Congo Tours & Holidays
At this stage we don't have any organised trips to Congo.
That said, Intrepid can create tailor-made tours to many destinations, including Congo. Our fully customised trips still offer the same small group experiences with local leaders, but made just the way you want it. Simply fill out your details on our Tailor-Made page and one of our travel specialists will be in touch. Or why not visit Zambia, Uganda or Zimbabwe?
Congo at a glance
Brazzaville (population, 17 million)
CFA Central African Franc
French, Kituba (Kikongo), Lingala, Swahili, and Tshiluba
UTC+01:00 West Africa Time Zone
Type C and E twin-pronged plugs
Learn more about Congo
Culture and customs
It’s hard not to look over the river to neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo’s capital city Kinshasa and note how much more appealing Brazzaville is. Brazzaville is generally cleaner and safer to visit, and the Congolese are renowned for their warm and welcoming nature. While Republic of Congo is a distinctly African nation, comprised of a diverse people with many traditional languages and customs, a century of French colonial rule has shaped some of the more modern aspects of Congolese culture.
Travellers will find French patisseries and bakeries alongside traditional Congolese cuisine, and much of the architecture in major cities can be attributed to French influences. While the official language of the country is French, traditional languages still play a vital role in relations between locals. Today, half the Congolese people follow traditional animist beliefs, while the other half are mostly Christian, with a small Muslim minority.
Eating and drinking
Congolese cuisine is a mix of several different influences that speak to the country’s varied history. A combination of French, Arabic and Asian cooking styles and ingredients have influenced the traditional African cuisine. In Brazzaville you can find French patisseries beside Indian and Chinese restaurants, while restaurants serving more authentic local cuisine will often serve chicken or goat dishes, as well as freshwater fish pulled right from the river. In coastal Pointe-Noire you’re more likely to find seafood, but arguably some of the best meals you’ll have anywhere in the country – for food and atmosphere – will be from the open-air grills you pass on the road.
The drink of choice in Republic of Congo is palm wine, an alcoholic drink made by fermenting the sap of a wild palm tree. Beer and wine are also common staples in bars and restaurants.
Must-try foods in Republic of Congo
1. Pili pili
A spicy chilli sauce you’ll find accompanying most meals.
Bananas that think they’re potatoes. They make excellent chips.
3. Goat stew
A traditional Congolese dish, usually served with a cassava porridge called fufu, or cubes of cassava root called manioc.
Most markets will sell a variety of freshwater fish, which is a common staple for many of the Congolese. Makobe is fish seasoned with chilli and cooked in marantacee leaves.
A purple fruit, usually boiled and salted.
Geography and environment
The Republic of Congo is in the tropical rainforest region of Central Africa, so expect humidity and high temperatures, with averages of around 26 degrees Celsius (78.8 degrees Fahrenheit). It has distinct dry and wet seasons, with rain falling from March to June, and the drier months from June to October. The Congo River forms much of the country’s eastern border with the Democratic Republic of Congo, flowing down from the swamplands in the north of the country. Large areas of the country’s north are swamp, grassland and rainforest, with most people living in the towns at the southern end of the state. The south-western coast of the country lies on the Atlantic Ocean where the Congo River empties.
The best shopping experiences of Republic of Cong can be found in Brazzaville, where vibrant marketplaces and shops are plentiful. The larger and more popular markets are Ouenze and Moungali, while Avenue Foch is known for its street vendors. The Poto Poto neighbourhood hosts the Artist’s Market, where local artists have a wide variety of works for sale, including paintings and carved wooden figures and masks. Just outside Brazzaville are the villages of Makana and M’Pila, where you can purchase wares from local potters and basket-weavers in open-air markets.
Festivals and events
The Congo has a proud tradition of music and dance, and many of the large events held in the country centre around that tradition. Here are some of the bigger festivals and events to look out for.
Feux De Brazza
An international music festival in Brazzaville, held every two years, (alternating with the Pan-African Music Festival). The popular celebration encourages traditional cultural exchange, with a multitude of artists and performers taking part. The festival’s self-proclaimed purpose is to safeguard African traditions and to challenge younger generations to help preserve their culture of music and dance.
The Pan-African Music Festival is a lot of things. It’s held every two years (alternating with Feux De Brazza) and you can catch musical performances, visit a permanent exhibition of musical instruments, take part in musical training workshops, as well as witness the Miss FESPAM pageant.
The Congo’s answer to the Grammy Awards, the Golden Tam-Tam is an award ceremony that promotes and commends the endeavours of Congo’s local musicians, giving out awards for modern, traditional and religious music with a lot of fanfare and enthusiasm.
Congo travel FAQs
Trips from 1 January 2023 onwards
From 1 January 2023, Intrepid will no longer require travellers to provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19 (excluding all Polar trips and select adventure cruises).
However, we continue to strongly recommend that all Intrepid travellers and leaders get vaccinated to protect themselves and others.
Specific proof of testing or vaccination may still be required by your destination or airline. Please ensure you check travel and entry requirements carefully.
• Australia: Yes – visa before departure
• Belgium: Yes – visa before departure
• Canada: Yes – visa before departure
• Germany: Yes – visa before departure
• Ireland: Yes – visa before departure
• Netherlands: Yes – visa before departure
• New Zealand: Yes – visa before departure
• South Africa: Yes – visa before departure
• Switzerland: Yes – visa before departure
• United Kingdom: Yes – visa before departure
• USA: Yes – visa before departure
Visas are required in advance for most nationalities, including the EU, US and Australia. It should be noted that all travellers additionally require a yellow fever vaccination certificate.
We recommend you check in with your local consulate for the latest up-to-date information on visa requirements.
Most of the Congo is rainforest, making the best time to visit during the dry season, from June to October.
Tipping is not compulsory, but it is becoming more widespread. Expect to give around a 10% tip if you’re happy with the service provided. In basic restaurants, rounding your bill up to the nearest US$1 is suitable, but for other services such as tour guides or drivers, a tip of US$1-US$3 may be customary, depending on the service.
Internet access is notoriously slow. Hotels may provide Wi-Fi, but it can be unreliable. The best chance for internet access, depending on your location, is through local mobile-phone networks.
International roaming is supported by some cell companies but coverage is mainly limited to Brazzaville and Pointe-Noire. However, it’s cheap and easy to register for a local SIM card if you bring your passport to a cell provider's office, such as Airtel or MTN, which can be found at Maya-Maya airport in Brazzaville.
Toilets within city centres are of the western variety. Squat toilets can be found in smaller and more remote places, but they’re rare in the places that international travellers are likely to visit.
Travellers to the Republic of Congo should be aware that many of the luxuries travellers might be used to are imported, and therefore may be more expensive than expected.
Coffee = US$5
Beer at a bar = US$3
Short taxi ride = US$5
Simple meal at a local restaurant = US$20
Dinner in a high-end hotel restaurant = US$50
These price estimates were last updated November 2017.
The short answer is no. Local water contains much higher levels of different minerals than you may be used to and for visitors this can result in illness. All tap water, even in hotels, should be regarded as potentially contaminated, and needs to be boiled or otherwise sterilised before drinking, brushing teeth or making ice. Ice in drinks from restaurants and bars should be avoided. Help the environment and try to avoid buying bottled water. Instead, fill a reusable water bottle with filtered water. Your leader or hotel can tell you where to find filtered water.
Credit cards have limited use outside of hotels. The majority of businesses and services will take cash.
ATM access is limited in the Republic of Congo, however one bank in Brazzaville does have an ATM.
Homosexuality is not illegal, but homophobia is present. Local LGBTQI individuals and couples tend to be discrete and the local scene is difficult for visitors to find on their own, however, all the usual apps are still used to make connections for locals and travellers alike. Same-sex couples should have no qualms when sharing a room, but discretion is recommended in public throughout the country.
For more detailed and up-to-date advice, we recommend visiting Equaldex or Smartraveller before you travel.
• Jan 1: New Year’s Day
• Mar 8: International Women’s Day
• May 1: Labour Day
• Jun 10: Reconciliation Day
• Aug 15: National Day
• Nov 1: All Saint’s Day
• Dec 25: Christmas Day
See a current list of public holidays in Republic of Congo
A valid international certificate of vaccination against Yellow Fever is required in Republic of Congo. You may need to present this on arrival at the airport or border crossing.
It is recommended you visit your doctor or travel clinic for up to date advice and make sure to schedule vaccinations 4-6 weeks before your departure date, as some require time to become effective.
Recommended vaccines and prophylaxis
1. Hepatitis A (transmitted through contaminated water)
2. Hepatitis B (transmitted through blood and other bodily fluid)
3. Malaria (transmitted through bites of infected mosquitoes)
4. Rabies (transmitted through bites of infected mammals)
5. Typhoid (transmitted through contaminated water)
6. Yellow Fever (transmitted through bites of infected mosquitoes)
Intrepid takes the health and safety of its travellers seriously, and takes every measure to ensure that trips are safe, fun and enjoyable for everyone. We recommend that all travellers check with their government or national travel advisory organization for the latest information before departure:
Go to: http://www.smartraveller.gov.au/
Go to: https://travel.gc.ca/
From the UK?
Go to: http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/
From New Zealand?
Go to: http://www.safetravel.govt.nz/
From the US?
Go to: http://travel.state.gov/
The World Health Organization
also provides useful health information. Go to: http://www.who.int/en/
Absolutely. All passengers travelling with Intrepid are required to purchase travel insurance before the start of their trip. Your travel insurance details will be recorded by your leader on the first day of the trip. Due to the varying nature, availability and cost of health care around the world, travel insurance is very much an essential and necessary part of every journey.
For more information on insurance, please go to: Travel Insurance