Kinshasa is the capital of Democratic Republic of Congo. Built on the Congo River’s banks, the city is a huge metropolis defined by once-grand colonial neighborhoods, bustling markets and a growing nightlife. It is the perfect place to launch a true African adventure.
Best Time to Visit
The best times to visit the Democratic Republic of the Congo for ideal weather are June to August based on average temperature and humidity.
Top Places to Visit in Kinshasa
1. Central Market
The Central Market is the heart of Kinshasa. The lively market is teeming with energy, and visitors can find nearly everything and anything on sale from the crowded stalls. The food hall is particularly interesting, especially for those with an adventurous palate. Locals sell staples like cow and chicken meat, but more exotic edibles are also available, including whole barbecued monkeys, live tortoises, giant snails, small crocodiles, caterpillars, goat heads, grasshoppers and other native delicacies.
2. Kinshasa Zoo
In 1994, the local group Friends of Animals in Congo launched an initiative to save the Kinshasa Zoo. Since then, volunteers have improved the diet and welfare of the animals and sponsored many activities in the Zoological Gardens. The efforts now focus on protecting the bonobo, one of the Congo’s unique species of great apes. Visitors can see the endangered species up close at the zoo and learn about the protection efforts through interactive exhibits.
3. Chutes de Lukia
Orphaned bonobos can be observed at the sanctuary at the Chutes de Lukia, one of Kinshasa’s biggest tourist draws. Visitors can even play with the youngest bonobos. The area is dotted with natural lakes, and expats, aid workers and UN staff love to swim there on the weekends. There are also a number of outstanding restaurants encircling the lakes, many of which offer international fare in addition to local favorites.
4. Kisantu Catholic Cathedral
Not far from the city is the Kisantu Catholic Cathedral, one of the most impressive sights in the entire DRC. The stunning brick building is open to visitors daily and is located near the Kisantu Botanical Gardens, a great place to spend an afternoon escaping the heat and chaos of the city. Many of the trees that provide shade are over a century old, and the diverse species come from all over the world.
5. Chutes de Zongo
Adventurous travelers should trek to the Chutes de Zongo to experience one of the DRC’s most captivating natural phenomenons. The waterfalls are impressive even during the dry season, and the trek to the top is worth the exhausting effort. The falls are located about a three-hour drive from Kinshasa, and four-wheel drive is highly recommended, especially during the rainy season. Tours to the falls regularly leave from the capital, and an experienced local guide can point out the hundreds of native plants that line the hiking trails leading to the top of the falls.