On 11th May 2018, two British tourists were kidnapped while traveling through the famous Virunga National Park after armed bandits ambushed their vehicle. A park ranger who was also traveling with the group was sadly killed and their driver was injured during the incident. Thankfully, the British tourists were safely rescued by Congolese military and park rangers on May 14th.
Since the start of 2018, eight park rangers have lost their lives in the national park, a reminder of the ever-present risk posed to conservation efforts and local communities.
The World Health Organisation has been informed by the DRC Government of the presence of Ebola virus including two confirmed cases in the town of Bikoro located in the Equateur province (NW part of the country). Over the past 40 years, DRC has experienced eight outbreaks of the disease, with the last known outbreak in May 2017.
Most government travel advisories have warned travelers to "Reconsider Your Need To Travel" due to the high risk of civil unrest, political instability, violent crime and armed conflict (particularly in the east of the country which borders with South Sudan, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, and Tanzania). If you are traveling in the country, always be aware of your surroundings and plan your travel activities ahead. Keep travel within the country to a minimum and avoid traveling at night. Always monitor local media for updates.
You will need a visa to enter the DRC and the time taken to receive the visa can take weeks or more, so plan ahead before your trip.
Some government travel advisories also report that having stamps in your passport from Uganda or Rwanda can bring some extra attention from border officials however it shouldn't prevent entry.
Yellow Fever is endemic in the DRC so you will need to be vaccinated and carry proof of vaccination particularly for entry into countries where Yellow Fever isn't present.
If you are planning to travel to Virunga National Park, you will mostly deal with either a tour operator or the park. For more information, visit the Virunga National Park's website.
Human Rights Watch highlights the kidnapping risk to travelers in the DRC, with people mostly being taken for ransom. While a majority of the time, it's Congolese people kidnapped; there have been several reported cases of westerners being taken. Bandits will generally operate in groups and are heavily armed. The kidnapping of humanitarian workers is unfortunately also on the rise, particularly in the east of the country.
Public demonstrations can occur and turn violent without warning. Often the road to N'Dijili Airport can be blocked and it's strongly advised to avoid these events at all costs. Should you, unfortunately, become caught up, try to quickly and calmly leave the scene. Avoid taking photos or hanging around. Commercial flights and other modes of transport can be suspended should the situation escalate out of control.
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