Symphonies Naturelles may be about 20 minutes from Gombe, but it feels like you’ve left the hubbub of Kinshasa completely behind. According to their website, the forest is home to lots of animals including monkeys and pangolins, but we’ve never seen those. What we have seen is the beautiful forest and surrounding villages, terraced fish ponds, cows, and a freshwater spring coming out of a cliff.
Though similar in amenities to Lac de ma Vallée or Lac CEMKA, Symphonies Naturelles is closer, and you don’t have to face the constant embouteillage of UPN to get there. There’s a restaurant with tables by one of the larger ponds near the parking area, and you are also allowed to bring your own food. Everyone must pay an entry fee.
From the main area, you can walk around the park and into the surrounding neighborhoods. If you continue you past the end of the fish ponds, you can do a loop around a valley. It’s actually pretty easy to navigate yourself, but I’m sure if you asked at the restaurant, they would find you a guide. Once you leave the park itself, there are lots of children eager for a walk, but they aren’t allowed inside.
Overall, a visit to Symphonies Naturelles is a great place to get away from the city for an afternoon, just to relax or to go for a walk. Their website says they hope to build a hotel and campsite in the future so maybe there will be even more options for a weekend away.
What to Bring: A picnic.
When to Go: The weekend is your best bet. Other days, you need to make a reservation.
How to Get There: From the Route de Matadi (before it meets up with the Avenue Guma), turn right on Avenue Kisolokele. There is a sign at the intersection for Symphonies Naturelles. Continue straight until you reach the entrance on the right. There’s no sign at the entrance, but it is after you go up the hill and continue to bear right along the side of the hill (with the Message du Graal church on the left). The entrance is a small road going down to the right.
Travel Time: 20-30 minutes from Gombe.
Risk Assessment: 4×4 needed especially if it has rained.
Contacts: 099 994 0778 or 081 814 6086 http://www.symphonies-naturelles.com