Central African Republic
Go to Central African Republic and taste the flavor of authentic Africa, rich of a great human and natural diversity. In the depths of its humid forests or countless rivers, the Central African Republic is a land of adventure.
You will dive in the heart of the original Africa where huge waterfalls moisten the exuberant vegetation, where wild animals walk on a ground full of gold and diamonds, where the pygmies take you to their hunting grounds… People proud and immersed with tradition, the Central Africans will open their doors once they have started trusting you.
As its name suggests, the Central African Republic is located in the heart of Central Africa. The country covers 622,984 km² and has no access to the sea. Its geographical isolation combined with chronic political instability make the Central African Republic one of the least developed countries in Africa and also one of the least touristic destinations.
Its landscapes are composed of undulating plateaus dominated in the northwest by the Yadé Massif with its highest peak, Mount Ngaoui (1,420 m) and north-east by the Bongo Massif. Between these two massifs, there are hills and valleys from which rise ‘’kagas’’, domes and granite peaks, a subsoil rich in diamonds, gold and other minerals, a lush savannah in the north and virgin forests in the South.
The two main rivers of the country, Oubangui (1,300 km) and Sangha (1,400 km) are the arms of the Congo River. Only the Oubangui is navigable to Bangui, the capital and also the most modern city in the country. With over a million inhabitants, Bangui is a flowered and shaded city where life is pleasant.
An escape to the surrounding forest, just an hour away, will be an opportunity to meet pygmies. 13,000 live in the Central African Republic, mainly in Lobaye and Sangha Basin.
This nomadic people live on fruits, mushrooms, yams, honey, fishing and hunting. In general, life in Central Africa, where 66% of the population lives in remote traditional villages is very authentic.
The other major asset of the Central African Republic is its diverse fauna. 800 km from Bangui, the Manovo-Gounda St Floris National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is one of the richest reserves in Africa. Black rhinos, elephants, panthers, lions, cheetah, giraffes, red-fronted gazelles … coexist on a huge territory. There are many species of primates and birds, and the Gata’s pond in the northeastern sector is home to the largest concentration of hippopotamuses in the world.
The dry season is the most favorable to visit the Central African Republic. You will be able to access most areas, inaccessible in rainy weather. From December to mid-March, from the North to the South, the weather is perfect to visit the country. Located at the junction of East, West and Central Africa, straddling two large climatic zones, Sahelian in the North and Equatorial in the South, the Central African Republic is home to a variety of wildlife and sumptuous flora. Its isolation has preserved wild life and human diversity in this country, and also protected it from mass tourism.
Only two cities in Central Africa benefit from the 24-hour power supply: Bangui and Mobaye. In the capital, power cuts are very frequent and the voltage surges are persistent.
Art and culture
African craftsmanship (sculpture, painting, jewelry) is the most important aspect of Central African culture. One can also admire the works of ‘’butterfly’’ artists, in other words, specialists in butterfly wing collage.
Traditional music is based on instruments, songs and rhythms, including Pygmy polyphonies. Modern music, it is similar to a Zairian rumba. The dance is always present in the various events and ordinary life of Central Africans. Spontaneous performances can take place just around the corner.
What to visit
After visiting Bangui, which has important historical monuments, you have to see the impressive Boali waterfalls where the M’Bari River flows over 50 m high. The lake below swarms with crocodiles. Following the Damara road that starts north of Bangui, you will cross a varied landscape, agricultural lands and palm groves. You must also go to Bouar, in Sangha where, in the middle of the jungle are erected … menhirs. After Bouar, the Niem track leads to the Yadé massif and Mount Ngaoui, the highest point in the country. Finally an excursion in the immense park of Manovo-Gounda St Floris is essential.
In Central Africa, the adventure can be lived on your plate too. Some restaurants offer on their menu: meat of python, crocodile, monkey and caterpillars. The small ones are tasted in sauce during the rainy season. The large and white caterpillars are even called “Central African caviar” by some locals.
Cassava constitutes 90% of the diet of Central Africans. Beef and goat are very popular. In a widely watered country, fish is also mandatory. The “captain”, is highly appreciated because of its tender and almost boneless white flesh, is cooked in various ways: smoked, carpaccio or grilled.