The Central African Republic is arguably the richest country in the world when it comes to natural beauty and diversity of wildlife but in terms of money, the country is one of the world’s poorest. Landlocked between several other war torn countries and facing its own difficulties with poachers, military violence and general lawlessness, travel to the Central African Republic is strongly discouraged. The history of the country is, like most on the African continent, tarnished by the colonization by Europeans, the remnants of which can still be seen in some of the main cities.
The country does however have its charms which come in various shapes and sizes ranging from rare butterflies to gorillas and elephants. There is nowhere on earth that is more suitable for safaris and lovers of wildlife however even with such natural assets such as these the countries tourism cannot thrive due to its political problems.
The country is one of the least developed in the continent and even the world but the people of the country mostly remain friendly and honest. If a time comes soon when the country is safe again to travel too, then these are, in our opinion, the 15 best places to visit in the Central African Republic.
The capital of the Central African Republic, Bangui is situated on the banks of the Ubangi River. As with many African cities the nightlife and markets here are worth visiting. In addition to this, the presidential palace is a key attraction. The setting of the city within the rapids of the Ubangi River and the rolling hills nearby make it a city with natural charm. Despite this, the city is rough and ready with dusty roads and an underdeveloped feel. The so called Big Mosque is a popular place to visit and there are a number of museums that document both the colonization of the country as well as the culture of its indigenous people. The sights can be done in a couple of days but you may feel like sticking around for longer if you enjoy the atmosphere of the place.
This town may be small, measuring only 1km in length and 300m in width, but it is a valuable place to visit for tourists in the Central African Republic. The wooden houses here are great examples of traditional Congo houses. The people of the town are friendly and welcoming to tourists and the best way to arrive is by canoe or motorboat due to the town’s location on the Ubangi River.
3. Manovo-Gounda St Floris National Park
Located on the border between the Central African Republic and Chad, the Manovo-Gounda National Park is one of the finest places in the country to see wildlife. The park covers a huge area of around 1.75 million hectares and is home to many species of animals including the incredibly rare black rhino. Other species found within the park include wild dogs, cheetahs, elephants and leopards. There are many guided safaris available throughout the year which take place with local and knowledgeable guides.
4. Dzanga-Ndoki National Park
Another massive National Park and another massive reason to visit the Central African Republic. The National Park of Dzanga-Ndoki is located in the south-west of the country and has been around since 1990. Despite ongoing trouble with animal poaching, the park is still an incredible place to visit and offers opportunities to see animals such as elephants and gorillas in their natural habitats. Guided tours of the park can be arranged or, if you want to see this park and Manovo-Gounda, many companies can take you to visit both.
The small town of Boali is mainly visited for the nearby Boali Falls. These waterfalls are just upstream from the town and are possibly the best known landmark in the Central African Republic. The falls consist of several small and separate falls in the dry seasons but in the wet season they join together to form a powerful and impressive fall. Several tourism companies operate in the are and there is even a hotel and restaurant atop the falls.
6. Chinko Nature Reserve
Also known as the Chinko Project, the Chinko Nature Reserve based on the Chinko Drainage Basin. The nature reserve is home to many species and is seen as one of the most biologically diverse places on earth. It is currently under threat from armed herdsmen who, during their crossing through the area, kill any and all predators to protect their herd. The reserve is also under threat from ivory poachers. Despite these threats the area is a fascinating place to visit and, if you are so inclined, it is also a great project to get involved in.
7. Andre Felix National Park
The Andre Felix National Park occupies both the Central African Republic and Sudan. The park is set in stunning terrain of lush green and jagged cliffs and is a haven for birdlife in particular. The area of the park is just under 600,000 hectares, which is made up of around 50% shrubland and 50% forest. The park can be explored with a local guide for a fee and is a great place to spend some time birdwatching.
To experience ancient Africa, the small town of Bouar is a must visit destination. Just outside of the town, there are a large number of stone megaliths known locally as Tajuna. They are believed to mark burial grounds and some are as tall as 5 metres. The stones date back to the neolithic ages, making them just as old as Stonehenge in Great Britain but there are far more to see here. The site is a UNSECO World Heritage Site.
Kembe is a traditional African village with its mud brick huts and thatched roofs. Nearby is the Kotto River which cascades in two streams to form a spectacular v shaped waterfall. The children of the village play in the river, fighting against its strong current whilst the adults here use the river for more practical purposes such as washing clothes. If you can reach Kembe; it is a great place to witness the simplicity of African village life.
Lobaye is a region in the Central African Republic. It is one of the best places to witness indigenous tribal people including Pygmy tribespeople. The area is only 60 miles away from the capital but the lifestyles are vastly different. Lobaye is also known for producing great coffee and visitors to the area can explore the plantations and learn more about how it is cultivated.
Birao is remote and not often visited. The city had an airport although it is currently not being used. The city is a good place to get a feel of life in the Central African Repulbic and the nearby borders with Chad and Sudan make the markets even more varied than usual. Be warned however that the city is thought of as being dangerous even by the standards of the country and travellers should exercise extreme caution.
Mbaiki is situated in the southwest of the Central African Republic, roughly 80 miles from the capital city of Bangui. If you are in the capital and have your own set of wheels then you will be pleased to know that the road between Bangui and Mbaiki is the best in the country. The main economy in the city is based on coffee and timber and travellers can learn about both whilst visiting. It is worth noting that a fee applies to use the road and using it at night is not advisable.
The town of Bamingui is in the north of the Central African Republic, around 250 miles from the capital city of Bangui. The main reason to visit the town is as a base for visits to the nearby
Bamingui-Bangoran National Park which is a haven for many species of mammals, birds and other creatures. The flora is also extremely diverse and interesting due to the parks sub tropical ecosystem and its varying altitude between 400 and 1500 metres above sea level.
Bimbo is the second largest city in the Central African Republic and is located in the southwest of the country. The city is a good example of city life in the country and bustling markets are a regular attraction. The city is home to the country’s only sex segregated female prison. The population of the city has doubled in the last ten years and the atmosphere is loud and chaotic.
Berberati is the second largest city in the country but is one of the more peaceful cities. Located in the southwest of the country, far away from the troubles in the centre of the country and Sudan, Berberati is probably one of the safest places to visit in the country at this troubled time and is a good base for visitors to the nearby Dzangha-Sanga Nature Reserve. Whilst in the area it is worth looking at the history left behind by the various occupants throughout the past such as the French military.