The Democratic Republic of the Congo (known as the DRC) is located in equatorial West Africa. Dominated by the planet's second-largest rainforest, which sprawls across hundreds of thousands of miles of the Congo River Basin, with glacial mountains and savannah elsewhere, the DRC is enormous and supports a staggering array of wildlife and cultures.
It's no secret, of course, that the DRC has suffered tumultuous ups and downs over the course of its long history - a history that stretches back some 80,000 years. As was so often the case, with the coming of colonialism (in this case Belgian), the area's wealth of resources led to conflict and systemic abuse, which, since independence in 1960, have continued to experience repercussions. Fortunately, the DRC is enjoying a period of considerable peace and stability, even in the historically volatile east, and the growth of tourism is only helping to consolidate; its economic and cultural benefits clear.
And that's great news, as the DRC really is a stunning country. The second largest African nation, it is also eleventh in the world overall, and within its gigantic area there's enough to keep the Africa-enthusiast busy for a lifetime.
There is a vast array of locations in the DRC for the discerning traveller, ranging from the vast urban sprawl of Kinshasa, with its high-end hotels and restaurants, to smaller conurbations like Goma in the east. When you consider the fact that much of Africa's most popular music comes from the country, there's plenty of proof that the DRC isn't only for nature-lovers and offers an abundance of cultural experiences to immerse oneself in.
The DRC's wilds, though, are good enough reason to visit. The jungles and the foothills of the volcanic peaks are famous for their primate population, including the endemic eastern lowland gorilla, as well as okapi, giraffe and elephant, and the forests also offer an abundance of birdlife. It is a country filled with surprise.
Areas of the DRC are more akin to a European Alpine landscape, particularly around the Virunga Mountains, which plays host to two national parks, both UNESCO World Heritage sites - Virunga National Park and Kahuzi-Biega.
Whether travelling by foot, boat or driving excursions, each method of transportation affords real frontier encounters that will provide the traveller with an array of exhilarating experiences.
They say that the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is the country around which all other African countries revolve and that you can only truly know Africa if you know the DRC. Two-thirds the size of Western Europe and home to nearly 300 different languages and tribes, the DRC is a country of vast jungles and dark corners, endangered primates and tribal strongholds, equatorial rainforests and active volcanoes.
With tourism returning to the Virunga National Park, the allure of the DRC for intrepid travellers looking for a rich and rewarding experience is clear.
Of all wildlife in Africa, Congo is best known as a habitat for the gorillas, and particularly, the mountain gorillas.
Soak In The History At Brazzaville. It is safe to say that a must-see place in Congo is its capital - Brazzaville. This old French city exudes history, as it is reminiscent of the old French colonial era.
Ride the La Gazelle. If you're in no hurry and want to experience the magical country to its fullest, take a ride on the La Gazelle, a long distance passenger train operated by the Congo-Ocean Railway
Mount Nyiragongo is an active stratovolcano with an elevation of 3470 m in the Virunga Mountains associated with the Albertine Rift.
The Kahuzi-Biega National Park is a protected area near Bukavu town in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is situated near the western bank of Lake Kivu and the Rwandan border.
They say that the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is the country around which all other African countries revolve and that you can only truly know Africa if you know the DRC. Two-thirds the size of Western Europe and home to nearly 300 different languages and tribes, the DRC is a country of vast jungles and dark corners, endangered primates and tribal strongholds, equatorial rainforests and active volcanoes. With tourism returning to the Virunga National Park, the allure of the DRC for intrepid travellers looking for a rich and rewarding experience is clear.
Virunga can be a year round destination. Rain is possible throughout the year and given the high altitude it can get quite cool, particularly at night. Temperatures at Rumangabo where Mikeno Lodge is located range from 55 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. It is cooler at Bukima where most gorilla treks begin, and temperatures on the Nyiragongo volcano can fall below freezing.
July, August and September are the driest months of year. This can mean that the gorillas move to higher altitudes resulting in longer treks. November is the heavy rainy season but the views can be spectacular!