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Welcome To The Jungle: Moving To The Congo

After living alone in the wilderness of the American National Parks for a year, where does one then go to quench their endless thirst for adventure and intrigue? Well surely the world has a near-endless list of places that might satisfy such needs, though I would posit that the jungles and wilds of central Africa's Democratic Republic of the Congo should be high on the list. Though many tales will emerge from this extraordinary land, steeped in natural bewilderment, allow this to serve as a beginning to a much more in depth story to tell .

By: Mike Quine + Save to a List

     For many, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (henceforth referred to as "The Congo" - not to be confused with its neighbor, the Republic of Congo) brings about visions of thick jungles, bad 90's movies, apes, The Heart of Darkness, and maybe even warlords and rebellion. Well for me, that was at least part of my impression before setting foot on this exotic terrain.  And in fact, part of that prior impression isn't far from reality. A curious childhood and the allure of the African rainforest played a major role in forging the ultimate path that lead me here...the banks of the famed Congo River - the starting point of so many of my amazing Congo experiences thus far...

     Given the recent political events of "he said, she said" regarding parts of the world that face developing challenges, I would like to caveat this piece by saying there is no political stance or motive behind its words. Nature and adventure, and humanity's place among them can only be dulled by the interference of politics. Sure nowadays and, frankly, for over the last 100 years, one could rarely have a conversation about the Congo without bringing up politics but rest assured, I hope to break that rhythm by offering you a view of the country's natural landscapes and adventures that await any who have ever imagined about the mystery hidden within its wilderness.

    Rewind back four and half years ago to the summer of 2013, and allow me to introduce you to a guy about to embark on a personal quest that would thereafter play an instrumental role in his life.  This Year Alone in the Wilderness of the National Parks would jettison the ever-searching soul of this young man on a, to date, irreversible path of exploration and experience-collection.

      Now it being 2018, I find myself six months into my next major life journey - exploring the wilds of The Congo. Not by a long shot am I the first to uncover the beauty contained within this massive territory, but for your average American, this is not a place many will see nor, unfortunately, give a second thought to during their lifetime. Steeped in political turmoil, disease, and widespread violence, the Congo is not one of the world's safe garden spots. Regrettably, the reputation these harsh realities create will so often mask the beauty hidden behind them. Such is the case with the natural treasures found in Congo.

     In less than six months I have had the distinct  pleasure and privilege to set foot on both land and water that were once reserved for only the fearless Congolese and the most intrepid explorers. Make no mistake about it, the wilderness of the Congo is untamed. If you were to encounter danger or threat to life in the wilderness here you will ultimately be left to your own devices and instincts to see you through. The room for error increases indefinitely with each step. And thats not even mentioning the harm to your insides by foes you couldn't even hope to see with the naked eye. Not for the faint of heart, the Congo offers experiences that are void of any "babysitting" regulations designed to keep you safe in fear of a lawsuit if you bump your toe. Nope. If you get bit by something or you get the wrong footing...well....you get it.

     Rest assured, common sense is your biggest advocate in ensuring your safety when exploring the wilderness sites offered by the Congo. And honestly, there are plenty of ways to have a safe time adventuring. Frankly, within four hours of the country's capital, Kinshasa, there are numerous areas that offer RELATIVELY safe places to explore. Give yourself the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see one of human's over-sexed ape relatives-  the Bonobos, coast along the Congo River, or ascend to spiritual enlightenment on Mount Mangengenge (try saying that 5 times fast). Fancy a mix of both adventure and relaxation?  Drive the white knuckle-inducing road to Zongo Falls and allow yourself to be consumed by the immense power given off by the untamed waterfall. While you're there you might as well sprawl out underneath "Massage Falls" while you get pummeled by a ceaseless fall of raw hydro-power. Well since it took you anywhere between 4-100 hours to get there pending the off-road conditions and "traffic," you might as well dip into the Congo River. Don't say I didn't warn you...there are crocodiles, hippos, and a host of other things that'll ruin you from the inside out. That being said...do it anyway because its the Congo River for God's sake.

     Ok I promised this was just going to be a teaser trailer for showcasing many adventures in the near future. I realize getting to the Congo is not on most of your bucket lists of places to visit but I hope this brief tale and window into its offerings may at the very least get you thinking about this wonderful place. Sure its not paradise for the many who live and suffer here but sharing its beauty is one way I hope to call attention to a land worth recognizing, cherishing, and protecting. Like I said before, I am not here to politicize anything but if given the chance, maybe one day you'll visit the Congo and form an opinion of this place on your own. I for one, will never regret setting foot here...as a matter of fact I still have an indefinite amount of time where I can still manage to find more wild parts of this untamed wilderness. Come join me!

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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