The Democratic Republic of Congo is enormous and Kinshasa is an appropriately super-sized capital, too. It sits right across the Congo River from Brazzaville, the capital of the Republic of Congo, but outstrips it completely in size and sheer activity.
The nickname of Kin la Belle (“Kinshasa the Beautiful”) is not used much by the locals anymore – now Kinshasa is renowned for its bustling city life and masses of people (over 10 million inhabitants). It boasts a vibrant nightlife with clubs belting out local music that will get you on your feet in no time.
French is the official language. Most of the nicest sights are out of the city centre, so it’s worth hiring a car to take some time out from the bustle.
TimeThe DRC is GMT+1, with no daylight savings.
CurrencyThe currency is the Congolese Franc. You can change money at banks, bureaux de change and some hotels. Many banks have ATMs that accept both Visa and MasterCard. US dollars are widely accepted for all but the smallest purchases. Many street vendors will change dollars – and maybe euros, too – at better rates than the banks. Credit cards are accepted in many hotels, restaurants and upper-end shops.
WeatherKinshasa is hot throughout the year, with an average temperature of around 25°C. The rains come from November to May, while June, July and August are very dry.
ElectricityElectric sockets take European-style plugs, with two slim round pins, and the standard voltage is 220V.
CommunicationsThe DRC’s communications facilities have historically been under-developed, but several players are active and coverage is improving. Hotels are the best options for wifi.
Public TransportWhile the minibuses are cheap, they are the most common form of transport for locals and therefore usually full. Charter a meter cab for a day if you need to make several journeys. Car hire is also available.
Airport to City Center
A taxi from N’Djili International Airport will take more than an hour and cost at least $80. If you don’t mind having some company, you could walk from the terminal to the main road and catch a shared taxi for far less. Check if your hotel can arrange a pick-up.