhere else in Africa and where it is possible to meet the fascinating sapeurs with whom we will share some moments.
Trip to Congo DRC, pre-extension to Virunga (mountain gorillas and volcano)
For travellers who want to complete this trip to Congo DRC and are in good physical shape, we propose one of the most emblematic visits that can be done in Africa, the Virunga National Park..
Virunga National Park was founded in 1925 as Albert National Park. It was the first national park to be created on the African continent, primarily to protect the mountain gorillas living in the forests of the Virunga massif.
In this "Virunga package", which is part of the pre-extension of the Congo River expedition, we will have the opportunity to visit mountain gorillas and to climb and spend the night on the most active volcano in Africa.
Highlights of the trip to Congo DRC "Congo River Expedition".
- Enjoying Lake Kivu from our fantastic lodge
- We will sail the Congo River for more than 1,000 kilometres on its most interesting and attractive stretch. An epic journey like no other where all life happens.
- We will learn about the ancient fishing techniques of the Wagenia people in Kisangani.
- We will visit the very interesting colonial architectural heritage of the towns we pass through such as Kisangani, Yangambi, Isangui, Buma, Mbandaka or Lisala.
- For two full days we will visit Yangambi, one of the most fascinating places in the DRC. In the middle of the jungle you will find herbariums, libraries or meteorological study centres that fight against the passing of time.
- We will enter the world of abandoned places, exciting visits such as the former palace of Mobutu Sese Seko converted into a public school. Also, old warehouses and factories, colonial hotels, villages of Belgian architecture in ruins, etc.
- We will visit numerous markets to stock up on supplies, some of them as peculiar as the visually stunning Buma night market.
- We will stay in Christian missions, many of which are over 100 years old. This is an experience in itself.
- Gawk at the different means of transport the Congolese use to navigate the Congo River and transport goods such as the decrepit "balaniers", colonial-era barges crammed with people and goods that move slowly through the waters releasing huge amounts of black smoke and making an enormous noise.
- Kinshasa, a crazy city but very interesting to spend several days visiting museums, markets, the bonobo sanctuary and partying in the craziest neighbourhood in Congo: Matonge.
- Meeting the sapeurs in Kinshasa, one of the most interesting urban subcultural movements in Africa.
- Depending on how many days we have available in Mbandaka we will make a foray to the Ekonda pygmy villages where we may be lucky and be able to attend a Wale maternity ceremony *The Wale are not exclusive to the Ekonda people but also to the Mongo people who inhabit the entire province of Equador, so we will ask around during the journey to have the opportunity to get close to this interesting ceremony which is intended to try to protect the first offspring of the family in the difficult months of lactation.
- Virunga National Park, located in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Virunga is one of the world's most biodiverse treasures and Africa's oldest national park. The park is full of breathtaking sights: dense rainforests, vast bubbling lava lakes, wide savannah plains and glacier-covered mountains. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979, a visit to Virunga is an experience like no other.
- Reach the summit of Mount Nyiragongo, an active stratovolcano, to watch the world's largest lava lake churn as you camp on the rim of its crater.
- An encounter with the mountain gorillas of Virunga, one of the best animal experiences in Africa.