We have a trip scheduled to Virunga in February, 2017. Our spaces are being held without deposit through the end of the month so we can see what develops on and after December 19.
All of the information above appears accurate and anyone contemplating travel to the DRC should only do so after sober deliberation. Thus far, in my research into current conditions in those areas we will be travelling, I have found no reports of violence toward tourists visiting the southern trekking areas of Virunga NP. The NP has provided the only real security and opportunity for locals and it is no longer simply the Rangers against all others. There is also a certain "weariness" of violence in the eastern DRC and Kivu districts specifically. While the political situation may result in some unrest, there is serious doubt it will lead to widespread violence, particularly in the east. That said, the NP is very aware of the impact violence toward tourists would have on the long term viability of everything they have fought to create over the past 8 years. To help mitigate the risk, park rangers will escort us at all times from the minute we clear immigration to the minute we leave. Our schedules are built based on travel only during daylight hours with plenty of room to spare. While some would say the NP will encourage us to come no matter what, the truth is they will not recommend travel if they believe there is undo risk. The impact of violence toward tourists in the DRC and specifically Kivu area would be devastating and not worth risking in the short term.
Will there be another opportunity? Will there be greater stability and less security concerns in the future? No question part of our decision to go will come down to these very questions. Also included in our consideration will be the value our $ to the long term viability of Virunga NP. But it isn't just $ either. We could simply donate online. We will also consider the value of sharing our experience here on ST as well as other media as a means to assuage other's concerns so more will follow. Without question, the few TRs here on ST along with TA have given us a preliminary, albeit cautious, confidence.
We welcome any direct, recent experience people have had in the DRC and especially Kivu area.
Lastly, and perhaps this should be a separate post, the DRC just opened a new NP http://www.voanews.c...rk/3631808.html Despite all of the turmoil, there is still vision to protect another part of the Congo.