Also known as the Congo Brazzaville, the Republic of Congo is a central African country and when we talk about a safari in Congo, what should cross your mind is the rich diversity of wildlife including gorillas, the exotic beaches, the remote volcanoes, the dense tropical forests and so much more. The rich biodiversity in the republic of Congo attracts a large number of tourists every year.
Below we have highlighted the top ten (10) things to do and places to visit on a Safari in Congo.
Explore Conkouati National Park
Conkouati Douli National Park was established in 1993 and covers an area of 5,050 square kilometers and extended from the coastline of the Atlantic Ocean into the thick forested mountains. The National Park is the most diverse natural habitat found in the whole of Congo and it is home to variety of wildlife which live in its forested ecosystem among which are red River hogs, elephants, sitatunga, Gorillas, chimpanzees, Buffaloes, leopards just a mention. In addition you will find a small population dolphins and turtles close to the coastline. This National Park which was declared a world heritage site by UNESCO several years ago suffered from the terror of poachers who greatly reduced the number of wild animals here, however, today these numbers have been rejuvenated and you will surely have a remarkable experience in this park
Visit Diosso Gorge
Also referred to as the Grand Canyon of Congo this gorge is situated a few miles from Pointe Noire. During your visit here you will enjoy the breathtaking views across the rugged terrain and you will be able to see the extreme soil erosion that has scared the terrain in this area. The greenery of the surrounding is also breathtaking and you will surely appreciate the gifts of Mother Nature here.
Visit Odzala- Kokoua National Park
Located in the northwestern part of the Congo, Odzala – Kokoua National Park was first designated back in 1935 before being declared as a biosphere reserve later in 1977. Today this National Park is one of the oldest on the entire African continent and despite its remoteness and the fact that it can only be accessed by fly-in safaris. it offers very remarkable wildlife experiences to holidaymakers who are able to make it there. You will get a personal encounter with the Baka pygmies who live in this area and also be able to trek and have a face-to-face encounter with the lowland gorilla groups which have been habituated for tourism
Visit Lefini Faunal Reserve
Established in 1951 the Lefini Faunal Reserve covers an area of 6,300 square kilometers and it was primarily established to conserve and protect the lowland Gorillas an endangered species in the world. Today this reserve is becoming one of the popular tourist sites in the Congo
Explore the capital Brazzaville
the busy yet small capital of Congo known as Brazzaville is located on the banks of river Congo and offers visitors very clear views of the Democratic republic of Congo’s capital city Kinshasa which sits on the opposite side of the river. The capital of Congo has a number of very active markets dealing in various items such as traditional artworks, sculptures and paintings; the city has a number of ancient buildings that were constructed during the colonial times and various memorials of the rich culture of the Congolese people.
Trek the Lowland Gorillas of Congo
The remote yet very large Nouabale-Ndoki National Park is located in Congo’s northern corner and was termed as the ‘last Eden’ by the National Geographic. It is home to a wide diversity of animals and great primates such as chimpanzees and the lowland gorillas. This UNESCO world heritage site in addition is best known for its gorilla trekking safaris during which visitors will get an opportunity to have a personal encounter with the habituated groups of the lowland Gorillas. It is quite a thrilling experience and highly recommended for visitors on a safari in the republic of Congo
Check out the Loufoulakari Falls
Located southwest of the capital Brazzaville the waterfall is found at the confluence of river Congo Loufoulakari River it offers breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside and offers a peaceful getaway from the busy and noisy life in the capital
Visit the Seaside Pointe Noire
Pointe Noire is a seaside City and the second largest in the republic of Congo. It is considered as the economic capital of the country despite its laid-back setting. The beach front of the city is fairly underdeveloped badly maintained but retains its charm. There are a number of good places where visitors can enjoy sundowner by the seaside, some fine restaurants as well as a number of vibrant markets where you can buy some souvenirs.
The Mayombe Mountains
Covering an area of more than 2,000 square kilometers, this protected geographical area is extends across the southern and western section of the Congo Basin’s tropical rainforest. tis mountain range extends across three (3) different African countries which are the Republic of Congo, Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Visit the town of Linzolo
Linzolo is located approximately 30 kilometers from Brazzaville the capital and it is here that you will find the first ever constructed Catholic Church which was built by a French priest in 1882. This town is in addition home to the World Health Organization’s regional office and you will also find a very vibrant market where you will get an opportunity to interact with the locals and do some souvenir shopping.
Frequently asked questions on the Republic of Congo
Do I need a Visa to go to the republic of Congo?
All foreign nationals going to the republic of Congo are required to have a valid passport and all applicants should have the required evidence for their reason of visiting, accommodation arrangements and their source of support throughout their stay.
Visa Applications and passports should be submitted at least two (2) weeks before their intended date of travel into Congo to The Consulate of the Republic of Congo in your home country. The cost of the Visa varies depending on the type of Visa you are applying for.
It is very important to note that no Visas will be issued at the point of entry into the country such as the airports or border crossing.
Is it Safe to Travel to the Republic of Congo?
This relatively small country in central Africa is fairly safe to visit however similar to a number of countries on the African continent; petty crime is common in the large cities of Brazzaville and Pointe-Noire. For that reason you are highly advised to follow the guidelines below
- Always ensure that when moving in the major crowded cities like Brazzaville and Pointe-Noire you have all your valuables well locked up in your bag and not exposed.
- It’s also a good habit to avoid large crowds because Petty thieves normally take advantages of such places.
- Avoid moving with large amounts of cash with you and always leave your expensive items like jewelry and watches will looked up in the safe provided at the hotel
- A money belt is a very good option so sure that your wallet and other important document are tucked in there safely
- Laptops and cameras should not be easily exposed or carelessly handled while moving in the towns
- It’s also highly recommended that you do not move alone or unaccompanied especially at night.
What is the official currency used in Congo?
The republic of Congo is within the French monetary area and so the official currency used in the country is the CFA franc which is in both banknotes and coins. The banknotes are in denominations of XAF 500, 1000, 2000, 5000 and 10,000. The coins are in denominations of XAF 1, 5, 25, 50, 100 and 250. Local currencies like the US Dollar and Euro can easily be exchanged with the CFA Franc despite the fact that the US Dollar is still a preferred currency. Money exchange can only be done in the banks which operate from Monday to Friday opening at 0630hrs to 1300hrs.
What is the Official Language in the Republic of Congo?
French is the officially spoken language in the Republic of Congo. the country is multilingual and it is estimated that there are about 242 languages spoken in the country, however there are four major indigenous languages spoken in the Congo which are: Kituba (“Kikongo”), Tshiluba, Lingala and Swahili, and these are regarded as the National Languages
Are credit cards being used in the Republic of Congo?
Generally credit cards are not prevalent used across the country, in fact it’s just a number of hotels within the capital Brazzaville and in Pointe-Noire that allow major debit and credit cards like MasterCard and Diners Clubs. There is only one ATM in the capital Brazzaville.
Is travel insurance needed when going to Congo?
Yes, outside the capital of Brazzaville dental and medical facilities are limited and for that reason all persons visiting Congo are highly advised to have a good travel Insurance. Please ensure that your insurance package covers you in case of emergency evacuations and covers some safari activities such as hiking.
What vaccines do I need when visiting the Republic of Congo?
there are a number of vaccines recommended for persons visiting the Republic of Congo among which are typhoid, Hepatitis A, Tetanus and Yellow Fever (this is recommended for all persons of one year of age and over and you should present a yellow fever vaccination certificate to the immigrations officers at the time of arrival as proof of receiving the vaccine). Persons who will be in contact with animals during their stay are also advised to take the rabies shot. Other recommended vaccines include the Meningococcal A & C as well as Hepatitis B
As a reminder, HIV / AIDS is prevalent as well so enjoy your stay carefully. Malaria is also prevalent in the country
How to avoid Malaria in the Republic of Congo?
Some of the best ways to avoid contracting malaria while in the Republic of Congo include:
- Sleeping under a mosquito net at all times,
- Wearing long-sleeved shirts and trousers to avoid insect bites,
- Using an insect repellent
- Properly taking the anti malarial prophylaxis as prescribed by your doctor
Is it safe to drink tap water in the Republic of Congo?
No, only boiled water and treated water should be drunk while in the republic of Congo. Bottled water is also considered safe however you should ensure that the seal of the bottle cap is still intact at the time of consuming the water. if possible please use drinking water for brushing your teeth as well.
Is it safe to swim in the fresh water in the Republic of Congo?
No, because Bilharzia is present in the country, therefore you are highly advised against swimming in the fresh water.
How is the nightlife in the republic of Congo?
The major towns and cities such as Pointe-Noire and Brazzaville offer a very lively night experience with several night clubs, bars fine restaurants and some places that play live music bank.
When is the best time to visit the Republic of Congo?
The calendar year of the Republic of Congo can be divided into four (4) main seasons. In case you are visiting the capital Brazzaville and its surrounding areas, it is recommended that you do so during the dry season from May to September, while the northern part of the country should best be visited during the short dry season from January and February.
Monthly guide on the weather in the Republic of Congo
Below we have summarized a month to month guide on the weather experienced in the Republic of Congo however you should keep in mind that these conditions may vary from year to year.
January to February (short dry season)
This is the short dry season in the Republic of Congo and a good time to visit the northern part of the country as the most roads are in good condition and very accessible.
March to April (short rainy season)
This is the short rainy season and in case you are planning to visit the Republic of Congo durng this time you are advised to pack a rain jacket as well as some warm clothing to layer up during the cold evenings and early morning.
May to September (long dry season)
This is the long dry season and considered to be the best time to visit the southern part of the country. On the other hand, the south is experiencing heavy rains so you should plan your trip wisely.
October to December (long rainy season)
This is the long rainy season; the amount of rainfall in the northern part of the country is beginning to reduce while the south is still experiencing heavier rains. The dry season is around the corner so depending on which part of the country you are going to visit, you should plan your trio well.