The Republic of Congo’s capital city, Brazzaville, is a whirlwind of a place filled with busy people on the go. If you are planning your next trip to Congo the last thing you should be stressing about is transport. But worry not! Hang in there and follow our guide on how best to navigate transport in Brazzaville, Congo.
If you are in Congo or have ever been to Congo then you would know that getting a taxi is probably the best thing to do. Not only is this mode of transport very safe, it will also spare you from having to walk miles to get anywhere. Taxis are easily accessible and, although they are not necessarily the cheapest modes of transport, they are not that expensive either. Besides, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Taxis are also accessible pretty much everywhere and are very easy to find. If you are going to be running errands around town (better known as “le centre ville” in French), it is very easy to get a taxi. Just stand by the side of the road and wave at a taxi to stop. Most of the time if they are not busy they might be honking their horns to signal to customers that they are available. Another advantage to getting a taxi in Brazzaville is that taxi drivers are usually very friendly and willing to help tourists get to their destinations.
If you don’t just want to get into a random taxi there are transportation companies that are very similar to Uber. Uber itself does not run in Congo. Comfort Car and Blue Congo are the Congolese versions of Uber. Although they have no app, they are safe, comfortable, and accessible by simply dialing their number on your cellphone and telling them your location and where you would like to go. Your taxi reaches you within 10 to 15 minutes.
Always negotiate your price before hopping in a taxi. Congolese taxi drivers sometimes tend to push their luck. Some will give you a ridiculously expensive price, especially if they are aware that you are foreign and not familiar with how transportation works in the area. A taxi dropping you from the mall to the city centre should not charge you more than 500 FCFA (USD$0.90) and a taxi giving you a lift from city centre to Poto-Poto Market should not charge you more than 1000 FCFA (USD$1.79). Regardless of the affordable prices do keep in mind that taxis tend to be more expensive at night, so always negotiate and spare yourself from spending those last extra coins.
Unlike normal taxis, Comfort Car and Blue Congo already have specific prices that they charge. A Comfort Car taxi will charge you about 3000 FCFA (USD$5.38) per lift, no matter where you are going and even if your destination is just around the corner. In comparison, Blue Congo will charge about 1000 FCFA (USD$1.79) to drop you anywhere. So basically, it’s the cheaper, smarter choice that’s just as comfortable as Comfort Car.
In Brazzaville there are no urban bus companies, only privately-owned minibuses. The minibuses decide which location they are heading to. The driver’s assistant’s job is to call out each drop-off point and the final destination and collect money from passengers. The minibus has a fairly cheap price and is also the most preferable for locals. For a far away destination it will only cost as little as 150 FCFA per trip (about USD$0.27). The cons of taking a minibus as a foreigner alone is that most of the assistants prefer to speak in Lingala, or simply don’t speak French at all. This is tricky if you are not familiar with the city or would like some assistance.
If you are really travelling on a budget and will still prefer to take the minibus, it is much preferable to ask the bus driver for assistance before taking a bus. Simply explain to him where you would like to be dropped off, and he might ask you to sit in the front seat beside him in order for him to better assist you.
Maybe while you are in Brazzaville you would be interested in heading off to some of the local rural areas or nearby cities. There is no doubt that airplanes are a faster mode of transport but travelling by bus might be a great opportunity to really explore and see the beautiful landscapes of Congo. Another advantage is that buses get to stop to refuel, giving you the perfect opportunity to grab your camera, hop off the bus, and get some great shots of the countryside. If you are up for travelling outside Brazzaville by bus, consider travelling with local bus companies such as Ocean du Nord. These buses travel to many destinations within Congo and are very affordable. For as little as 10,000 FCFA (USD$17.92) you can take a trip to Pointe-Noire.
Always keep an eye on your gadgets. Never put them next to another person’s luggage as they might get stolen or damaged. Bus trips can be really long so make sure you have everything you might need to use in your backpack, such as snacks and your phone. Never leave your bag on your seat if the bus stops to refuel unless you are seated next to someone that can actually watch your stuff while you are gone. But most importantly you should relax, have fun, and enjoy your trip on Congo’s chaotic transport options.