I’m a culprit of pre-judging travel destinations as badly as anyone. As such, I really didn’t expect much of Brazzaville. The name “The Congo” has such a primitive connotation to it with most foreigners. As such, it can be pretty easy to expect Brazzaville to be a mess of a city with no structure and a mere crumble of infrastructure. However, I was quite pleased with what I found in the capital of the Congo. It’s not nearly as stressful as I imagined, there is some fun shopping, and a wealth of international eats. Moreover, with overland haunts like Hippocampe, it’s easy to feel comfortable here.
Things to do in Brazzaville
Although it’s not much of a tourist town, there are some things to do in Brazzaville for visitors. Don’t expect to be entertained for weeks, but if you have a couple days, you’ll likely find yourself occupied enough.
- The Rapids: If you go down the coast from Brazzaville south you’ll see what are known as the rapids. It’s basically a series of rough water on the Congo River, but it makes a worthy visit.
- Basilique Sainte-Anne: A beautiful Cathedral in the middle of the city.
- Kinshasa: If you don’t have any desire to go to Kinshasa, and why would you, it’s right across the river, head down towards the waterfront and have a look.
- The Markets: There are loads of good markets in Brazzaville. They are chaotic, but no one will bother you for much more than a hello.
Where to Eat in Brazzaville
There are plenty of places serving international cuisine in the city. For example, Hippocampe does a fair share of Asian inspired cuisine including a buffet. You can find Moroccan food at a place called Etoiles de Jade. Likely the most popular, and highest class, place in the city is known as Le Jardin, if you’re craving steak, this is the place. Also, there has been a massive influx of Lebanese people of late. As such, you don’t have to walk far to find a Lebanese place.
Where to Stay in Brazzaville
In my opinion, there is only one place worth of staying at that’s Hippocampe. There are really nice rooms available, but they’re a bit expensive. If you have a tent, or you’re overlanding, the really nice owner lets you stay for free as long as you eat at the restaurant from time to time. There is WiFi on site, as well as the aforementioned restaurant. Moreover, they actually have a couple mechanics on site, if you need minor repairs, as I did.
Getting out of Town
If you’re heading to Kinshasa by boat, good luck. The ferry system, and the DRC on the other side, is corrupt. It’s an absolute struggle to get on the ferry, and once you get to the other side it’s not much easier. Moreover, as of late, if you got your visa for the DRC anywhere but your home country, you’re likely to be denied for no just reason whatsoever. Most people decide to go all the way around, driving about 300km on rough roads, just to avoid the situation at the Kinshasa crossing.
If you’re heading up to Oyo, the road that way is actually really good aside from some spots that are really narrow and pot-holed. If you want to head to Pointe-Noir, ask about the situation on the ground before going. From what I was hearing in Brazzaville, the situation along that road is actually good now, and the quality of the road has improved greatly too. But, as is the case almost anywhere in the region, always keep your ear to the ground in regards to the local situation.
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