Central African Republic
The Central African republic is situated at the very heart of the African continent. It borders the Republic of Congo, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Chad, and Cameroon. The capital city is Bangui.
The climate in Central Africa is hot sub-equatorial. The average temperature in January is +21°C and in June, it can reach +31°C. The bets time for visiting Central Africa is from November to April.
About 60% of the population observe the local religious beliefs. Other people practice the Islam and the Christianity.
The official language in Central Africa is French. However, in everyday life, people speak Sango, Swahili, Hansa and languages of the African peoples.
Tourism in Central Africa is not developed well. Those who still decided to spend the time on this continent should visit the capital city of the Republic which reminds a huge park. Kay-Chink district with its bar, clubs and the largest market in Central Africa is the place for entertainments and night life.
If you like to see the architectural and historic monuments, take a walk in the downtown of the capital city. There are the Arch of Triumph and the Presidential Palace.
In the Boganda National Museum, anyone can see unique samples of the African art, a collection of traditional musical instruments and a wonderful exposition depicting the culture and the everyday life of the pygmies.
100 kilometres away from the capital city, there are amazing Boali Waterfalls and here excursions to the residence of the Bokassa Emperor are arranged.
The country can be proud of its national parks such as Bamingui-Bangoran, Dzanga-Ndoki, Manovo-Gounda St. Floris, Andre Felix, and Dzanga-Sangha Special Reserve. These islands with tropical forests and unique flora and fauna were not touched by the civilisation. The tourists can take a safari-tour and see the pygmy hippopotamus, lowland gorilla, African forest elephant, and wild ox.
On the Sangha River and Ubangi River, the tourists will have a great fishing.
There are no direct flights to Central Africa from CIS and many European countries.
Air France offers a transit flight from Moscow to Bangui with a transfer in Paris. The flight will take you about 12 hours. KLM, Royal Air Maroc, and Ethiopian Airlines also offer the flights to Bangui with a stop in Paris.
The tourists can also choose the routes with a transfer in African cities Libreville and N’Djamena.
There is a ferry route along the Ubangi river. The tourists can take the advantage of the ferry services on weekdays.
CIS and European citizens must obtain a visa to travel to Central Africa. If you are not going to stay in the country for more than 7 days, a visa is issued on arrival at the Bangui M’Poko International Airport.
If your travel to Central Africa is going to be longer than a week, you should submit the documents for a visa to the Embassy.
The visa is valid for a month since the date of issue.
The travellers must also provide a yellow fever vaccination certificate.
There are no restrictions concerning the import or export of foreign currency. We recommend declaring large sums of money to avoid unnecessary problems when you will be leaving the country.
The Customs legislation of Central Africa prohibits exporting of gold, diamonds, skins of animals, ivory, rare plants and coins with historical value.
Substantial dishes with unusual combinations are typical for the cuisine in Central Africa. Traditionally, people cook vegetables, grains, meat, use milk and spices. Bananas and coconuts are particularly popular among the local chefs. These are the main ingredients for soups, omelettes, and porridges. In the menu of any eatery in Central Africa, there is a rice porridge with peanut butter (Bambara) and soup with palm oil.
Meat lovers should try grilled mutton with banana sauce and palm oil roasted chicken served with okra (Muamba de Galinha). If you are adventurous enough to try something more exotic, you will be offered caterpillars with hot pepper. Or you can try fried termites, scarab grubs, and roasted porcupine skin.
We also recommend trying boiled prawns with baked sweet potato. In Central Africa, people do not produce any alcoholic drinks. The tourists can order imported wines, cognacs, and whisky in restaurants, eateries, and hotels.
The desserts are made of fruits and anyone can try “Banana boats”, pomegranate sorbet, and a coconut rice pudding.
The official currency of the country is the Central African Franc (XAF). The National Bano of the Central African Republic issues:
- the bank notes (500, 1.000, 2.000, 5.000, and 10.000 XAF);
- the coins (1, 5, 10, 15, 25, 50, and 100 XAF).
The Central African Republic is included in the Common Monetary Area and XAF is pegged to
Euro. In Central Africa, there is the Bank of Central African States and the Bank of West African States. The tourists can exchange the currency only at banks in Bangui and Berberati. There are no exchange offices here. Credit cards are accepted only in large hotels in Bangui. There are no ATMs in the country.
Traveller’s checks are not accepted and you can cash them only at the banks in the capital city but be aware the commission for the exchange transaction is very high.
Details of interest
Holidays in Central Africa without a doubt can be called exotic and it is better to get prepared for the travel.
Do not ignore the services of a guide as in Central Africa it is prohibited to take pictures of some architectural monuments.
In small pygmies villages, there are their own traditions. We also recommend you against visiting these villages without a guide.
Sightseeing in Central Africa
Almost all the sights which can be interesting for a tourist are in the capital city.
- The Boganda National Museum stores a unique collection demonstrating the history, culture, traditions, and everyday life of the pygmies.
- The National University and its collection of traditional musical instruments and household goods of the pygmies.
- The Arch of Triumph and the Statue of Jean-Bedel Bokassa who was found guilty of cannibalism.
- The Presidential Palace.
- In the M’Baiki district, there are villages where the pygmies live as they live 1.000 years ago. The tourists also like to see the waterfalls M’Baiki and the ebony extraction sites.
- Numerous national parks such as Bamingui-Bangoran, Dzanga-Ndoki, Manovo-Gounda St. Floris, Andre Felix, and Dzanga-Sangha. This is the only habitat for extinct animals. Ndoki and Dzanga are the reserves and the access for the tourists is limited.
- The waterfalls near the border of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Souvenirs in Central Africa
The tourists usually buy woven mats and baskets and national costumes. In Bangui, anyone can buy the beads, pottery, goods made of ebony and mahogany, and crocodile leather products. In Berberati, the tourists buy musical instruments, coffee with big beans, and traditional dolls of the Amibu tribe.