I’ve just returned from a two week solo travel adventure, and am excited to share the 11 best things to do in Congo in 2021!
Before I begin, I just want to specify that this is for the Democratic Republic of Congo (there is also the “Republic of Congo”). And that these recommendations are all in areas considered safe for tourists.
If you’re concerned or wondering if D.R. Congo is safe for tourists, please check out my post, “Is D.R. Congo Safe?”
Also be sue to check out my “Ultimate Honest D.R. Congo Travel Guide”!
Top Best Things to do in Congo: Go Gorilla Trekking
For me, and most visitors, gorilla trekking in Virunga National Park is at the top of the best things to do in D.R. Congo! It was actually one of the most incredible experiences in my life, and I can’t wait to do it again in 2022 with my group trips!
The permit for gorilla trekking in D.R. Congo costs $400 on its own, but you also need to pay for a guide, the lodge, transport, etc. You can book all of that with my friend Obed of Kumbukumbu Tours, or join one of my trips!
Essentially the trip consists of a ride in a safari vehicle on bumpy roads through beautiful villages for 1.5 hours first. You have armed guards, but please don’t be alarmed, as this is protocol. Then you’ll climb a lot of stairs up to the gorgeous lodge! The actual gorilla trekking usually takes 1 hour (moderate difficulty) there and back, and you get 1 hour maximum to see them.
See my full blog post about gorilla trekking in D.R. Congo here!
Visit Local Villages in Virunga
After you’ve finished gorilla trekking, you will have the rest of the day free at the lodge. You’ll want to shower and relax for a bit, but later you should explore the local villages outside of the National Park’s fence!
There’s tons of beautiful farms and nature, plus the inevitable crowds of cute little kids that will come to say hi. You can give a monetary donation to them through the advice of your guide. I also gave some of my clothes to some women, in case you have some you’d like to donate!
This area is where people do not have clean drinking water. I am working on fundraising for water filters that will be brought with my group trips in 2022. If you’d like to donate to those, please send an email to info @ mylifesamovie.com .
Best Things to do in Congo Besides Gorillas: Stay on Tchegera Island
Tchegera Island in D.R. Congo is the perfect place to relax after gorilla trekking! It’s a beautiful island (technically a caldera) formed from the rim of an extinct volcano that is sunken in Lake Kivu.
To get to Tchegera Island, you also drive through beautiful farmlands and villages, then you board a small boat for a 15 minute ride. Tchegera Island is part of Virunga National Park, and it is very well taken care of, and safe.
You will stay in chic glamping tents, all along the lake, and have the option to hike, kayak, paddleboard, or just relax!
Paddleboard on Lake Kivu
You can paddleboard on Lake Kivu either from Tchegera Island, or straight from Goma! It’s definitely another thing at the top of the best things to do in D.R. Congo because not only is it fun, but you get really great views of the volcanoes!
The lake is usually pretty flat, so it’s the perfect place to paddle! And don’t worry, there are NO crocodiles or hippos in there!
If you’d like to paddleboard from Goma, there is a place next door to Terrasse restaurant and bar that rents them!
Relax at Goma Serena Hotel
The Goma Serena hotel is the first and only 5 star hotel in Goma! I had the pleasure of staying there for 6 days when I abruptly had to do an early arrival into Goma due to flight cancellations!
If you have any worries at all about staying in Goma, you will find comfort and safety at Goma Serena. I’d recommend staying there a night or two to relax, but you can always go there regardless to have drinks by the pool or a meal, or to book a service at their spa!
There’s even a nightclub at Goma Serena! Just be sure to check the current rules and regulations for curfew!
Shop Locally in Goma Markets
One of the best ways to support locals in Goma is to shop at the local markets. There are TONS of them, some more chaotic than others! I purchased a few locally made dresses in the Goma markets, which means the profit goes directly to the women who made them.
Beware of boutiques that sell “western clothes” though, becaue most of those come from China!
If you want to be super adventurous and really support locals, purchase some fruits, veggies, or street food from the markets! All of these items come directly from the farms in Congo, and benefit the locals who grow and sell them!
Visit the Lava Field in Goma
To truly understand the devastation that the recent eruption of Nyiragongo Volcano caused in Goma, go take a walk on the lava field that it caused.
It’s a sad sight to see miles and miles of black lava rocks where thousands of houses used to be. When I was there (2 months after the eruption), the lava rocks still had steam coming from them, and were hot even through my shoes! That meant that it was still too hot and dangerous for the locals to even begin removing it and reconstructing their homes.
If you’d like to make a donation to a local organization helping to restore people’s homes in Goma, please contact:
Chill at Terrasse
I’m not going to lie, Terrasse is largely a foreigner/expat place, especially on the weekends. Most of the people you see there are from the United Nations, and other NGO’s, or foreigners working in Goma. There’s a good chance you’ll meet at least one person from the UN there, as they are very friendly!
The place is very cute, and has tables and chairs right on Lake Kivu, making it a perfect place to relax. You can also rent paddleboards or jetskis next door!
Other Best Things to Do in Congo: Take a day trip to Masisi
If you have a full day or two, and a lot of patience, consider doing a trip to Masisi! Masisi is a gorgous, lush, mountaintop area, carpeted with vibrant green grass, farms, and dotted with cows and horses!
It’s hard to believe that Masisi is where a recent civil war took place, because it seems so peaceful and tranquil. If you really want to shake any negative stereotype you had about Congo or Africa in general, definitely go to Masisi.
If you’d like to stay the night in Masisi, I can recommend Aubergene***. It’s definitely a bit of a drive (one hour on a really bumpy road from the main area of Masisi), but you can stay in a restored colonial home on a working dairy farm! You’ll even get to try the locally made gouda cheese, and visit the free-roaming cows that it comes from!
Go Horseback Riding on the Countryside
If you go to Masisi, one of the best things to do in D.R. Congo is to go horseback riding on the countryside! There are TONS of horses in Masisi, and they are all extremely well taken care of!
Don’t worry if you’ve never ridden a horse before, the local guides will walk with you the whole time. You’ll get to go down into the valleys of the rolling green hills, and up to the top of them for some truly spectacular views!
Climb Nyiragongo Volcano (if it’s open again)
Hopefully by 2022 Nyiragongo volcano will be open again to climb. I was supposed to climb it and camp at the rim (one of the most popular and ultimate best things to do in D.R. Congo), but as I mentioned, it recently erupted.
One of the main highlights about climbing Nyiragongo volcano was seeing the molten lava lake at the top. You probably won’t get to see that for a while, as it will need to fill back up, but I will keep you posted!
Book a Tour to See the Best Things to do in Congo!
Obviously I am biased because I absolutely loved my guide Obed from Kumbukumbu Tours, but I really do believe he is the perfect guide for your trip. Obed has made a great name for himself in the small tourism industry in D.R. Congo, and is one of the young leaders there.
You can get the best of both worlds and book one of my group trips with him and other like-minded travelers on certain dates (October 2021, or the first or second week of July 2022). My trip is longer, and includes 7 days 6 nights, including stays at the Serena, market shopping, a donation for water filters, and also airport assistance.
However if you can’t go on my dates, or want to go on your own, below are his prices, and I have a discount code for you as well!
Kumbukumbu Gorilla Tour:
Duration: 4 Days 3 Nights
Cost: $1630/person (for 2 or more people) or $1810 for solo travelers
*Get 10% off using the code ‘AfricAlyssa’
- Gorilla trekking permit
- Gorilla trek & associated fees
- 2 nights at Virunga lodge
- 1 night on Tchegera Island
- Tchegera Island transport and entry
- Ground transport
- Full time guide
- Obed’s Book!
Click Here to Fill Out a Booking Form!
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