Congo-Rwanda Border Closes on this first day of August 2019 just a few months after the Virunga Park Re-Opening to tourists. This has come from the third case of Ebola that was confirmed in the city of Goma passing on. There was a first case recorded late June and the word on ground is that the 2 cases have no connection thus the need for this quarantine. Virunga Park Authorities are also putting activities at the border on a standstill as the Democratic Republic of Congo-Rwanda border of Goma and Gisenyi has been closed for 21 days which is the incubation period for Ebola. This closure should help the Democratic Republic of Congo to manage the spread of this deadly viral disease that has been disturbing the country for a while now approximately 2 years.
The Grande barrier border is the most commonly used border for guests coming into the Democratic Republic of Congo to visit the Virunga National Park. This border is in the East of the Democratic Republic of Congo and the northwest of Rwanda. This border can be accessed from Kigali (the Capital City of Rwanda) in about 4 to 5 hours to cross to Goma district where the meeting point for all transfers to the park is. The traffic at this border is high and is comprised of tourists, businessmen and women, and locals of Rwanda and Goma that is, those staying in Goma and working in Gisenyi and vice versa but majorly for tourists. For international visitors, they will need a VISA to cross into the Democratic Republic of Congo from Kigali. Please take note that your Rwandan VISA expires once you cross into Congo so if you plan on exiting from the Goma border again, you will have to reapply for another so that you find it ready at the end of your visit to the country. This Congo VISA lasts for 14 days maximum and only permits you to visit tourist points of the country and exempts you from any business transactions or commercial services. On arrival to the Grande Barrier, you will be expected to show your approved VISA which you should have applied for 2 weeks to arrival and the valid yellow fever vaccine card to be allowed to cross the Grande Barrier.
This closure is not the first but might be the most serious as it is a matter of health so to ensure the safety of international travelers as well as the local people. This is a measure that had to be taken supported by the tourism authorities of the countries as well. We advise those visiting the country to either fly-in at the Goma international airport or use the Bunagana border of Uganda-Congo if need be but to ensure the safety and health of an individual.
We advise postponing the trip to later (maybe after these 21 Days) as the situation calms down. Bookings are still applicable and those with already booked safaris to Congo, please get in touch with your tour operator for advice on how to manage the situation as this will surely wear off soon even maybe before the 21-day window given by the health operatives in the Democratic Republic of Congo. You can opt to postpone the trip to Virunga for a later date even if you had paid the full amount as this is workable with the park authorities. I also advise to keep updated about this news if you are planning on visiting Congo so as to not be caught unaware or ask your operator to share updates. We are still gathering information and hopefully will keep you updated. Only Congolese residents are allowed to depart the country and the international visitors who are in the country and are exiting Rwanda in the next 12 hours.
For tours going to Rwanda and Uganda, there shouldn’t be need to worry as no case has been confirmed in the country of Rwanda.