Kinshasa is a sprawling city home to more than six million people. 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.
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.
Visitors to Kinshasa can pay their respects to Laurent Kabila, president of the Democratic Republic of the Congo from 1997 to 2001. Open daily, admission to the tomb is free.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Kinkole makes another great side-trip from Kinshasa. The village’s fish market is one of the country’s best, and visitors can take rides down the Congo River in traditional boats while sipping intoxicating palm wine and feasting on liboke, a local dish made from fish stewed in manioc leaves.
Kinshasa Geographical Location
Kinshasa is located on the Congo River on the central western border between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Republic of the Congo.
Kinshasa is the largest city in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and has an approximate population of 10,078,000.
French is the official language of the Democratic Republic of the Congo while Lingala, Kingwana, Kikongo, and Tshiluba are also common.
Kinshasa Predominant Religion
- 50% Roman Catholic
- 20% Protestant
- 10% Kimbanguist
- 10% Muslim
- 10% Other
Atheism is very rare in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and many the Christian practitioners also incorporate indigenous beliefs into their religious lives.
The Congolese Franc is the official currency of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Kinshasa has a rainy season that lasts the majority of the year and a dry season, lasting from June until August, with virtually no rain. It is usually hot throughout the year with little fluctuation.
Kinshasa Main Attractions
- Ma Vallee
- Zongo Falls
- Musee National de Kinshasa (National Museum of Kinshasa)
Other Attraction in Kinshasa
- Mercato delle Stoffe Africane
- Congo River
- Academie des Beaux Arts
- Symphonie des Arts