The Land of Birdsong

The Democratic Republic of Congo

  • Kisangani, the Congo River.  Photographer: Michael Christopher Brown
  • HautUele District, one of the areas in which the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) operates.  Photographer: Michael Christopher Brown
  • Mama & baby gorilla, Virunga National Park.  Photographer: Michael Christopher Brown
  • The Democratic Republic of Congo: The Land of Birdsong
  • On the shores of Lake Kivu, at the border of DRC & Rwanda.  Photographer: Michael Christopher Brown
  • A porter on Mt Nyiragongo.  Photographer: Michael Christopher Brown
  • The Democratic Republic of Congo: The Land of Birdsong
  • The Democratic Republic of Congo: The Land of Birdsong
  • Soldiers in Rwindi, at the Hotel Invest, a FARDC military base.  Photographer: Michael Christopher Brown
  • The Democratic Republic of Congo: The Land of Birdsong
  • Waiting for the arrival of President Joseph Kabila to the town of Rutshuru.  President Kabila was driving his S.U.V. from Kisangani to Gom to celebrate the end of war with the M23 rebel group.  Photographer: Michael Christopher Brown
  • The Democratic Republic of Congo: The Land of Birdsong
  • In a village north of the city of Beni.  Photographer: Michael Christopher Brown

The Democratic Republic of Congo: The Land of Birdsong

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Regular price
£500.00
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Travel through the Northern and Southern Kivu regions of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) for 10 days in January and February 2022.  This is a rare opportunity to be a part of a pioneering trip to explore the cultural and geographic richness of the DRC, with the award-winning photographer, and former DRC resident, Michael Christopher Brown.

The total price for the eight-day trip is $7990.  We interview all those that apply to join the trip.  Once selected, participants will be required to pay a $650 deposit to secure their place on the trip.

To express your interest and for further information, please contact us at: explore@ishkar.com, or book a consultation with us by clicking on the button above.

What?

Travel through the thick jungles and volcanic landscapes of the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, exploring a side to the region that is rarely seen by tourists.

We will be travelling alongside internationally renowned photographer, and D.R.C. expert, Michael Christopher Brown. Michael will be teaching us about D.R.C.'s complex past and present, as well as how to capture what we see on camera along the way.

Where?

North and South Kivu provinces of the Democratic Republic of Congo, bordering Uganda and Rwanda.

When?

We will be operating two 10 day trips in January and February 2022.  Please get in touch for more precise dates.

Who?

The trip is open to all curious minds and adventurous spirits. Michael Christopher Brown will be on hand to offer one to one photography tips, and field workshops as we travel. However, you do not need to be an expert photographer - the trip is equally open to those who are drawn by the opportunity to explore a fascinating region alone.

A decent level of fitness will be required in order to hike for 6 hours up to the top of a volcano at 3000m in altitude. This is a climb over rough volcanic terrain gaining approximately 1400m in height over the course of 9km.

We will be a small team of up to 6 travellers. Throughout the trip, we will be accompanied by a local guide, along with Michael and a member of the ISHKAR team.

Due to high demand we interview everyone who applies to join ISHKAR trips. Your group travel experience is as important to us as the destination experience.

Cost & Booking Information

The price for this one in a lifetime trip is USD 7990.  The price will include all food, transport and accommodation whilst in country, along with all field photography workshops with Michael Christopher Brown.  We will be assisted by guides who know the region inside out, providing access to areas rarely seen by tourists.

Additional costs:

  • 14 day tourist visa ~ USD 115

Optional add on:

  • Eastern lowland gorillas visit ~ approximately USD 400 (please enquire for further information on this option)

Email to apply now: explore@ishkar.com

Book a consultation with us: Click here.

Call us on: +44 7946 268 10

* Where international payments are due, we request that you ensure the full amount is received, after all bank charges have been levied as per the price and currency stated on the invoice stated.

Preorders explained

If an item is out of stock you are able to preorder the item, so that you're first in line when its back. Once you have preordered an item we guarantee the order to be shipped to you within four months. If the item is delivered outside this window we will provide you with your money back. Often the order will arrive well within this four month period. Contact preorders@ishkar.com for more accurate information on when orders for this product are likely to be ready.

Terms & Conditions

Please visit our Terms & Conditions page for further information.

For information relating travel during the time of COVID-19, please visit our COVID-19 Travel Policy.

Detail

OUR DESTINATION

The largest country in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo (D.R.C.) is home to the world’s deepest river and the world’s second largest rainforest. D.R.C. is as fabulously rich in biodiversity above ground as it is in minerals below.

On the country’s eastern frontier with Rwanda and Uganda, lie the provinces of North and South Kivu. North and South Kivu are bordered to their east by the African Great Lakes of Lake Kivu and Lake Edward. It is a region of volcanoes, rich montane forests, and dramatic rivers. It is also the location of the Virunga National Park, a world heritage site which is one of only two remaining habitats for the endangered mountain gorilla.

Unfortunately, D.R.C.'s natural riches have been overshadowed by nearly 20 years of continuous instability. For this reason, despite D.R.C.’s many attractions, very few tourists visit the country each year.

ISHKAR Travel - Explore the D.R.C.

MEET THE MASTER

Michael Christopher Brown is an internationally renowned photographer. A former associate of Magnum photos, Michael has been a regular contributor to, and subject of, publications ranging from National Geographic, to the New York Times and Time Magazine.

He has gained critical acclaim for his work in Libya, where he documented the fall of Muammar Gaddafi. He also lived in D.R.C. on and off between 2012-2014, with regular visits since. In addition to his published works from within the country, he is in the process of producing three books which show D.R.C. from three different perspectives: a photo journal from a Congolese female commando, killed in action in early 2014; a series of work by a Congolese studio/ portrait photographer; a collection of his own work from between 2012-2016. Michael believes that the country has a beauty and a fascination that is rarely understood by the outside world.

Unlike many photographers, Michael often prefers the use of a camera phone for its unobtrusive nature and ability to capture realities not always available to those hidden behind large lenses.

@michaelchristopherbrown

ISHKAR Travel - Explore the D.R.C.

GROUP TRAVEL

One of the best things about going on an ISHKAR trip is the group of people with whom you travel. Our trips attract informed, critically minded and adventurous people from all around the world.

Some of you will be drawn by the prospect of spending time in the remote wilderness, others will be drawn by the chance to learn about a fascinating and poorly understood part of the world.

We get to know everyone who applies to our trips over the phone. In this way we can curate groups guaranteed to enjoy sharing this extraordinary experience together.  What unites everyone is the same curious spirit and desire to get far away from the typical tourist trails.

(c) Jacob Schmidt - ISHKAR traveller 2021

The Price

The price for this one in a lifetime trip is USD 7990.  The price will include all food, transport and accommodation whilst in country, along with all field photography workshops with Michael Christopher Brown.  We will be assisted by guides who know the region inside out, providing access to areas rarely seen by tourists.

Additional costs:

  • 14 day tourist visa ~ USD 115

Optional add on:

  • Eastern lowland gorillas visit ~ approximately USD 400 (please enquire for further information on this option)

Email to apply now: explore@ishkar.com

Book a consultation with us: Click here.

Call us on: +44 7946 268 10

* Where international payments are due, we request that you ensure the full amount is received, after all bank charges have been levied as per the price and currency stated on the invoice stated.

ISHKAR Travel - Explore the D.R.C.

(c) Michael Christopher Brown

TRAVEL SECURITY

We are uncompromising when it comes to the safety and security of our travellers and will not hesitate to alter plans or cancel trips due to changing security dynamics. While D.R.C. does still suffer from  instability and conflict, we only travel to parts of the country which are safe for foreign tourists to visit.

Through working with Michael and a team of local guides with nearly 20 years of experience of navigating eastern D.R.C., we are able to stay abreast of any changes to the security situation.

Please see our Travel Security page for more information.

ISHKAR Travel - Explore the D.R.C.

(c) Michael Christopher Brown

Your Guide

Horeb Bulambo

Horeb is a lead television reporter and field producer for numerous outlets including National Geographic, New York Times, Vice News, CNN and Netflix.   In addition to his substantial support for media outlets working within D.R.C. since 1996, he has also worked for the Diane Fossey Gorilla Fund World Vision as well as MONUSCO (UN stabilisation mission in DRC).

ISHKAR Travel - Explore the D.R.C.

ISHKAR Team Member

Your ISHKAR point of contact for the trip is Zanna Baker.  If you have any queries about the trip:

Email: explore@ishkar.com
Book a consultation: Click here.

Zanna Baker ~ Head of Travel
Zanna joined the team in ISHKAR's early travel days.  She has worked for extended period all over from Norway to Antarctica, Somalia , Jordan, Afghanistan, the D.R.C. and Uganda, managing a variety of projects.  She is on hand to deal with any of your trip logistics and concerns.

(c) Jacob Schmidt - ISHKAR traveller 2020

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Highlights

01 / East African
Rift Jungle

Trek into the jungle to experience life in contested lands with the Bambuti hunter gatherers. Learn about the traditional methods of living in tropical surroundings and the fight to retain identities and homelands.

02 / Volcano
Camping

Hike up to 3000m altitude and camp overnight at the edge of the caldera of one of the world's largest lava lakes.

03 / Lowland
gorillas

Hike into the jungle to visit the eastern lowland gorilla; the largest of the four gorilla subspecies in the world. Years of civil unrest in the D.R.C. have taken their toll on these gorillas as their habitat has been reduced down to only 13% of its historical range.

04 / Nobel Prize
Winner

Spend an afternoon in Bukavu with Dr Denis Mukwege, Nobel Prize Winner and founder of the Panzi Hospital.

Testimonial

ISHKAR Travel - Explore the D.R.C.

(c) Michael Christopher Brown

ISHKAR's trip to the East D.R.C. made the realization of an old dream become true: Visiting one of the most fascinating and dramatic places on earth. The highly professional guidance by ISHKAR that was at any time perfectly tailored to the situation on site as well as the countless valuable inputs by master photographer M.C. Brown have made this venture an unforgettable experience.

- David Erni,
ISHKAR Traveller 2021

ISHKAR Travel - Explore the D.R.C.

(c) Michael Christopher Brown

I’m glad there’s a company such as this to enable visiting places in the world like the Kivus. Hard to believe arriving in DRC, let alone for an extended time, didn’t seem to be an option for me only a few months ago.

- Belton McMurrey,
ISHKAR Traveller 2021

(c) Jacob Schmidt

I was not centered around photography - the experience was so much more than that. Michael did a great job going beyond his photography skills and giving context and stories about the locations as well. I consider him a great friend and helpful teacher.

- Jacob Schmidt,
ISHKAR Traveller 2021

Is it safe in D.R.C. and in North/South Kivu?

D.R.C. has suffered instability for nearly 20 years since the First Congo War in 1996 and the Second Congo War from 1997-2003. Whilst peace was achieved in 2003, the war left a legacy that continues to be felt as a result of ethnic violence, authoritarian leadership and extreme poverty. Between 2012-2016, in addition to ongoing violence driven by armed groups such as M23 in the east, a conflict commenced in the Kasai region which led to the country’s most recent large-scale humanitarian crisis. Political tensions escalated more recently (2016-2019), when elections were delayed by 2 years, which led to the resignation of President Joseph Kabila.

A large part of the ongoing violence is centred around the province of Ituri, with more remote corners of North and South Kivu being home to a number of armed groups. Violence is usually targeted at Congolese and is a result of the legacy of earlier conflicts leading to intercommunal violence.

To counter risk of violence and kidnap within D.R.C., we rely on a network of contacts, both local and international. We do not travel after daylight hours and will be predominantly centred around Goma and Bukavu, avoiding areas impacted by conflict. Through working with Michael and a team of local guides with nearly 20 years of experience of navigating eastern D.R.C., we are able to stay abreast of any changes to the security situation. At ISHKAR ensuring the safety of our travellers is at the heart of what we do. For more information surrounding our approach to security read this page.

How will COVID-19 affect the trip?

In order to protect both our travellers and those that our travellers come into contact with, we mandate a strict set of COVID-19 protocols which include social distancing, usage of hand sanitiser and the wearing of face coverings.   Our COVID-19 procedures are based on up to date advice from the World Health Organisation in addition to following local requirements. Along with our security information, we ensure to send out our COVID-19 procedures document to every traveller.

All travellers (regardless of vaccination status) are required to obtain a negative PCR test result within 72 hours prior to departure.  Within 24 hours prior to departure travellers (regardless of vaccination status) must also obtain proof of a negative rapid antigen test result.   Proof of both these tests must be sent to ISHKAR prior to departure, and its cost will covered by the traveller, not ISHKAR.

Should ISHKAR decide to cancel a trip as a result of COVID-19 or should a traveller be unable to take part in the trip as a result of COVID-19, you will be offered options including a full refund as per our COVID-19 Travel Policy.  Any further questions, please take a look at our COVID-19 Travel FAQs, and our generic COVID-19 Protocols, or contact a member of the team: explore@ishkar.com

Do I need to be fit?

Yes, a good level of fitness is required. On one of the days we will be walking for up to 6 hours uphill in order to reach our campsite at 3000m. This will be a height gain of approximately 1400m over the course of 9km.  The terrain is rough under foot and in particular the descent can at times be slippery.

What is the weather like?

D.R.C. is a trans-equatorial country which means temperatures remain fairly consistent throughout the year. At lower altitudes such as in Goma (1500m) the average daytime temperature sits between 20-25°C in February. Humidity is high throughout the year and therefore can result in temperatures rising to 35°C, but if at altitude it can drop to 10°C overnight (for example when camping overnight on the volcano.) DRC has been known to have some of the highest frequencies of thunderstorms in the world, and there are on average 16 days of rainfall in February.  Whilst hiking up the volcano there is a likelihood that it may rain, but the temperature will remain mild.

Where can I see the exact itinerary?

We do not publish our itinerary online for security reasons. We will give further information on the itinerary on enquiry. Please note that the exact itinerary is subject to change.  Write to explore@ishkar.com to request the trip information pack.

What is included in the cost?

The cost includes domestic flights, all accommodation, guiding, transport/transfers in D.R.C., breakfast, lunch and dinner and entrance fees. It does not include international flights into and out of Goma, visa fees (invoiced separately), insurance, excess luggage charges, cameras, alcohol, additional food and drinks, medical expenses, tipping, or trips to the gorillas.

When do I need to book?

As early as possible, this trip is likely to be booked up fast. A deposit of $650 will secure your place, and the final balance needs to be paid 60 days prior to departure. You can pay this online, or via bank transfer directly to us.


How do I get a visa?

We will provide you with additional documentation to help with your visa application, along with advice specific to your country of residence.

Will we have a guide?

Throughout the trip, you will be accompanied by a local guide who speaks fluent English amongst seven other languages.  He has worked for the UN’s stabilisation mission in D.R.C. and World Vision, along with being a leading reporter and field producer for a range of media outlets since 1996.  He is well connected across the region and knows his country like the back of his hand.  You will also be accompanied throughout by Michael, with his working knowledge of the region, and an ISHKAR representative to support all your needs.

Do I need special travel insurance?

You are required to have full travel insurance specific to the region and the activities.  This will need to include suitable Kidnap, Ransom & Extortion Insurance.

If you are unsure if your existing travel insurance policy will cover you, we can suggest specialist insurance companies.

We use Battleface and highly recommend it. Other options include (but are not limited to): Clements, World Nomads, Petersen, Cambell Irvine or The Universal Insurance Co Ltd.

Will I be able to travel on my own?

We will stay as a group for the duration of the trip. You may choose to travel on your own before the start or after the finish of the trip, but whilst travelling with ISHKAR you are requested to remain with the group.

Do I need any vaccinations?

You will be required to present a yellow fever certificate on arrival in D.R.C.  Please speak with your doctor to ensure you have the correct vaccinations & malaria prevention for remote travel in D.R.C.  Further information can be found at https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/.

What do I need to bring?

We will send you a more detailed handbook before leaving, including recommended reading and clothing.

Where will we be staying?

We will be staying in a mixture of hotels and guesthouses in addition to huts whilst visiting the volcano. There is not an option to share rooms unless you are a couple.

Can I come on my own?

Yes of course! Individuals and small groups are equally welcome. Personally, we also think this could be the perfect trip to experience with a friend, parent, child, or partner!

What is the food like?

All meals are included.  Cuisine varies widely from more western oriented restaurants, to menus centred around cassava, fufu (balls of puree white yams, sweet potatoes, or plantain)  rice, plantain and potatoes with side dishes.  Fresh fruit and snack food will also be available throughout.   Why not try “Poulet à la Moamba” - chicken in a peanut sauce.

When do I need to book my flights?

If you are thinking of applying, please email us at explore@ishkar.com and we will send you the flights you will need to book, in order to ensure that all travellers’ arrivals into Goma are coordinated.

Can I book even if I don’t live in the UK?

Yes of course, our travellers always come from a mix of different countries. You will just need to arrive at Addis Ababa in time to catch the flight to Goma.

Do I have to be a keen photographer to take part in this trip?

No absolutely not.  There will be plenty of opportunities to explore the region without your camera, and Michael will be happy to provide tips only if you wish to have them.

Do I need to have a good camera for the trip?

No, feel free to bring any camera you wish, including just using the camera on your phone.

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