Prepare your trip

Flights

To fly via Kigali to Rwanda or Eastern Congo, there are two solutions:

  • Flight to Kigali with SN Brussels, KLM or Rwandair. Our trips are then organized according to a pick-up at the airport of Kigali. Goma can be reached in 3 hours in a vehicle with driver via a very nice road.
  • Flight to Goma is also possible with Ethiopian Airlines but with a stopover of a few hours in Addis Ababa or with Turkish Airlines but with a stopover in Istanbul.

To fly to Burundi, weekly direct flight to Bujumbura from Brussels with SN Brussels.

To fly to Uganda, direct flight to Entebbe with SN Brussels.

The purchase of the international airline ticket is the responsibility of the customer who will be taken care of upon arrival on African soil.

Visas

Entry into the DRC requires a visa obtained on a passport valid for at least 12 months from the end of the journey, this duration is 6 months for Rwanda and Burundi.

1. Democratic Republic of the Congo

Two solutions:

  1. you do one of the activities of Virunga Park or Kahusi Biega (gorillas or volcano) and we get your visa for $100 simply by entering a document that we will give you and that you will fill out once you have booked your trip. We will take care of everything. This visa is valid for a maximum of 14 days and only in North and South Kivu. It takes a minimum of 7 days to be granted.
  2. Without visiting these activities, the tourist visa can be obtained in at least one week in the DRC embassy of the country where you are staying. In Belgium, only persons domiciled in Belgium can apply for a tourist visa. The embassy in Belgium is located at Rue Marie de Bourgogne, 30 in 1000 Brussels.

The following documents are required :

  1. A passport valid for more than 12 months after the return journey
  2. Two identical passport photographs
  3. Two completed visa application forms (see DRC Embassy website in Belgium
  4. Vaccination register containing at least the yellow fever vaccine
  5. A care originating from Congo and legalized by the town hall of the city (we provide you with this certificate).
  6. A certificate of good conduct and morals can be obtained from your local administration or from the Central Criminal Registry, which is located at Boulevard de Waterloo, 80 in 1000 Brussels and is accessible from Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 11.30 a.m. (deposit) and from 3 p.m. to 4.30 p.m. (withdrawal). For more information, the service can be reached on 02/552.27.47.
  7. A photocopy of your identity card.
  8. 85 euros (mistercash/bancontact on site)
2. Rwanda

Extremely easy, a one-entry/exit visa, valid for 30 days, is granted on arrival at the airport or check-in point to Rwanda on return from Congo, without having to apply in advance. The price of the visa per entry is $30. Rwanda Embassy website in Belgium.

3. Burundi

For Belgium, the site of the Burundian Embassy where you can find information about the conditions for obtaining a visa.
Be careful, a delay of 15 days is announced for this grant, but this period may be longer. It is advisable to inform you in good time.
The embassy is located at Square Marie-Louise, 46 in 1000 Brussels. For visa formalities, open on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 12 noon.

4. Ouganda

The embassy in Belgium is located at Avenue de Tervuren 317 in 1150 Brussels.
Here are the documents you need to provide:

  • Purchase order
  • 2 visa application forms for Uganda
  • Your passport is valid 6 months after your return date.
  • 1 copy of the first page of the passport
  • 2 photos
  • Copy of the residence card in Belgium for foreigners
  • A flight reservation

Vaccinations

It is necessary for the traveller to go to his or her attending physician to discuss with him or her which vaccinations he or she should take before travelling.

  • Yellow fever vaccination is mandatory upon entry into the DRC. Elsewhere in the world, once inoculated, this vaccine does not need to be renewed, but it is still required with a renewal every 10 years to enter DRC.
  • Since the region lies at an altitude of 1500 m and is not infected with mosquitoes, a preventive treatment against malaria is strongly recommended.
  • The usual vaccinations against hepatitis A, B, typhoid, tetanus, ... are also recommended.
  • A vaccination booklet will be given to you to prove that you have taken these vaccines and must be attached to your passport and taken with you when you travel.

The same precautions for Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda.

Climate

The climate of the region, which is located in a tropical zone, is quite temperate thanks to the altitude of the area. Goma and Lake Kivu are some 1,500 m above sea level, Kigali and the volcanic area at 2,000 m and above. This altitude allows us to benefit from an ideal temperature of around 20 to 30° all year round. Bujumbura and Lake Tanganyika are lower at less than 1,000 m altitude. The temperature there is often about 5° higher.

No period of the year is particularly not recommended. The rainy seasons, from September to December and from March to June, give rise to heavy showers, usually short-lived, and the rest of the time a particularly blue sky. The sky is greyer in the dry seasons and the horizon is less clear.

Clothing

With a mild temperature, the traveller will be sure to wear light clothes for the day, but warmer for the evening, with a dinner on the edge of Lake Kivu requiring a long-sleeved shirt and a sweater, as well as socks to protect against possible mosquitoes. In Kivu, the ground is particularly hard because it is made of lava. Good walking shoes are of course also recommended for climbing the volcano or visiting the gorillas.

A night on top of the Nyiragongo requires warm clothing (polar fleece, hat and gloves and a flashlight), the temperature is +- 5 °C. You will stay in small chalets, mattresses and sleeping bags are available. When visiting gorillas and chimpanzees it is advisable to wear long-sleeved trousers and a t-shirt to avoid scratching the very narrow paths. A large poncho covering not only your body but also your backpack is also recommended.
In summary, don't forget in your suitcase:

  • Walking shoes, sneakers or boots.
  • A little backpack to put your spare stuff in.
  • A hat, cap and suntan lotion.
  • A small backpack to put in your spare gear.
  • Long-sleeved T-shirt practical for gorillas.
  • Pants but also shorts
  • Rain poncho
  • A warm fleece, hat, gloves and socks... for those who spend the night over the volcano.

Money

The use of credit cards is not yet widespread in Kivu, despite the presence of some ATMs in Goma and Bukavu. It is possible everywhere in Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda. The most common currency is the US dollar. You need to have cash in all the different denominations of 2010 or later (important). 1 or 2 dollar bills are not accepted, you can exchange dollars in local currency to tip something, tips are left to your own discretion. Here are some realistic suggestions for customers who want to do so:

  • Airport carriers: $2
  • Restaurant waiters: $2 or $3
  • Ranger/guide - volcano and gorillas: $20
  • Same carriers: $10
  • Heater/guide per day if you are satisfied with the service: $10.00

Insurance

It is imperative that you take out all-risk insurance such as Europ Assistance or Mondial Insurance. The medical environment is not the environment you are used to in Belgium and in case of a serious problem repatriation is essential. You need to be well aware of this.
Climbing the Nyiragongo volcano requires a physical exertion that requires a good physical condition. A heart problem cannot be treated there quickly.
Kivu Travel cannot be held responsible for any lack of quality medical care in the area and will have a waiver signed.

Photo's

In Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda you can freely photograph. In the DRC, taking photos is also free, but it is forbidden to photograph and film in strategic places such as airports, ports, military, ... and advise, as everywhere, to ask people's permission before taking pictures! Ask your driver/guide for advice: he is there to help you.

Luggage

Do not pack your luggage in plastic, because it is forbidden to enter Rwanda.
You may take 46 kg of luggage, which is a lot for your personal luggage. So remember to supplement your private belongings with gifts for the projects you are going to visit! Clothing in good condition, shoes, sports equipment, pens, pencils, balloons (deflated with mimipump, ...) camera, laptop, ... will make the people you meet happy.

The non-profit association En avant les enfants and Comequi that we support always ask us to help them by agreeing to bring them a 23 kg suitcase ... Let us know if you can take care of a suitcase for them, it will be brought to you at the airport, the day of your departure. Please note that this 46 kg must be divided into 2 pieces of 23 kg each. Airlines are quite strict in this respect.

Reading

If you are interested in the history and the Belgian presence in the Congo, we recommend the following readings.