Tourist attractions in Kinshasa
The Things to do in Kinshasa city are many but some background information will help understand everything better. Kinshasa is the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo. It lies on the Southern banks of the great river Congo and 515 miles away from the Atlantic Ocean. Kinshasa has grown from a small fishing village into one of the largest metropolitan areas in Africa. Kinshasa is the cultural and intellectual Centre of the Democratic Republic of Congo but has also influenced many parts of sub-Saharan Africa in the past 30 years. It is the largest French speaking city in the world – larger than Paris. The temperature is generally warm for much of the day from May to September. Temperatures generally drop during the rainy season between October and May.
The city is divided into three main zones – residential, commercial and industrial. The industrial zone is located in the eastern part of the city, while to the east lies most of the residential apartments for the elite class of Congolese and Europeans. Most of the key administration building, embassies and offices of international organizations lie at the center.
Kinshasa is one of the most densely populated cities in Africa with about 12,000,000 people. Most of the population is young (below 22 years). The high number of people in the capital is mainly attributed to the civil wars that have affected the country in the recent past. Other reasons include a love for city life and the economic hardships that come with modernization. Like in many developing countries, there is a sharp contrast between the poor and the rich class. One will be astonished to find great opulence and mansions in places like `Binza and Ndjili while some other parts consist of mainly slum areas with the occasional middle class buildings. Most of these slum areas have poorly paved roads and you get this feeling that they are occupied by new arrivals from the remote parts of the country. Despite the contrasting lifestyles, chaos and years of civil war in some parts of the country, Congolese people share one thing – A zest for life, music and flamboyant fashion.
Congolese music developed a lot faster than in other areas of Africa. By the 1960’s, Congolese music was already popular in most African countries. In Franco Luambo, Congo produced one of the best guitarists Africa has ever seen. His recordings were great masterpieces with rich wordplay covering every aspect of life. The Congolese musicians in Kinshasa were among the first to appreciate and introduce high quality recordings and live performances. The audiophile will be impressed with the quality of Congolese recordings especially in the late 1970’s and 80’s. Enough of the elaboration. What at the key attractions in Kinshasa? Before we go to them, you might find our article about the tourist attractions in Goma and the things to do in Congo interesting. We also have information about the top game parks in Congo.
What to do in Kinshasa City
Visit the National Museum of Kinshasa:
This is a museum of historical and cultural significance to the people of Congo. It is where one can learn about the history of the city and its significance to the country. The museum has an archive consisting of about 46,000 objects with information the country’s history, wildlife, rivers, lakes and the different tribes. Staff at the Museum will take you through the exhibits after which you can go and marvel at the Congo River.
Check out Lola ya Bonobo:
This is the only sanctuary for orphaned bonobos. Bonobos are also known as dwarf chimpanzees. They are smaller than the common chimpanzee and are only found in central Africa. The sanctuary is located in a place called Kimwenza – outside the city. Bonobos are threatened with extinction and their numbers continue to dwindle even after being listed as endangered by the IUCN. Their main threat comes from humans. Apart from habitat loss due to human encroachments, Bonobos area also victims of poaching, animal trafficking and are hunted for their meat. When rescued, the little primates are taken to Lola ya Bonobo, rehabilitated and taken care of until they are ready to be released back into the wild.
Visit monumental buildings in the city:
Palais de la Nation is the first place to start with. The facility was built in 1956 as the residence of the Belgian governor at the time but was later used by Patrick Lumumba (first president). Palais du Peuple or People’s Palace is another major building worth Visiting Kinshasa in Congovisiting. It is where the laws of the country are made. If you are on a mission trip to Congo, you should check out the Nôtre Dame Cathedral. This cathedral was built in 1947 with brick and striking glass finishing. Église Ste Anne sits on a more spacious compound is the main Roman Catholic church in Kinshasa. To see the largest catholic church in Congo, you need to drive 120 kilometers away from Kinshasa up to Kisantu. Other prominent buildings with interesting architectural works are the International Trade Centre, the head office of the mineral marketing agency and the national broadcasting corporation. You should also read our article about the things to do in Nairobi.
Go to African Park Adventures:
Lac de Ma Vallee is the name in French. This amazing park is built away from the city center. It consists of water bodies, forests and wildlife. It is an excellent spot to go with family if one is interested in relaxing in a quiet place away from the fast life of the city.
Visit the snake farm:
After exploring Lac de Ma Vallee, you can go to this botanical gardens to enjoy the nature in a quiet and serene location outside the city. The gardens are a collection of several tree species, including old ones like cactus and herbarium. The gardens also have a restaurant serving local Congolese food as well as snacks. After visiting the botanical gardens, you might also be interested in a snake farm which is located 28 kilometers away from the city center. Serpents du Congo is home to both venomous and non-venomous snakes.
The Zongo Falls:
The Zongo waterfalls lie outside the city – in fact 130 kilometers away. The falls are surrounded by quiet and beautiful scenery which is quite different from what you would experience in the main city. It is an excellent spot to go to for the weekend or if you want somewhere quiet for relaxation. You can choose to walk into the rain-forest, go birding or view spot small primates.
Hangout or go to the bar:
There are several places where you can go out for an evening of fun, partying and mingling with the locals or community of expatriates. Jardin d’Eden-kinshasa is a music Top attractions in Kinshasabar and restaurant with a resident live band specializing in classic Congolese rumba. It’s an excellent place to go for relaxation and meeting new people. Kwilu bar is ideal for relaxation after work. It sits on a nice tropical garden and offers cocktail drinks (including rum). If you like loud music as you take your favorite local bear, then you should go to Bar La Crèche. Centre Culturel Français also organizes live band performances as well as cultural events and art exhibitions. Other places to consider in case you are interested in live band music is Espace Mutombo Buitshi and Zamba Playa for their talented Attractions in Kinshasa Congolocal artists/bands.
The best dancing club in Kinshasa is arguably Fiesta Club. The club is popular with the working class. Expect to find the best DJs in town there. Music goes on up to the early morning. If you are tired of dancing, you can play pool, eat at the restaurant or just relax at the main lounge. If loud club music is not your thing, we recommend soft music at Montecristo Kinshasa. Another club worth considering is Black & White. We recommend it but with reservation.
Attend Cultural Events and Shows:
Those who love cultural performances will not be disappointed while in Kinshasa. Texaf Bilembo is one of the best places to go for cultural performances. The Centre has a cultural and arts gallery which hosts cultural events and show films. While there, you can also buy local books and handicrafts. You might be interested in our article about the top attractions in Dar es Salaam.
Eat out and try the local cuisine:
Kinshasa is a large city with a large expatriate community. Because of that, there is no shortage of quality restaurants and places to eat for all types of food. If you are interested in the local cuisine, you can try out Poulet à la Moambé – a very popular Congolese dish made up of 8 ingredients including chicken, cassava leaves and palm butter. The combination is then served with ugali (mixture of millet and cassava flour). Fish is a popular dish in Kinshasa and throughout the country considering that the country is blessed with several water bodies. The food can be washed down with coconut drink, milk, rum or local beer – Simba and Bracongo.
Which are the places to eat out?
There are many but you can try out Chez Flore for strictly Congolese food but with an opportunity to meet the locals. A Casa Mia and Limoncello serve both European and local dishes while Le Palais serves the best Lebanese food. For tasty sandwiches, salads, pastries and other international dishes, you should visit Eric Kayser. Restaurant Al-Dar deals specializes in Lebanese food and is where the affluent go to buy fast foods after work before rushing home. Fusion serves European, Chinese and Indian cuisines (in form of buffet) in a large room. All you need to do is pay a certain amount and eat all you can. You can also check out Patisserie Nouvelle after the French embassy for their pastry and coffee, Limoncello for great Italian food and A Casa Mia (a favorite of the expatriate community).
Visiting the art galleries, schools and shops:
If you are wondering where to check out the local artisans, then look no further than Symphonie des Arts and Académie des Beaux-Arts. Symphonie des Arts displays pictures and art crafts from the different cultural groups in the country. Académie des Beaux-Arts is arguably the best art school in the country. It is where you get to see all the beautiful works by students, promising artists and their professors. If you want to support a good cause should go and support the disabled artists at Je Gagne Ma Vie.
Visit the city markets:
The best way to learn about the culture of a new country or city is to visit their main markets. It is in the market that you will meet the everyday people and get to learn a lot of things. The first place to check out is the central market also known as Le Grand marché. It is the biggest market in the country and one of the largest in Africa. Go with someone who knows the place and try not to move with any valuables.
Things to consider when visiting Kinshasa City
The Democratic Republic is a country that is still struggling with civil wars especially in the North Eastern part of the country. The results of the civil wars and political instability is clearly visible once you enter in the country. Go expecting that nothing is perfect. Eventually as the world grows, so will the country. The country is blessed with vast natural resources and will one day be visited by many.
For now, tread carefully when you visit. Kinshasa is relatively safe but visitors need to exercise caution especially when moving alone and in the night. As a developing country with many people living below the poverty line, there are cases of mugging, pick-pocketing and outright theft. Always seek advice from trusted locals, your hotel staff or driver when going out and to places you are not familiar with.
The best way to Enter Kinshasa is by air. Kinshasa airport is becoming one of the busiest in central Africa and receives flights from Istanbul, Lagos, Johannesburg, Brussels and Paris. The airport is located outside the city. After disembarking from the plane, you have to drive for about 25 kilometers to reach the city Centre. Taxis can be got from the airport but you can also hire a private car. It is important to note that apart from a valid passport all travelers are required to have the Congo Visa and yellow fever vaccination card before entering into the country. The Congo Visa costs $100 and needs to be applied at least a month before a trip.
Safari vacations and travel services assists its client in booking the necessary requirements for the trip i.e. transport, permits and more others so don’t hesitate to contact us.