Living In The DRC Expat Guide part 1 – that will be the topic of today’s article.
Before introducing this article, if you are interested in our core services which are expat financial, insurance and mortgages, you can contact me here.
The best time to consider your financial situation is when you are moving to a new country.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo (known as DR Congo, DRC or formerly Zaire) is a country in Central Africa. It borders the Central African Republic and South Sudan to the north; Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania to the east; Zambia to the south; Angola to the southwest; and ex-Katanga Province in the northwest.
As discussed earlier in our recent post about moving to this country, there are more to explore. The country is extremely rich in natural resources, but these are located almost entirely in the eastern part. If you’re reading this, chances are that you have already agreed to live in the DRC Congo.
However, few people know what it’s really like to be a foreigner living here. To help new residents get started with their lives here, we’ve put together a list of some things you should know before living in the DRC. But before we unleash that, the capital city, Kinshasa, has a lot to offer expats in the country.
And this is because it’s known to have approximate population of 10 million people thus; making it one of the largest cities in Africa. Not only is that, but also a common destination for refugees from other nations. On the flip side, poverty levels are also very high. Besides, it is estimated that 70% of the country’s population lives under $1.25 a day.
Aside from telling you everything you need to before living here, we are keen to explain the cost of living. So, if you’ve been surfing the internet to get the right information about living in the DRC, worry less, as we’ve got you covered here. Would you love to see what we have today? Read further for more!
10 Things to Do in DCR as an Expat
The people of Congo have been known for being giving and smiling from the times when beautiful things were a part of life which is a good starting point if you are an expat. There are plenty of things to do in Congo as an expat.
It is not only about the amazing culture and history, but there are many opportunities for expats like you to make new friends, find community or learn something new. Below are the 10 things to do in DCR as an expat.
1. Traveling With Pygmy Children in the Rain Forest
Traveling with Pygmy children in the rain forest is one unforgettable experience that expats living in Congo will never forget. Since 1998, the “Pygmy Safaris” have been conducting tours for people who want to experience the life of a Pygmy and interact with them in their environment.
Depending on your Congo itinerary you can go deep into the rain forest on foot, by dugout canoe or on motorcycles. These are remote areas seldom travelled by Westerners and you will see an area that few outsiders have ever seen. During your stay with the Pygmies, you can learn about their way of life, traditions and customs; how they hunt, fish and build shelter.
You may even be able to share a meal together made from forest plants & animals such as crocodile, monkey, antelope or rat that may be caught during your time in the forest. Pygmy children in the rain forest always seem to have a smile on their face especially when they are hunting with you in the jungle.
2. Visiting Gorillas in the Wild
There are only a handful of areas in the world where you can safely go to visit gorillas in their natural habitat and one of them is the rain forest of Odzala National Park. Gorilla tracking expeditions with a qualified guide will take you deep into this lush, green Congo jungle.
Gorilla tracking is best done in the early morning when it’s cool and misty with light rain called “mugu” in Lingala. Guides are familiar with gorilla trekking routes since they have logged over 100 hours of experience with this particular group of gorillas, enabling them to predict which areas they will be moving into next.
Your chances of seeing a gorilla are about 85% since there are only two habituated family groups in Odzala National Park. Meanwhile, you have to consider the 2% chance that you won’t see any gorillas at all. If your Congo itinerary allows it, another option is to do a gorilla trekking adventure to see Mountain Gorillas in neighbouring Rwanda.
3. Hiking the Ruwenzori Mountains
One of my favorite places to hike is the Ruwenzori Mountains in Rwanda, a mountain range known as Africa’s “Mountains of the Moon”. High altitude hikes are also one of the highlights of living in Eastern Congo where you can hike to over 4000 meters.
Hiking Ruwenzori has been something I’ve wanted to do since I first read about it over 20 years ago, but it’s also on my wife’s bucket list. For some reason both expeditions are not allowed during the rainy season. That’s too bad because it would be a totally different experience in the rain forest during that time of year.
In October 2004, my wife and I finally made it there when we were in Uganda for a conference, but were not able to do any hiking in Rwanda due to the rainy season. The only option was to see the mountain gorillas in Uganda.
4. Taking a Shopping Trip to Brazzaville
It’s very easy to get to Brazzaville since it’s just a short 30-minute ferry ride across the Congo River from Kinshasa. The best time to go to this capital city of Congo is on a Saturday, and you should plan your visit for early in the day before the stores close down at 4:00 in the afternoon.
You can find almost anything in Brazzaville since it’s an open market city with several different stores selling items made out of wood, local fabrics and jewellery. You can’t take any suitcases larger than 14″ X 21″, but you are allowed to bring home a few hand-carved souvenirs in your carry-on luggage.
5. Riding in an African Bush Taxi
If you like nature and want to catch a glimpse of it as you travel, taking an African Bush Taxi is one way to do it. These buses take tourists deep into the Congo jungle where they can see waterfalls, animals, birds and plants.
Bush taxis are very different from bush taxis in other parts of Africa because they are almost as comfortable as a caravan. There is an air conditioner in the back, and the entire inside of this bus has been decorated to look like a big wooden hut with a bed, a couch and even a table for your backpack or suitcase.
The driver will usually stop somewhere along the way for a few hours so you can take a walk into the forest or go on a boat ride in a nearby lake. Moreover, a trip to the Congo rainforest is best made between April and October when it’s dry season in this part of Africa.
6. Catch a Fish in the Congo River
If you like fishing or catching edible crustaceans, here’s a chance to do both at once while enjoying the sights and sounds of the Congo River. There are several fishing tour companies in Kinshasa that offer trips down the Congo River. You might even get to keep one of the fish you catch if you are lucky.