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Things to do in Kinshasa

Boulevard du 30 Juin, Kinshasa Goma

Kinshasa is the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Kin (as locals universally call it) sprawls seemingly forever from the banks of the Congo River to its distant shanty towns. Shot through with chaos, music and a lust for life that is as infectious as it is overwhelming, Kinshasa is a city you experience rather than visit. In this article, Kwafrika Travel explains things to do in Kinshasa as per its former customers’ choice.

Kinshasa faces Brazzaville, the capital of the neighboring Republic of the Congo, which can be seen in the distance across the wide Congo River. While sprawling, chaotic and often intimidating, Kinshasa is also a major cultural and intellectual center for Central Africa with a flourishing community of musicians and artists.

Zongo Falls, the secong longest falls after Niagara, one of things to do in Kinshasa

1°. Zongo Waterfalls

Located 130 kilometers (90 miles) from Kinshasa, Zongo Park provides a lovely setting & a spectacular scenery to the Zongo Waterfalls.  The gorgeous 65m-high Zongo falls are one of DRC’s most spectacular sights. It is the number one of things to do in Kinshasa. Getting to the viewpoints involves some hiking, but watching the water roaring over the precipice into the river below is unforgettable. What makes Zongo waterfalls unique is the water vapor that rises to the sky when the river water hits the ground.

Vapor of Water, Zongo Falls, one of things to do in Kinshasa

During your experience in Zongo you will be showed where Simon Kimbangu was used to sit after preaching the gospel in neighboring villages (Kamba & Kansangulu). Kimbangu is son of a traditional religious leader who became a Baptist in 1915. According to his disciples, Simon cured the sick, raised the dead back to life, and prophesied the future and, the liberation of black people and many greater miracles.

Simon Kimbangu Seat, Zongo Falls, one of things to do in Kinshasa

After experiencing the Zongo waterfalls, if in the sunny season, you may go spend time at a beach located 10 km away from waterfalls. There you will experience a waterfalls massage.

Massage waterfalls, Zongo Falls, one of things to do in Kinshasa
Customer experiencing the massage waterfalls, Zongo Falls

The visit comes with an option of staying overnight at the Seli Safari Zongo Lodge.

Welcome to Seli Safaris, Zongo Falls, one of things to do in Kinshasa

With its comfortable Villas, Bungalows, Rooms and Tents for Camping, Seli Safari Zongo Lodge offers the most pleasant conditions of stay and unforgettable nights with its nocturnal wood fires surrounded by nature by the Inkisi river, and surrounded by a tropical forest. Served under superb rustic huts on the edge of the rapids, you will also enjoy traditional dishes accompanied by refreshing drinks.

Chalet, Seli Safari Zongo, one of things to do in KinshasaResidence Room, Seli Safari Zongo, one of things to do in Kinshasa

The room options are Bungalows, Chalets and normal rooms. As you leave the lodge you will pass by Zongo Dam 1 that provides power to a part of Kinshasa.

Masanga ya Bila, Zongo Falls, things to do in Kinshasa
The CEO of Kwafrika Travel tasting Masanga ya Bila in Kisantu

On your way back to Kinshasa you may want to taste a local beer called Masanga ya Bila (literally palm beer) sold by locals. This could be a way for you to support local inhabitants who live without fundamentals like access to a proper sanitation, to schools, hospitals,…

2°. Bonobos Sanctuary

How can humans avoid murder and war? Unlike all other great apes, bonobos don’t kill each other. If we could figure out their secret, we might be able to achieve our biggest accomplishment – world peace.

Bonobos in Lola ya Bonobos, one of things to do in Kinshasa

The Bonobos sanctuary come second in the things to do in Kinshasa. Founded in 1994, Lola ya Bonobo is located 28 km away from the CBD of Kinshasa City. It is the world’s only sanctuary for orphaned bonobos. The Bonobos are our closest living relatives, with more than 99% identical DNA. Bonobos are thus found only in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The sanctuary is surrounded by the rainforest and has a lake inside. Just as you enter the sanctuary, you will be brought to the briefing room. The visit is done in groups, the first group starts at 10 am. The others are done after an interval of 1h30’ up to 4 o’clock when the final group is supposed to end the last visit.

Lola ya Bonobos has rescued 30 bonobos since its inception, the goal of the sanctuary is to rescue, raise, rehabilitate, and if possible, release bonobos orphaned by the illegal wildlife trade.  Baby bonobos need a lot of love from their mom up to the time when they get 4 years old. Women caretakers are employed in the sanctuary to take care of the baby bonobos taken from the community.

Caretakes with bonobos, Lola ya bonobos, one of things to do in Kinshasa

During your visit you will be brought where the baby bonobos stays, you will be amazed at how they play and interact with their caretakers who are responsible for educating them. Visitors like seeing them playing around jumping from a tree to another one in connivance with their caretakers. You will be showed where the baby bonobos sleep and eat.

In the bonobos families, the women are the leaders, this is because of their union, once you go against one female, it is all the female that come against you which is not the case for the male. After visiting the baby bonobos, place to the visit of bonobos integrated into groups.

The youngest in the integrated bonobos is a male of 17 years old, followed by Shibo 19 years old. The oldest bonobos in the Sanctuary is Makadi with more than 30 years old. Bonobos are vegetarians and are fed 5 times a day.

As you hover through the sanctuary you might spot a variety of dogs which are non-ordinary. They never bark and are found only in the DR Congo.

To end your visit, you will be brought to a place where your guide will make you discover the most dangerous animal on earth. The visit of the second of things to do in Kinshasa lasts from 1h30’ to 2 hours.

Visiting the bonobos in Lola ya Bonobos, one of things to do in Kinshasa
Kevin Arkadie, our latest customer experiencing the bonobos in Kinshasa

3°. Boat cruise on Congo River

The Congo River is one of the world’s great rivers flowing for thousands of kilometers. Kwafrika Travel offers a majestic cruise on the Congo River in the heart of Africa. Formerly called the Zaire River, the Congo is Africa’s most powerful river and the second most voluminous river in the world with a discharge of 1,500,000 cubic feet of water per second. It is the fifth longest river in the world, draining a basin of nearly 1.5 million square miles.

The experience comes third in the things to do in Kinshasa. The river is arguably best known for its role in history. Called “the heart of darkness” by Joseph Conrad, the river and surrounding rainforest have long been thought of as the mysterious land of pygmies, mythical beasts, dreadful plagues, and cannibals. It is a region made famous by the arduous adventures of Stanley and Livingstone, and known as a place of brutality and violence for its past: the days of the Arab slave and ivory trade, its long history of tribal warfare; colonial abuses; and its volatile present.

Kwafrika Travel offers two options:

1°. One hour cruise on the river departing from the Safari Beach, a modern resort located in the Maluku just near N’jdili International Airport. The cruise is done in a speedboat with an experience captain who bring you through a captivating cruise on the river for an entire hour.

Safari Beach Port, Boat Cruise Congo River, things to do in Kinshasa

2°. Entire day cruise on the river: In this option, you depart from the Grand port for a whole day cruise on the River. You will leave with a cook and a tent to make few stops on the river side, have a barbecue while listening to music and enjoying the good air from the river. This option is costly but definitely worth it.

Congo River, things to do in Kinshasa

3°. Using a local wooden boat: For those willing to get the real local experience on Congo River, at Kwafrika Travel we give options. Through this option, you can use a wooden boat departing from Kinkole for a few hours cruise on the river. This is the cheapest option.

Wooden boat, real local experience, boat cruise, things to do in Kinshasa
Veridique, Terrence bring Kevin Arkadie through the real local experience, boat cruise on the Congo River.
  1. Kinshasa City Tour

You consider yourself a well-traveled person, until you go to Kinshasa,… It is certainly not a bad thing, however you need to understand the culture here which is very different from any other African country you might have visited, after all there are nearly 15 million people living in Kinshasa and its surroundings. Remember Kinshasa is a place one experience not visit.

Boulevard du 30 Juin, things to do in Kinshasa
The CEO of Kwafrika Travel in Kinshasa CBD

Let’s start with the language. French is by far the most commonly spoken language – if you can’t understand or speak it you will need somebody who does, Kwafrika Travel guides know both English and French. When communicating here, people speak very loudly which can often be very intimidating – most will debate or argue but violence is never an option. Due to the poor economic conditions here, most are simply people who are after a quick “buck” – start high ($50) and end up settling for $10.

Touring the city, will make you discover Kinshasa’s vibrant culture and history. You will explore local landmarks, a bustling market, and the banks of the churning Congo River. The city tour comes fourth in the things to do in Kinshasa.

Traveling with a Kwafrika Travel local guide, you’ll learn the stories behind each place you see, from the National Museum to Kabila’s Mausoleum and the Place of Independence.

You will also be brought in another incredibly unique aspect of Kinshasa, Sapeurs. La Sape is an abbreviated way to refer to the movement of Sapeurs. The translated meaning of the term La Sape is “Society of Ambiance-Makers and Elegant People”. Also known as Congolese Dandies, the importance of physical appearance and attire is of the utmost and this is very clear, as you will see. You will experience the city in the safety of a private vehicle that will comfortably accommodate you, with all entrance fees included.

National Museum, one of things to do in Kinshasa
Terrence, our guide with Kevin Arkadie in the National Museum Kinshasa

National Museum, one of things to do in Kinshasa

Stop At: Musee National de Kinshasa (National Museum), Kinshasa

Stop At: Academie des Beaux-Arts, Kinshasa

Stop At: Congo River, Kinshasa

Stop At: Symphonie des Arts, Kinshasa

Stop for lunch at Chez Flore known for best local recipes.

Chez Flore, Kinshasa City Tour, one of things to do in Kinshasa
Chez Flore, a popular restaurant in Kinshasa known for delicious local Food (Chikwange, Fumbwa, Chicken)

5°. Parc de la vallée de la N’sele

Parc de la vallée de la N’Sele is a park located in the western part of the Democratic Republic of Congo in the commune of Maluku. It is approximately 90 min from the city center Kinshasa.  Not only it does offer conservation but it also provides a space for relaxation and entertainment. This experience comes last in the top 5 things to in Kinshasa.

Tracking the White Rhinoceros, one of things to do in Kinshasa
Tracking the White Rhinoceros, Parc de la vallée de N’sele

With its whopping 10,000 hectares and a tormented relief crossed by a wooded and grassy savannah, deep gorges watered by the N’Sele river, the park offers tourists fresh and pure air. It is being populated with more and more animals representing the biodiversity of the Congo. It contains: lions, impalas, zebras, giraffes, buffaloes, hippos, rhinos, elephants. In addition there are a lot of activities around the park. Cycling, kayaking, hiking or riding the Zip line.

For the moment, the herbivores live in freedom. Lions, crocodiles, monitor lizards are in an enclosure. Ultimately, all animals should be released from enclosures to live in freedom. The park has opened it’s doors to the public since the 2 June 2018. The park is opened for visit only on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Things to do in the park:

  • Safaris

Safaris, Parc de la Vallée de N'sele, things to do in Kinshasa

As stated before the park is being populated with animals. As of now, the park host various animals such as white rhinos, elephants, crocodiles, donkeys, giraffes, black buffaloes, Impala, zebras, Sitatunga antelopes, monkeys, lions and other species of herbivores.

Long of 1h30’, the safaris are made in group. Visitors are brought through the park by professional guides who take care to explain major details concerning animals in the park.

First things first, the visit starts with the King of the Jungle, the lions. As you leave the paved road, you will follow a trail leading you to the area where lions are found. It will take roughly 10 to 15’ to reach the lions. The park has gotten 9 lions, 2 of them being albinos. The lions are found in enclosures and are fed of beef every 20 hours. The idea for the next few years is to free lions from enclosures and make the game safari so real in the future.

Parc de la Vallée de N'sele, Lions, one of things to do in Kinshasa

After the lions, you will be brought to see the hippopotamus. The park has got 2 hippos named Losambo as they came from the province of Sankuru. They are found in one of the artificial lakes present in the park.

After encountering with Losambos, you will get into the wilderness to track the other animals like elephant, the giraffe, the zebras, the crocodiles,… The safaris ends with the experience of White Rhinoceros which live in freedom in the park. Given that the park has not yet being populated sufficiently with animals, you could miss some animals if they have gone so far in the jungle especially for those not living in enclosures.

Zebra, Parc de la vallée de Ns'ele one of things to do in Kinshasa Parc de la vallée de la N'sele, Safaris, things to do in Kinshasa

  • Recreational activities

After the safari, you can proceed to do the cycling, kayaking, swimming, hiking or the riding the Zip line.

The park is the initiative of the former president Joseph Kabila who resides in it. You may bump into him as he brings his visitors through the park.

Swimming pool, one of things to do in Kinshasa
Swimming pool, Parc de la vallée de N’sele

There is a surprising project being done in this site. A big project is in full evolution on a hill located at 670 meters above sea level. It is the wreckage of an old aircraft which had been decommissioned for several years and which had been brought back to this hill in pieces.

Still empty for the moment, the idea is to create a special restaurant inside the plane in which visitors, cut off from the world, can travel in their own way under the osmosis of a 5-star first class lunch in the least misleading flight that can exist.

Another project is sport fishing which will be possible in the artificial Lake Tanganyika. A bleacher where spectators will be sitting is being erected together with a restaurant right near the lake.

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