Not to be confused with the much larger DRC, the Republic of the Congo sits on the northwestern border and became independent from France in 1960.
Here are our tips to stay safe if you are traveling in the Republic of the Congo.
The Republic of the Congo (ROC) is a very rarely visited developing nation in central Africa, and its official language is French. The largest cities are the capital, Brazzaville, which is located on the Congo River, and Pointe Noire on the coast. Tourist infrastructure is limited here, and petty street crime does occur on the streets in Brazzaville.
In the neighborhoods of Poto-Poto, Bacongo, and Makelekele, travelers have reported verbal harassment. Vendors often physically grab potential clients or say "Mondele" (white person) to get their attention. Women traveling alone will experience more verbal harassment than men. Pretty crime is more of a risk in large crowds, so keep your belongings safe or totally out of sight to avoid theft.
The beaches are a common place for crime in Pointe Noire. Avoid going to the beaches at night, and keep your valuables safe and never leave them on a towel at the beach. Try to avoid the market areas after dark as well.
While there are no laws against homosexuality in the Republic of the Congo, many local and visiting LGBTQ travelers have faced discrimination and harassment.
For your own personal safety, keep public displays of affection to a minimum, and avoid talking about sexual orientation to avoid causing offense.
Roads in Brazzaville are relatively well maintained. If you want to travel south from the capital, you should consider flying, as roads and train travel from Brazzaville to Pointe Noire is not recommended for safety concerns.
There is a well-paved highway to go north towards the city of Ouesso.
The Republic of the Congo experiences two rainy seasons, the first from February–May and again from September–December. During the rainy season, non-primary roads are not reliable, and maybe inaccessible, so be prepared for significant delays if you are traveling during these seasons.
Traveling by bus is not recommended, and while there are no registered taxi companies in Brazzaville or Pointe-Noire, taxis are required to have an operator permit, but many are privately-owned operators. There have not been any reported incidents with casual use of taxis in Brazzaville or Pointe Noire, however, here are a few tips for safe travel and use of taxis in Congo:
Although terrorism has not been a recent problem in the ROC, a former rebel group called the Ninjas reside in the Pool region, specifically in and around the village of Kinkala. Although they do not specifically target travelers, they sometimes set up roadblocks for highway robberies.
Prior to your trip, you should pay close attention to events in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), which experiences civil unrest, that can spill over from Kinshasa to Brazzaville. For the most up to date security and safety information on the DRC, refer to your government's travel advisories.
Police in the ROC often stop foreigners and accuse them of minor infractions – and most of the time, these are not legit. Instead of writing a ticket, the police request visitors pay a fine on the spot – a bribe.
Avoid paying these bribes, as they encourage bad habits for police in the future.
Travelers should always carry a form of identification (just a copy of your passport), and you should only carry a small amount of cash, and avoid walking around with your credit cards.
Local health infrastructure is not great, and you should carry all medications into the country with you to avoid not having access to pain medication or prescription drugs.
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