The Republic of the Congo is a Central African state. On the south-west, it is washed by the Atlantic Ocean. It borders the Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola, Cameroon, and the Central African Republic. The capital city of Congo is Brazzaville.
The territory of the country is divided into 2 climatic zones: equatorial on the north and sub-equatorial on the south. The dry season lasts from May to September and this is the best time for visiting Congo.
The official language is French, but Kituba and Lingala have a special status of the national languages. The dominant religion is the Christianity and some aboriginal cults. There are also a few Muslims in the country.
Congo is the destination for extreme tourism, ecotourism, and excursions. The tourists will see cultural and historical monuments, they can go shopping in the capital city. The ecological tourists can see the rocks of the Diosso gorges and enjoy rich vegetation in the Odzala National Park.
Those who love to relax under the sun should go to the Pointe Noire Beach. The touristic and entertainment infrastructure is quite developed in this area. They're everything you need for surfing and windsurfing, underwater fishing, diving and hand gliding. For the foodies, the restaurants in Pointe Noire offer a great choice of seafood dishes.
There are no direct flights between Congo and CIS countries. The tourists from Moscow can get to Congo with Air France with a transfer in Paris or with Royal Air Maroc.
The Ukrainian tourists can choose LOT Polish Airlines with two stops in Warsaw and Paris or Turkish Airlines with a transfer in Istanbul and Kigali.
Belavia offers the flights to Congo from Minsk with a transfer in Tel Aviv and Addis Ababa or in Moscow and Paris. The European tourists can take a direct flight only from Paris.
The tourists can catch a passenger-and-freight ferry from Kinshasa to Brazzaville across the Congo River.
The European and CIS citizens must obtain a visa to travel to Congo. There are no Congo embassies in CIS so the tourists should apply to the Embassy of Kenya. Personal presence is not obligatory to apply for a visa. It normally takes 15 days to obtain a visa to Congo.
The visa is valid for 30 days upon entry.
There are no restrictions concerning the import of the foreign or national currency in Congo. However, any sum must be declared.
The tourists can import the following goods duty-free:
- clothes, shoes, accessories, and perfume for personal use;
- some alcohol and tobacco;
- one radio receiver, tape recorder, and TV set per person.
It is prohibited to export:
- parrots and rare animals;
- goods from birds’ feathers, bones and skins of animals;
- billions and unprocessed diamonds.
The cooking traditions of Congo have been forming for centuries and absorbed the traditions of French, British, and Asian cuisine. The Congolese people add cumin, saffron, pepper, cloves, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg to almost all their dishes. The staple food here is corn, manioc, rice, game, camel meat, fish, eggs of ostrich, lizards, crocodiles, and snakes.
The tourists will have a chance to try exotic dishes from camel meat and roasted crocodile tale. You can also try Piri-Piri (chicken with chilli pepper), Mouamba, and Saka-Saka (manioc leaves with peanut paste and palm oil).
The lovers of seafood can treat themselves to large oysters and prawns. Fish in arrowroot leaves Maboke is very popular here.
For the first course, you can order a soup with marinated capers and lemons or a fish broth Moukalou.
If you crave for something even more exotic, try a snail dish Mbembe or roasted crickets, caterpillars or white ants.
A typical side dish in Congo is manioc, corn, beans, and rice.
In the Congolese cuisine, there is not a great choice of desserts, but the tourists can enjoy various fresh fruits and fruit salads. Those who have a sweet tooth can try Couscous with a creamy sauce Caakiri and a sweet dish Ngalakh with baobab fruits.
Any meal is usually accompanied by iced juice or other refreshing drinks. In Congo, you should definitely try the local rice beer, palm and cane sugar wine. Avoid buying and drinking strong alcoholic drinks in Congo as there is a risk of getting poisoned with methanol.
The official currency of the Republic of the Congo is the Central African Franc (CFA). There are the banknotes from 500 to 10.000 CFA and the coins from 1 to 500 CFA.
The tourists can exchange the currency at banks in Brazzaville. Outside the cities, it will be difficult to exchange the currency so make sure to do it beforehand.
Credit cards are almost not accepted in Congo. Only in the capital city, Diners Club and MasterCard are accepted in some places.
Cashing traveller’s checks will also be a problem. Anyway, have the checks in French currency or in sterling pounds to avoid a high commission.
Due to an unfavourable criminal situation in Congo, the tourists should not travel without a local guide. Avoid walking at night and do not carry valuable things or large sums of money. We recommend you against visiting the Pool department.
Details of interest
Sightseeing in Congo
There is one UNESCO site on the territory of Congo. This is one of the three parts of the Sangha Forest Reserve or the Nouabale-Ndoki National Park. This place is the main destination for ecological tourists. Here, one can see the vegetation of rain forests, the wetlands, savannah, and beautiful lakes. The park is a habitat for the chimpanzee, bongo, African forest elephant, giant tiger fish, and buffalo.
In Congo, there are 4 UNESCO candidate sites.
- If you like to see how the chimpanzees live in their natural habitat you should definitely take an excursion to the Konkuati National Park. The tourists can feed the animals with fruits and milk.
- Odzala National Park and Biosphere Reserve is also worth attention. In the Reserve, there are over 400 species of rare birds, African bush elephants, leopards and lions, laughing hyenas, cape buffaloes, and Western gorillas. In this place, the tourists can also learn more about the everyday life of the tribes Mboko, Bakota, and Mongombo.
- The lovers of historical and cultural monuments should visit the Royal domain of Mbe with its different archaeological zones and learn more about the life of Bateke people.
- The Ancient port of slaves in Loango is one more UNESCO candidate site. This place is closely associated with slave trading as a part of African history.
In Brazzaville, the main touristic attractions are the saint Anna’s Cathedral in the Poto Poto quarter, the Brazzaville Municipal Gardens in the city itself and around it. Anyone can see the performance in the Brazzaville National Theater and see the expositions of the Brazzaville National Museum and the Craft Museum. In the capital city, there is the Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza’s Mausoleum. This man was the founder of the capital city of Congo.
Souvenirs in Congo
In Congo, the tourists usually buy these souvenirs and crafts:
- African paintings;
- woven and clay crafts;
- sculptures and traditional wooden masks;