Visiting Central African Republic

After spending months travelling across West Africa we were ready to move on.

Visiting Central African Republic (CAR) wasn’t initially part of our planned travels on this leg of Africa

Visiting Central African Republic

After spending months travelling across West Africa we were ready to move on.

Visiting Central African Republic (CAR) wasn’t initially part of our planned travels on this leg of Africa

Hi, we’re Rach & Marty!

We’ve visited every country in the world and want to help you get the most out of your travels!

Whether you need an expertly planned itinerary, some experienced hints and tips, or just craving a delicious food adventure, we’ve got you covered!

Hi, we’re Rach & Marty!

We’ve visited every country in the world and want to help you get the most out of your travels!

Whether you need an expertly planned itinerary, some experienced hints and tips, or just craving a delicious food adventure, we’ve got you covered!

Hi, we’re Rach & Marty!

We’ve visited every country in the world and want to help you get the most out of your travels!

Whether you need an expertly planned itinerary, some experienced hints and tips, or just craving a delicious food adventure, we’ve got you covered!

We may earn affiliate commissions from websites we link to, at no cost to you. Click here for details.

Visiting Central African Republic on a map of Africa
Central African Republic on a map of Africa ( Credit Free Vector Maps)

While doing research we learned more about this country and decided to travel overland to see the wildlife in the Dzanga-Sangha lodge.

The Central African Republic is one of the least visited countries in the world and visiting Central African Republic really isn’t for everyone.

It has struggled to find its feet since its independence from France in 1960. Today it ranks as the poorest country in Africa.

The official language is Sangha, but French is widely spoken. The main currency is the Central African Franc.

Visiting Central African Republic – Is it safe?

You won’t find a guide book for the Central African Republic and there are very few blogs.

Most Western governments have issued explicit warnings advising against travel to the Central African Republic under any circumstances.

Violent crimes such as armed robbery, muggings, and homicide, are too common. CAR had some of the worst cases of poachers in recent years too.

Visiting Central African Republic
Heavily armed UN vehicles patrol the roads in downtown Bangui – Visiting Central African Republic

As large parts of the country are controlled by armed warlord groups who regularly kidnap, injure, and kill civilians, any visitors are either discouraged to visit or are restricted to only a few areas.

Consular services are often either extremely limited or non-existent as most countries have now closed their embassies within CAR and in case of civil unrest would be unable to help.

So you need to do a lot of research and ideally connect with someone on the ground before visiting Central African Republic.

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What to see in the Central African Republic?

Tourism in the Central African Republic is pretty much non-existent due to the troubled history. Security in the country is particularly unstable in the north and northwest.

Most visitors are therefore limited their visit to either the capital city, Bangui or the Dzanga Sangha National park in the southwest of CAR.

Visiting Central African Republic is not cheap and the logistics to see more of the country do add.

travelling central african republic street
The streets of downtown Bangui – Visiting Central African Republic

Bangui

With the only international airport in the country, Bangui makes the obvious entry point for many travellers. The lack of flights means your best option is the $200-$250 flight from neighbouring Cameroon.

Check Skyscanner for the latest prices and flights available.

We arrived in the late morning from Douala. Our complimentary arrival hotel transfer never showed up so we ended up negotiating a taxi and off we went through the dusty streets of the capital.

In some way, Bangui almost looks like some other capital cities in West and Central Africa we have been to.

However, we could tell things were a lot tougher here.

The heavy presence of UN vehicles combined with the hardship in people’s faces reminded us that this country ranks as one of the poorest in the world and their internal unrest was still ongoing.

travelling central african republic
The heavy presence of UN vehicles in Bangui

The Ledger Hotel seems to be the place most foreigners stay as let’s face it, there are almost no tourists here. As for the diplomats, UN workers, and businessmen, this is the type of hotel that they book.

This is mostly due to the higher level of security and I guess the level of comfort too.

These are your options for hotels in Bangui on Booking.com.

After check-in, we decided to use some of the facilities and spent a few hours at the pool. This was busy with UN troops and a few diplomats with pop music and a pool bar.

It was nice to finally relax after some challenging travels in West and Central Africa. We found out that this was a popular place to spend the weekends.

We certainly felt like we were on another planet and not in CAR.

travelling in central african republic
Yes! A few hours to relax by the pool.

The downtown of Bangui wasn’t too far from the hotel, but we decided to jump in a taxi and check it out.

Most people warned us about photography and muggings so we were quite happy to just have a look and take it in.

We found that there is very little to see in this city apart from a few old landmarks.

Dzanga-Sangha National Park

Dzanga-Sangha National Park is without any doubt is the star of the Central African Republic.

Our plan to visit overland from Cameroon backfired due to our Cameroon visas being issued incorrectly. They were issued as a single entry instead of a double entry that we’d requested.

So once we would enter CAR we would have to continue onwards to the Republic of Congo.

This would place us further away from Chad, where we were planning to go next, and as our friend who has just done it advised – we needed plenty of free passport pages for many police checkpoints as they stamp them.

We were running desperately low on pages already so this really wasn’t an option.

So Dzanga Sangha was out of the question unless we were planning to pay for a chartered flight. Not likely.

There is a local Lodge (Sangha Lodge) that offers both accommodations as well as activities in Dzanga Sangha, such as Lowland Gorilla Trekking, boating safaris, and visits to the famous Dzanga Bai.

So if you are looking at visiting Central African Republic, we suggest you look at what they do. 

We’ve decided to put it on our bucket list to return to. For reference, we visited the Central African Republic in 2019.

Travel Tips for Africa

We have many travel guides and tips for Africa – what a massive continent!

Have you ever wondered how many countries in Africa there are? 54 or 55? We cover them in depth in our ultimate Africa bucket list.

There is some delicious cuisine to be enjoyed across Africa, and these ten best African countries for food will inspire your food journey.

Check out how many of these 15 most popular foods you can taste.

If you’re wondering what they eat for breakfast in Africa, check out these 20 popular breakfast foods.

For food lovers, our Food Map of AFRICA lists the quintessential dish you need to eat in every nation!

It’s worth reading these 17 ESSENTIAL Things to know before travelling to West Africa, and our packing list for Africa may be helpful to you.

Don’t miss our recap of our travels across West Africa for even more helpful tips, and try these popular West African dishes; they’re fantastic!

You’ll need to stay connected while travelling in Africa. We recommend eSIM. It’s easy, reliable and affordable. View eSIMs for individual countries in Africa, or consider a regional eSIM for Africa (which covers 36 countries)

If your travels in Africa are part of a much larger global adventure, then a Global eSIM may be the answer. It connects you in 124 countries, offering data-only eSIM and data/call/text Global eSIM. This eSIM has been a game-changer for us, and we couldn’t imagine travelling without it now.

If you want to travel with like-minded travellers, consider joining a group tour. View the best deals on group tours in Africa.

Check out our best-ever travel tips compiled from more than twenty years of experience.

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10 Comments. Leave new

  • Sad you missed Dzanga Sangha. I entered CAR overland from Republic of the Congo (Ouesso to Bangui) and left via Dzangha Sangha into Cameroon in 2018. You can still do it now in 2020. We traveled overland using local transport. It was the highlight of all of my traveling. Make the people stamp over stamps in the future. A little bribe can help with that if they are resistant. CAR is a country without laws so negotiating makes everything possible. I hope someday you can experience Dzanga Sangha and nearby Lobeke. Truly amazing learning about Bayaka culture and seeing the wild animals in the rainforest.

    Reply
    • Yes, we would’ve loved to see Dzanga Sangha and it was our plan. But as the Consulate of Cameroon made a mistake and didn’t issue a multi-entry visa for us, only single entry. This meant we couldn’t travel overland in and out. Hopefully we get to return one day.

      Reply
  • I found this blog. Please tell me, these states are very dangerous, yes? I have information that the infrastructure is not working, the government forces are not working, so they can shoot you somewhere. An example is the Democratic Republic of Congo. How could you visit these countries? Was it just with a delegation, in a fancy hotel and security? I’ve travelled a bit, I take the local bus, I sleep in bivouacs or the cheapest hostels.

    Reply
    • Well, we’re on a journey to visit every country in the world, so yes, we have to visit the dangerous and unstable countries too. We do a lot of research before we visit these countries to ensure our safety while we’re there. We visited Central African Republic independently and stayed in a an expensive hotel with high security. We usually stay in budget accommodation and travel like a local, take buses etc – but for some countries, it isn’t safe to do so. You may learn a little more about our travels through this region of Africa by reading this post – https://www.veryhungrynomads.com/travelling-in-central-africa/

      Reply
      • Rachel, I see now, Slovakia republic, this is have friend (Marty)? Passport Slovakia. I`m Czech republic. Muzu ze tak spojit a pokecat o cestovani i v jazyku Ceskem haha.

        Reply
        • Yes, Marty is Slovakian and we’re on this adventure together.
          Connect with us on Instagram or FB & you can communicate in Czech with Marty on there πŸ™‚

          Reply
  • How long did it take to issue a CAR visa in YaoundΓ©?

    Reply
  • Hello and thanks for the information. I was supposed to travel to Cameroon/CAR/RofCongo, and Gabon back in 2019, but broke my leg just prior to the trip and had to cancel. I’m starting to arrange the same trip again for the summer of 2023, but I’m a little weary regarding having to show time sensitive Covid PCR tests every time I cross a border in that region.

    How was it for you this past summer? Did they ask for 48-72 PCR tests? If they did, did it happen only at airports or at land border crossings as well? Were any of the borders closed when you arrived due to Covid restrictions?

    I have all my vaccines, so them proof of that isn’t an issue, if that is all they ask for. But I have had experience, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, that even with everything in order (ie Yellow Fever Virus vax) they still pointed to something on the card that was non-existent and wanted a bribe to let me into the country.

    Anyway, any information regarding my queries above would be very helpful.

    Thank you

    Reply
    • Hi Tom, sorry to hear you had to cancel your journey in Gabon. Since your trip is planned for summer 2023, anything currently in place regarding PCR tests will most likely change by then. If not, it is simple to take the test and provide the PCR test results as per entry requirements. Yes, you will need a Yellow Fever Certificate and proof of vaccination for COVID-19. And yes sometimes they ask for random vaccinations at borders. Just stay calm and polite and they will eventually just let you go when it’s not needed. We haven’t paid any bribes in Africa as we believe it contributes to corruption.

      Not sure which borders you are planning to cross as you mentioned Cameroon CAR Republic of Congo and Gabon. If you were planning to do them in this order then there are some very long journeys to do so, but you probably know that. Also, you haven’t mentioned which summer of 2023 you mean as I am not sure if you live in the Northern or Southern hemisphere. However, the main rainy season lasts from May to November so the overland journey would be more enjoyable and doable from November to April time.

      Reply

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