Must see attractions in Democratic Republic of Congo

  • Top ChoiceSights in Democratic Republic of Congo

    Lola Ya Bonobo Sanctuary

    Ninety minutes west of Kinshasa, just beyond the city's sprawl, this excellent project provides a home for orphaned bonobos. Long thought to be chimpanzees, bonobos are actually a separate species known for being much more peaceful than their cousins. They're also endangered, with only around 50,000 surviving in the wild. Trails here lead around the large, forested enclosures, but the playful bonobos often hang out right at the front, especially in the morning.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Eastern DRC

    Parc National des Virunga

    DRC's magnificent calling card is Virunga, Africa's oldest national park and home to mountain gorillas, chimpanzees and the incredible, active Nyiragongo volcano (climbed on a thrilling two-day expedition). Having been the subject of the Oscar-nominated documentary Virunga in 2014, the park grew fast in popularity until May 2018 when the kidnapping of two British nationals led to it indefinitely suspending all tourism operations. The pair were released unharmed, but management have said they won't welcome more visitors until they can guarantee their safety.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Parc National Des Virunga

    Nyiragongo

    Perhaps DRC's most magnificent single sight, active volcano Nyiragongo soars above the city of Goma and the surrounding Virunga National Park and sends plumes of smoke into the sky, before becoming a flaming beacon visible for miles around after sundown. The trek to the top is an absolutely unmissable experience (when the park is open to visitors), with those who undertake the five-hour climb being rewarded with views into the volcano's explosive lava lake below.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Kinshasa

    Musée National de Kinshasa

    This amazing ethnographic archive comprising some 45,000 objects has been waiting patiently for its new home, a US$10 million prestige investment from South Korea currently under construction in the Lingwala area of the city. In the meantime it's possible to visit the small exhibit here, but also to be shown the warehouses where the rest of collection is currently stored. Ask one of the museum employees about doing this – a tip is expected.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Bukavu

    Parc National de Kahuzi-Biéga

    South Kivu's star attraction is this national park, where you can track habituated eastern lowland gorillas (Grauer’s gorillas) for just US$400 per person, a relative bargain! The park also contains a chimp orphanage at Lwiro (US$30 per person), where between 40 and 50 chimps are kept in excellent conditions.

  • Sights in Parc National Des Virunga

    Senkwekwe Gorilla Orphanage

    Provided you make it back from your gorilla track in a timely fashion, it should be possible to visit the world’s only mountain gorilla orphanage, which is integrated into the grounds of the Mikeno Lodge. Named after the silverback who died defending the Rugendo group against gunmen in the infamous 2007 massacre, the orphanage is home to four gorillas, including Ndakasi and Ndeze, both massacre survivors.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Democratic Republic of Congo

    Chutes du Zongo

    A popular day trip from Kinshasa despite the expensive 4WD hire (US$200) necessary to get here, the gorgeous 65m-high Zongo Falls are one of DRC's most spectacular sights. Getting to the viewpoints involves some hiking (bring shoes that you don't mind getting muddy), but watching the water roaring over the precipice into the river below is unforgettable. There's the Seli Safari Resort here, where it's possible to have lunch or overnight.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Kinshasa

    Serpents du Congo

    This excellent snake farm is located 28km from downtown Kinshasa and makes for a great day out. Owner Franck will gladly show you the poisonous and nonpoisonous snakes here, and you even have the opportunity to hold some of the less aggressive ones. It's important to call ahead to reserve an appointment, and also to ensure that Franck gives your driver instructions on how to reach the farm.

  • Sights in Kisangani

    Boyoma Falls

    Formerly Stanley Falls, Boyoma Falls are a series of rapids (waterfalls is a bit of a stretch) on the Congo River spread out over 100km south from Kisangani. The last rapids are just to the east of town, which is where the Wagenia fishermen set up their innovative fishing traps. It's an interesting excursion, but sadly one where tourists are routinely fleeced and where each tour often has hidden costs. The best plan is to go with a local.

  • Sights in Bukavu

    Idjwi Island

    Floating out in the middle of Lake Kivu, Idjwi Island is, at 340 sq km, the second-largest lake island in Africa. Isolated from Congo's decades of war, as well as missing out on what little development the mainland has seen, Idjwi is a wonderful place to escape the modern world, enjoy nature and the rich island culture. Lodging is available in small guesthouses and the speedboat between Bukavu and Goma stops here on request.

  • Sights in Kinshasa

    Palais de la Nation

    Built in 1956 as the official residence of the Belgian governor general in Kinshasa, the Palais de la Nation was where Congo's first president, Patrick Lumumba, denounced colonialism during a speech following his election to the presidency following the country's independence in 1960. It is today the home to the DRC president's administration and is closed to the public.

  • Sights in Kinshasa

    Laurent Kabila's Tomb

    This tomb of former president Laurent Kabila (1939-2001) is worth seeing, although reaching it involves passing through several layers of security in the middle of Kinshasa's main government and diplomatic quarter. As well as the tomb itself, you'll see a North Korean–made statue of the man himself, holding a book and waving his finger in the air.

  • Sights in Democratic Republic of Congo

    Chutes de Lukaya

    A great day trip from Kinshasa, the Chutes de Lukaya have a wonderful natural setting, a decent restaurant (open at the weekend only), natural lakes to swim in and rapids that swell to an impressive size and speed during the rainy season. It's a favourite weekend haunt of expats, so the SUV count is high. It's an hour's drive from Kinshasa.

  • Sights in Kisangani

    Tshopo Falls

    Tshopo Falls, 3km north of Kisangani by the dam and the old Skol Brewery, is a pleasant place to enjoy the river. The sandy beach here was swept away in floods in 2014, but is slowly re-forming. There's a bar-restaurant (popular at night) nearby, and a resident monkey who likes to smoke cigarettes.

  • Sights in Kinshasa

    Marché Central

    This one of the largest markets in Central Africa, and is worth visiting for the intrepid. Watch your belongings (better still, bring nothing with you at all) and be sure to go with a local who knows the place.

  • Sights in Kisangani

    Mosque

    Looking rather more like something you'd find in Northern India than Central Africa, Kisangani's imposing green, turreted mosque overlooks the Congo River and is the town's most striking building. You'll pass it on the road between the airport and the centre.

  • Sights in Kinshasa

    Palais du Peuple

    The Palais du Peuple (People's Palace) is home to DRC's legislature, made up of the National Assembly and Senate. It is not open to the public.

  • Sights in Kinshasa

    Académie des Beaux-Arts

    This regarded art school has loads of sculpture around the grounds, and you can often see students and professors at work.

  • Sights in Kinshasa

    Nôtre Dame Cathedral

    Built under Belgian rule in 1947, this brick cathedral is one of Kinshasa's most important religious buildings.

  • Sights in Kinshasa

    Église Ste Anne

    Part of a large missionary compound, the Église Ste Anne is Kinshasa's main Catholic church.