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Republic of the Congo

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Atlantic Palace Hotel
Atlantic Palace Hotel - dream vacation

Charles de Gaulles AvePointe-Noire

Ledger Plaza Maya Maya
Ledger Plaza Maya Maya - dream vacation

Avenue Auxence Ickonga BP 1178Brazzaville

Mikhael\'s Hotel
Mikhael\'s Hotel - dream vacation

67 Nelson Mandela AvenueBrazzaville

GHS Hotel
GHS Hotel - dream vacation

Boulevard Denis Sassou NguessoBrazzaville

Radisson Blu M\'Bamou Palace Hotel Brazzaville
Radisson Blu M\'Bamou Palace Hotel Brazzaville - dream vacation

Avenue Amilcar Cabral Centre-Ville CornicheBrazzaville

Residence Saint-Jacques Brazzaville
Residence Saint-Jacques Brazzaville - dream vacation

381 Rue Du Ruisseau CentrevilleBrazzaville

Hotel Palm Beach Pointe-Noire
Hotel Palm Beach Pointe-Noire - dream vacation

Rue bord de mer cote sauvagePointe-Noire

Residence Saint-Jacques Bord de Mer
Residence Saint-Jacques Bord de Mer - dream vacation

381 Rue Du Ruisseau Centreville Brazzaville CongoPointe-Noire

The Republic of the Congo is in Central Africa. The country is also known as Congo-Brazzaville to distinguish it from its giant eastern neighbour, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Congo-Kinshasa). It is bordered by Gabon, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Angola (the exclave of Cabinda).

Regions

While Congo's regions are diverse, there is one constant you can rely on: about 80% of the entire country is covered in the dense Congo Rainforest.

Cities

  • Brazzaville — the capital of the Republic of the Congo. It is separated from Kinshasa, the capital of neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo, by the Congo River.
  • Abala-Ndolo
  • Djambala
  • Dolisie
  • Mossendjo
  • Ouésso — a transit hub in the remotest far north of the country, in a territory with many nearby Pygmy villages.
  • Owando — one of the recently municipalized cities in the country, and is considered one of the best places to visit in the north of Republic of Congo.
  • Pointe Noire — a port city on the coast.

Other destinations

  • Conkouati Reserve
  • Ile Mbamou Island — a government-owned island that is located about one hour from Brazzaville.
  • Lefini Reserve — the country's best known reserve, bordering Lesio-Louna to the north.
  • The Lesio Louna Gorilla Reserve — a park located north of Brazzaville and is dedicated to the protection of gorillas in the Congo.
  • Mount Fouari National Reserve
  • Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park — the largest and most remote of Congo's national parks and reserves, located in the far north bordering the Central African Republic's Dzanga Sangha National Reserve.
  • Odzala National Park — the country's most famous national park.
  • Tiger Fish Congo Camp. You can visit the Tiger Fish Camp to capture the biggest tiger fish in the world - the largest fish ever caught there was 56kg!

Understand

Following independence as the Congo Republic on August 15, 1960, Fulbert Youlou ruled as the country's first president until labour elements and rival political parties instigated a three-day uprising that ousted him. The Congolese military took charge of the country briefly and installed a civilian provisional government headed by Alphonse Massamba-Débat.

Under the 1963 constitution, Massamba-Débat was elected President for a five-year term but it was ended abruptly with an August 1968 coup d'état. Capt. Marien Ngouabi, who had participated in the coup, assumed the presidency on 31 December 1968. One year later, President Ngouabi proclaimed Congo to be Africa's first "people's republic" and announced the decision of the National Revolutionary Movement to change its name to the Congolese Labour Party (PCT). On 16 March 1977, President Ngouabi was assassinated. An 11-member Military Committee of the Party (CMP) was named to head an interim government with Col. (later Gen.) Joachim Yhombi-Opango to serve as President of the Republic.

After decades of turbulent politics bolstered by Marxist-Leninist rhetoric, and with the collapse of the Soviet Union, Congo completed a transition to multi-party democracy with elections in August 1992. Denis Sassou Nguesso conceded defeat and Congo's new president, Prof. Pascal Lissouba, was inaugurated on 31 August 1992.

However, Congo's democratic progress was derailed in 1997. As presidential elections scheduled for July 1997 approached, tensions between the Lissouba and Sassou camps mounted. On 5 June, President Lissouba's government forces surrounded Sassou's compound in Brazzaville and Sassou ordered members of his private militia, known as "Cobras", to resist. Thus began a 4-month conflict that destroyed or damaged much of Brazzaville and caused tens of thousands of civilian deaths. In early October, Angolan troops invaded Congo on the side of Sassou and, in mid-October, the Lissouba government fell. Soon thereafter, Sassou declared himself President. The Congo Civil War continued for another year and a half until a peace deal was struck between the various factions in December 1999.

Sham elections in 2002 saw Sassou win with almost 90% of the vote cast. His two main rivals Lissouba and Bernard Kolelas were prevented from competing and the only remaining credible rival, Andre Milongo, advised his supporters to boycott the elections and then withdrew from the race. A new constitution, agreed upon by referendum in January 2002, granted the president new powers and also extended his term to seven years as well as introducing a new bicameral assembly. International observers took issue with the organization of the presidential election as well as the constitutional referendum, both of which were reminiscent in their organization of Congo's era of the one-party state. Currently, Congo holds a rotating seat in the UN Security Council.

Elections in July 2009 were boycotted by opposition parties. Inevitably, Sassou was re-elected, but with a questionably high turnout. Demonstrations in Brazzaville were firmly put down by riot police.

The Republic of the Congo's sparse population is concentrated in the southwestern portion of the country, leaving the vast areas of tropical jungle in the north virtually uninhabited. Thus, the Republic of Congo is one of the most urbanized countries in Africa, with 85% of its total population living in a few urban areas, namely in BrazzavillePointe-Noire, or one of the small cities or villages lining the 332-mile (534 km) railway which connects the two cities. In rural areas, industrial and commercial activity has declined rapidly in recent years, leaving rural economies dependent on the government for support and subsistence. Before the 1997 war, about 15,000 Europeans and other non-Africans lived in Congo, most of whom were French. Presently, only about 9,500 remain.

Get in

All foreigners need a visa to enter the Republic of Congo. Except for citizens of some West and North African countries, visas are not available on arrival, and showing up without one can cause many things you will want to avoid at all costs (fines, passport confiscation, etc.). However transit without a visa is possible, if you take the next connecting plane and don't leave the airport.

By plane

Maya-Maya Airport (BZV IATA) in Brazzaville is linked by flights to by Air France, Douala in Cameroon, Addis Ababa and Kinshasa by Ethiopian Airlines, Nairobi, Casablanca and the national carrier, ECAir.

By car

It's safe to drive in the Republic of the Congo. A good sealed road goes north from Brazzaville, but only as far north as President Sassou's hometown of Oyo. Beyond Oyo, the roads get very bumpy and are totally impassable in the rain. It is also very hard to get a rental car you drive yourself

By boat

Passenger and VIP ferries operate daily between Brazzaville and Kinshasa roughly every 2 hours between 8AM and 3PM. Prices for the ferries are: US$15 for the passenger and US$30 for the VIP ferry. The VIP ferry is recommended as these are brand new boats and are not as cramped. A valid visa for both countries is required in either direction. The bureaucracy at either end require some time. Entry and exit procedures in Brazzaville are "easy" and straight forward and people are very helpful in assisting to get through without troubles. In contrast, these procedures are a bit difficult in Kinshasa and depend much on whether you are an individual traveller or assisted by an organisation or an official government representative. There are also speed boats to hire, either in a group or alone (price!), however, it is not advisable to book them as they really speed across the river along the rapids.

Barges follow the Congo, then the Oubangui, rivers right up to Bangui.

Get around

By shared taxi or minibus

Ridiculously cheap shared taxis and minibuses run on an ad hoc basis between towns and villages, crammed with Congolese villagers taking all sorts of livestock for sale in Brazzaville.

By taxi

In Brazzaville, taxis are green. FCFA 700 generally gets you around a neighborhood. This goes up to FCFA 1000 at night. Drivers are generally fair with prices, and haggling is not required before getting in.

By train

The Congo-Ocean Railway (COR, or CFCO) links the Atlantic port of Pointe-Noire (now in the Republic of Congo) with Brazzaville, a distance of 502km.

From the start of the civil war in 1997, the line was closed for six years. In 2007 the BBC reported it to be in a "decrepit state with the majority of trains now broken". UNICEF organised a train in August 2007 to distribute malaria nets vital in the prevention of the disease.

Talk

The official language of the RoC is French. The main indigenous languages are Kituba and Lingala.

See

  • Odzala National Park
  • Gorillas in Lesio Louna Gorilla Reserve.
  • Colonial and post-colonial architecture in Brazzaville.
  • Sangha Trinational - a forest in the Sangha and Likouala region that is an UNESCO World Heritage Site (shared with Cameroon and the Central African Republic).

Do

Buy

Money

The currency of the country is the Central African CFA franc, denoted FCFA (ISO currency code: XAF). It's also used by five other Central African countries. It is interchangeable at par with the West African CFA franc (XOF), which is used by six countries. Both currencies are fixed at a rate of 1 euro = 655.957 CFA francs.

The U.S. dollar is not widely accepted.

ATMs

All Ecobank ATMs in Gabon take Mastercard and Visa card for cash withdrawal.

Shopping

There is an artisan mart and boutiques in the market near the BDEAC (Banque Developpement pour les Etats de l'Afrique Centrale). Really beautiful jewelry, masks, paintings, and other artwork.

All business is conducted in cash. Small change is very scarce and hard to come by. Do not accept torn or taped banknotes.

Eat

There is good and healthy Chinese food at Osaka Restaurant, in Pointe Noire. The average price for a meal was US$12-18. All meals were served in nice clean dishes, the restaurant is indoors and has AC, with a back-up generator, just in case. Some of the workers speak English and French.

There are several great restaurants in Brazzaville. Any taxi driver can take you to one of these nicer places (FCFA 5000-15 000). Most places are closed on Sundays. Expect beers to be overpriced here (FCFA 1000-2000).

Drink

Palm wine is a local favorite in the village. Beer is the favorite in town next to Fanta, Coke etc. There is also a local red wine (SOVINCO) imported from Gabon and the "brique", a liter of imported, mostly Spanish wine from the box.

There is a big price range on beer (FCFA 500-5,000) depending on what neighborhood and type of bar or estaurant you're in.

Produced in Congo under Heineken supervision: N'Gok (meaning "Crocodile", blond, Congolese), Primus (blond, Belgium, Central Africa), Mütsig (blond, French Alsace Region), Guinness (dark, Ireland), and Turbo King (dark, Central Africa)

Imported: Heineken and Bavaria

If the above is too much there is also water of various local and imported brands sold in 1.5 litre plastic bottles.

Sleep

Stay safe

In Brazzaville, petty street crime targeting foreigners is rare. However, muggings and pick pocketing do happen frequently near the ports in Pointe Noire and Brazzaville, and sometimes in the Congolese neighborhoods surrounding Brazzaville's City Center. Criminal elements are known to target middle-class and affluent residences without 24-hour guards.

Police resources are limited and response to emergency calls is slow. In the case of theft and robbery, legal recourse is limited and therefore, it is highly recommended to leave all valuable items at home.

There have been some demonstrations against the re-election of President Sassou in July 2009. Some foreign reporters were assaulted by riot police and had their equipment destroyed. It is generally safe to walk the streets, but stay well away from demonstrations.

Stay healthy

Population estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality and death rates, lower population and growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected. In any case use your common sense: DO NOT HAVE UNPROTECTED SEX.

The likelihood of getting malaria is very high if effective preventative medication is not taken. The malaria caused by Plasmodium falciparum can be very serious. Medical attention should be sought if any symptoms are shown.

Medical care is substandard throughout the country. Hospitals lack modern equipment, necessary medical supplies and medications, and well-trained physicians, nurses and support staff.

  • Netcare Clinic:

Address: B.P. 2422, Brazzaville, Congo Tel: 547 0911 (Main Line) OR 679 6711

This facility is a franchise from South Africa. It is clean, has facilities for 3 private rooms, an ambulance, a one bed emergency room, basic radiography, pharmacy and a laboratory with microscopy, haematology, and basic chemists. There are two main doctors, Dr. Ali, a Lebanese doctor who considered as the best medic in Netcare, and Dr. Stephan, a French doctor who is also a good doctor.

  • Pharmacie Mavre

Tel: 81 18 39 Located in Centreville, next to the Cabinet Dentaire building Brazzaville boasts a number of pharmacies, but Pharmacie Mavre is recommended. Please remember to always check the expiration dates on boxes before purchasing any products.

Respect

White travelers should take care while travelling in the Republic. Racial tension and discrimination is not uncommon here, so be safe and keep to yourself.

Connect

You can talk to your loved ones using any of the three mobile operators MTN, CelTel (now Zain), or Warid

The local call rate are relatively cheap and cost you around FCFA 20-20 per minute.

AVOID NON-ESSENTIAL TRAVEL

The decision to travel is your responsibility. You are also responsible for your personal safety abroad. The Government of Canada takes the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provides credible and timely information in its Travel Advice. In the event of a crisis situation that requires evacuation, the Government of Canada’s policy is to provide safe transportation to the closest safe location. The Government of Canada will assist you in leaving a country or a region as a last resort, when all means of commercial or personal transportation have been exhausted. This service is provided on a cost-recovery basis. Onward travel is at your personal expense. Situations vary from one location to another, and there may be constraints on government resources that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide assistance, particularly in countries or regions where the potential for violent conflict or political instability is high.

Heavy gunfire was reported in the centre of Brazzaville on the morning of December 16, 2013. Even though the situation currently appears calm, be extremely vigilant and avoid unnecessary movement.

Due to insecurity in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), you should use extreme caution if travelling to the border areas in northern Congo along the Ubangui River. Sporadic fighting occurs in the Pool region, which includes the capital, Brazzaville, and east of Bouenza.

Business visitors should travel to the Republic of Congo only if they have assistance from their hosts and/or local authorities. The security situation remains unpredictable. You should stay in close contact with the Embassy of Canada in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo or Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada in Ottawa while you are in the Republic of Congo.

Crime

Criminal activity occurs as a result of long-term economic recession and the influx of arms. Street crime such as mugging and purse snatching can occur. Local police resources are limited and response to emergency calls is often very slow (15 minutes or more). In case of robbery, legal recourse is limited. Ensure that personal belongings and travel documents are secure at all times. Do not show signs of affluence, and do not venture out alone after dark.

Poorly marked roadblocks monitored by undisciplined, armed soldiers are present throughout the country. Security forces may detain foreigners and/or attempt extortion.

Civil unrest

Even though a ceasefire accord was signed in March 2003 between the Congolese government and the Ninja rebel group, war-related crimes, such as the murder of Congolese civilians or looting of private property, remain a risk, particularly in the Pool region. You should exercise caution and should be especially vigilant and avoid situations where political violence and demonstrations may occur.

Road travel

Other than National Route 2, north of Brazzaville, which reaches the city of Oyo, most roads are dirt tracks. Overland travel outside major cities should only be undertaken during daylight hours, in a convoy of four-wheel-drive vehicles. You should provide your itinerary to the Embassy of Canada in Kinshasa. Although no authorization is required for road travel in the Pool region, you can take the precaution of requesting information on current safety issues from the Congolese local security services or the United Nations offices in Kinshasa (Democratic Republic of the Congo).

Rail travel

Passenger travel on the railroad is discouraged, as there are frequent reports of extortion by undisciplined security forces and robberies by criminal elements along the route. The rail line between Pointe-Noire and Brazzaville should be avoided as it is not safe and is frequently attacked by rebels. The rail service is very sporadic at best and several serious accidents in recent years have raised concerned over safety standards.

Air travel

Travel between Brazzaville and Pointe-Noire should be by air. Note that while flights between Brazzaville and the cities of Pointe-Noire, Nkayi and Loubomo run on a daily basis, the air links to other cities like Impfondo may be more random. Departure schedules are often not respected.

Consult our Transportation FAQ in order to verify if national airlines meet safety standards.

General safety information

Tourist facilities are limited. There are frequent electrical power outages and fuel shortages.

Health

Related Travel Health Notices
Consult a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic preferably six weeks before you travel.
Vaccines

Routine Vaccines

Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.

Vaccines to Consider

You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider about which ones are right for you.

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver spread by contaminated food or water. All those travelling to regions with a risk of hepatitis A infection should get vaccinated.

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.

Influenza

Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or through personal contact with unwashed hands. Get the flu shot.

Measles

Measles occurs worldwide but is a common disease in developing countries, particularly in parts of Africa and Asia. Measles is a highly contagious disease. Be sure your vaccination against measles is up-to-date regardless of the travel destination.
 

Polio

There is a risk of polio in this country. Be sure that your vaccination against polio is up-to-date.

Rabies

Rabies is a disease that attacks the central nervous system spread to humans through a bite, scratch or lick from a rabid animal. Vaccination should be considered for travellers going to areas where rabies exists and who have a high risk of exposure (i.e., close contact with animals, occupational risk, and children).

Typhoid

Typhoid is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Risk is higher among travellers going to rural areas, visiting friends and relatives, or with weakened immune systems. Travellers visiting regions with typhoid risk, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation should consider getting vaccinated.

Yellow Fever Vaccination

Yellow fever is a disease caused by the bite of an infected mosquito.

Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.

* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.
Risk
  • There is a risk of yellow fever in this country.
Country Entry Requirement*
  • Proof of yellow fever vaccination is required for travellers from all countries.
Recommendation
  • Vaccination is recommended.
  • Discuss travel plans, activities, and destinations with a health care provider.
  • Protect yourself from mosquito bites.
Food/Water

Food and Water-borne Diseases

Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.

In some areas in Central Africa, food and water can also carry diseases like cholera, hepatitis A, schistosomiasis and typhoid. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in Central Africa. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!

Cholera

There have been cases of cholera reported in this country in the last year. Cholera is a bacterial disease that typically causes diarrhea. In severe cases it can lead to dehydration and even death.

Most travellers are generally at low risk. Humanitarian workers and those visiting areas with limited access to safe food and water are at higher risk. Practise safe food and water precautions. Travellers at high risk should get vaccinated.

Schistosomiasis

Schistosomiasis is caused by blood flukes (tiny worms) spread to humans through contaminated water. The eggs of the worms can cause stomach illnesses like diarrhea and cramps or urinary problems. Risk is generally low for most travellers. Avoid swimming in contaminated water. There is no vaccine available for schistosomiasis.

Travellers' diarrhea
  • Travellers' diarrhea is the most common illness affecting travellers. It is spread from eating or drinking contaminated food or water.
  • Risk of developing travellers’ diarrhea increases when travelling in regions with poor sanitation. Practise safe food and water precautions.
  • The most important treatment for travellers' diarrhea is rehydration (drinking lots of fluids). Carry oral rehydration salts when travelling.

Insects

Insects and Illness

In some areas in Central Africa, certain insects carry and spread diseases like African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness), chikungunya, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, dengue fever, leishmaniasis, lymphatic filariasis, malaria, onchocerciasis, Rift Valley feverWest Nile virus and yellow fever.

Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.

African trypanosomiasis

African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness) is caused by a parasite spread through the bite of a tsetse fly. Tsetse fly bites are painful and if the disease is left untreated it is eventually fatal. Risk is generally low for most travellers. Protect yourself from bites especially in game parks and rural areas during the day. Avoid wearing bright or dark-coloured clothing as these colours attract tsetse flies. There is no vaccine available for this disease.

Onchoceriasis

Onchocerciasis (river blindness) is an eye and skin disease caused by a parasite spread through the bite of an infected female blackfly.  Onchocerciasis often leads to blindness if left untreated. Risk is generally low for most travellers. Protect yourself from blackfly bites, which are most common during the daytime and close to running water. There is no vaccine available for onchocerciasis although drug treatments exist.


Malaria

Malaria

  • There is a risk of malaria throughout the year in the whole country.
  • Malaria is a serious and occasionally fatal disease that is spread by mosquitoes. There is no vaccine against malaria.
  • Protect yourself from mosquito bites. This includes covering up, using insect repellent and staying in well-screened air-conditioned accommodations. You may also consider sleeping under an insecticide-treated bednet or pre-treating travel gear with insecticides.
  • See a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic, preferably six weeks before you travel to discuss the benefits of taking antimalarial medication and to determine which one to take.

Animals

Animals and Illness

Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, monkeys, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats. Certain infections found in Central Africa, like rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.


Person-to-Person

Person-to-Person Infections

Crowded conditions can increase your risk of certain illnesses. Remember to wash your hands often and practice proper cough and sneeze etiquette to avoid colds, the flu and other illnesses.

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV are spread through blood and bodily fluids; practise safer sex.

HIV

HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a virus that attacks and impairs the immune system, resulting in a chronic, progressive illness known as AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome). 

Practise safe sex while travelling, and don’t share needles, razors, or other objects which could transmit infection.

Remember that HIV can also be spread through the use of unsterile medical equipment during medical and dental procedures, tattooing, body piercing or acupuncture. Diseases can also be spread though blood transfusions and organ transplantation if the blood or organs are not screened for HIV or other blood-borne pathogens.

Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis is an infection caused by bacteria and usually affects the lungs.

For most travellers the risk of tuberculosis is low.

Travellers who may be at high risk while travelling in regions with risk of tuberculosis should discuss pre- and post-travel options with a health care provider.

High-risk travellers include those visiting or working in prisons, refugee camps, homeless shelters, or hospitals, or travellers visiting friends and relatives.


Medical services and facilities

Medical services and facilities

Medical facilities are poor, particularly in rural areas. Medicinal supplies are limited.

Keep in Mind...

The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.

Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.

You are subject to local laws. Consult our Arrest and Detention page for more information.

Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking of illegal drugs are strict, and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.

Photography of public buildings or military installations is prohibited. Ask permission before photographing individuals.

An International Driving Permit is required.

Money

The currency is the Central African CFA franc (or XAF bank code). The economy is primarily cash-based, but credit cards are accepted at a few hotels and restaurants in Brazzaville and Pointe-Noire.

Climate

The rainy season extends from September to June in the south. Some roads may become impassable during this period. You should keep informed of regional weather forecasts and plan accordingly.

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