The combination of long distances and terrible roads means flying is often the best (and sometimes the only practical) way to reach many towns in DRC. While the country is not known for its strict safety regulations, things have improved considerably in recent years. CAA Congo, KIN-AVIA and Congo Airways are generally considered to be the best of the domestic airlines. Air travel is not cheap, however; reckon on paying US$300 one way from Kinshasa to Goma, and around US$120 from Kinshasa to Kisangani.
In most cases you can buy tickets a day or two before departure, and often even the same day. Only CAA Congo allows customers to purchase tickets online, but be sure to bring the credit card you booked with to the airport, as it will need to be scrutinized at length before you boarding pass is issued.
There’s no denying the fact that crossing DRC by land is a genuine adventure. The ‘road’ network in DRC is generally so dreadful that many overlanders travelling in their own vehicles find a car or jeep to actually be a hindrance. However, you'll need to be a totally self-sufficient and incredibly adventurous sort to attempt to cycle here.
River traffic putters up and down the Congo River and it's perfectly possible to take a slow barge from Kinshasa upriver to Kisangani, if you have a couple of weeks to spare.
Buses are available where the roads are good enough, but they are very much the lowest rung in DRC travel. Currently it's hard to advise taking local long-distance bus services as they're cramped, uncomfortable, and prone to delay, breakdown and ambush.
Car & Motorcycle
Despite a road-repair binge, most roads in DRC are still dirt, which means that rainy-season travel is slow and difficult. A 4WD car is a must almost anywhere, and it's not normally possible to drive yourself as a tourist – nearly all car-hire outfits will only rent you a vehicle with a driver. Motorcycle travel is equally challenging and is an option only for the truly fearless.
Getting around the DRC can be a slog. The transport network is virtually nonexistent, there are danger areas to be avoided and even getting a visa can give you a migraine. So it's no surprise, then, that some travellers find it easier to just let someone else organise everything for them. The following tour companies are highly recommended and can help with everything from obtaining a visa to organising a full expedition down the Congo River.
Trains in DRC are slow and unreliable, and in general not a good way to get around. One exception to that rule is the rail link between Kinshasa and Matadi, where there's now a regular and relatively reliable service.
Other railway services in DRC are so unreliable as to be of interest only to hobbyists. That said, there is a surprisingly good network of train lines in DRC that date from the days of Belgian control (and hardly repaired since), though this is concentrated in southern DRC, where very few travellers venture these days.