Tourism & Communications
An unusual tourist destination
With its recent history of instability, the DR Congo has attracted few tourists over the past two decades. Those who do venture a trip, mostly come for the country’s amazing wildlife.
Five of the DR Congo’s wildlife conservation areas are on UNESCO’s World Heritage list – the Virunga, Kahuzi-Biega, Garamba, Salonga and Okapi National Parks – because of the diversity and rarity of the flora and fauna.
Occupying over 36,000 square kilometres, the Salonga is Africa’s largest rainforest reserve. Its huge areas of swamp and marshy grasslands ensure most parts are only accessible by water. This means animal populations, including many endangered species – such as the dwarf chimpanzee, forest elephant and slender-snouted crocodile – have largely been left undisturbed.
An infant volcano
The covering of Goma
Another volcano wreaked havoc in 2002 by covering large parts of the city of Goma in lava. But experts say the Nyamulagira volcano does not pose any threat.
Recently, adventurous foreign tourists have been attracted by a new volcano which is forming deep in the jungles of the Virunga National Park.
Escorted by government troops, small groups have been eager to walk through the forest to witness the spectacular fountains of lava emitted by the Nyamulagira volcano.
Difficult to get around
Outside of the capital, Kinshasa, there are few paved roads. Towns and rural areas have dirt roads and locals mostly rely on bicycles or motorbikes to get around.
Due to the lack of roads, businessmen and tourists use air travel for long-distance journeys. However, a number of recent air crashes have highlighted the poor safety record of the local air industry.
The World Bank and Belgian Technical Cooperation are in charge of road and bridge rebuilding in the DR Congo.
With its many rivers and wetlands, going by boat is often the only way for travellers and locals to reach remote inland areas.
Every cloud has a silver lining
As with many countries in Africa, hunting and illegal logging are a constant threat to wildlife and unique habitats. However, the decades of conflict have perversely helped to protect the DR Congo’s rainforest, the second largest in the world.
Due to the fighting and instability, it has been impossible for the government or foreign companies to build or repair roads through the jungle. This has protected the forest from farming, mining and logging activities.
Conservationists now worry that increasing stability across many areas will change this situation and commercial activities will begin to threaten forest areas.