R.D. Congo: General Information
Congolese Franc is the local currency. Hard currencies (USD, EUROS, UK Sterling) are accepted in major hotels, and can be changed at bureaux de change. The easiest to exchange and most preferred currecies are US dollars or Euros.
Banks are open Monday to Friday from 8:00hrs to 11:30hrs.
Travellers cheques and credit cards have limited use.
Gratuities are at the discretion of the client and in Africa there are no percentages. Generally we recommend a tip of 5 to 10 USD per person per day to driver / guide’s. Any taken of appreciation is gladly received by porter’s and waiter’s this can be 3 – 5%.
Time: GMT +1 on the western side (Kinshasa) and GMT +2 on the eastern side.
Electricity: 220/240 volts, AC 50Hz. French-style two pin plugs are used.
The international access code for D.R.Congo Kenya is +243. All major urban areas are covered by the mobile network; the local mobile phone operators use GSM networks that have roaming agreements with most international mobile phone operators. Internet cafes are widely available in most cities and tourist areas.
The country is a high risk malaria zone and other tropical deseases. Travellers to D.R.Congo should get the latest medical advice on inoculations and malaria prevention from their country of origin prior to departure. Immunization against yellow fever, hepatitis, tetanus, meningitis are usually recommended and Is well worth taking this precaution. AIDS is a serious problem in the World of today and the necessary precautions should be taken. Drinking tap water is not safe. Should be boiled Medical facilities are limited and visitors are advised to carry their own full medical kits. Health insurance is essential.
Apply common sense, since Congolese society is less affluent than western society, never make an ostentatious show of wealth. Particularly at night be careful of the hustlers. Visitors should also be vigilant when visiting most isolated areas. Most hotels and lodges have safe keeping facilities. Ask at the reception desk for this facility and always insist on a receipt. Beggars are common, but not all are deserving cases.
The climate is humid and hot around the Equatorial river basin, drier in the southern and highlands, and wetter in the eastern highlands. North of the equator wet season runs from April to October and south of the equator the wet season goes from Naovember to March. The D.R. Congo experiences the largest amounts of precipitation 2 032 mm (80 inches) because of its rain forests.
Kinshasa – Leopoldville
Kinshasa is among the most vibrate cities of Africa, notably feature in D.R.Congo culture is its music, has blended its ethnic musical sources with Cuban rumba and merengue which gave birth to soukous, rumba rock, ndombolo etc. Kinshasa boys also known as “Le Sapeur” or “Le Kinois” has set the tone of generation of young men always dressed up in expensive designers’ clothes, depite the pressure of living.
While in Kinshasa, one can visit a variety of amenities which include the Prehistoric museum, the Botanical and Zoological garden of Kinshasa, Mount Ngaliema presidential park, Wenze ya bikeko (the artists’ market), Patrice Lumumba monument at Limete, the tourist city of N’sele, the pool Malebo and boat ride on Congo river is a don’t miss adventure.
Some tourist class hotels are found in major cities.
Private and many other international airlines operate flights in and out of D.R.Congo. Also there are several regional airlines. The country has 5 international airports: Kinshasa, Kisangani, Gbadolite, Lubumbashi and Goma.
The railway system of the country is operational, but poorly maintained. The ground transportation network has always been difficult, because of the terrain and climate of the Congo Basin present serious barriers to road construction, with some areas becoming impassable during rains season. The country has thousands of kilometres of navigable waterways, therefore water transport has been the best means of moving around two thirds of the country. There are 11 harbours and ports.
Taxis are available, are not metered and the fare should be agreed upon before departure.
Visas and Immigration
A valid passport at least six months before expiry and visas are required by all visitors entering the D.R.Congo. Special travel permit “feuille de route” is needed and other special athorisation may be required for entry into the central mining zones, depending with the nature of your visit. Visas can be obtained in advance through the various R.D.Congo embassies abroad.
Booking for all gorilla permits shall be done and paid for in advance and are not refundable except for medical reasons and a medical certificate has to be provided. Obtaining a gorilla permit is not a guarantee of seeing the gorilla. Permits are sold on first come, first serve basis. When tracking gorillas, we recommend a solid walking shoes, studier clothing to protect against stinging nettles, a waterproof jacket as rain is so unpredictable.