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Basic information

  • Area: 583 km2 (225 sq mi)
  • Calling Code: +243
  • Currency: Congolese franc (CDF)
  • Population (EST): 11,587,000
  • Official language: French, other
  • Time Zone: GMT+1

10 Reasons to Visit Kinshasa

1. Experience the Congolese Way of Life

Perhaps the greatest attraction of Kinshasa is just the vibe of the city. There are a number of tourist attractions, but's it's especially important when visiting the city to enjoy the local fare, like 'foufou' and 'chikwange', move to the sounds of the ndombolo music, and enjoy the lovely surroundings. There is a fantastic laid-back quality to the locals, and when visiting Kinshasa, it's nice to adapt this pace and rhythm, and really enjoy it. That being said, once you're ready to see some sites, you can venture to fascinating spots like the Grand Marche, the Academie des Beaux Arts, the tomb of President Laurent Kabila, the Boboto Centre, and so much more.

2. Chutes de Lukia

If you pay a visit to the stunning Chutes de Lukia, you'll have access to the delicious restaurant offering local fare, the tranquil lake that is available for swimming, as well as the pygmy orphanage known as Bonobo Centre. You can actually play with the younger chimps if they're not napping or feeding. All in all, the Chutes make for a great day trip with a diverse number of activities available in one location. No trip to Kinshasa is complete without coming to this lakeside gem.

3. Congolese Gondola Ride

This is one of the must exciting things to do on the Congo River, and a wonderful way to spend a warm afternoon in Kinshasa. The Congo is a tremendously wide river, and a gondola ride is a great way to see its vast expanses and many sandbars. The nice thing about this kind of ride is that the gondola drivers are quite knowledgeable and can share information about the river. There are also opportunities to stop at the sandbars and have a picnic or lounge about. This is a wonderfully peaceful activity, and a popular pastime for tourists.

4. Kisantu Botanical Gardens

Kisantu is not only a sanctuary for a collection of ancient trees, it's also a sanctuary for weary travelers. There is no better place in Kinshasa to experience the beauty of the natural habitat, and stroll through winding pathways and lush greenery. There is also a gentle river that passes through the Gardens, and allows visitors to take a cool dip in the waters. Whether you're a nature lover or not, Kisantu will definitely help you to appreciate the beauty of the natural habitat of the Congo. It's open most days of the week, and be ready to spend most of the day within its vast, verdant expanses.

5. Lac de ma Vallé

Here is another lake that is perfect for fishing, hiking, renting a boat, or simply relaxing by the shore. It's a good 1.5 hours drive from Kinshasa, but once you arrive you'll see why it's worth the drive. The lake is absolutely stunning, and there's a fine restaurant that serves food all day long. The drive itself to the lake is beautiful, and allows you to see some other parts of the Republic. Be sure to bring some sunscreen and a beach blanket.

6. Kinkole Fish Market

The Fish Market is a local favourite, and a wonderful place to enjoy a glass of palm wine on the shores of the Congo, while feasting on the country's very best liboke; a dish of stewed fish and manioc leaves. The Market was built by Mobutu to honour the great fishermen of the country, and today is one of the best tourist destinations in Kinshasa. Whether you venture there day or night, you get to take in the beauty of the lake, along with the deliciousness of the cuisine.

7. Kahuzi Biega National Park

Kuhuzi Biega National Park is dramatic and stunning, and is dedicated to the protection of the Eastern Lowland Gorilla. The park is named after Mt. Kahuzi and Mr. Biega, that rise majestically into the air. Within the park's vast expanses, there is great hiking, as well as tours that highlight some of the most exciting natural wonders of the Congo. If you get a chance to glimpse a gorilla, it's a site you'll not soon forget. This powerful and mighty animal is perhaps one of the most fascinating mammals in nature, and the park is dedicated to preserving these animals so that they may always thrive in the Congo.

8. Grand Hotel Kinshasa

If you're looking for luxury and convenience all rolled into one, then the Grand Hotel Kinshasa is the answer. Overlooking the Congo River, the hotel is perfectly situated just minutes away from all the best local attractions, including government buildings and embassies. That's what makes this hotel so popular with businessmen traveling in and out of Kinshasa. It's also perfect for business meeting and special dinners here in the fine restaurant of the hotel.

9. Nyiragongo Volcano

There is an active lava lake inside of Nyiragongo volcano, and for the faint of heart its best to view it from a distance. If you're a little more adventurous, it's possible to take a tour atop the actual volcano. Keep in mind, this volcano has been erupting for many years now, but you can take heart that modern technology can now give us a warning as to when it will explode next. You can still see some villages below the volcano that are covered in its black lava rock.

10. Fried Tilapia and Cassava

Tilapia is one of the favourite local foods of Kinshasa, and its caught fresh in the nearby lake Kivu. The best way to enjoy it is fried and loaded with spices. It is often served with cassava, which is a staple root vegetable in Kinshasa. The taste of cassava is quite simple, but it goes quite well with the flavourful fish.

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