Central Africa has some of the most fascinating sights when it comes to wildlife. The Democratic Republic of Congo does not miss out on this ecological treasure, which caters to more than 1,500 species such as the rare okapi, elephants, and leopards. Natural beauty also surrounds the countryside which features the Virunga Mountains, which are likened to the scenery of alpine lakes in Europe. Travellers going to this part for ecotourism will find the sights a refreshing change from the safari destinations in East Africa.
One will have to be careful when going to the Democratic Republic of Congo, however. Many embassies warn against going here, so one must take precautions and manage appropriate security arrangements before departing. Those who risk going here will find plenty to marvel at and enjoy the experience of visiting some of the most fascinating reserves in this part of Africa.
What to see & do
Travellers will find the national parks of the Democratic Republic of Congo some of the best ecotourist destinations in the world. Garamba National Park is one of the must-visit places due to its immense savannahs and woodlands that are home to four large species such as the elephants, giraffes, hippopotamuses, and the white rhinoceroses. This breed of rhinos is endangered in the area, as well as the Congolese giraffe. Lions, spotted hyenas, and different species of antelopes can also be found here, which can be delightful for tourists eager to see the wildlife in the area.
Those on the lookout for the unique should visit Okapi Wildlife Reserve, which forms a small portion of the Ituri forest. The okapi, which has a brownish black coat with a zebra pattern on its legs and tail make a fascinating sight. Primates and birds can also be found in the dramatic scenery of the park. Visitors going here can take a turn to the Ituri and Epulu rivers after a day of looking for the strange-looking yet endearing okapi.
The Congenese countryside is at its best when going to Virunga Park. It has a wide range of diverse habitats from the swamps and the steepes here, as well as other types of landscapes. Mountain gorillas can be found here with the hippopotamuses as well as migratory birds that spend the winter months in the warm climes of the forest.
Another protected reserve to add to the list is the Kahuzi-Biega National Park. This tropical forest features a
dominating view of the two extinct volcanoes, Kahuzi and Biega. Travellers going here will see more an abundant range of various types of fauna. There is also a group of eastern lowland gorillas living in the sanctuary which one can try to view from a safe distance. Exploring the area will also bring one to the lowland part of the Zairean central basin. The watersheds of the tributaries of the Luka and Lugulu rivers drain in Lualaba, another body of water.
How to get around within Democratic Republic of Congo
Those visiting the country will find it hard to commute around various places. Flying to the domestic airports is the most convenient option due to the lack of paved roads going deep into the inland areas. Those who want to stay on the ground can ride the train from Kinshasa to Maladi, Lumbumbashi to Ilebo, as well as Kalemie and Kabalo. Going by boat is also an option to take for travellers who are not hurrying to their destinations. This alternative, however, can be unreliable at times as the boats sometimes get stuck on the sand banks or break down in the middle of the voyage.
How to get there
Travellers going to this part of Central Africa can book connecting flights to N'djili International Airport in Kinshasa. Major airlines flying here include: Air France, Brussels Airlines, and Turkish Airlines. Those within Africa can go on flights from: Air Côte d'Ivoire, Arik Air, ASKY Airlines, Camair-co, Compagnie Africaine d'Aviation, Ethiopian Airlines, Kenya Airways, Korongo Airlines, Royal Air Maroc, South African Airways, TAAG Angola Airlines, and Westair Benin.
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