A Brief History of the Democratic Republic of the Congo
The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has a long and tumultuous history. It was first colonized by the Belgian King Leopold II in the late 19th century, and has since witnessed a series of civil wars and unrest. After independence in 1960, the country saw a period of relative stability until the mid-1990s, when the Second Congo War began. This conflict was one of the deadliest in African history, claiming the lives of an estimated 5.4 million people. Since then, the DRC has seen a gradual recovery and its economy has slowly begun to grow. Despite this, the country still experiences significant political and economic instability, and its infrastructure is in need of significant investment and improvement.
Things to Consider Before You Go
Traveling in the DRC can be a challenging and potentially dangerous experience. It is essential that travelers are aware of the risks and take the necessary precautions. The DRC is currently experiencing a period of political unrest and civil unrest, and there have been reports of violent clashes between government forces and rebel groups in some areas. Therefore, it is important to research the security situation in the areas you plan to visit and to take necessary measures to protect yourself. Additionally, the country has a poor infrastructure and basic amenities such as electricity and running water are unreliable. Therefore, it is important to be prepared for the possibility of a lack of basic services. Finally, it is important to have a good understanding of the local customs and cultures in order to navigate the country safely and respectfully.
Best Time to Visit
The best time to visit the DRC is during the dry season, which runs from June to September. This is the most popular time for travelers and it is when the weather is at its most pleasant. The wet season runs from October to May and is characterized by heavy rains and high humidity. During this time, roads and routes can become impassable, and there is an increased risk of malaria and other insect-borne illnesses. It is therefore important to take all necessary precautions if you are planning to travel during this period.
What to See and Do
The DRC is a country of immense natural beauty and diverse culture. From the vibrant cities of Kinshasa and Lubumbashi to the jungles of the Congo Basin, there are plenty of sights and attractions to explore. In Kinshasa, visitors can explore the bustling markets, take in the vibrant nightlife, and visit the impressive Palais du Peuple. Lubumbashi is the country’s second-largest city and is known for its colonial architecture, bustling markets, and lively nightlife. In the Congo Basin, visitors can explore the lush rainforest, encounter a variety of wildlife, and canoe along the mighty Congo River. There are also plenty of opportunities for adventure activities such as trekking, mountain biking, and whitewater rafting.
The most common way to get around the DRC is by bus. There are regular intercity buses between major cities, although services are often unreliable and journeys can take a long time. For shorter distances, it is possible to catch a taxi or tuk-tuk. In some areas, it is also possible to hire a car or motorbike, although this is not recommended due to the poor road conditions and the risk of crime. Additionally, there are domestic flights available in the DRC, although these can be expensive and routes are often limited.
Where to Stay
Accommodation options in the DRC are limited, but there are a few hotels and guesthouses in the major cities. These range from budget hostels to mid-range hotels, and some offer private bathrooms and air conditioning. Additionally, there are a number of campsites in the Congo Basin and some of these offer basic accommodation. It is also possible to stay in local villages, although this is not recommended due to the risk of crime and the lack of basic amenities.
Food and Drink
The DRC is known for its rich and flavorful cuisine. The national dish is called maboké, which is a spicy stew made with cassava leaves and fish. Additionally, there are plenty of other dishes to try, such as fufu (mashed plantains), ndizi (plantain and peanut stew), and chikwangue (cassava bread). In the major cities, there are also a few restaurants serving international cuisine. Additionally, there are plenty of street vendors selling snacks such as kebabs, samosas, and grilled corn. As for drinks, the DRC is known for its excellent coffee, and there are also plenty of juices and smoothies to choose from.