Living in Kinshasa and the DR Congo
Packing list – or what you should take with you in large quantities from Germany
- Malaria prophylaxis
- Medicines (be careful – there are a lot of counterfeit medicines on the Congolese market)
- Bug spray
- Shampoo and other hygiene items
- Sunscreen, good sunglasses
- High quality mosquito protection (mosquito tent, mosquito net)
- Youth hostel sleeping bag
- US- $ in all denominations, no “old” notes
- a mobile phone with two SIM cards
- a second cellular phone
Hotels in Kinshasa
- Pullmann Kinshasa Grand Hotel
- Hotel Memling
- Kempinski Hotel Fleuve Congo
- DoubleTree by Hilton Kinshasa – The Stanley
- Hotel Sultani
- Hotel Royal
All national and international institutes can be found in the Gombe district. Gombe is also the preferred residential area for foreign experts and representatives.
Schools / universities
There are Belgian, French and American schools in Kinshasa. The international schools are of a high standard. Unfortunately there is no German school. There are 14 recognized universities and colleges in Kinshasa. There are also a large number of private higher education institutions.
There are a number of public holidays in DR Congo on which most public institutions and businesses are closed.
There is sufficient medical care for private patients. General practitioners and specialists as well as private health centers are largely available.
Many areas, including large cities like Kinshasa, Lubumbashi or Kisangani, lack services such as water, electricity and health care.
The hygienic conditions are generally poor. The sanitary facilities, if any, are in a poor condition.
The possibility of good specialist care is limited for patients without private insurance and general hospital services are inadequate. Local employees of national and international organizations are covered by special contracts between the health facilities and employers (e.g. GIZ).
Due to the collapse of the infrastructure, medical care is only available in the interior of the country in mission hospitals.
The most common clinical pictures are diarrheal diseases caused by amoebas, worms or bacteria or viruses as well as hepatitis and malaria. Consultation with a specialist should take place before leaving for malaria risk areas (nationwide).
Attention should also be paid to diseases such as AIDS, sexually transmitted diseases and tuberculosis. There is an increased risk of cholera infection across the country. Therefore, careful food and drinking water hygiene measures are recommended. The travel medical information service “Fit for Travel” offers further information on preventive measures and health risks.
Proof of a yellow fever vaccination is already required at the airport – when entering the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a major country in African continent according to weddinginfashion.
How to deal with Ebola
Current information on Ebola is already listed in the Health Care chapter. For personal handling and protection against an Ebola infection, the following should be added at this point:
Extensive preparation is required before traveling to areas at risk from Ebola. Protection and prevention to avoid infection are highly recommended.
Direct contact with people suffering from Ebola, especially children, should be avoided, as the transmission occurs directly through blood, sweat and feces, among other things. Everyone should watch out for signs of illness in themselves and others during and after their stay in endangered areas.
Since the current vaccines are very effective, one should get vaccinated before a long trip to an Ebola zone. The rVSV-ZEBOV vaccine provides 95% protection 10 days after administration.
The Robert Koch Institute and the Federal Foreign Office offer detailed information on Ebola.
Cost of living
The cost of living in the DR Congo is well above the German level.
Since almost all everyday goods are imported from Europe, South Africa, China and Brazil, particularly good quality products are expensive. Depending on the region, the prices are 30% to 200% higher than in Germany. The supply situation is relatively good in the big cities. In rural areas, due to the lack of demand from the mostly very poor population, only basic products can be found on the markets.
There are a number of well-stocked supermarkets in Kinshasa. Imported products – almost everything that can be bought is imported – are significantly more expensive than in Germany. You can usually pay with international credit cards here.
The range of good textiles and shoes is not very large. Cosmetics and hygiene items should be brought from Europe if possible, as these are very expensive and sometimes of poor quality on site (if necessary, pay attention to expiry dates and transport damage – due to heat and moisture).
There is a variety of restaurants with international cuisine and all price ranges. European dishes are relatively expensive. Accompanied by a delicious glass of wine – that makes the tasty dish really expensive. But the local cuisine is also excellent. There is a practical manual with many good and locally adapted recipes for African and especially Congolese cuisine. Here are some examples:
- Soso – chicken stew
- Saka – spinach-like vegetables
- Liboke – local fish in puff pastry
- Ngombe – stew based on beef
- Captain – fish
In Kinshasa, Lubumbashi and, to a limited extent, in Kisangani, Goma and Bukavu you can buy almost all European foods – including a variety of cheeses. As a rule, their quality corresponds to European and South African standards.
There are seasonal fruits and vegetables from local production. Since the small producers often handle chemical pesticides very carelessly, one should only purchase products whose production method is known. Furthermore, when consuming fish and meat, care should be taken to ensure that it is well done.
It is absolutely important never to use tap water or public water sources. Here it is advisable to consume bottled water from well-sealed water bottles or filtered or boiled water.
With soft drinks and beer, you should always make sure that the inside of the bottles is clean and well sealed.
To ensure mobility, a car is urgently required; if possible, you should drive with a chauffeur. As long as you are getting used to it, you should only use a taxi if your colleagues and neighbors know the driver. It is always good to take a taxi with several well-known passengers.
Rental vehicles – especially off-road vehicles – are very expensive to rent. Many urban settlements and almost the entire hinterland can only be reached by off-road vehicles.
There is no reliable national airline. Flight services from international organizations are available for flights inland; accreditation as a development and social organization is necessary for a flight:
Beware of “private photo safaris” in Kinshasa. Always ask for permission to take a photo beforehand. It is normal to pay a small amount for photo opportunities. Public buildings should only be photographed with written permission. Police officers and soldiers like to classify “illegal” recordings as an act of espionage in order to raise “fees”.
If in doubt, it is always advisable to consult with Congolese acquaintances and friends and to obtain recommendations on how to behave.
Map of Democratic Republic of the Congo
Leisure activities and excursion destinations in and around Kinshasa
- Discover Kinshasa
- Institut Francais
- Goethe Institute
- Center Culturel Congolaise LE ZOO
- Alliance Belgo Congolaise
- Jardin Botanique de Kinshasa
- Cercle Hippique
- Académie des Beaux-Arts (arts and crafts, talks with artists and teachers at the university)
- Marché des Valeurs (wide range of good and imitation handicrafts)
- Livingstone Falls in Mbudi
- Lac de Ma Vallée (only accessible by off-road vehicle)
- Bas-Congo and Le Chute de Zongo
- The entertainment district ” Matonge ” is of course full of life all night… and beer; Primus, Mützig or Skol – all Congolese brewing art
Sports clubs / gyms
In Kinshasa there are sports clubs and a large number of fitness studios – some with first-class equipment – which have started operating in recent years.
Soccer is the most popular sport in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. There is a national league and on the weekends the major games are broadcast on TV and radio. Football is also extensively reported and debated in the print media. All provinces and larger cities have their own football clubs, with only the “TPM” (Tout Puissant Mazemba) from Lubumbashi operating as a commercial club and having all players under contract as professional players.
The TP Mazemba won the African Champions League for the fifth time in 2015. The success of the club can be traced back to the club president Moise Katumbi. Katumbi was governor of Katanga province until 2015 and is now one of the most important politicians in the DR Congo.