How to get from the RC to the DRC?


Because I had problems to find details about how to do the border crossing from the Republic of Congo (RC) to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), I will summarize my trip across the river. There are no timetables or prices available on the internet, so maybe someday others are looking for this kind of information and maybe they can use some of it.

The river crossing sounds easy, as its only around 500 meters to be crossed to get from Congo Brazzaville (RC) to Congo Kinshasa (DRC). The total price for the whole journey was an equivalent of 35 Euros and took around almost 3 hours from Hotel to Hotel (because of the heavy rain it took more time).





Are there no flights?

There are flights between the capitals, but a) they are very expensive and b) it takes more than half a day to get from one capital to the other by plane, as the airports are so far outside the city.

So the fastest, cheapest and easiest way to get from Brazzaville to Kinshasa is across the river.



Good to know...

- Visa for the DRC is mandatory. They would not have let me leave the RC with the canoe, in case I didn't have the visa for DRC.
- Confirmed accommodation in DRC is mandatory.
- Better plan to cross on a weekday, because I was told at weekends it's more crowded.
- The canoe is called "canoe rapid".
- There is no strict departure schedule and it leaves only during the day and once it's full.
- The price of the ticket itself is publicly published at a board and everybody pays the same.
- Hotel "Hoteliere de Moungali" in Brazzaville has good personal connections to people working at the port. They organized a fixer (worker/helper) who helps me and I can say that it was absolutely worth it.



The river crossing:

1. I got up at 7am with the plan for leaving at 7.30am from the port.
The earlier at the port the better it is. Unfortunately, it rained and when it rains too much, the canoes do not drive, which is totally understandable as the water level drastically increases. The Congo River has by default a lot of water with trees and stuff in it coming from the rest of the two Congo's jungles.

2. The port is only 10 minutes by taxi from the center of Brazzaville. 
The fixer (worker) was waiting for me at the port and he recognized me because the hotel staff described how I look like, the white tourist, and told the taxi driver where to drop me off.

Cost:
Taxi to the port, payable to the taxi driver:
= CFA 1000 / 1.50 Euro


3. The fixer asked for the total payment and so I paid him upfront. Then sit and relax.
The hotel did exactly elaborate on the prices of each different commission and fee, also told me the fee to be paid for the help of the fixer.  They told me what I need to pay upfront and to whom and that I don't need to pay anything else to anyone after that.

The fixer is totally worth it as he did all the talking and explaining and watching. He knew the authorities there and has a lot of advantages as he knows all the people there. Theoretically, it would be possible to get to Kinshasa without help, but for only a few Euros it's definitely worth it.



I just needed to sit and wait while the fixer was running from one office and commission to the other. I didn't even have to go by myself to the immigration to stamp the passport - the fixer did all this. Once clearance and immigration were done, he asked me to follow and sit in the canoe and it was finished. Summarized, once I arrived in at the port of Brazzaville it took about 45 minutes until I sat in the comfortable canoe.

Costs (as of the year 2020):
-Billet (Ticket) This is the official ticket EVERYBODY pays the same. CFA 12'400
-Cachet (Stamp) CFA 2000
-Commission CFA 2500
-Fixer CFA 3000

Total (payable by one-time payment in CFA to the fixer)
= CFA 19'900 / 31 Euro 


4. Driving to the DRC.
There were 10 passengers on the canoe. The canoe is comfortable and they are setting up a full cover for the rainy days. Normally the journey from port to port should be around 10-15 minutes. As it was heavy rain today with strong current and lots of broken trees in the river, the journey was 20-25 minutes.


5. Immigration to the DRC.
Once the canoe docks to the port in the DRC, there are already a few authorities waiting at the pier, asking for a quick passport check, but it's not crowded or hectic at all.

A police officer asked for my passport and yellow fever paper:

Purpose of visit? Tourist?

A quick yes was enough and I could follow her to the immigration office.

There, as in other countries, they checked my passport, asked for a hotel reservation and put the immigration stamp in it. I didn't have to fill out a form or anything else, just had to wait 3 minutes. Also, no luggage was checked and nobody bothered me or wanted any "tip". I didn't even have any DRC money.

The passport was returned to the cop and she accompanied me outside of the port, where I got the passport back.


6. Enjoy the DRC.
My hotel was a 5 minutes taxi ride from the port. The name was "Hotel Kirikou" and I can recommend it as its clean and has nice rooms and good A/C. There are definitely not many accommodation options in the same lower price segment compared to this.

Also, the location could not be any better while staying in Kinshasa.



No comments