The Republic of the Congo is as vibrant as it is breathtaking. The abundance of exotic wildlife matches its spectacular display of African culture and architecture. It is a traveler’s paradise, with something to see and experience for just about any adventure-seeker out there. Thinking about visiting Congo? Here are 5 solid reasons why you should add Congo to your travel list this year!
Explore the Gorilla’s Natural Habitat
Of all wildlife in Africa, Congo is best known as a habitat for the gorillas, and particularly, the mountain gorillas. The mountain gorillas are an extremely endangered primate species.It is estimated that of the 700 remaining mountain gorillas, half of them live in the Virunga Mountains, at the intersection between the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, and Uganda.
But you can come in close contact with gorillas in the wild in the Republic of the Congo too. A smaller national park, which houses a good population of lowland gorillas, is the Nouabale-Ndoki National Park. This remote park was once referred to as the world’s “Last Eden” by National Geographic and is also home to forest elephants and chimpanzees. Alongside its gorillas, the park is also home to various bird species and hundreds of unique fauna.
Fly Into D’Odzala
Image credit: African Parks
If fly safaris are what you’re interested in, then a trip to D’Odzala National Park is worth thinking about. Odzala is one of Africa’s oldest national parks and has some 13,600 square km of rainforests to boast. To give you a better idea, Odzala is larger than the Bahamas, Jamaica or Puerto Rico. It is part of the Congo Basin – which is considered the world’s second largest rainforest. The Odzala is home to over 500 different wildlife species and plants. Though it is possible to reach Odzala by road, it is an option only for locals as the road can be confusing and challenging. Most travelers opt to fly into Odzala, 40 minutes out of Brazzaville.
Soak In The History At Brazzaville
It is safe to say that a must-see place in Congo is its capital - Brazzaville. This old French city exudes history, as it is reminiscent of the old French colonial era. Its buildings, including the Basilique Sainte-Anne, Palais du Peuple, and Cathedrale Sacre-Coeur, are beautifully haunting. Although much of the city’s infrastructure is run down due to the 1997 civil war, the liveliness of the markets and the distinct beauty of the capital standing just by the banks of the Congo River makes it a destination worthy of travel bucket lists.
Ride the La Gazelle
If you’re in no hurry and want to experience the magical country to its fullest, take a ride on the La Gazelle, a long distance passenger train operated by the Congo-Ocean Railway. The train takes you from Brazzaville – Congo’s capital city – to Pointe-Noire and back with several stops along the way. This complete journey takes between 14 to 16 hours. Along the route, you will see lush greenery of largely undisturbed nature and take in the tranquility of life in the Congo. But do take the time to also look back at the railway’s history and the price that was paid for it. The construction of the train line is said to have claimed more than 17,000 Congolese lives.
Be In Awe of the Loufoulakari Falls
Image credit: magix.info
By now you would have realized that virtually every destination in the Congo is in and of itself an adventurous journey. The Loufoulakari Falls is no different! The trip to the falls is a challenging one – over 50 miles (80km) of bumpy roads from the capital of Brazzaville. Locals say it takes roughly a day to reach the falls, but once you see it, you will realize that the journey is one worth taking. The Loufoulakari Falls is a stunning drop at the confluence of the Congo and the Loufalakari rivers. The waterfall is U-shaped and is over 40m tall, an incredibly picturesque scene to behold!
Planning an African adventure and exploring all that Congo has to offer? Add neighboring Uganda to the mix and go on a wildlife safari in Uganda!