Why Is Congo’s Bukavu Safe to Visit & What Does It Offer?

Article from the series: Attractions of Rwanda, western Uganda and eastern DR Congo

The Democratic Republic of Congo has been in the news for very unfortunate reasons. The Movement of 23 March (M23) rebels have been occupying the territories on the outskirts of the city of Goma, waging an economic war because of the valuable resources found there.

But on the other side of Lake Kivu, some 100 km/62 mi to the south, the situation is very different. Here the city of Bukavu is the centre of the South-Kivu Province bordering Rwanda and Burundi. Because news stories depict the whole of eastern Congo as war ravaged and insecure, Bukavu is almost forgotten as a tourism destination — however that profile is far from accurate.

The security in the city is under control and the fact that it lies right on Rwanda’s boundary can give you some extra peace of mind. It is totally safe to move around Bukavu’s main traffic arteries as these are constantly supervised by both the civilian and military police.

With its location on several lake peninsulas, Bukavu is not only extremely picturesque, it abounds in architectural wonders (Art Deco, anyone?) and is full of welcoming people. Moreover, it is the base to explore the following attractions of South-Kivu:

Kahuzi-Biega National Park is a humid forest habitat protecting endangered Grauer’s or eastern lowland gorillas. It also has chimpanzees and elephants, forest buffaloes, leopards, giant forest hogs, …

Lwiro Natural Science Research Centre (CRSN) offers several exhibitions and a primate rehabilitation centre. It cares for chimps and small monkeys confiscated from poachers and other civilians, with the aim of returning rescued animals to the wild.

• The pretty falls of Tshibati located above the CRSN, with the first of the three waterfalls accessible to the public.

• Idjwi, Africa’s second largest lake island, with nice beaches and generous vegetation (eucalyptus, coffee, pineapple, orange trees).

No matter which destination you choose, you will be able to get nice accommodation and enjoy the area in peace. We urge you not to hesitate and to visit the beautiful city of Bukavu and its tourist attractions! As a Congolese musician says, “We do not judge a person from afar but face-to-face”.


I am Watukalusu Espoir Jean-Jacques, of Congolese nationality and born in Lwiro in Kabare territory, South-Kivu. I am a rural development technician specialising in the field of environment and sustainable development.

In Africa, a child is not always free to make his own choice of studies. When I was young I had a dream to get into nature conservation and tourism but the family had other ideas.

But eventually, for my one-month internship at school, I had the chance to choose the primate rehabilitation centere of Lwiro. At last I could follow my dream! Being an intern there was like a blessing for me because I could learn how to prepare food for the animals, therefore helping with their rehabilitation.

Shortly after receiving my graduate diploma, I got a call from Lwiro. They offered me a job as a tourist guide and educator! I could not look left or right, I immediately said yes …

During my four years in that role, I took part in a lot of different trainings. Even more, this job presented me with an opportunity to travel to Uganda and attend the Gorilla Highlands Bootcamp! Since then, I have been the Gorilla Highlands man in Bukavu.

Espoir means “hope” and I hope one day I will get a chance to guide you around South-Kivu!

featured photo by Marcus Westberg; other photos by Bukavu Explorer