A Tour with “Affinité RD Congo”

Through the Silverback Kingdom Agency, Mr. Steve Stevens Rene of “Affinité RD Congo” conducted a tour of a gorilla visit and other activities for a group of 10 Belgians. This group was composed of people who were students at a school in the DR Congo fifty years ago. They knew the former “Kivu Province” well. The former Kivu Province was devided in 1988 into three provinces that are present today, North Kivu, South Kivu and Maniema.

On the 1st day, they visited the “City of Joy” in Panzi, a revolutionary new community for women survivors of gender violence in Bukavu. The women are given group therapy through a variety of activities. Taking this opportunity, the group of Mr. Rene took part in treating some of the women.

On the 2nd day, the group visited Kahuzi-Biega National Park to see gorillas and also visited the beautiful tea plantation in M’bayo.

On the 3rd day, they went to Idjwi Island in Lake Kivu, the second largest inland island in Africa, where they spent 3 nights. Then they went to Goma for two nights and came back to Bukavu town.

Then we had an honor to be received by the Governor of South Kivu Province Mr. Marcellin Chishambo in his residence of Nyofu for a breakfast. We talked about the tourism attractions and the new launch of tourism in the area. He was very happy and encouraged a lot by the conversation. We visited the Lwiro Primate Rehabilitation Center and the library, and went to Mahyuza where we visited the hot springs. It was really a wonderful experience.

From right to left, Steve Stevens Rene, Marcellin Chishambo the Governor, John Kahekwa and Alain Beguin

[BACKGROUND]
The gorilla tourism was on a higher level at the end of the 1980’s and early 1990’s. Gorillas became famous due to the film “Gorillas in the Mist”, in which I played a little part in the filming that took place in Kahuzi-Biega National Park in 1987. Afterwards KBNP received more than 6,000 visitors a year until 1992. But the tourism is a very fragile domain. The war of over 10 years in this Great Lakes region that started in Rwanda and later in our country devastated the tourism in this area. Tourists got no more access in the region at that time.

In 2007, the KBNP started receiving tourists on a slow pace; 10 tourists per year. The attention of the world medias were focused on the troubles happening in this area and the Kivu provinces were listed as a red zone. However, foreign visitors y began to notice that, although slowly, the peace is returning back.

This year, about 400 visitors have visited the park.

A Belgian couple visited the park after “Affinité RD Congo”. Several visitors are now coming for a visit to the gorillas and for other interests and attractions. We think the tourism environment has much improved after more than fifteen years since the start of the difficult time. Some American tourists have also made bookings for the next year visits.

Note :
The park entry fee for gorilla trekking is USD 400.- for non residents and USD 200.- for the residents of the SADEC, EAC and ECGLC countries .

-SADEC (Southern African Development Community) :
Angola, Botswana, DR Congo, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

-EAC (East African Community) :
Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi.

-ECGLC (Economic Community of the Great Lakes Countries) :
Burundi, DR Congo, Rwanda.

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