Central African Republic - Top Tips

Super Seven


Bangui City Tour


The capital city definitely isn't the best on the continent, but there's still a few spots worth checking out once you arrive. The highlight was definitely the Notre-Dame of Bangui Cathedral, which was beautiful both inside and out. If you're a sports fan, you can enter the National Stadium, which is a multi-purpose venue with a capacity of 50,000. The final spot I would recommend is the Independence Monument that was built in 2008 to celebrate 50 years of independence.



Kolongo Pygmy Village


Central African Republic is home to many pygmy village communities that are spread across the country. Pygmy people are an ethnic group that are traditionally shorter than 150cm in height and live in the bush. I had the opportunity to visit Kolongo Pygmy Village, which is around a 1.5 hour drive from Bangui.

I got to witness the everyday life of a pygmy, as well traditional dances, and a local game of football. If you speak basic French, you'll be able to communicate and gain a better understanding.



Boali Falls


The highlight of my trip to Central African Republic was definitely visiting Boali Falls, although I am a self-confessed waterfall junkie. The location is also around a 1.5 hour drive from Bangui, which makes it a very easy day trip. This was a well organised spot, with a ticketing & information desk at the entrance. There are also guides available for hire, although it's not really necessary. At 50 meters high and 250 meters wide, you will definitely be impressed as you admire falls from the observation decks. You will also have the opportunity to go down to the base, albeit via a very slippery path. There's a hydroelectric day both before and after the waterfall, which provides a large part of the country with electricity.


Lac Des Crocodiles


I found the crocodile lake very disappointing, but I don't want to disregard it altogether, in case my visit was just bad timing. This spot is a short detour from the main road that takes you between Bangui and Boali Falls. Essentially, it's a lake that locals believe is sacred, and that has a small population of resident crocodiles. There's a small information centre along with a local worker who will take you down to the lake.



Donate


Throughout my travels across Africa, one thing I've always had a focus on is donating. There's so many people that have so little, and Central African Republic was no exception. I prefer to donate clothing, which goes down well with the locals. They're always so grateful for anything, which is pleasing to see that you can make a difference. This time round, I also donated 10 footballs to villages I passed by, which brought so much joy to the children why usually use a plastic bottle or coconut shell as a makeshift football. I'd like to encourage everyone to donate, no matter how big or small the gifts are.



Oubangui River Ride If you're staying in Bangui, the Oubanui river is hard to miss, as it flows directly along the city, and is also the divider between Central African Republic and Democratic Republic of the Congo. A river ride certainly isn't labelled as a tourist attraction, but there are plenty of locals all along the river in dug out wooden canoes that you could could potentially hire for a short ride.

This certainly wasn't easy and I definitely required by guide to do the talking to both the local fishermen and the local police patrolling the river, but it was worth it. You're in canoe between two countries that look like they're within touching distance. There's plenty of fishermen going about their daily trade, as well as locals transporting goods between the two countries. Overall, it's a great spot to people watch!



Ledger Plaza Hotel


If you're the type of traveller that likes your home comforts, then you might want to head to the Ledger Plaza Hotel for the afternoon. It's the only 5 star hotel in the entire country with great facilities on offer. There's a high quality restaurant offering both local and international cuisine, a large pool area with terrace, and a spa and fitness centre. An overnight stay was out of my budget, but the usage of the facilities was a blessing. You can check it out here.



Accommodation Advice


I chose to stay at Oubangui Hotel based on the central location, but also price point. The rooms were basic in Oubangui, but the facilities were surprisingly good. There's a pool/bar area with a decked pathway leading out onto the Oubangui River. The rooms are all river facing offering great views too, so pick a high floor.

If you've got deep pockets, Ledger Plaza Bangui can't be beaten.


Food Factor


Good food can be hard to come by in some regions of Africa, and that was exactly the case in CAR. Be realistic with your expectations, especially if you're a vegetarian. I would recommend Relais des Chasses Restaurant, which is in the centre of Bangui. The place was clean and there was a reasonable menu to choose from. Sometimes even the simplest of vegetables are unavailable, but both meat and fish options are widely available. It's not the cheapest on the wallet, but that's CAR in general, as majority of items are imported.



Good Guide


Ahead of my trip, I reached out to four separate guides that I was recommended within the travel community. I ran through my itinerary with each and negotiated a price accordingly. I settled on using the services of Norbert and was not disappointed. Not only was he the most cost-effective, but he was also able to offer a "visa on arrival" option and was very responsive via Whatsapp.

He speaks English, but French is his native language, so please be patient via Whatsapp exchange. You can reach Norbert on +236 7215 8053.




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