A magical, wild and exciting country where gorilla treks and volcano hikes are the name of the game. Volunteer in the Democratic Republic of Congo with Africa’s largest and leading volunteer travel organization. Go Volunteer Africa provides to people of all ages and backgrounds with opportunities to have an active part in helping develop local communities in Democratic Republic of Congo.
Go Volunteer Africa recruits and places foreign volunteers with community based projects and schools in Congo DR. Through our volunteer in Democratic Republic of Congo program, we aim to build the capacities of local projects and raise awareness around the world about the successes and challenges of life in Congo.
Volunteer Projects in DR Congo include office work (IT training for local villagers mostly youth), Vocational Training (Sewing), and HIV/AIDS education, public health/hygiene, family planning, condom use, creativity workshops, promoting small business development the importance of basic education, and women’s rights and empowerment.
Wildlife Conservation: Experience an exciting and varied volunteer project on a beautiful Game Reserve in Democratic Republic of Congo. Assist in conservation management whilst learning new skills and meeting some great people. You will also have the opportunity to take part in a worthwhile environment conservation project.
Community outreach: Includes home visits to elderly, disabled, and persons living with HIV/AIDS to keep company, offer relief, and assess needs.
Administration: Budgeting, fundraising and handcraft marketing
Community Development: You will be encouraged to take part in a flexible schedule which will include some or all the activities offered by the program. The exchange of ideas, experiences and culture is encouraged. This placement sometimes requires walking long distances in the sun; you are encouraged to bring a sleeping bag, protective clothing and shoes.
Teaching Orphans: Teaching English, French, Math and other subjects, organize games and arts. The main aim is to create a loving environment for these children. Telling stories, Help in the construction of the new orphanage Homes and schools. Carpentry, builders, porters and helpers, group volunteering is welcome.
EXTRAS AND SUPPORT
ABOUT DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO
The Democratic Republic of the Congo, also known as DR Congo, the DRC, DROC, Congo-Kinshasa, or simply the Congo, is a country located in Central Africa. It is sometimes anachronistically referred to by its former name of Zaire, which was its official name between 1971 and 1997. It is, by area, the largest country in sub-Saharan Africa, the second-largest in all of Africa (after Algeria), and the 11th-largest in the world. With a population of over 78 million, the Democratic Republic of the Congo is the most populous officially Francophone country, the fourth-most-populous country in Africa, and the 16th-most-populous country in the world.
Travelers visiting the DRC will have a lot to explore including rainforests and wildlife. They can also enjoy city life as well as the historical sites. If you enjoy cruises, the Go Volunteer Africa has a tour that takes you down the Congo River. It starts from the capital of Kisangani to the city of Kinshasa. This 1750-kilometer cruise is ideal if you have a lot of free time on your hands.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo is a great destination for tourists. There’s so much to explore. They say that the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is the country around which all other African countries revolve and that you can only know Africa if you know the DRC. Two-thirds of the size of Western Europe and home to nearly 300 different languages and tribes, the DRC is a country of vast jungles and dark corners, endangered primates and tribal strongholds, equatorial rainforests and active volcanoes. It is easy to see the appeal.
- Explore the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Kahuzi-Biega, home to Grauer's gorillas, as well as a wealth of bird and animal life
- Take a helicopter safari over the Virunga Mountains, spending time on active volcanoes
- Visit Idjwi Island, located in the centre of Lake Kivu and untouched by conflict but isolated from the outside world
- Visit Kinshasa's Ethnographic Museum, which includes the original boat that Stanley used to travel down the nearby rapids
- Head to Lola Ya Bonobo, a sanctuary for orphaned bonobos - indigenous to the DRC
- Set off deep into the DRC's interior, heading to the Lomako Reserve in search of wild troops of bonobos
Carpeted by huge swaths of rainforest and punctuated by gushing rivers and smoking volcanoes, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC, formerly Zaire) is the ultimate African adventure.
Capital: Kinshasha (Population: 12,560,000 million)
Currency: Congolese franc (CDF) $1 = 1,655CDF / £1 = 2,123 CDF (2019)
Population: 82,340,000 million (approx)
Official languages: French (official)
Area: 2.345,000 million sq km
International Calling Code: + 243
PROJECT LOCATIONS & QUICK FACTS
Despite the Democratic Republic of Congo being one among the least toured countries in Africa, slow by slowly the country is beginning to take ground in the tourism industry. Sadly, the past few years have been quite devastating with a number of internal conflicts that have scared away several tourists from the country. Today, the country prides in its equatorial verdant jungles, numerous rivers, Volcano Mountains, and the several high mountains.
The DRC has a number of unique tourist opportunities, including wildlife reserves, indigenous cultures, and geological wonders not found easily or anywhere else in Africa. Twelve percent of the country is made up of protected areas including 7 national parks and 57 reserves areas, with great ecotourism potential. The DRC has four endemic species including Mountain Gorillas, Okapi, Bonobos, and the Congolese peacock. Moreover, the country has a unique variety of species in its ecosystem covering almost 145 million hectares.
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has been known for too long as the ‘heart of darkness’, but it rewards intrepid travellers with beautiful countryside and some of the continent’s most exciting trekking. There is something magical about the DRC. The expansive countryside is alive with colourful flowers, flourishing fruits and luscious green plants. Here, towering mountain peaks are garnished with wisps of mist and giant primates roam the rainforests, munching juicy leaves, swinging from vines and rolling playfully in the dirt.
As a visitor to the DRC, time is spent climbing to great heights for epic views, having close encounters with some of the world’s rarest creatures, and wading through thick, wet rainforests in search of adventure. This country offers the most extraordinary experiences and, by the very essence of its splendor and variety, deserves to be seen, appreciated and protected.
With its expanse of vast mountain ranges and thick rainforest, the DRC offers some top-notch hiking. There are lots of options in Virunga National Park, including various hikes to see the legendary mountain gorillas, but adventurous hikers will also want to tackle Mount Nyiragongo. This active volcano towers over Goma in eastern DRC, emitting an eerie red glow from its bubbling lava lake as darkness sets each night.
The hike takes around six hours, climbing to 3470m through humid tropical forest, over scraggy lava rocks and past steaming geysers, before being plunged into mist at the top. At the summit, hikers camp in small huts on the crater rim, from where the boiling waves of lava can be heard crashing over each other like water in the ocean.
VOLUNTEERING IN CONGO-KINSHASHA QUICK FACTS
- The program is open all year-round
- Very flexible start and end dates (arrive any day of the month)
- Over 8 oustanding sustainable project options
- Projects are based across the country with major locations being Kinshasha and Lubumbashi.
- Accommodation available at volunteer house & host families
- Program fees include pre-departure support, airport pick-up, orientation, accommodation, meals and 24/7 in-country support
- We are the most affordable organization in Africa, because we are the locals!
DRC’s cultural and natural wonders receives less recognition– the stunning islands of Lake Kivu, its lava-lake topped volcanoes, the dandy-style sapeurs that stroll the streets of Kinshasa, the wealth of primates that include chimpanzees, bonobos and two species of gorilla. What’s more, tourism here helps conserve these fragile habitats and provides vital income for communities ravaged by conflict.
It’s tricky to know where to start on a country of this size, but conveniently, most of DRC’s highlights are clustered along its eastern edge, bordering Uganda and Rwanda. This means that you don’t need to contemplate travelling across this vast state, and also means you can get here easily from Kigali, the Rwandan capital.
Kigali is around a four to five hour drive from Goma, which is the gateway to Virunga National Park, home to habituated mountain gorillas, chimps and Nyiragongo Volcano. Just south of Goma is Lake Kivu – an attraction in its own right, as well as being the best way to reach Kahuzi-Biega National Park. Western DRC, meanwhile, has little tourist infrastructure, but who needs roads and hotels when you can cruise up the Congo River, sleeping on board a cosy wooden boat?
Congo River: This mighty river carries more water than any other on the continent, and stretches, in an enormous arc, 4,370km from source to mouth, crossing the equator twice. A cruise will take you upriver from Mbandaka to Kisangani, pausing at villages that see few if any western visitors, navigating the widest section (20km) at Bumba, and passing through Yangambi Biosphere Reserve. The full voyage takes a month, or opt for half the route.
Kahuzi-Biega National Park: Named after two dormant volcanoes that slumber within its 6,000km2 of forest, this national park protects mountains, rainforest, bamboo forest, marshland and rivers, providing rich habitat for a huge variety of wildlife. Eastern lowland gorillas are its most famous inhabitants and the largest gorilla species; you can track them in the rainforest. Chimps live here too, along with bush elephants, buffalo, hippo and bush babies.
Kinshasa: DRC’s capital is often bypassed on tours, but Africa’s third largest city, with over 11 million inhabitants, gives an important insight into urban Congo, far from the forests and volcanoes of the east. Once called ‘Kin La Belle’, Kinshasa has certainly lost much of its former splendour, but it has a fascinating history, thriving markets and a huge dependence on the Congo River. Don’t miss Lola Ya Bonobo – the world’s only bonobo sanctuary.
Lake Kivu: Forming the border between DRC and Rwanda, Lake Kivu’s jagged shoreline gives way to dozens of islands. Tiny, c-shaped Tchegera is a stone’s throw from Virunga National Park, and an idyllic place to rest after gorilla tracking. Idjwi is Kivu’s biggest island, and despite its large population, the lack of infrastructure gives it a laidback atmosphere. Meet villagers, head out on the lake with local fishermen and soak up glorious views.
Nyiragongo Volcano: This volcano is one of the world’s most active, with a lake of molten lava in its crater. Overnight expeditions can take you to the 3,470m summit. The four to six hour ascent passes through four vegetation zones, and the summit offers astounding views of Goma and the surrounding landscape, plus the lava lake. After a night in a mountain hut on the rim, watch the sun rise between Karisimbi and Visoke Volcanoes.
Virunga National Park: Some 1,000 mountain gorillas roam the forests of the Virunga Mountains along the borders of DRC, Uganda and Rwanda. Expert trackers will take you into the forest here to spend an hour in the company of a habituated group – a truly magical encounter. You can visit a nearby gorilla rehabilitation project, too. This forest also shelters habituated chimps, so you can track two great apes in one park.
Inga Falls: These are the most powerful of all rapids in the entire world. Inga Falls is a rapid 40 km from Matadi in the Democratic Republic of the Congo where the Congo River drops 96 m over the course of 15 km. Inga Falls form a part of a larger group of rapids - Livingstone Falls and are located closer to the lower part of these falls
Kisantu Botanic Gardens: Off the main road leading to Matabi lies the beautiful Kisantu Botanical Gardens which are offer a riverside tranquil setting characterized by a collection of centenarian trees. The gardens are an ideal location for to spend an afternoon or enjoy a picnic as you enjoy the wonderfully scented environs brightly colored by the beautiful flowers. The gardens are opened daily and entrance is free for charge.
Matonge Central Market: The amazing Matonge Central Market is located in the heart of the capital Kinshasa and is a very lively hub for trade. The pavements are dotted with fresh produce of fruits, food staff and other merchandize plus umbrella sheltered stalls erected daily for people to do their trading. The facility is overwhelmed by the number of traders who flock the place daily making it quite a busy and yet lively place.
Volunteers need to be 18 years or over to participate, unless volunteering with a parent or guardian. All volunteers are required to have adequate volunteer travel insurance and provide a criminal background check to Go Volunteer Africa's local Coordinators on arrival in the country.
SAFARIS & TOURS
Safaris, day and cultural tours can be organized over the weekends for volunteers. This is a fantastic opportunity to see the famous Congo - Kinshasha wildlife. There is a lot to see and do in Congo-Kinshasha.
BEFORE YOU GO
§ Pre-departure support & documentation
§ Travel & medical advice & documentation
§ Advice on visas & equipment advice
§ Project orientation
§ 3 meals a day
§ Airport pickup
§ In-country emergency support
§ 24-hour HQ backup
§ Free GVA t-shirt
D.R. CONGO VOLUNTEER PROGRAM HIGHLIGHTS
Volunteer Guest house/ Host Family
ARRIVAL & AIRPORT PICKUP
After you have booked and confirmed your placement, please book your flights to arrive at N'Djili International Airport in Kinshasa. A member of staff from our local partner organization in Congo will meet you on arrival at Airport in Kinshasa and take you to the volunteer guest house or host family which will be your base for volunteering.
Orientation and Placement will be done the next day. This airport services numerous international carriers. Congo- Kinshasa has good connections to destinations throughout Europe, the Asia- Pacific region, USA and Africa.
ACCOMMODATION & LIVING IN D.R CONGO
Participants in our programs and tours in The Democratic Republic of Congo are provided accommodation in a nice well organized guesthouse or in a homestay accommodation managed by the local coordinating team. Three meals a day (Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner) are provided to the participants from Monday - Sunday. Life at the accommodation facility is simple, unsophisticated and fun, perfect for unwinding from a busy day!
The accommodation is neat and clean. Accommodation is shared amongst volunteer tourists on the ‘same gender sharing’ basis rooms. Wifi internet, warm water is not guaranteed. The facility has western style toilet and shower facilities are shared between 4 or 10 people.
The accommodation is very close to useful amenities like banks, ATM’s, currency exchanges, restaurants, cafes and shopping places. All placements are around 30 - 60 minutes from the accommodation. Its equipped with a lounge, TV, Kitchen, hand washing facilities and spare electricity sockets.
Over the weekends or evenings, participants are free to eat out and explore the different delights that Congo- Kinshasa has to offer. We arrange city day tours and long-weekend safaris. No matter what your interests, there is always something for everyone to enjoy!
Some volunteers are also provided accommodation in the project premises itself. For example - Volunteers working in orphanage project can be provided accommodation in the project premises itself in a separate room that is allotted for volunteers.
WHAT'S NOT INCLUDED:
Flights: Flights are not included in our program costs. However, GVA has partnered with an experienced and professional team of travel experts to help our volunteer travelers find the best flight deals for their trips with us. This travel specialist operates in the tailor-made, long haul multi-stop travel market, arranging complex airfares and transfers for independent travelers.
Visas: Visitors to the Democratic Republic of the Congo must obtain a visa from one of the Democratic Republic of the Congo diplomatic missions unless they come from a visa exempt country, a country whose nationals can obtain a visa on arrival, or are arriving from a country with no embassy, in which case they can obtain a visa confirmation followed by a 7-day visa on arrival (extendable in the DRC). In recent years, it is possible to arrange a tourist visa for visiting the Virunga National Park (on the Eastern Border) through the park itself. Visitors requiring a visa need to submit a legalised letter of invitation from a DRC person or organization (Go Volunteer Africa). For tourists, a hotel booking confirmation is accepted in case the traveller has no contact in the DRC.
Insurance: You'll need to buy appropriate travel insurance covering your participation on the program. You won't be able to go without the right travel insurance so double check to avoid disappointment. Please make sure that you're covered for the whole duration of your trip – from the day you leave your home to the day you return.
APPLICATION & BOOKING
To participate in this program, you have to fill an online application form, and submit it for consideration. After application process and acceptance into the program, you will be required to pay 50% of the program fee within 14 days of your acceptance. Failure to make the placement booking and confirmation payment will lead to cancelation of your program.