Things I Learned When I Took a Trip to Congo

I’ve only known Congo for the film When We Were Kings. Ali Bomaye! I’ve known that Congo or former Zaire as the venue for the Rumble in the Jungle in 1974. It was a heavyweight match of epic proportions between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman.

But apart from that, I had no idea what to expect from Congo. That’s when I decided to do my research. I then took the trip a few months after in 2018 and realized that the country is filled with great history, jungles, and culture, and great people.

Knowing to Speak French Comes in Handy

Before landing in Kinshasa, I initially thought that the next biggest French-speaking city outside Paris is somewhere in Quebec. Well, I was wrong. Congo’s capital, Kinshasa is the second-largest French-speaking city next to Paris. You get to experience a lot of French delicacies including croissants and baguettes.

Knowing how to speak French makes it easier to enjoy the city. Unfortunately for me, I don’t speak French. Instead, I relied on Google translate to do the talking for me.

They Love Mayo

Congo has a dark colonial history with Belgium. However, one of the things that Belgium left behind even years after Congo became independent is their love for mayo. I was surprised that there’s mayo in every food offered in Congo. Fish, meat, peas, salad, and many others—you name any food, there’s going to be mayo in it.

National Geographic in Real Life

If you ever dreamed of seeing wild animals in their natural habitat, Congo has great wildlife that can give you a chance to go up close to the gorillas. You can trek the Marantaceae forests located at the Odzala Kokoua National Park and see these wonderful creatures up close. Not only that, what you pay goes towards the conservation efforts of these animals.

Going to Congo is Expensive

Another thing that I noticed when I stayed in Congo is that the hotels tend to be expensive. I’ve stayed in expensive cities such as Tokyo, New York, and London but Congo has its share of expensive hotels. Don’t be surprised if you encounter hotels that charge $150 to $200 a night. There are even high-end hotels that will charge $300 up. You also have no other choice but to stay in hotels since there are limited accommodations in some parts of the country.

From Paris to Congo

Air France offers a flight to the country from Paris. If you are going to visit the country, you might have a chance to stop by Paris. This is something that I took advantage of. I was able to stay in Paris for a few days before closing the book on my trip that year. And also, I’ve learned that you will need to show vaccination certificates before you can visit the country.

Congo is a dream destination in Africa. Apart from doing Paris to Congo, you can even cross the border and visit Angola. If you have enough time, this can be a backpacker’s ultimate dream come true. However, unlike touring in South East Asia, this isn’t a budget-friendly adventure.

The mysterious Congo beckons and I can’t wait to travel again.

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