The Congo Republic is something of a geographic appendage to the Democratic Republic of Congo, and was the French consolation prize for losing the race with Belgium over control of the entire Congo River Basin. The nation occupies a stretch of the north bank of the mighty Congo River, with its capital Brazzaville situated adjacent to Kinshasa at the mouth of the great Malebo Pool.
While the two Congos may be sister republics there are as many differences between them as there are similarities. Of the similarities both nations are formed out of the green chaos of the Congo rainforest, both are defined by the main transport artery of the Congo River, both are French speaking and both have suffered a torturous legacy of warfare and violence that still hampers their development. Of the differences the most striking is that, although both nations enjoy a superb natural heritage, and an ecological diversity to numb the senses, it is the Congo Republic that is seen to be more conscious of this potential, and more willing to apply resource to its genuine protection.
Despite this the Congo Republic is still a travelers destination with more to interest the outfield voyager than the pleasure-seeking tourist. Some of the overspill of the great swell of central African music, that bubbles across the river in Kinshasa, washes up on the shores of Brazzaville where the throbbing Central African vibe is alive and well. The capital city, as well as much of the hinterland, is grubby, sleazy and more than a little disreputable. However it is also the real stuff of Africa, and the sweaty, black, hip-swaying and intoxicating mood of the nation places it nowhere else but in the fertile and energetic heart of a tropical continent.
Travel To & Within Congo Republic
Why Travel To The Congo Republic
Congo Republic enjoys a vast natural heritage, and a significant area of land set aside for conservation. This includes:
Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park Lac Tele Community Reserve Odzala National Park Conkouati-Douli National Park
None of these parks are particularly easy to access, which is one of the factors that has kept them whole, but to view and interact with gorillas, albeit the relatively numerous lowland gorillas, Congo Republic is the country to visit. Besides this there are healthy populations of chimpanzees and forest elephants, which are critically endangered in other parts of Africa, but for the time being at least are secure in their habitat in Congo Republic.
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For the truly exotic big game fishing experience there is very little to touch tossing out a lure and bringing in one of the biggest Tiger Fish in the world. The record is 56 kilograms which to a Tiger fisherman is a truly monster prospect.
Congolese beaches are not famed in the region, and this mainly because where the beaches are fine in West Africa they are superbly fine, and sadly Central Africa cannot compete. However regionally Congo Republic is not disadvantaged, and for the beach enthusiast, assuming that you are visiting for reasons of nature or culture, you will not be disappointed.
The Congo Republic is reputed to grow and sell some of the best marijuana in the world. If this is your bag then it will certainly assist in enjoying some of the best Afro-rhythms on the continent and one of the most vibrant and established Afro-pop music scenes. Brazzaville is a jumping, energetic and lively city with great nightlife and a small but fabulous clique of cosmopolitan restaurants and hotels.
When To Visit Congo Republic
Mid year the ubiquitous rain ease off and temperatures drop, but for most of the eyar expect heat, humidity and fairly regular and constant rain.
Congo Republic has experienced significant unrest and rebel activity in recent years, and while the situation is generally stable, this is a volatile region with uncertain government, and in particular in the border regions with Democratic Republic of Congo the situation remains uncertain.
Crime statistics in Brazzaville and surroundings are low, and although increasing levels of violent crime, carjacking and other attacks are not as serious as in many other parts of the region. Police checkpoints are frequent, and the police generally maintain a visible presence.
Water borne diseases and malaria are widespread in Congo Republic. HIV/AIDS incidence is high, and precautions must be taken.