Congo River – Congo Safaris Tours 

Congo River: Congo safari tours have increased over the years with many tourists travelling to the Democratic Republic of Congo to trek the rare and endangered Mountain Gorillas in Virunga National Park or encounter the Eastern Lowland gorillas in Kahuzi Biega National Park. The Congo River in the Democratic Republic of Congo forms the greatest part eastern Congo thus creating the lifeline for the survival of wildlife and flora in the region.

The Congo River, historically known as the Zaire River, is a river in west-central Africa. It is the continent’s second longest river, behind the Nile, with a length of 4,700 kilometers. It begins as the Chambeshi River in the highlands of north-eastern Zambia, between Lakes Tanganyika and Nyasa in Malawi, at an elevation of 1,760 meters above sea level and around 700 kilometers from the Indian Ocean.

 It then flows in a massive circumferential circle to the northwest, west, and southwest until draining into the Atlantic Ocean near Banana, Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Its drainage basin encompasses nearly the entire territory of that nation, as well as the majority of the Republic of the Congo, the Central African Republic, eastern Zambia, northern Angola, and sections of Cameroon and Tanzania.

The Congo River, with its numerous tributaries, constitutes the continent’s biggest network of navigable rivers. However, navigability is hampered by an impenetrable barrier: a sequence of 32 cataracts throughout the river’s lower course, including the famed Inga Falls.

The Congo is rendered impassable between the seaport of Matadi, at the head of the Congo estuary, and Malebo Pool, a lake like extension of the river, due to these cascades.

The capitals of the former states of the French Congo and the Belgian Congo were founded on opposite banks of Malebo Pool, which serves as the point of departure for inland navigation: on the left bank Kinshasa, presently the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and on the right bank Brazzaville, currently the capital of the Republic of the Congo.

Congo River
Congo River

The Amazon and the Congo are the world’s two main rivers that come from tropical zones where significant rainfall occurs all or almost all of the year. The Congo basin upstream from Malebo Pool gets an average of 1,500 mm of rain every year, more than one-fourth of which is discharged into the Atlantic. However, the Congo’s drainage basin is only approximately half the area of the Amazon’s, and the Congo’s rate of flow—1,450,000 cubic feet per second near its mouth—is far lower than the Amazon’s flow of more than 175,000 cubic metres per second.

Its drainage basin encompasses nearly the entire territory of that nation, as well as the majority of the Republic of the Congo, the Central African Republic, eastern Zambia, northern Angola, and sections of Cameroon and Tanzania.

Wildlife within Congo River Basin.

The emergence of the Congo may have resulted in the allopatric speciation of the bonobo and common chimp from their most recent common ancestor. The bonobo, like other famous species like as the Allen’s swamp monkey, dryads monkey, aquatic genet, okapi, and Congo peafowl, is indigenous to the region’s humid woodlands.

The Congo River Basin has a very high species richness and one of the largest known concentrations of endemics in terms of aquatic life. As of 2009, about 800 fish species have been identified in the Congo River Basin (excluding Lake Tanganyika, which is linked but biologically very different), while significant areas remained mostly unexplored.

In 2006, for example, the Salonga National Park region, which is almost the size of Belgium, had still not been sampled at all. New fish species are described scientifically from the Congo River Basin on a regular basis, and many un described species are recognized.

The Congo River System contains by far the most diversity of any African river system; the next richest are the Niger, Volta, and Nile, which have roughly 240, 140, and 130 fish species, respectively.

 Because of this, as well as the significant biological variations across the areas of the Congo basin, which include ecosystems such as river rapids, deep rivers, streams, swamps, and lakes, the Congo basin is frequently separated into various eco-regions (instead of treating it as a single Eco region). The Lower Congo Rapids eco-region alone includes around 300 fish species, including roughly 80 endemics. Whereas the southern half (Kasai Basin) alone includes around 200 fish species, roughly a fifth of which are native to the area.

The Congo River Basin is home to several turtle species, as well as the slender-snouted, Nile, and tiny crocodiles. The lower reaches of the river are home to African manatees.

What to do during your visit to Congo?

Trekking Mountain Gorillas in Virunga National Park

All gorilla trekking safaris in Virunga national park are conducted by experience and professional park rangers. All hikes are conducted by Virunga Rangers and local porters who are in charge of daily monitoring of the 10 habituated gorilla groups in Virunga. Treks often take 1-2.5 hours to complete each trip, depending on the location of the group being hiked and the severity of the terrain.

Congo River
Virunga National Park Gorillas

Visitors will be given surgical masks to wear when in the presence of the gorillas in order to protect their health. Because mountain gorillas are sensitive to human disease, we do ask that visitors cancel and/or rebook if they are feeling poorly at the time of the booked excursion. Visitors to mountain gorillas must be at least 15 years old.

Eastern Lowland Gorilla Trekking in Kahuzi Biega National Park

Trekking with eastern lowland gorillas in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Visitors interested in hiking eastern lowland gorillas can do so in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s Kahuzi-Biega and Maiko National Parks, which are located in the country’s east. Lowland gorilla trekking in Congo, on the other hand, is best done at Kahuzi-Biega national park.

Bird Watching

DR Congo is claimed to contain around 1139 bird species, the most of which are native to the country, making it one of the top birding locations in Africa, particularly due to its biodiversity. The overall number of bird species is unknown since different sources provide different figures. Bird viewing is mostly done in Congo’s forests, savannah regions, marshes, rivers, and lakes.

Birdlife of the Democratic Republic of Congo consists of about 1191 bird species, 21 of which are endemic and one of which has been introduced by humans. This country boasts the most diverse birdlife of any African country.

Key species to lookout for when on a birding safari in the  Democratic Republic of Congo include; the Congo peafowl which is the national bird of DR Congo, the New World quails, the Congo peacock which is and endemic species, the Little grebe, Great crested grebe, Greater and Lesser flamingos, and the African green-pigeon to mention but a few.

Visit Senkwekwe Gorilla Orphanage

The Senkwekwe Centre, the world’s sole institution for orphaned mountain gorillas, is located near the headquarters of Virunga National Park in Rumangabo. The Senkwekwe Centre is a unique refuge affording the gorillas the chance to live happy and safe lives in its wooded enclosure, with skilled personnel providing daily care for the orphans who were individually separated from their family due to the impact of poaching.

Congo River
Senkwekwe Gorilla Orphanage Centre

Climbing Mount Nyiragongo

Nyiragongo is a stunning stratovolcano that is home to the world’s biggest lava lake. The lower wooded slopes of the volcano are home to a variety of creatures, including chimps, various types of monkey, the three-horned chameleon, bushbuck, and a plethora of bird species, making the ascent to the summit of this powerful mountain all the more rewarding.

Visit Lwiro Sanctuary

The Lwiro Chimpanzee Sanctuary was established in 2002 to rehabilitate chimps orphaned by illicit poaching for wildlife pet trade and, on occasion, bush meat. The institution is home to around 92 chimps and 108 monkeys from 13 distinct species. Orphaned chimpanzees or those rescued from illicit wildlife trafficking are typically seen in Virunga and Kahuzi-Biega national parks. The center collaborates with a variety of organizations.

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