- Written by Dan
Outpost Travel Planner: Congo (The Republic of Congo)
The Outpost travel planner with the what, where, when, why and how of all things travel to the Republic of the Congo
When To Go
Rain in the Republic of the Congo can be torrential and shuts down many roads, so the best time to go is during the dry season of June to October. At this time, when temperatures average in the mid-20s degrees Celsius, you can enjoy the rainforests, beaches and markets in all of their glory. Brazzaville is the captial city and rests along the famed Congo River.
Flights are available daily from Toronto and Vancouver to Brazzaville’s Maya Maya Airport, and usually include at least two stopovers during the long flight. Once you reach the airport in Brazzaville, buses and taxis are available to take you to your hotel in the city. However, travellers should keep in mind that due to political instability, Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada has issued an official warning against non-essential travel to most areas in the Congo, excluding the cities of Brazzaville and Pointe-Noire. Take extra safety precautions in northern Congo along the Ubangui River, which borders neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Making your way through Congo can be quite cheap and easy by shared taxi or minibus, but negotiate your taxi fare with the driver in advance. If you obtain an International Driving Permit before your visit, you can also rent a car to navigate the roads (but watch out for potholes, they are par for the course there!). Driving alone at night is inadvisable, since safety is a concern in many parts of the country. Travelling by air is the best and safest way to voyage between Brazzaville and the coastal town of Pointe-Noire.
What to See and Do
The Congo is home to an incredible number of cultural, ecological and adventure experiences. Head to the remote Mbeli Bai camp, part of Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park in northern Congo, for the rare opportunity to observe western lowland gorillas. There are trips on offer to Mbeli Bai, some as part of a 15-day lowland gorilla and forest elephant excursion in the Congo and the Central African Republic. Often proceeds from such trips go toward the WCS and World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).
Within Brazzaville, there is plenty to take in during your trip. Visit the Basilique Sainte Anne, a beautiful, modern church built in 1949, and the Temple Mosque, another architectural wonder and the most important religious site in the city. The National Museum of Congo is another worthwhile site to visit, displaying all kinds of Congolese art and historical artefacts. The Brazzaville marketplace will provide a distinct cultural experience, offering unique culinary treats (fancy some cooked bats?) and wildly colourful authentic African fabrics.
Whatever you do, make sure to pay a visit the famed Congo River, one of the longest rivers in the world, and so iconic. With its intensely powerful whitewater rapids and surrounding waterfalls, this “heart of darkness” is a force of nature that will take your breath away. Finally, for a more relaxing retreat, the coastal town of Pointe-Noire is famed for its stunning, tranquil beaches and clear water. It’s also a hot spot for windsurfing, hang-gliding and deep-sea fishing—so get out your gear!