Congo Tourism. Focus on Lac Ndjale.

What could be more appealing?

It is in the heart of Africa where forest meets savanna. Its northern shore is forest, its southern shore savanna. Fifteen kilometers long and not a single roaring motorboat; in fact there are not even any row-boats on Lake Ndjale, but plenty of dugouts. You can rent one for a dollar, with or without pinancier (oar man).

Romantic. Do you agree?

That is what John thought, too. So he took off from Kindu by motorbike, the only feasible transport given the condition of the bridges. They made a caravan: John, with the Provincial Minister of the Environment, followed by her entourage of security persons and advisors.

a savanna island southwest of Kindu
Getting there was a bit onerous, but once there it was idyllic. Here, one of several savanna islands they passed through.

in a pirogue on lake Ndjale
John in a dugout on Lac Ndjale. He assured me that it was far more peaceful than gondolas on the dirty (and flooded) canals of Venice.

women with a gift for the minister
Fresh fish with no hint of industrial pollution are offered by the local fisher women.

Madame le ministre donne discours
The Minister of the Environment addressed the villagers when back on shore.

The lake has tourist potential, she is convinced, although after her own tipsy outing she suggests larger dugouts for tourists.

Are you convinced? Don’t you want a complete break from the doom and gloom announced by radio, newspapers, and television? Just slip down to your experienced and helpful tourist agent…

– I want to visit Lac Ndjale, you tell him.

– Oh? [His cursor is scanning Lac Léman, Lac d’Annecy, Lac du Der…]

– In Africa, you add helpfully.

He raises his eyebrows.
– French Africa? Not Kenya? [Tentatively the cursor goes to Cameroon.]

– In Congo, the Democratic Republic of Congo, you complete the clue.

– I see. [And the cursor pauses as he tries to remember the capital of Congo.]

– I think I should go in through Goma. It’s not too far away, you suggest tentatively.

– Yes, probably. He is thinking that Goma must be the capital [the cursor is slipping around , Goma, BBC, …] He is doing a little quick skimming. Pause.

– We are not yet arranging trips to Lac Ndjale, he is emphatic.
– but certainly a very interesting idea, he is doubtful.

This is just the beginning. There is a lot more tourist potential in this TL2 landscape, between Congo’s forest rivers. I hope to write about it all.

Lac Ndjale, ssw of Kindu
The little white line between Kindu (capital of Maniema Province) and Lac Ndjale is the motorbike-worthy path. About 40 km.


  1. Posted 2008-10-10 at 6:46 pm | Permalink

    Don’t most places that are suddenly exposed to mainstream tourists end up under heavy damage?
    That’s a double standard I hold, to have unlimited freedom to roam these places as I want, but somehow deny the others.

  2. Terese
    Posted 2008-10-10 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

    Tourism to the “off the beaten track” places takes a lot more work (most places in Congo) and there will undoubtedly be lots of frustrating logistics— but too many other tourists will NOT be the problem in DR Congo. Not now.

  3. Steve Tyler
    Posted 2008-10-17 at 7:31 am | Permalink

    Do you have any books for purchase?

  4. Terese Hart
    Posted 2008-11-06 at 7:45 am | Permalink

    Thank you for the inspiration.
    I have written a manuscript of a book that is our time in Congo up to the beginning of the war in 1996. It is mainly in the Ituri Forest.
    I need to reread, edit and find a publisher!


  5. holly holst
    Posted 2011-04-11 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

    do you currently recommend the TL2 area for travel?

  6. Wembo Oscar
    Posted 2014-06-09 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

    How deep is Lake Ndjale?

  7. Terese Hart
    Posted 2014-06-11 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

    John, who has visited lake Ndjale says that it is a fairly shallow lake with a lot of emergent vegetation. But I have no more accurate answer than that. Sorry

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