Congo River

The Congo River is the deepest known river in the world and the most impressive for the amount of water it moves each second—more than 44,000 yards, putting it in second place behind the Pocomoke River that flows through both Delaware and Maryland in the United States. These massive quantities of water are directly attributed to the incredible depth of the Congo River. This great river exceeds 750 feet at several points during its course. Congo River facts denote the river, also called Zaire River, is named as such because it cuts through Africa’s Congo rainforest, originating in the mountains and highlands in an area marked by a tectonic chasm called the East African Rift.

Its main source is Zambia's Lake Mweru, which lies in the northeast of the country along the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). While there are national parks and game reserves here, the area has been on a low priority for management and protection. This means that most of the larger game (especially its once abumdant elephant, rhino, and lion populations) have been poached to exctinction in the area. There is other game, including some buffalo, a number of antelope, small game, and a rich birdlife. There is also virtually no tourism infrasturcture in this part of Zambia. This means that few visitors who come for Zambia wildlife safaris will ever set eyes on the source of the Congo River. Most visitors who come for safaris will fly into the rich game areas of North and South Luangwa National Park, located a few hundred miles to the south. All the way on the southwest end of the country lies Zambia's other main attraction - magnificent Victoria Falls.

From Lake Mweru, the river flows almost 3,000 miles north and then southwest across most of the DRC, along the border with Congo and Angola, and empties into the Atlantic Ocean. The Congo River supports bio-diverse ecosystems thriving within both the country’s grasslands as well as the Congo rainforests. The incredible depth of the Congo River also supports life within the water that otherwise might not thrive as it does. Along the banks of the river are more than two dozen magnificent waterfalls along with thousands of African islands, some that span more than ten miles across.

There are guides offering expeditions that traverse the waters of the Congo River. However, since the river flows primarily through a country that has experienced recent civil unrest and has virtually no tourism infrastructure, these expeditions are advisable only for the most experienced and intrepid adventure travelers. Near the mouth of the river, there are opportunities for safer expeditions on the river. 

Though much of the Congo River is bordered by lush rainforest, it is not the only type of backdrop visitors will see. Some of the area surrounding the river is filled with towering grasses, known as barnyard grass. This dry grass attracts a wealth of wildlife that forage and feed throughout the river plains. Common sights include zebra, giraffes, antelopes, buffalo, and gazelles. The depth of the Congo River makes it a great place for fishing and for this reason, among several other key reasons, thousands of people make their home along the river. The river water is most relied upon for irrigating crops such as tobacco, cotton, sugarcane and peanut, plants known to thrive in the very humid conditions that blanket the river areas. Congo River facts on depth, length, and conditions all contribute to the way the river is used. Barges can be seen carrying both goods like wood and fuel, and people. It’s these gas-powered beasts, though, that are polluting the Congo River fast and furiously.

About 150 miles from Lake Mweru is Lake Tanganyika and the border of Tanzania. On the Tanzania side of the border are a number of national parks that are very rich in game and do have good tourism infrastructure. The third largest park in Tanzania, Ruaha, boasts a large populations of elephants, and some people who visit this park on Tanzania safaris will venture to Lake Mweru.

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