I just got back from a two-week solo travel adventure and I’m excited to share the top 11 things to do in Congo in 2021!
Before I start, I want to make it clear that this is for the Democratic Republic of the Congo (there is also the “Republic of the Congo”). And that these recommendations are all in areas that are considered safe for tourists.
The best things to do in Congo: go hiking with the gorillas
For me, and most visitors, gorilla trekking in Virunga National Park is the top of the best things to do in the Democratic Republic of Congo! It was actually one of the most awesome experiences of my life, and I can’t wait to do it again in 2022 with my group tours!
The permit for gorilla trekking in the Democratic Republic of Congo alone costs, but you also have to pay for a guide, the lodge, transportation, etc. You can book all of this with my friend Obed from Kumbukumbu Tours, or join one of my tours!
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 don’t worry, because that’s the protocol. Then you climb many stairs to the beautiful lodge! The gorilla trekking usually takes 1 hour (moderate difficulty) round trip, and you have a maximum of 1 hour to see them.
See my full blog post about gorilla trekking in the Democratic Republic of Congo here!
Visit the local Virunga villages
After completing the gorilla walk, you have the rest of the day free at the lodge. You will want to shower and relax a bit, but after you should explore the local villages outside the National park fence!
There are plenty of beautiful farms and nature, plus the inevitable crowds of cute little kids who will come and say hello. You can donate money to them thanks to the advice of your guide. I also donated some of my clothes to women, in matter you have, you might want to donate!
Here people have no drinking water. I am in the process of raising funds for the water filters that will be taken with my group trips in 2022. If you want to donate to these best things to do in Congo besides gorillas: stay on the island of Tchegera
The island of Tchegera in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is the perfect place to relax after a gorilla walk! It is a beautiful island (technically a caldera) formed from the rim of an extinct volcano that is inundated in Lake Kivu.
To get to the island of Tchegera, you will also pass beautiful lands and villages, after which you will board a small boat for a 15-minute walk. The island of Tchegera is part of the Virunga National Park, and it is very well maintained and safe.
You stay in chic glamping tents, along the lake, and have the opportunity to go hiking, kayaking, paddleboarding, or just relax!
Paddleboarding on Lake Kivu
You can paddle on Lake Kivu, either from the island of Tchegera, or directly from Goma! This is definitely another thing on top of the best things to do in the Democratic Republic of Congo, because not only is it fun, but you get very nice views of the volcanoes!
The lake is usually quite flat, so it’s the perfect place to paddle! And don’t worry, there are no crocodiles or hippos in it!
If you want to paddle from Goma, there is a place next to the restaurant and Terrace bar that she rents out!
Relax at the 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 suddenly had to make an early arrival in Goma due to flight cancellations!
If you are worried about your stay in Goma, you will find comfort and safety in Goma Serena. I recommend staying there for a night or two to relax, but you can still go there to have a drink by the pool or a meal, or to book a service at their spa!
There is even a nightclub in Goma Serena! Be sure to check the current rules and regulations for the curfew!
Local shopping in the markets in Goma
One of the best ways to support the people of Goma is to shop at local markets. There are tons of them, some more chaotic than others! I bought a few locally made dresses at the markets in Goma, which means the profits go directly to the women who made them.
Beware of stores that sell “Western clothes”, because most of them are from China!
If you want to be super adventurous and really support the locals, buy fruits, vegetables or street food at the markets! All these products come directly from farms in Congo and benefit the locals who grow and sell them!
Visit the lava field in Goma
To really understand the devastation that the recent eruption of the Nyiragongo volcano has caused in Goma, go for a walk on the lava field that caused it.
It is a sad sight to see Miles and miles of black lava rocks where thousands of houses used to stand. When I was there (2 months after the eruption), steam was still coming out of the lava rocks, and were even hot through my shoes! This meant that it was still too hot and peril for residents to even begin removing and rebuilding their homes.
If you would like to donate to a local organization that helps restore people’s homes in Goma, please contact:
Relax on the terrace
I’m not going to lie, Terrasse is largely a place for foreigners/expats, especially on weekends. Most of the people you see there are from the United Nations and other NGOs, or foreigners working in Goma. There is a good chance that you will meet at least one UN person there, because they are very friendly!
The place is very cute, and has tables and chairs on Lake Kivu, making it a great place to relax. You can also rent paddleboards or jet skis next door!
Other best things to do in Congo: take a day trip to Masisi
If you have a day or two and a lot of patience, consider a trip to Masisi! Masisi is a beautiful, lush, mountaintop area, lined with vibrant green grass, farms and dotted with cows and horses!
It is hard to believe that Masisi is the place where a recent civil war took place, because it seems so peaceful and quiet. If you really want to shake off negative stereotypes about Congo or Africa in general, be sure to go to Masisi.
If you want to stay overnight in Masisi, I can recommend Aubergene***. It’s definitely a bit of a drive (an hour on a really bumpy road from the main area of Masisi), but you can stay in a restored colonial house on a working dairy farm! You can even try the locally made Gouda cheese and visit the free-range cows where it comes from!