Adventurous? Visit The Democratic Republic Of Congo
You probably know the Democratic Republic of Congo or DRC as a land of civil war and corruption. Yup, it's true. But... there's more. It's a vast country, the size of Western Europe and the soil is packed with minerals, gold, copper, uranium and a whole lot more. Makes you understand the history of war now, right?
I agree that the government is shitty and corrupt (Hopefully something will change now) but there is so much potential. It could be the most awesome eco-tourism destination in the world if they would shape up and get their shit together.
Easy for me to say of course. Like all colonisers, us Belgians didn’t do the country much good and after we left, it got even worse. Anyway, when I visited the Democratic Republic of Congo for the first time, I was amazed by its beauty.
It’s an adventure
It's not easy to travel in the DRC. The word difficult doesn’t even describe how hard it is. Taking photos is also tricky because ‘officials’ like to ‘arrest’ you and then ask for money to let you go.
Roads are in horrible condition or non-existent and the culture shock you'll get is MASSIVE. But...! If you're an adventurous traveler and photographer, the Democratic Republic of Congo might just be the perfect destination in Africa for you.
Sleeping in colonial monasteries makes you feel like the explorers or traveling journalists from the early 1900's and sleeping in a hut in the middle of nowhere... Well, you just have to try that some time. And the fact that the only way to get around is a 4WD just adds to the whole experience.
Is it safe? Well, it's true that some parts are tricky to visit, especially if you have to arrange everything yourself because you need drivers and you need guides. It’s not like backpacking in Thailand. There’s also the odd bribe now and then. Anyway, it just makes the whole experience a lot more enjoyable and stress free when you don't have to think about all that. My advice is to get a guide who can fix everything for you, especially when you’re a photographer.
I don't know what it is about them but I love rivers. Every time I watch Apocalypse Now, I get goosebumps when they get to the eerie river scenes deep in the jungle of Vietnam. The rivers in the Democratic Republic of Congo are like that. They make you feel like you’re the only person in the world and you’ll be amazed by how many shades of green there are.
The famous river Congo is the deepest river in the world and definitely the most mythical one. Pretty much every other river in the DRC flows into the Congo. When you see those rivers, you’ll realise why Joseph Conrad gave his novel the title ‘Heart of Darkness’. And for me, the word darkness doesn’t have a negative connotation here. Rapids, falls and narrow jungle stretches, the Congo has it all.
Do you like landscapes or landscape photography? The Democratic Republic of Congo has the most luscious, green landscapes and spectacular views. I've never been in a country that felt so vast and green.
Once out of the cities, you'll see rolling hills like you've never seen before and if you want even more beauty, visit the national parks. Virunga in the East is the most famous one, where you can see the mountain gorillas up close. I haven’t been there but it’s definitely on my bucket list.
I think sustainable tourism could really make a difference in the country and for the people. Sadly, two British nationals were kidnapped in May 2018 in the East. The Virunga park is closed since and the future for one of Africa's most thrilling destinations is even more challenging for whoever will be the new president.
Nevertheless, if you’re an adventurous traveler or photographer, it’s a destination to think about…