I got the chance to visit Congo Brazzaville for work last month. It was a very short trip as I was only in the country for about 5 days. I always look forward to visiting new countries, no matter the duration, more so when they are usually less travelled to. So I was very happy for the opportunity.
The Republic of Congo or Congo Brazzaville – not to be confused with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) or Congo-Kinshasha is a country in Central Africa. Pointe-Noire, the city I visited is its second-largest city – after the capital.
First Impressions of Point-Noire, Congo Brazzaville…
I tried to do some research before leaving Nigeria to get a sense of what Pointe-Noire would be like. I didn’t find many resources that talked about this but I got the feeling that it would be very much like cities in Benin Republic.
It was. Both countries belong to ‘Francophone Africa’, so the culture was pretty much similar. If I were to compare Pointe-Noire with a Beninese city I have visited, it would probably fit right in the middle between Cotonou and Ouidah. It wasn’t as chaotic as the former but not as calm as the latter.
Generally, I loved Pointe-Noire the moment I stepped into the city. The weather was perfect – not too hot or cold; people seemed more relaxed and easy-going, my colleagues were amazing hosts and I got a very calm vibe from the city.
Getting a Visa to Congo Brazzaville from Nigeria
I needed to submit the documents below for the visa. I applied for a business visa; the requirements may vary slightly for a tourist visa.
- International passport with at least 6 months validity and a minimum of 2 free leaflets
- Letter from Immigration office in Congo – sent via DHL to Abuja
- Original Letter of Introduction – sent via DHL to Abuja
- Hotel reservation in coloured print
- 2 passport photos(white background)
- Copy of Work ID card
- Flight itinerary
- Certificate of incorporation from the host country and applicant’s country
- International vaccination certificate (find out how to get the new e-yellow card here)
- Copy of biodata page
- Filled and signed visa forms
- Copy of marriage certificate if married
- Copy of Birth Certificates if travelling with kids
The actual visa processing time took only about 4 days but it took a little over a month to get the Letter from the Immigration office in Congo. The cost for the single entry one-month visa was ₦40,000.
PS: A requirement for entry into Congo Brazzaville is a copy of the letter of invitation from the immigration office, so be sure to travel with it.
Getting to Pointe-Noire from Nigeria
There are no direct flights from Lagos, Nigeria to Congo. So to get there, I flew with Ethiopian Airlines. First to Addis Ababa, where I spent the night and then to Pointe-Noire via Brazzaville. It was a really long trip for a journey that should have taken less than 4hours. However, I spent nearly 23 hours (layover time inclusive) getting there.
Other airlines that fly to Pointe-Noire are Air Cote D’Ivoire and Asky (combined with other airlines). With about 8hour flight time, Air Cote D’Ivoire is the fastest way to get to Pointe-Noire from Lagos. The airline operates the route from Lagos 3 days a week, alternating the days for the return from Pointe-Noire.
I enjoyed visiting Pointe-Noire a lot. I had a free weekend while I was there, so I got to explore the city a little. I’ll write about that in my next article.
QUICK FACTS – CONGO-BRAZZAVILLE
Where | Central Africa
President | Denis Sassou Nguesso (since 1997) via Wikipedia
Capital City | Brazzaville
Official Language | French
Currency | Central African C.F.A (1$ = 585.38 CFA)
Population | 5.261 million (2017)
What do you think about exploring the road less travelled? Is Congo on your list of places to visit?