Hiking Destinations in The Democratic Republic of Congo
Hiking destinations in the Democratic Republic of Congo are some of the less known, remote, but very captivating places to explore on foot. The natural wonders in eastern DR Congo have many exciting spots for hiking. If you’re up for the central African adventure fun and fascinating hiking trip on the road less traveled, here are a few places you can take on.
Gorilla Trekking in Virunga National Park
The eastern border with Uganda and Rwanda is where you’ll find the top hiking destinations in DR Congo. Virunga National Park hosts some of the best hiking trails in the region.
There is no better reason to visit Virunga National Park than gorilla trekking on the slopes of the Virunga Mountains to find the last mountain gorillas. Together with Mgahinga National Park in Uganda and Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, Virunga National Park creates one of the only two places in the world to host endangered mountain gorillas.
Trekking mountain gorillas in Virunga is the cheapest in the region, with a permit going for USD 400 per person, a fraction of the permit price in Rwanda and Uganda.
Although never-ending civil conflicts in the region discourage most travelers, those who make it are escorted by armed rangers and trackers into the rainforest and are allowed to spend at least an hour quietly sitting with the gorillas. Small trekking groups go out at 08:00 and spend half the day in the gorilla forest hiking through uneven, steep slopes and muddy, unused trails, and sometimes it rains unexpectedly.
Gorilla trekking in Virunga National Park is the ultimate hiking experience in DR Congo. You can book your gorilla permit with the park or a licensed tour operator like Encounter Africa. Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hiking Mount Nyiragongo
Hiking Nyiragongo is one of the most otherworldly experiences available to guests visiting Virunga National Park in DR Congo.
Mount Nyiragongo is a beautiful stratovolcano whose tip sits the world’s largest lava lake. The volcano is part of the Virunga Mountains Chain rising on the DRC, Rwanda, and Ugandan borders. The nearest town is Goma, located about 15 km from the park.
Nyiragongo’s lower forested slopes are home to many animals, including chimpanzees, several species of monkey, bushbuck, and unique bird species, the three-horned chameleon, making a hike to the top of this mighty mountain all the more satisfying.
The Nyiragongo hiking trail begins at Kibati Ranger Post at 1870m, with five sections along the trail for resting breaks. It’s about 6.5 kilometers to and from the summit at 3,470m, and the ascend can take about four to six hours. Although the hike is not a walk-through experience, you have to be fairly fit and acclimatized because of the altitude effects.
The first section of hiking Mount Nyiragongo takes you through dense forest at the foot of the mountain. You may spot a couple of animals in this area, like monkeys and bushbucks; keep an eye out. The second part ascends through open trails with beautiful views of the valley below. The third section of the trail crosses old lava flows and steaming volcanic fissures. Finally, you hike through the fourth and fifth sections through high montane forest to steep 300m ascend leading to the summit.
Viewing the world’s largest lava lake churning away in a mosaic of molten red fire will wash away your exhaustion with awe. Prepare your camp as you wait for the mega molten-red glow against a star-studded sky. It is the best night in all hiking destinations in DR Congo.
The temperature at Nyiragongo summit can drop below freezing, with occasional high winds and rain. Please bring adequate wet and cold weather gear, including warm socks, gloves, headwear, and of course, something to eat. You could hire some of the gear and equipment at Kibati Ranger Post at the start of the hike.
You can access Nyiragongo from Goma, a city about 15 kilometers away within the DRC and a couple of hours’ drive from Kigali or Kisoro in Uganda. A guided hiking permit to Nyiragongo costs $360 per person.
Kahuzi Biega National Park
Kahuzi Biega National Park is a vast protected area in the southeast with primarily tropical forest dominated by two spectacular dormant volcanoes, Kahuzi (3,308, 10,853 ft) and Biéga (2,790 m, 9,250 ft). The park’s diverse and abundant fauna make it one of the most inspiring hiking destinations in DR Congo. One of the last groups of eastern lowland (graueri) gorillas on the base of its volcanoes at altitudes between 2,100 and 2,400 m.
Although hiking in this area is richly rewarding, the gorillas are the main reason many visitors come to the park.
The park is located near Bukavu town in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, near the western bank of Lake Kivu and the Rwandan border.
To experience this park, you can join the daily hiking trips that set out very early in the morning, walking through thick vegetation, crossing rivers, swaps, and uneven grounds to find the gorillas. When you find the habituated gorillas, the rangers allow you spend an hour observing these incredible creatures. The hike in the rainforest can last almost half the day. Still, it’s one of the most highly rated hiking experiences in central Africa.
Hiking Mount Kahuzi
Hiking the 3,308-meter Kahuzi takes about six to seven hours to ascend to the top and back. You walk through bamboo-forested zones before climbing through sub-alpine vegetation to spectacular views across Lake Kivu and the vast Bukavu city settlements below.
Hiking Mount Biega
Mount Biega’s summit is a little lower than Kahuzi at 2,790 meters altitude. The vegetation differs significantly, making it a wonderful ecological hiking experience. It takes about 6 hours to hike up and down on maintained trails.
Kahuzi-Biega National Park has a couple of other exciting hiking trails like the Marais Musisi Trail and the Tshibati Waterfalls trails. These trails lead to exciting encounters with chimpanzees and are good for bird watching. A walk costs about $35 per person.
You can reach Kahuzi-Biega is from Kigali crossing the border at Cyangungu to the town of Bukavu. The Kigali to Bukavu drive can take about seven hours in a public or private car. Through Uganda, the best route is entering Rwanda at Cyanika and out again to Bukavu. Not a great course but for the adventurous, it’s perfect. From Bukavu, it’s easy to access the park headquarters.
Best Time To Go
You can visit hiking destinations in DR Congo any time of the year. However, gorilla trekking in DRC is best during the dry seasons from June to September and December to February. It is easier to hike through the rainforests of Congo when it’s not raining.
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