Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) Driving and Car Hire Info
Driving In Democratic Republic of the Congo
Before driving abroad in DRC check your Government’s website for latest information on the situation in the country. There are likely to be many ‘essential travel only’ and ‘no travel at all’ advisories in place.
An international driving permit is required to drive in DRC.Outside Kinshasa and other main cities, most roads are barely drivable even with a 4×4, especially during the rainy season (September to May).In DRC, vehicle theft and car-jacking are a regular occurrence. You should drive with the doors of your vehicle locked and windows closed at all times. DRC’s security forces operate roadblocks, particularly after dark. If you are asked to produce documents for inspection at a check point, remain in your vehicle and show them through closed windows. Borders with neighbouring countries are often closed at short notice. There have been a number of kidnappings in North Kivu in the area around Goma in addition to military operations against armed groups. You should be especially vigilant, consider travelling in convoy on trips outside Goma and Bukavu and avoid any travel after dark.
Although I try and keep the information in the site updated as much as possible, in a rapidly moving world, situations can change daily. Therefore please use the site as an approximate guide, and in conjunction with other resources in order to form your view on driving conditions, roads, safety etc.
Blog Post – Gorillas and Volcanoes in Congo
The Democratic Republic provides an opportunity for adventurous tourists to witness some of Africa’s unspoilt wilderness and unparalleled wildlife via chauffer-driven 4×4 excursions to the country’s world renowned national parks -Virunga and Kahuzi Biega.
Virunga National Park is situated in the Albertine Rift Valley in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It was one of the first protected areas in Africa when it was created in 1925. The park’s elevation ranges from 680m in the Semliki River valley to 5,109m in the Rwenzori Mountains. It covers an area of 8,090km2 and straddles the border with Rwanda and Uganda.
The park’s central sector is home to bush elephants, hippos and buffalo but its main attraction for tourists is its primate population of chimpanzees, mountain gorillas and eastern lowland gorillas. Around 200 mountain gorillas (approx. 25% of the remaining world population) live in the park in 8 family groups of up to 20 individuals, each led by a dominant silverback. The groups are: Kabirizi, Humba, Rugendo, Mapuwa, Lulengo, Munyaga, Nyakamwe, and Bageni. A limited number of visitor permits are issued per day to allow visitors to track and interact with a gorilla group. Permits can be obtained directly by contacting the park via their website https://visitvirunga.org/. Alternatively, you can arrange a tour to include permits, transport and guides via a tour operator such as https://www.carrentalcongo.com/
Many tourists incorporate a gorilla trekking tour with an opportunity to hike the Mount Nyiragongo Volcano. This 3570m active volcano boasts the largest lava lake in the world, one of only 6 lava lakes around the globe. The hike generally takes 5 hours to reach the summit followed by a descent of around 3 hours. Tours can be either undertaken in a day, or with an opportunity to camp overnight on the rim of the volcano crater, giving an unforgettable glimpse of the brilliant red lava lake by night.
Roads from Goma into Virunga National park are rough dirt surfaces which can become treacherous after rain. It’s important to have a well maintained 4×4 vehicle and an experienced driver to make the trip, both of which we can provide. Contact us at info@CarRentalCongo.com and let us know your planned itinerary so we can provide a quote for your tour!
The Second park is Kahuzi Biega National Park Located in Eastern Congo hosting the Eastern Lowland Gorillas. Kahuzi Biega National Park is one of the famous UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the Democratic Republic of Congo with the main attraction being the endangered Eastern Lowland gorillas. The park covers an area of about 6000 square kilometers making it one of the vast protected areas in the DRC. Kahuzi Biega National Park is located south of Kivu province and to the west of Albertine rift and stands within altitude of 700 to 3300 meters. About 10 percent of the protected area landscape is comprised of high mountains with extinct volcanoes like the Mount Kahuzi and Mount Biega from which the park derived its name. The creation of this stunning protected area evolved from the establishment of the zoological reserve in 1937 by the Belgian colonial government. Before, the reserve occupied an area of about 750sq km but later decreased up to 600 kilometers in 1970 and hence creation of Kahuzi Biega National Park with about 300 distinct eastern lowland gorillas. The park later increased up to 6000 square kilometers around 1975 and it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1980. Kahuzi Biega National Park comes with the most remarkable tropical rain forest that features about 1178 plant species. The park is part of the Congo basin and it comes with marshland and Riverine forest flora, thick wet equatorial rain forest in the west low land area, while the eastern mountain area comes with vast forest vegetation ranging from 600 to 2600 meters. Other extraordinary biodiversity for you to explore while on safari in Kahuzi Biega National Park include the eastern chimpanzees, owl faced monkey, forest elephant, bongo, mount Kahuzi climbing mouse, forest hog, hippos, leopards, Anubis baboon and eastern needle clawed galagos. There are also over 350 bird species that you can spot while on birding safari in Kahuzi Biega National Park most of which include the yellow crested helmet shrike, Congo peafowl, African green broadbill and Rockefeller’s sunbird and many more.
Eastern Lowland gorilla trekking
Kahuzi Biega National Park offers visitors yet another remarkable adventure with lowland gorilla trekking in DRC. These special creatures can be distinguished from others by their stocky bodies, large hands and short muzzle. Despite their size, the Eastern Lowland gorillas depend only on fruit and other herbaceous materials. Two families have been habituated for tourists to track and they include the Chimanuka group with 37 individuals, 19 baby gorillas and 17 females with 1 silverback and the second one is the Mugaruka group. Other groups are still undergoing the habituation process for instance the Mankoto and Mpungwe groups. The lowland gorillas are peaceful and social,featuring about 5 to 30 individuals with an alpha or silverback male being the dominant in the family who is responsible for protecting and establishing a home for the rest of the members in the family. The gestation period of a female lowland gorilla is about 8 and half months and babies are breastfed for 12 months. The baby gorilla crawls after about 9 weeks and will be able to walk after 35 weeks. The young gorillas spend three to four years with their mothers after and then become independent and mating takes place at 11 or 12 years. The silverback gorillas can enter into severe fight when encountering a rival family meets and can injure one another. Their aggressive stance is indicated by hooting, rising on their legs, slapping and tearing vegetation, beating their chest with cupped hands, thumping the ground with their palms and kicking with one leg. Gorilla trekking permits for lowland gorillas in DRC cost $400 per person. For this life changing adventure with the lowland gorillas in this park, you need to pack appropriately starting with hiking boots, insect repellents, long sleeved shirts/T-shirts, gardening gloves, sunscreen, cameras, backpack, rain jacket, and warm clothing. You can also visit the Lwiro sanctuary, a rehabilitation center that offers refuge to orphaned primates like chimpanzees and monkey species. This was founded in 2002 and it is situated around the Tshivanga visitor center in an ancient Belgian Research center. This sanctuary refuges about 55 chimpanzees and more than 60 monkey species. The official site is www.kahuzibieganationalpark.com.
Kahuzi Biega is situated 40km West of Bukavu in Eastern DRC near the shores of Lake Kivu. The routes to Kahuzi Biega can be rough especially after rain and its important to have a fully equipped 4×4 vehicle and an experienced driver and guide. Contact us at info@CarRentalCongo.com and let us know your planned itinerary so we can provide a quote for your tour!
Democratic Republic of the Congo Car Rental –
Hertz,Avis, Budget,and Alamo all have offices in Kinshasa but at present most seem to only rent cars with a driver. The only company who appear to offer self drive are Avis who rent cars from the airport and the city centre. They mention CDW and Theft protection insurance so it cerstainly sounds like self drive is possible, though this may change depending on the situation in the country.
Democratic Republic of Congo Local Car Rental Companies *
Car Rental Congo has been providing excellent customer service and competitive pricing on chauffeur driven car rental in Democratic Congo since 2008. We have a range of 4×4 land cruisers, minivans, double cabin pick-ups and trucks, available to rent for individuals and companies. Rental services are also available in Cameroon, Chad, Central Africa Republic, Gabon, Sudan, Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi and Kenya. Contact us on info@CarRentalCongo.com for a quote.