The Republic of Congo (or Congo-Brazzaville) is the smaller, lesser-known neighbour to the Democratic Republic of Congo (or Congo-Kinshasa), with the sibling countries overlooking one another across the famed Congo River. But if you’re searching for adventure in the Central African jungle, minus the friction that comes with decades of political turmoil, then the grass is certainly greener on the Brazzaville side. Roam through unspoiled national parks in search of elephants, hippos and primates both big and small, then settle into the laidback Parisian vibes of Brazzaville – a cool glass of palm wine in hand, of course.
Lively marketplaces and quaint cafes sit comfortably alongside Brazza’s striking architecture, including the House of Charles De Gualle and the Basilique Sainte-Anne.
Just a few minutes outside of Brazzaville, ‘The Rapids’ is the perfect place to appreciate the full force of the Congo River and the unique rock formations along the river’s bank.
Boasting beautiful beaches and a charming African Quarter in La Cite, Pointe-Noire is the place to discover traditional Congolese cuisine.
Intrepid believes half the fun of experiencing a new country is getting there, and getting around once there! Where possible, Intrepid uses local transport options and traditional modes of transport - which usually carry less of an environmental impact, support small local operators and are heaps more fun.
Depending on which trip you're on while in Congo, you may find yourself travelling by:
Journey deep into the rainforest on a motorised pirogue, a traditional Congolese flat-bottomed boat, for the best chance of spotting some of the country’s waterside wildlife.
La Gazelle is the long-distance passenger train that runs between Brazzaville and Pointe-Noire. It may take longer than a flight – 15 hours on average – but it offers an immersive experience that an airplane never could. The train is air-conditioned and has a bar and restaurant car, so you can enjoy a meal and drink as you watch the rich Congolese scenery roll by.
Travelling with Intrepid is a little bit different. We endeavour to provide travellers with an authentic experience to remember, so we try to keep accommodation as unique and traditional as possible.
When travelling with us in Congo you may find yourself staying in a:
Resting in the savannas and glades of the country’s national parks, our camps and lodges offer an excellent base to set out for expeditions into the nearby rainforest. Forest buffalo and elephants are among the common visitors to the camps, some of which are situated within the home ranges of the Western lowland gorilla, giving you the best chance to experience the jungle before you’ve even left your cabin.
• 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 mobile 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 mobile 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.
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.
• 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
For a current list of public holidays in Republic of Congo go to https://www.worldtravelguide.net/guides/africa/republic-of-congo/public-holidays/
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)