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Congo, Republic of the Guide

Driving

The Republic of Congo, also known as Congo-Brazzaville, boasts landscapes comprising pristine rainforests filled with abundant wildlife, undulating rivers, majestic falls and larger than life trees. Visits to the capital city of Brazzaville and the port city of Pointe Noire are musts in order to fully experience this Sub-Saharan African country. However, travel to the northernmost province of Likouala is presently advised against.

Driving Tips for Congo

The roads in Congo are largely in poor condition, with many areas unpaved, including Highway 2, which connects the capital, Brazzaville, to the important port city of Pointe Noire. Conditions deteriorate during the wet season (November to May), when many roads become impassable to ordinary vehicles. Four-wheel drive vehicles are required for travel away from the main roads.

Driving licences: an International Driving Permit is needed to be able to drive here.

Which side does Congo drive on: the right.

Speed limits:
Built-up areas: 31mph (50kph) to 37mph (60kph)

Alcohol limits: there is no law limiting blood-alcohol content, but drivers should adhere to the UK limit of 0.08 per cent for their own safety.

Driving age: 18 years.

Seatbelts: there are no laws specific to seatbelt use while driving but drivers are advised to use restraints, if fitted.

Mobile phones and GPS: while there are no concrete regulations pertaining to mobile phone use or use of other devices such as GPS, the authorities may pull drivers over for using such devices while driving. It is best to use such devices in conjunction with a hands-free kit.

Cost of fuel in Congo: both unleaded petrol and diesel are considerably cheaper here when compared to UK petrol rates.

Car hire and fuel payment: cash is the only form of payment at filling stations. Credit cards may be accepted by major car hire firms.

Insurance: drivers are encouraged to obtain comprehensive insurance including excess.

Traffic and parking: traffic could be hampered by the numerous military checkpoints. While it is relatively safe to park in the main cities of Brazzaville and Pointe Noire, vehicles are easy targets for armed criminal gangs, making parking in a secure location a must.


Transport

Trains
The Chemin de Fer Congo-Océan (Congo-Ocean Railway Company) is the main and only railway operator in the country. It operates the Peace Train, which runs from the capital of Brazzaville to the port city of Pointe Noire, a distance of 312 miles (bypassing the rapids of the Congo River). The terminus to terminus commute takes three days and services are inconsistent and prone to disruptions. Another railway line connecting Pointe Noire and Mbinda exists; however, passenger trains on this route are not operational.

Taxis
Taxis must have an official government permit to operate in the country. Visitors are advised to hire only official cabs—green and white in Brazzaville and blue and white in Pointe Noire. The quality of cabs and their services vary greatly. Cabs are not metered and prices should be agreed upon before getting in. The fare for a ride within the city limits in Brazzaville cost around £1.20. At night, this rate can increase to £2.40. In Pointe Noire, fares are slightly more expensive.

Buses
Buses are available, but travelling by bus is discouraged due to security reasons, poor road conditions and limited emergency services. Minibuses and shared taxis are commonly used by locals to transport goods, including livestock, from one city to another. These services aren’t regular or reliable but fares are remarkably cheap.

Ferries
There is a border crossing ferry service that takes passengers from Brazzaville to Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo and back. Entry and exit permits, and visas, are required for this river crossing. The regular passenger ferry costs around £10 while the VIP service costs close to £20. Note, however, that the border is frequently closed without warning. There are ferries and speedboats for hire along the Congo River from Brazzaville but information regarding schedules and fares is only available locally.

Airports
The main gateway is Maya-Maya Airport, which services the capital of Brazzaville. It is connected to Paris-Charles de Gaulle via Air France and Equatorial Congo Airlines. Pointe Noire's airport also has international connections to Paris-Charles de Gaulle via Air France as well as Frankfurt via Lufthansa. The EU has a ban on a number of air carriers certified by the local authorities. Maya-Maya and Pointe Noire are connected to each other by domestic carriers.

Explore

Exploring Congo

Visitors can begin exploring the Republic of Congo by heading to either Brazzaville or Pointe Noire. Both cities are good bases to begin travel around the country.

The capital city of Brazzaville used to be a thriving West African city prior to the Congo Civil War. Remnants of this former glory can still be discerned in many of the rundown buildings. Many establishments, such as hotels and restaurants, are currently being rebuilt to boost the economy.

Two churches worth seeing here are: Basilique Sainte-Anne of the Congo, said to be one of the most beautiful churches in the world, and Cathedrale Sacre-Coeur, which offers views of downtown Brazzaville and Kinshasa, across the river.

The Lesio-Louna Wildlife Reserve is a good place to visit as it is located just north of Brazzaville. The park aims to provide protection and sanctuary to gorillas.

Once done with Brazzaville, Pointe Noire is the next tourist destination worth seeing here. This former French settlement still feels very French. It also has beaches and a spectacular gorge right outside the city.

Weather

The climate of Congo is equatorial. The wet season is from November to May, while the dry season runs from June to October. The best time to visit is in the dry season as many roads are unusable due to the rains in the wet season. Temperatures vary little throughout the year. The average daytime temperature is a humid 24°C, while night-time temperatures average from 16°C to 21°C.

Frequently asked questions

Is Carrentals.co.uk the cheapest? Yes, we offer a guarantee of the lowest price - because we compare various retailers, we can always offer you the best price in town. What do I need to do when picking up a car? To pick up your car, you will need your voucher, passport, driver's license and a credit card. It is very important that your driver's license and credit card are in the same name as the main driver. Keep in mind that the local rental company will reserve a certain amount on your credit card as a deposit. This requires the PIN code for your credit card. If your driver's license is foreign (for example, in Chinese), you must bring a translation with you. Only your original passport and driver's license will be accepted - a copy is not sufficient. Are there any additional costs? In general, our rates are all-inclusive. Should there be any additional costs, our booking department will get in touch with you before issuing the invoice. Should you object, you can always cancel your reservation with no obligations attached (at least 48 hours in advance). What kind of insurance is applicable to my car rental? In general, Liability Insurance, Fire Insurance, All-Risks Insurance and Theft Insurance are included in the cost of your rental car. What is a worry-free label? This label indicates that a rental car satisfies the following requirements: Unlimited kilometers, no excess liability (and no excess cover available), sustainable energy policy, and that the car rental company has a good reputation. Availability of cars satisfying these four requirements will speed up the selection of a suitable vehicle for you. How can I change or cancel my reservation? You can cancel your reservation through "My Account". We recommend contacting us by phone if your changes to your booking or cancellation takes place at short notice (48 hours or less). When will I get a confirmation of my booking? Most reservations will receive confirmation within minutes after payment takes place. We recommend contacting our Booking Department for last minute reservations (pick-up within 48 hours).

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