Congo Travel Guide
This West African country is riddled with internal and external disputes, but remains an interesting destination for nature exploration. Not to be mistaken for its larger neighbor the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Republic of the Congo is primarily a Christian, French-speaking country whose main income comes from industrial and agricultural products. Brazzaville and Pointe Noire are the main tourist hubs and are where most of the hotels and noteworthy attractions are located, but should you find yourself off the beaten track a shot of local palm wine and a roasted guinea pig should ease your anxiety.
Guinea pig anyone? Lovers of these adorable creatures may wish to give the Congo a miss if they do not want to see locals tucking into what looks like their pet back home. Other native delicacies include cassava or manioc, fresh peanut butter and exotic food such as bats and caterpillars. Most of the hotels are found in the country’s capital of Brazzaville and at the beach center of Pointe Noire. Brazzaville hotels offer modest amenities, but those in Pointe Noire are cleaner with a higher standard. Most hotels in Congo provide well-prepared food, but some bars offer drinks only. Do not eat bush meat unless you wish to spend your vacation on the toilet.
When to Go
Like all other African countries, Congo’s climate is mainly tropical.
Dry season begins in June and ends in October.
Rainy season is from March to June but with prevalent high humidity and temperature.
Best visited between mid-May and July to experience its two seasons.
Getting There & Away
The capital boasts an international airport with regular Air France links with Paris, France and Johannesburg, South Africa. The roads in Congo are ill-maintained, and they worsen during the rainy season. Four-wheel drive vehicles are a must. Remember to travel during the day to avoid rebel attacks and criminal gang offenses at night.
Health & Safety
Malaria, HIV/AIDS and water-related diseases are widespread in the Congo. There are only few hospitals and medical facilities in Congo, with extremely limited facilities in rural parts. Terrorism threat levels and street crime incidences are low, especially in Pointe Noire and Brazzaville. However, it is always best to safeguard your valuables and money, and avoid wandering the streets after dark unaccompanied, particularly if you’ve overdone it on the local palm wine.
Three days in Brazzaville
Five days in Pointe noire
Two days in Ouesso
Half a day in Loubomo
Brazzaville: the country’s run-down capital is filled with markets and lively bars. The National Museum of Congo, Basilique Saint Anne and the Temple Mosque make this the best place to start exploring Congo and ease yourself into Congo life, with pizza and nightclubs still close at hand.
Pointe Noire: this port city in the south has a string of clean and palm tree-lined beaches ideal for sunbathing. The water temperature remains constant regardless of the season.
Ouesso: is the starting point for exploring the country’s Nouabale-Ndoki National Park.
Loubomo: found between Pointe Denis and Brazzaville, Loubomo is a frequent stopover for airplanes and trains. It is the capital of Niari Province and used as a gateway to Gabon or Libreville.
Beaches: swimming in the clear waters of Pointe Noire is highly recommended.
Shopping: for souvenirs and trinkets is best done in Brazzaville. Markets are usually open day and night, with Ave de Loua being a must-visit market.
Bar-hopping: the Congolese run very lively bars in Brazzaville offering food, drinks and music. Get ready to party in the run-down but hip capital city.
Nature-trekking: head for Ouesso and see different animals unique to Congo in the Nouabale-Ndoki National Park.
Waterskiing: in Kouillou and Congo rivers is a popular water activity that you should not miss.