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Dem. Rep. Congo (Zaire)

Congo welcomes you in the heart of its beautiful landscapes. Refuge for endangered animal species, multicultural land, the Congo is a source of astonishment and wonder for those who get a chance to visit this amazing country. The Democratic Republic of Congo located in Central Africa is totally landlocked except for its coastline bordered by the Atlantic Ocean. Also called Congo-Kinshasa to differentiate it from Congo-Brazzaville (the Congo River separating them partially), the DRC is the third largest country in Africa. It is divided into eleven provinces that are Équateur, Bandundu, Maniema, Bas-Congo, Kasaï Occidental, Kasai Oriental, Katanga, North Kivu, Province Orientale and Kinshasa, the capital.

 

With more than seventy million inhabitants, the country is the most populated of the Francophone countries, making it a holiday destination dear to the French speaking visitors who feel at home while experiencing a complete change of scenery.

In this huge country, coexist more than two hundred and fifty ethnic groups grouped between Bantu peoples (representing about 80% of the population), Sudanese (Ngbandi, Ngbaka, Mbanja, Moru-Mangbetu and Zande), Nilotics (Alur, Lugbara and Logo), Pygmies (Mbuti, Twa, Baka, Babinga) and Hamites (Hima).

This ethnic mosaic is accompanied by various religions, traditions, and rites which make the DRC a cosmopolitan land very open to the outside world. As a result, the locals, whatever their ethnic origin, are known to show a great sense of hospitality.

Composed mainly of forests, the country is also home to vast savannahs, beautiful rivers and lakes, volcanoes of raw beauty, and snow-covered mountains. In this wilderness, live many varieties of wild animals and plant species.

Because of its unique geographical characteristics, it is not easy to describe the climate of the DRC which is very different from one region to another. However, the climate of Congo has two major periods: the dry season from mid-May to mid-September with low temperatures, and the rainy season from October to mid-May.

If you are decided to travel to Congo-Kinshasa prefer the period from June to September. The preservation of wildlife is very important for the country, which also home to many rare animal species such as gorillas. Sadly, the gorillas are seriously endangered because of animal trafficking and infectious diseases.

More and more natural parks have taken seriously the protection of endangered wild animals. Among them, Kahuzi-Biega Park (home to nearly one hundred and twenty gorillas) has been selected UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1980.

This active approach and the creation of conservation committees are helping to raise awareness of the dramatic problem of poaching activities.

In the East of the country, the Virunga National Park, where animals such as buffaloes, elephants, hippopotamuses, aquatic birds, mountain gorillas live peacefully is worth discovering.

The country protects its fauna and environment in general. The Congo Basin has a lush forest of 22,200,000 hectares that must be protected from intensive deforestation. The Congolese government has decided to create forested parks to preserve wild animals and give a lifetime opportunity for the tourists to witness incredible beauty. The Democratic Republic of Congo is the ideal destination for nature lovers.

The Congolese people are very hospitable, and it is always nice to share a moment with them. If you go to meet ethnic groups who living in remote areas, bring a little present such as cola nuts or local peppers. They will appreciate your gesture.

Art and culture

Congolese love to party which is always an opportunity to dance to the rhythm of tam-tams. Thanks to the ethnic diversity, you will find many styles of crafts, including traditional masks, wood carvings and paintings. The pieces of arts can be found in museums but also in the traditional markets. Bring back to your loved ones a handcrafted object that will reflect perfectly the Congolese culture.

What to visit

The Congo is full of beautiful places like the falls of La Lukaya where you can swim and sunbathe. Lovers of flora will be delighted with their visit to Kisantu Botanical Park which has a collection of hundred-year-old trees and many endangered African trees and flowers. Scientists also visit the park to study the plants and mushrooms of the country. You can take home honey, medicinal or ornamental plants that once in your home will pleasantly remind you of your trip.

Gastronomic specialties

Congolese cuisine is generous and varied. Enjoy a good flavored bouillon that you drink with a piece of bread or cassava. There are many kinds of bouillons (beef, fish, crocodile, turtle, or even snake) – Do not be afraid to try it, it’s simply tasty and wildly exotic

The main dishes are often braised. This method of cooking is preferred in restaurants but also by street vendors who install their barbecues on the sidewalks. Again, let yourself be tempted by meats that are unusual: porcupine, antelope.

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