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Your travel to Congo after COVID-19, what you should know

Travel to Congo Tracking the White Rhinoceros, Parc de la vallée de N'sele

When you mention Congo to most people, they think of it as a highly dangerous place. Their first memory or thought would be what is repeatedly reported on the news about armed groups operating in the region for years now. During your travel to Congo, you will, however, be amazed by how much the country through public private partnerships is luring thousands of visitors to the country’s touristic poles, safe for visits, namely Goma, Bukavu and Kinshasa. Most of the past visitors describe their travel to Congo as a once in a lifetime experience.
With the first democratic transfer of power, Congo has set an example for all the Central African nations including Rwanda. The country has now stable democratic government under the firm leadership and development of an effective leader backed by the people. The actual leadership is working to boost travel to Congo in a quest to anchor the country’s GDP on tourism.
Congo, like most African countries, has not had devastating Covid-19 cases like we have seen happening in Eurasia and America. As of late July 2020, Congo has about 8 844 recorded cases with more than 5 700 recoveries and around 200 deaths.
In late March, the president HE Etienne Tshisekedi took early measures halting all travel to Congo. The executive order put the country in an entire lockdown restricting even domestic travels. Congo has got one of top epidemiologist Dr Muyembe in Africa. He has won the fight against the recent Ebola outbreak. Dr Muyembe has used his experience in leading response efforts against covid-19 pandemic. The country has the lowest covid-19 mortality rate in Africa, 2%.
On the 21st of July, the president has ended the state of emergency while unveiling the plan to resume travel to Congo.
– Banks, malls, shops, Cafés, Bars and firms are authorized to resume with activities from 22nd of July 2020;
– High schools, colleges, and universities to resume with classes from the 3rd of August 2020;
– International tourism, churches, movement intra-country, football games and borders are expected to return to a new normal starting from 15th of August 2020.
In foresight of getting back to business and adopting the new normal, the Congolese Ministry of Tourism, with excitement, announced the reopening of tourism activities as well as the resumption of international travel for visitors arriving by scheduled commercial flights as of 15 August 2020. The well-being of all travelers will be the government’s top priority, together with the private sector, have therefore put robust health and safety guidelines in place.
Resuming travel to Congo from 15th of August 2020 means that all international visitors arriving by scheduled commercial flights will visit Congo with no restrictions based on nationality or point of departure. These visitors can enter Congo on the condition of fulfilling the health and safety requirements outlined in guidelines for re-opening tourism issued by the government
Generally the Congo covid leisure travel guidelines specifically point out, unless your present symptoms of covid-19, up your arrival in Congo, you must abide with the following guidelines: social distancing a must, mask must be on at all times, maximum of 6 people in boat or safari vehicle, night game drives for one group with capacity of 6 people in Parc de la Vallée de la N’Sele. Meetings, workshops, seminars and events respecting 30% occupancy per meeting room/space are permitted. Live performances including karaoke of not more than 3 performers are permitted in hotels and restaurants.
Tour operators and attractions owners are placing more emphasis on domestic travel, encouraging locals to visit local attractions by creating special packages and cutting entry fees by more than 50%.

Travel to Congo, former Joseph Kabila washing hands
Former president of DRC washing hands as a way to set an example to the entire nation

Travel to Congo post covid-19, getting practical
If interested in a travel to Congo after or during this covid-19 crisis, this is how you should make it happen:
1. Getting a visa: The easiest way to get your visa to Congo is through a trusted tour operator. For people willing to visit Eastern Congo, the visa costs 105$ and your tour operator would get it for you in just 3 days. For visitors visiting western Congo, they could get an invitation letter from a trusted tour operator for 200$. The invitation will allow the visitor to apply from his country in a Congolese consulate.
2. What to visit:
Mountain Gorillas: If you want to experience Mountain gorillas during your travel to Congo, Virunga National Park should be your destination. The park is one, if not the best speaking of biodiversity in the entire Africa. Almost more than half of what is in Sub Saharan Africa in concentrated in this park. This park also boasts of two active volcanoes: Nyiragongo Volcano and Nyamulagira. This is a top destination for travel to Congo.
Eastern Low Land Gorillas: It is a variety of Gorillas endemic to the Congo. Eastern Lowland Gorillas are found in Kahuzi Biega National Park around Bukavu City. If your travel to Congo brings you to Kahuzi Biega National Park where you could experience the Tshibali falls and the Lwiro sanctuary.
Game safaris in Parc de la Vallée de la N’sele : Parc de la vallée de la N’Sele is a park located in the western part of the Democratic Republic of Congo in the commune of Maluku. It is approximately 90 min from the city center Kinshasa. Not only it does offer conservation, but it also provides a space for relaxation and entertainment. The park offers tourists fresh and pure air. It is being populated with more and more animals representing the biodiversity of the Congo. It contains lions, impalas, zebras, giraffes, buffaloes, hippos, rhinos, elephants. In addition, there are a lot of activities around the park. Cycling, kayaking, hiking or riding the Zip line. It is a one of top picks when it come to a travel to Congo.
Bonobos Sanctuary: During your Travel to Congo, you could decide to go see the Bonobos which are endemic to country. Founded in 1994, Lola ya Bonobo is located 28 km away from the CBD of Kinshasa City. It is the world’s only sanctuary for orphaned bonobos. The Bonobos are our closest living relatives, with more than 99% identical DNA.
– Zongo Waterfalls: Located 130 kilometers (90 miles) from Kinshasa, Zongo provides a lovely setting & a spectacular scenery to the Zongo Waterfalls. The gorgeous 65m-high Zongo falls are one of DRC’s most spectacular sights. Getting to the viewpoints involves some hiking but watching the water roaring over the precipice into the river below is unforgettable. During your travel to Congo, you should include a visit to Zongo.
Things not to do during your travel to Congo
Visitors to Congo are urged to take personal responsibility for their own security by being vigilant and taking common-sense precautions. Kwafrika Travel recommends you exercise caution in crowded markets, nightclubs, and any tourist areas. Here is the list of things you should heed during your travel to Congo:
– Don’t carry too much cash and keep a close watch on your possessions in public places.
– Don’t show off or display your money or money belt in public. Women should keep purses zipped and in front of them. Men should keep wallets hidden in their front pocket, especially in crowded areas.
– Keep your valuables locked in your safe in your room or hotel.
– Leave jewelry and valuable items at home / hotel
– Always inform a friend or family member of your schedule and plans.
– Avoid walking alone especially after dark. Walk in well-lit areas.
– Drive with doors locked and windows closed.
– Always carry a copy of your passport and visa. Keep original documents in a secure location like your hotel safe.
– Theft of electronic items is common. Keep cell phones, tablets, iPod’s, and other electronics out of sight. Valuables in hotels or residences should be locked or stored in a safe.
– If during your travel to Congo, you are mugged, it is advisable to give up your valuables and not resist
– Avoid overindulging in alcohol.
– When driving, lock car doors and do not leave any valuables visible in the vehicle
– Keep your cell phone in your pocket, don’t carry it in your hands because it can easily be snatched
– Congo has no laws that criminalize sexual orientation or consensual same-sex relationships. However, affection is not shown in public generally
– You must respect Congo culture and must know some actions that are perceived wrong. Your tour guide will brief you about this prior the start of your journey in the Congo
Your travel to Congo during the COVID-19
As mentioned below, COVID-19 is still present in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. If you travel to Congo during this period, there are few things you should know.
Authorities will quarantine and treat affected people in government hospitals and isolation facilities. Monitor the media for latest developments and follow the instructions of local authorities. Current government guidelines require everyone to wear a face mask in public. There are medical facilities available around Congo. Hôpital du Cinquantenaire, Hôpital Maman Yemo located in Kinshasa City, Hôpital Général de Référénce de Goma, Hôpital CBCA Virunga available in Goma town. They provide Emergency and Assessment (E&A) services, open 24 hours with a physician on the premises at all times.
All national parks will be reopened but with a very limited capacity. In Virunga National Park, a group of more than 20 people cannot be authorized to trek the gorillas for social distancing reasons. The same thing apply for people hiking the Nyiragongo Volcano, they should be less than 10 people per group.
Your trusted tour agency should apply the following guidelines as given by the Congolese authorities:
– Your driver must have a basic prior training on the standard practices in prevention of spread of COVID-19 (Standard Prevention Procedure)
– All vehicles must be equipped with contactless thermometer (thermal-gun). Drivers must have been trained on how to take guest temperature, to read and interpret the result.
– All safaris vehicles or any other hired vehicles for tourists must be equipped with PPE basics such as sanitizers, extra face masks, hand-gloves and so on
– Vehicles must be installed with air-conditioners with particulate filters and purifiers. All windows should capable of opening when required to allow air circulation
– If possible, vehicles should have automatic doors to be operated by one person, the driver.
– The driver must thoroughly clean and sanitize his safaris car at the close of the day or as deemed necessary especially before switching customers
– Drivers must minimize stop overs during the travel to Congo or Inside Congo.
– Drivers should stick guest documents such as itineraries on the car seats or on body of the vehicles to avoid contact with guests

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