I thoroughly enjoyed my recent trip the Republic of Congo and the Central Africa Republic. Just to be clear, those are different from the Democratic Republic, the one no one wants to go near.
After an easy flight from Paris I arrived in Brazzaville early evening and was immediately struck by how little traffic there was, not nearly the chaos and mayhem I had expected. The only international hotel in Brazzaville is the Radisson Blu and again I was pleasantly surprised with the high standard of food, hygiene, cleanliness and the general friendliness of the staff. On our first morning, we woke early for a Brazzaville city tour which quickly turned into a cultural extravaganza. The local people were thrilled to see us and happy to share elements of their culture I had no idea even existed. What is both Kimbanguism? What is Sapology? Kimbanguism is a new religious movement started in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1921 and is considered a branch of Christianity. Sapology stands for La Sape, [a literal translation from French is: Society of Ambiance-Makers and Elegant People]. We were so lucky to literally stumble upon their Sunday afternoon Kimbanguist service complete with brass band and worshipers marching in celebratory fashion, old and young displaying bright shiny smiles. We were quickly invited to join in the celebrations marching in an endless circle giving us all a feeling as being a part of something heartfelt and genuine. Our evening with this incredible sect was most enjoyable, their colour, vibrance and humour was infectious, think Brazzaville Fashion Week meets 1920s exuberance!
Due to a plane delay we had to enter the Central African Republic via the capital city, Bangui which is not something normal guests on this itinerary would have to do – probably a good thing as it is very basic. After a 3 hour detour flight we landed at Bayanga airstrip.
Our three-day adventure in the Central African Republic included a trip to Dzanga Bai a destination I have wanted to visit since childhood, net hunting with the Baka Pygmies which was by far one of the most authentic cultural experiences I have had anywhere in Africa and finally, walking with black bellied tree pangolins. Being hosted by Rod Cassidy and his family, whose passion for this place is infectious was also a highlight. This adventure is not for the faint hearted with heat, bugs, snakes but one I would happily experience again within a heartbeat.