God has gifted Congo with great natural beauty. Some of the rarest of earth’s species can be seen here. I’m a wildlife lover. I love to interact with nature in its untouched habitats. And there can’t be a better place for revitalization than Congo, famous around the world for its great biodiversity. The Democratic Republic of Congo, commonly referred to as Congo is a nation situated in Africa. Area wise the eleventh largest country in the world, Congo exhibits great biodiversity in its countless rainforests, national parks and wildlife reserves. Many national parks of Congo are listed as World Heritage Sites for their extensive assortment.
I visited Congo with my friends. Our flight landed in Kinshasa airport. After refreshing a bit in our hotel, we left to discover Congo. Ma Vallee Lake was the first place we visited in Kinshasa. This lake is beautiful! One of the types you see on those National Geography Channel shows. We walked around the boundary of the lake, took us about 1 hour to complete our stroll. Then we had a good meal at a lake side restaurant. Not a 5-star likes, but was good keeping in view the place. You can also enjoy pedal – boating in the calm waters of the lake. One strange rule they have at the lake is that tourists can only take pictures of the lake, and can’t make a video. I didn’t understand the significance of this. But anyways, the pictures, the view, and the ambiance of the lake were serene. Visiting Ma Vallee Lake was the perfect start we were looking for in our vacations. With a minimal entrance fee of just 1$, this place is perfect to spend some good, calm time in the Kinshasa city.
Lola ya Bonobo was the next place to follow. This is a special place as it is the only sanctuary for orphaned bonobos in the whole of the world. Bonobos are also known popularly as the Pygmy Chimpanzee. Bonobos are intelligent creatures. They were trying to copy us, as we were watching them. When one of my friends was taking pictures of them, one of the Bonobos took up a stone, and started imitating him. This was funny to see. We decided to hike the entire circuit to see all the areas. If you also think of the same, remember to carry lots of water with you. The hill is very steep and it requires a lot of energy to climb it. But yeah, apart from the need to drink water all the time, you won’t feel any tiredness. The magnificence of Lola ya Bonobo overcomes all the exhaustion. This place is a complete package to spend a good day time. But they close up quite early, at 4 pm. So, to enjoy the beauty of this park to the fullest, better come here before noon.
Musee National de Kinshasa was our next destination. This is the National Museum hosting the country’s prime collected works of the Zairian art and culture, located in the capital city, Kinshasa. The panoramic views of the National Museum include beautiful wood decorations, complemented with shells and beads, to stunning icons, statues and tools from the Zairian culture. The awe-inspiring views take you to another magical dimension, a fusion of African rituals and ancestral spirits. Located on the top of a hill, you can admire the beauty of whole of the Kinshasa city from here.
Next, we headed to Zongo Falls, a huge, beautiful waterfall, just outside of Kinshasa. It’s a 3-4 hours drive from Kinshasa. After the first hour, the highway ends and a dirt road leads to the place. Once there, there’s an easy 20 minutes hike to get to the waterfall. And the Zongo falls is the greatest attraction in Kinshasa. The views of the waterfall and the river are awe-inspiring. Also, you can choose from many options available..you can stay in a hotel, or rent a villa, or simply rent a tent and place it anywhere you like; you can bring your own food, or you can eat in a restaurant nearby, or simply rent a BBQ and prepare your own meal. We enjoyed the pleasant view of the falls. We rented a tent and spent the night near the noisy waterfall, enjoying the view. The sunset and sunrise views were breathtaking. It seemed as if it is the sun’s job to add to the splendor of this place.
Next, we booked a guide for our Gorilla trek, up the Parc National des Virungas. This park has been made as a nice effort by the government of Congo to protect Gorillas and boost tourist’s confidence in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and thus enhance tourism in the country. Trekking in the Parc National des Virungas was an unforgettable tale of my life. I’ve done Gorilla trekking in Rwanda and Uganda’s jungles, but the radiance of trekking in Congo is matchless. The sight all the time was breathtaking. Nature’s blessings on Congo can be understood while being on such a trek. Our guide was quite knowledgeable. He filled us with a lot about the country’s history and culture. We spotted some really huge Gorillas. And I have to say, these creatures are massive!! I’ve seen Gorillas many a times, but seeing another one of these is as good as watching them for the first time.
After this, we left for Goma. This is another city, located at an extreme end of Congo, famous among the tourists for its active volcano and a beautiful lake. We started with the volcano. Found in the Virunga National Park and named as Mount Nyiragongo, this is an active volcano in Congo. There is a hike to reach to the top of the Crater rim, about 3470 meters above the sea level. We had all rented motorbikes to get to the starting point of the trekking. Once we reached there, we booked a guide and started our hike. The hike begun through a jungle, but soon it began to kick up, something obvious, as we were walking on an active volcano. The final 500 meters of climb is really tough, like walking on sharp knife edges. The super sharp, hardened lava rocks add to the difficulty level. But when you reach the top, you’ll forget all your weariness in a single moment. The amazing sight of the lava lake churning away hundreds of feet below is simply out of this world. We decided to spend the night here, and I have to admit, I have not taken a better decision in my life than this. Once night falls through, you get to see the most wonderful shades of red illuminating the sky. There isn’t anything better I’ve experienced in my life. After spending our night in a tent, beneath the most wonderful creations of nature, we moved on to our next destination, Lake Kivu.
Kivu Lake falls between the boundaries of Congo and Rwanda. This is a beautiful lake with green, dense and mountainous scenery around its banks, with meagerly populated, small islands. We got on a yacht to roam in the lake. The views were great. We even spotted the Nyirangongo volcano, waterspout steam into the atmosphere. Though, diving in the lake is prohibited because of a methane extracting plant, setup in the lake by Rwanda. Even the fish in the lake don’t grow much in size due to the methane gas leakage in the lake, preventing much growth of the tissue. But anyways, this lake is a delight to watch and spend your vacations at.
With this, came an end to our vacations in the Democratic Republic of Congo. These were definitely the best days of my life. I spotted several exotic wildlife species, walked on an active volcano, saw a wonderful waterfall, and even a beautiful lake. I am truly in hangover of this country, inspired by which, I decided to write down about my experiences here. I hope my story helps you to plan a trip to Congo.