Congo Travel Tips
Congo travel tips or Congo travel advice are those important to note aspects any traveler in or planning to travel to the Democratic Republic of Congo ought to have and know. The Democratic Republic of the Congo is the second largest country in Africa after Algeria. The Congo is located in central Africa and is bordered by 9 countries among them being Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania. This vast country has a lot of tourism potential that is both developed and yet to be. One of Africa’s oldest national parks, Virunga National Park, is the most visited tourist destination in the country majorly because it inhabits the endangered mountain gorillas that can only be found in the Virunga Massif Area and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, as well as have the world’s largest lava lake on Mount Nyiragongo. The Congo is also visited by travellers on business, or whatever else they have in mind, including working in the Congo.
Congo travel tips or Congo travel advice are relevant pieces of information which include among others;
Climate: The Democratic Republic of Congo has an equatorial kind of climate what with having an Equator line crossing the country. On average, daytime temperatures are at 24 Degrees Celsius while night-time temperatures range from 16-21 Degrees Celsius. There are two seasons in the Congo, the wet/rainy season and the dry season. The wet season is in the months of October to December with long rains, while March to April have short rains. The rest of the months fall in the dry season, that is also the peak season where many tourists prefer to travel.
Safety and security: The safety and security in the Democratic Republic of Congo is good enough given that tourism in almost all Congo destinations resumed including Virunga National Park which at one time was ravaged by unrests. Safety measures like providing military convoys to escort travelers visiting certain parks as well as have armed park rangers who roam the parks to ensure safety. The Congo is generally deemed a safe country to visit, but you may wish and prefer to check with your government travel advice to the Congo in regards to safety and security. Once in the country, travellers are advised to be conscious and stay away from demonstrations should there be any.
Flights and getting around: The Congo has airports like Goma International Airport that facilitate international transfers in and out of the country. The country can then be accessed by air from any part of the world, with a number of transportation means to have you get around the country easily as per your choice. There are chatter flights available to be booked to take travellers to various parts of the country including national parks. There are airport cabs that can be used to transfer to one’s hotel of stay or hotel shuttles transferring travellers should arrangements be made. There are tour operators who also help travellers get around the country. Most travellers visiting for whatever reason tend to have tour operators cater for their transportation and most other aspects of their Congo safari. Take time to research the best tour operator you might use during your stay.
Visa and Passport requirements: All travellers require a visa to enter the Democratic Republic of the Congo and are not issued at the airport. Travellers to the Congo need to apply and be accepted for a visa online at least 2 weeks before day of travel, and then receive their visas upon arrival into the country. 14-day single entry tourist visas are the most applied for and one gets it once a Congo safaris tour is confirmed. A visa costs $100. Travellers are encouraged to have valid passports with them with at least 6 months validity least risk not being allowed entry into the Congo.
Yellow Fever vaccination card: Yellow fever vaccination cards are required without which travellers are not allowed entry. There are vaccination procedures done at the airport though, you will surely be sent there to get a shot which could cost you a lot higher than it could probably have in your home country. Infants below 1 year are exempted from this.
What to pack: Given the country’s humid equatorial climatic conditions, travellers are advised to pack comfortable, light and loose-fitting clothes, sunscreen, sunglasses, a hat as well as insect repellent creams. Remember it is equatorial climate, right? Carrying warm clothing for when it gets wet and cold. Rain gear like rain jackets and coats that are waterproof are advised. For travelers intending to take part in gorilla trekking, hiking the Nyiragongo and a number of other mountains in the country are reminded to consider carrying the essential gorilla trekking gear as well as hiking gear.
The Congo is infested with a number of insects but most dangerous and common of them are the malaria causing mosquitoes. Travellers are advised to consult their personal doctors before leaving their home countries and be advised accordingly with regards to what medication to carry with you.
Money and spending: The Democratic Republic of Congo uses the Congolese Franc (CDF) as its currency. Most hotels in the country accept Great Britain Pounds, Euros and Dollars. Travellers are encouraged to have their money exchanged in the various forex bureaus around the country. Your tour operator would take you to good ones should you need to make use of them.
Spending in the Congo is not so much. Most tour packages travellers book are inclusive of transportation all throughout the Congo safari, accommodation, meals on full board basis, drinks including water and maybe soft drinks like soda, but not beverages like premium wines, beer, champagne, liquors and spirits. Laundry services, telephone usage are however not included in most Congo Safaris, as well as tips and souvenir shopping. These are all done at the expense of the traveller.
Tipping and Souvenirs: Travellers can tip service providers if they find their services satisfactory. Tipping can be done after your experience and at a rate you prefer. You might reach out to your tour operator of choice to help you with this and in-depth tipping guidelines. Souvenirs can be bought at any shop that you find has just what you like. In national parks, there are communities nearby that make and sell crafts and other items either hand-made or detailed. These are usually women groups and locals who come together to improve their way of life. Supporting them by buying their items is very welcome.