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There are two Congos
Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC or Congo-Kinshasa), formerly a Belgian colony and the Republic of the Congo (Congo-Brazzaville), formerly a French colony - both celebrated independence in 1960.
The original inhabitants of the Congo Basin were the pygmy tribes but they were taken over post 200 BC by the Bantu trading empires. In 1880 the French moved in and it remained a French colony until independence.
The French were a bit more organised than the Belgians in the DRC, especially in the post war years, which may explain why Congo Brazzaville has a better infrastructure today.
So, to avoid confusion - let’s compare the two Congos
- The Democratic Republic of Congo is one of the poorest countries on the planet and one of the most dangerous.
- The Republic of Congo is great, stable and considered a safe destination. Relying on it’s oil production for economic growth and financial stability. (It ranks 60 places higher than the DRC for incomes.)
- The capital of DRC, Kinshasha, has a population of 10 million, which is double the size of Congo Brazzaville’s population. Both cities sit on opposite banks of the Congo River. Kinshasha on the southern bank and Brazzaville on the north bank. A slow and packed barge operates between the two cities but it’s also possible to cross by speedboat.
Democratic Republic of Congo
Known as the DRC or Congo Kinshasa (formerly Zaire).
- Location - the Democratic Republic of Congo is in Central Africa and stretches from the Atlantic coast to the Great Lakes of East Africa (2345,410 square kilometres).
- Climate - semi dry savanna to the south, expect rains between December and March. The northern part of the DRC is tropical with rains between November and April.
- Wildlife - rare and endemic species live within the DRC’s rich and varied landscape. It’s here that you’ll find birds, mammals and plants scarcely found anywhere else in Africa. Species such as the bonobo chimpanzee, rhino and okapi. The Kahuzi-Biega National Park (created to protect the gorilla habitat) is home to 90% of the worlds population of eastern lowland gorillas. It’s here that Dian Fossey, the American Zoologist carried out her work with the gorillas.
Join us on safari in the DRC - We venture into the Virunga National Park and track mountain gorillas. (Virunga is home to six habituated gorilla families.) The trek is combined with a climb to the summit of Nyiragongo which takes between 5-7 hours, but it’s well worth the hike, the views over the largest lava lake in the world are amazing!
Arriving in the DRC - If you’re planning a trip, you should arrive at Kinshasa N’djili, Lubumbashi Luano or Kisangani Bangoka international airports. Major airlines such as Ethiopian fly jets into Kinshasha - a testament to progress within the DRC.
Photography - It’s worth mentioning that the DRC requires anyone taking photographs to buy a permit which costs around $20-$50. If you snap away without a permit you risk arrest and a fine. Even with a permit we recommend not taking any photos of the Presidential Palace, military buildings or the Congo River.
Republic of Congo
This is the Central African country known as Congo-Brazzaville, the Congo Republic (Congo). It shares borders with Cameroon, Gabon, Central African Republic (CAR), Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Angolan territory of Cabinda and the Atlantic Ocean.
- Location - Congo Brazzaville is in Central Africa and stretches from the Atlantic coast to the western banks of the Oubangui and Congo rivers. (341,500 Square kilometres.)
- Climate - Tropical, expect rains between November and April.
- Wildlife - A quarter of the planet’s rain forest lie within the Congo Basin, the second largest only to the Amazon!
- Arriving at Congo Brazzaville - If you’re planning a trip to Congo Brazzaville you’ll arrive at Brazzaville Maya-Maya or Pointe Noire international airports.
Join us on safari in Congo Brazzaville - Our safari focuses on the Odzala Kokoua National Park. We explore the remote rain forests and discover a colourful wildlife paradise. Odzala is populated by 100+ species of mammals with forest elephant, gorillas, chimpanzees, sitatunga, duiker and forest buffalo, all thriving in this unique eco-system. This national park is a haven for birding enthusiasts with more than 400 species recorded.
Brazzaville - Brazzaville is a friendly and safe city, funky and fun. Stroll through the Poto-Poto Market with it’s colourful fabric stalls. Sample the street food and visit St Anne’s Basilica. It’s easy to spot the Nabemba (Elf) Tower which is Brazaville’s tallest skyscraper, and voted one of the ’10 most beautiful buildings in Africa’ in 2016. So why not add a couple of days onto your trip and explore this vibrant city. There are some decent hotels in and around the city including the Brazzaville Beach on the banks of the Djoué River, just 15 km from the city.
Safe, laid back Brazzaville is a great place to explore
Get to know Congo - walk the streets, meet the people, discover the beauty…
And finally, a little Brazzaville street culture from Les Sapeurs…