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Democratic Republic of the Congo

Main attractions

Nyiragongo lava lake, Congo DR
Nyiragongo lava lake / Rob Lavinsky, Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

The Democratic Republic of the Congo belongs to least explored and most promising countries of the world regarding exciting landmarks. Last decades have been unfortunate in the history of this enormous country as it has gone through a series of devastating wars and anarchy periods scaring away the foreign explorers. Major part of the country is covered with impenetrable, very diverse equatorial jungle and crossed by large rivers. Jungle covers mountain ranges, base of volcanoes, surrounds barren inselbergs and precipices with countless high waterfalls.

Country has very few notable man-made landmarks.

Highlights of the Democratic Republic of Congo are:

  • Waterfalls and rapids. Not too far from its mouth Congo River has the most powerful rapids in the world - Inga Falls. But there are countless other impressive rapids and falls all over the country.
  • Volcanoes. There is a group of very impressive volcanoes rising over the jungle of north-eastern Congo. Unique is the nearly permanent lava lake of Mount Nyiragongo - the largest in the world.

Natural landmarks

Volcanoes

  • Mount Nyamuragira - Nord-Kivu. Africa's most active volcano, 3,058 m high. Volcano has erupted 30 times since 1880 and produces major part of sulphur dioxide pollution of the world. Volcano has created lava fields. Intense eruption took place also in 2010 and damaged virgin rainforest.
  • Mount Nyiragongo - Nord-Kivu. One of the few volcanos in the world with nearly permanent lava lake in it, often the largest lava lake in the world. Height of the mountain - 3,470 m. Depth of lava lake has reached up to 600 m. Volcano is very active, with frequent eruptions. Eruptions produce very fluid lava of rare type. Speed of lava flows here can reach 100 km/h and the volcano is very steep. When the walls of volcano are fractured, lava flows can become very dangerous, as happened in January 1977 and January 2002.

Caves

Malachite stalactite, Congo DR
Malachite stalactite from the cave in Katanga province / Radio Okapi, / CC BY 2.0
  • Dimba Cave - Bas-Congo. Dimba Cave contains the oldest remnants of human activity in Lower Congo - it was inhabited already 18,000 BC or even earlier. Found also artefacts from the 2nd - 1st c. BC, marking the shift from Stone Age to Iron Age.
  • Matupi Cave - Orientale, Mount Hoyo. Important archaeological monument in Ituri rainforest. This cave contains sediments which have recorded a sequence of human occupation lasting for the last 40,000 years. Here have been found some of the oldest microlithic tools in the world used for arrows and saws. When these tools were made 12,000 years ago, here was savannah.
  • Thysville Caves (Mbanza-Ngungu Caves) - Bas-Congo. Group of caves with endemic blind fish Caecobarbus geertsii Boulenger, 1921 living in seven of these caves. Not explored, may contain other endemic animals as well.
  • Kakanda malachite caves - Katanga. Caves lined with highly unusual malachite stalactites. Found also unique malachite crystals which are up to 2 cm large.

Waterfalls and rapids

Inga Falls, Congo DR
Inga Falls / Alaindg, Wikimedia Commons, CC-BY-SA-3.0
  • Boyoma Falls (Stanley Falls, Wagenia Rapids) - Kisangani, Orientale. Group of some 7 cataracts, each approximately 1 km wide and several metres high, formed on Lualaba River. Total drop - 61 m over the distance of 100 km. At the bottom of these falls starts Congo River.
  • Inga Falls - Bas-Congo. These are some of the largest and most impressive rapids in world. Located on the Congo - one of the largest rivers of the world. They drop 96 meters over the course of 15 kilometres and have a flow rate of 42,000 m³ per second. This is the most impressive part of the larger group of Livingstone Falls, falling 260 m over 340 km distance.
  • Inkisi Falls - Bas-Congo, Zongo. Very impressive, 60 m tall waterfall with several steps. Width of river is similar to the height of falls.
  • Kakobola Falls - Bandundu. Visually very impressive falls on Lufuku River, approximately 100 m wide.
  • Kiubo Falls and Kiubo Fairy Falls - Katanga. Beautiful falls with multiple tiers and cascades, formed on River Lufira. Approximately 270 m wide, height some 60 m. Kiubo Fairy Falls are on a tributary with much less water volume and as a result have very unusual look - water has divided in countless small streams and pours down along an amphitheatre-formed cliff.
  • Lofoi Falls - Katanga. Enormous and visually impressive waterfall. 165 m tall, approximately 50 m wide fall on Lofoi River, with single drop. Numerous other falls in this region, falling over the same precipice.
  • Mambilima Falls - Katanga and Luapula, Zambia. Rapids on Luapula River. The river squeezes through numerous small islands, creating countless smaller waterfalls.
  • Tangwa Falls - Katanga and Luapula, Zambia. Group of impressive rapids on Luapula River - here the river has carved numerous arches, potholes. Stream has left giant boulders, some balancing.

Other natural landmarks

James Chapin with Mount Stanley, Rwenzori Mountains
James Chapin with Mount Stanley in the background, Rwenzori Mountains, 1925 / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 2.5
  • Lightning of Kifuka - Sud-Kivu. Each km² around Kifuka is hit with lightning average 158 times per year. Thus Kifuka has the greatest lightning flash density in the world.
  • Mount Stanley - Nord-Kivu and Western district in Uganda. Third highest mountain in Africa, 5,109 m high (Margherita Peak). Summit area contains glaciers and it is possible to descend with skis up to 800 m vertical distance, what is highly unusual experience in equatorial Africa.
  • Pyrochlore mine of Rutshuru - Nord-Kivu. One of the largest mines of niobium containing mineral in the world.
  • Stanley's Baobab in Boma - Bas-Congo. Enormous baobab with hollow inside, can be entered through a door. There is also enormous opening between the branches. Explorer Henry Morton Stanley supposedly spent here a night on August 9, 1877.

Man made landmarks

  • Fort de Shinkakasa - Bas-Kongo. European style fortification at Congo River, built in 1891 by Congo Free State to prevent the invasion of Portuguese.
  • Frère Gillet Botanic Gardens (Kisantu Botanical Garden) - Bas-Congo. More than 100 years old botanical garden with numerous unique and rare species, especially renowned due to the collection of rare orchids. Developed by an Jesuit brother passionate about plant cross-breeding.
  • Palaces of Gbadolite - Équateur. Two abandoned luxury palaces built in the times of Mobutu Sese Seko in the 1980s and raided by the forces of Laurent Kabila in 1997. Now palaces and surrounding regular parks are overrun by forest. Contains underground tunnel leading to nuclear bunker and also to 12 km distant N'dangi harbor.

List of described attractions by provinces

Democratic Republic of the Congo is divided into ten provinces and capital city.

Provinces of Democratic Republic of the Congo

Bandundu
Bas-Congo
ArrowKifuka lightningsMeteorological phenomena
Équateur
Kasai-Occidental
Kasai-Oriental
Katanga
Kinshasa
Maniema
Nord-Kivu
Orientale
Sud-Kivu
ArrowInga FallsWaterfalls, Ecosystems

Map of Democratic Republic of the Congo

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