The Democratic Republic of Congo, formerly called Zaire, is an environmentally rich country in Central Africa. It covers more than 2 million square kilometers of beautiful forests, breathtaking peaks, and ravishing rivers where exotic wildlife abounds. If you’re a traveler who’s up for an adventure like no other, then you ought to visit the Democratic Republic of Congo anytime soon.
To visit Congo, you need to have a tourist visa. You also need to present a passport-size picture, vaccination certificates, and a hotel reservation as proof of your ‘financial’ capacity to stay in the country. Air France and Brussels Airlines offer direct flights to the capital of Kinshasa. Kenyan Airways, Ethiopian Airways, and South African Airways also fly to the country.
If you want to visit the different regions in the country, airline companies such as the Compagnie Africain d’Aviation fly to Goma, Kindu, Kananga, Lubumbashi, and Maya-maya, to name a few.
Where to stay in Kinshasa
Hotel Sultani, which ranges from $165-$250 a night, is the most-recommended hotel in by tourists, according to Trip Advisor.
- Hotel Venus
- Hotel Royal
- Hotel Memling
- Grand Hotel Kinshasa
Cheap alternatives include the Guest House Residence (starting at $50) and Residence Le Consul (ranges from $40-$80.)
What to eat and drink
Fufu, a ball-sized delicacy made of cassava, is a good eat. You need to dip it in a spicy stew for the best taste. Another popular food is the Lituma, which is a baked ball made from Plantain.
Primus beer, which is brewed by the Heineken-owned Bralima Brewery, is worth a try. Tembo dark beer, which is concocted in a brewery in Lubumbashi, is also a great drink. Another drink you ought to try is a palm wine, which is made from a palm tree. After tapping from the tree, the liquor is fermented. After 2 hours, you can taste a sweet, aromatic wine with 4% alcohol content.
What to see
In the country’s capital alone you can find a handful of beautiful sights. At the Kisantu Botanical Gardens you can appreciate the beauty of fauna. At Symphonies Naturelles, you can spend the day fishing, trekking, and spotting indigenous wildlife. Visit the Valle de la Lufira, a UNESCO Biosphere site, and be able to enjoy hiking and bird watching experiences like no other.
If you want to see a Bonobo up close, you need to visit the AAC Bonobo Nursery Sanctuary, located at the American School of Kinshasa. Bonobos, or Pygmy Chimpanzees, are bred here and later on released in the wild.
The country is home to the second largest jungle after Brazil’s Amazon.
Here, you can find extraordinary environmental sights and amazing wildlife reserves. At the Garamba National Park, you can see a number of white rhinos. The Maiko National park, on the other hand, is home to Congo Peacock, Okapi, and the Eastern Lowland Gorilla. The Okapi Wildlife Reserve, a UNESCO Heritage Site, boasts of an Okapi Breeding Sanctuary. Chutes de Zongo, or the Congo Falls, is also worth seeing. The journey is difficult, but the view is such a feast for the eyes.
Museums and Galleries in Congo
Museums, which depict the history of the country, can be found in the capital of Kinshasa. Learn more about the ethnology and history of the country by dropping by at the University Of Kinshasa Museum. For more about the colonial heritage of Africa, visit the Institute of National Museums of Congo.
If you’re a lover of art, then you need to visit Congo’s famous Academie des Beaux-Arts. Here you can find outstanding works of renowned artists and academy teachers such as Alfred Liyolo and Lema Kusa oder Roger Botembe. Henri Kalama Akulez, an abstract painter, has a studio in the academy which you ought to visit.
There’s also a museum at the province of Lubumbashi. While here, make it a point to visit the National Museum of Lubumbashi, where you can see the country’s important relics and findings.
Of course, a visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo is not complete without bringing home a souvenir or two. For Congolese products and delights, shop at the Marche Central, also known as the Central Market of Matonge.