Central African Republic
Eco-friendly travel guide to Central African Republic advises how to be a responsible tourist. Learn how to travel in a sustainable way and how to respect the local people and culture. Make your trip green by supporting locally owned hotels, organic restaurants and other businesses. Read more on how to protect the environment by making conscientious choices and how to travel green in Central African Republic, Africa.
- Air quality: 1 / 5
- Bus connections: 4 / 5
- Train connections: 0 / 5
- Hitchhiking: 4 / 5
- National parks: 5 / 5
- Outdoor activities: 4 / 5
- Locals' English level: 3.5 / 5
- Safety: 3 / 5
- Accommodation: US$10 - $180
- Budget per day: US$100 - $200
- 1 Responsible Travel
- 2 Air Quality and Pollution
- 3 Respect the Culture
- 4 Top 10 Places to Visit
- 5 Explore
- 6 Eat
- 7 Drink
- 8 Activities
- 9 Accommodation
- 10 Regions
- 11 Cities
- 12 Getting There and Moving Around
- 13 Sustainable Shopping
- 14 Recycling
- 15 Work and Study Abroad
- 16 See Also
The Central African Republic (CAR) is a landlocked nation in Central Africa. The country covers a total land area of about 620,000 sq kilometers, and as of 2018, the population is estimated to be approx 4.7 million. CAR is connected by Sudan to the north-east, Chad to the north, the Democratic Republic of Congo to the south, South Sudan to the south-east, Cameroon to the west, the Republic of the Congo to the southwest. Bangui is the capital of CAR, which is also the largest city in this country. 89.5% of CAR population follow Christianity, 60.5% follow Protestant, 28.4% follow catholic, 8.5% follow Islam, 2% follow other traditional faiths.
The CAR has been colonized for millennia; however, the current borders were ascertained by France, which governed the country as a colony since the late 19th century. After achieving liberation from France in 1960, the CAR was ruled by a series of dictatorial leaders. By the 1990s, calls for democracy dominated the first multi-party democratic elections in 1993.
As of 2021, the Central African Republic is the scene of a civil war, ongoing since 2012. Currently, tourism is not resumed in the country due to the war situation. However, when the situation will get safe for tourism, here are several essential responsibilities that as a responsible tourist you have to follow while visiting this country.
● The pollution levels of CAR are very high due to improper maintenance of pollution-causing sources. While visiting CAR, tourists must prefer using sustainable commodities such as second-hand and recycled items. Locals may persuade you to invest in newly produced products only that are mostly plastic-made, but as a responsible tourist you must avoid plastic-made products as it is one of the main contributors to the increasing pollution levels in the entire world.
● Tourists must opt to stay at eco-friendly housing like green hotels, hostels, and flats. These places are quite affordable and often use several sustainable measures like wind or hydropower, solar energy, rainwater harvesting, reusable items, localized staff, etc. They also emphasize their guests to prefer using eco-friendly products at most.
● Motorized bikes and cars are the standard means of transportation in CAR locals. The country's majority of the population belongs to the low-income group. There is no arrangement for electric vehicles. In that case, as a responsible tourist, you must prefer to make most of your visits through public transports such as city buses, passenger cars, etc. By doing so, you will also save a good chunk of money as they are pretty affordable and are helpful to the environment.
Furthermore, while traveling to different cities of CAR, you must prefer local products such as food, clothing, gadgets, utensils, furniture, etc., as imported items are mostly over-priced and also won't help tourists to understand local culture and traditions closely. You should prefer local handicraft items that represent the traditional faiths of local communities.
Air Quality and Pollution
According to the World Health Organization's guidelines, the air quality in the CAR is considered unsafe. Recent data indicate that the annual average concentration of PM2.5 in CAR is 57 µg/m3, which is greater than the recommended maximum limit of 10 µg/m3. Contributors to bad air quality in the CAR include waste burning, vehicle emissions, diamond and gold mining, and the sugar refining industry. However, CAR entered the Climate and Clean Air Coalition in 2013 to participate in international efforts to curtail SLCPS (short-lived climate pollutants).
Respect the Culture
While visiting the Central African Republic, you will encounter many cultural festivals and events coming up regularly. To know the country better, one can participate in the celebrations and get a close knowledge of the local civilization, history, and traditions. These traditional faiths are the essence of the country; embracing them will make your trip satisfying. Basketball is the CAR's most lovable sport and an excellent way to engage with its people.
Top 10 Places to Visit
1.Bangui The capital city of the CAR, Bangui, is located on the banks of the Ubangi river. The nightlife of this city and the markets here are worth a visit. In addition to this, the key attraction here is the presidential palace. The town setting near the Ubangi river and the elegant hills nearby make it a city of natural charm. A known big mosque is a famous place to visit, along with many museums that embrace both the culture and colonization of the country of indigenous people.
2.Zinga Zinga is a very tiny town measuring only 300m in width, 1 km in length, but it is a charming place to tour for visitors in the Central African Republic. The wooden houses built here are excellent illustrations of ancestral Congo houses. The people of this town are welcoming and friendly.
3.Boali The Boali falls are the main attraction of Boali town. These waterfalls are one of the best-known landmarks in CAR. The falls consist of numerous minor and separate falls in the summer seasons, but they meet together to form an extensive and outstanding fall in the rainy season.
4.Chinko Nature Reserve Chinko nature reserve, also known as the Chinko Project, is based on Chinko Drainage Basin. This reserve is home to several species and vastly biologically diverse places in the world.
5.Bouar To experience ancient Africa up close, the Bouar town is a must travel destination. Outside of the city, a large number of stone megaliths are found, known as Tajuna. They are as tall as 5 meters. The stones date back to the neolithic eras. The site is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
6. Kembe Kembe is an ancestral African village. Houses here are built with mud-brick huts and thatched shelters. Nearby the town Kotto river flows, which divides into two streams to form a stunning v-shaped waterfall. If you can visit Kembe, it is an incredible place to get a glimpse of the simplicity of African village life.
7.Lobaye Lobaye is a region in the CAR. It is one of the best spots to witness indigenous tribal civilization, including Pygmy tribespeople. It is only 60 miles away from Bangui, but the lifestyles here are considerably different. Lobaye is also famous for yielding great coffee. Visitors can explore the farms and learn about how it is cultivated.
8.Birao Birao is an isolated town and not often visited. The city has an airport, although it is not in use currently. The nearby borders with Sudan and Chad make the markets even more diversified than usual. It is advised to be cautious while visiting this town.
9. Mbaiki Mbaiki is situated roughly 80 miles from Bangui. The road between the capital and Mbailki is one of the best roads in the country. The price means the economy in the city is based on timber and coffee, and tourists can learn about both while visiting this place. One has to pay a fee to use the road and traveling at night is not advisable.
10. Bimbo Bimbo is the second-largest city in the CAR, located in the southwest of the country. The city life and the bustling markets are a usual attraction of this place. The country’s only sex discerned female prison is located here. The atmosphere here is loud and chaotic.
The Central African Republic is relatively a small country but has a number of fantastic locations. These places can enrich you with the local environment of the country and its elegant history. You will find that many wonderful city parks, National parks, reserves, forests that will pretty much take you on an adventure of natural beauty. This is a landlocked country, so that you won't find beaches here, but it is the home of many beautiful waterfalls. Apart from these, there are museums, cultural and historical landmarks that have their importance all over the country.
There are no significant city parks built in CAR, however, the country is more known for having several fantastic national parks.
Bamingui Bamingui-Bangoran National Park in CAR is a holy place for many species of birds, mammals, and other creatures. The flora is highly diverse due to the parks and forests and its fluctuating altitude between 400 - 1500 meters above sea level.
Manovo-Gounda St Floris National Park The national park is located on the border between the CAR and Chad, and this national park is one of the most delicate habitats in the country to discover wildlife. The park encloses an enormous area of around 1.75 million ha where many species of animals, including the rare black rhino, live. Other species that are found in the park include cheetahs, wild dogs, leopards, and elephants. Throughout the year, many guided safaris are available.
Dzanga-Ndoki National Park Another massive National Park in the Central African Republic. This park has been around since 1990, situated in the southwest of the country. Despite the ongoing concern of animal poaching, the place is still a fantastic place to visit. One can see animals such as gorillas and elephants in their natural habitats. Guided trips to the park can be organized or, if you want to see both Manovo-Gounda and this park, many tourist companies can take you to take tours of both.
Andre Felix National park The national park is contiguous to Radom national park in Sudan, CAR. It was created in 1960, and its area is 951 Square kilometers. Park comprises a lowland, an open forest in its northern half, and a densely forested area elevated in the southern sector. The main variety of fauna found here are buffaloes, ostriches, crocodiles, elephants, hippos, giraffes, lions, panthers, and wild boars.
The Mbaere-Bodingue national Park This national park can be found in the southwest of the Central African Republic. It covers an area of 866 Square kilometers. The park is situated between the Bodingue and Mbaere rivers. The park involves savannah, lowland floodplain wilderness, and rainforest. This area is a home for elephants, buffalos, gorillas, chimpanzees, hippos. It also gives shelter to more than 400 different varieties of birds.
The country is landlocked.
Djebel Mela rock shelter (Haute-Kotto) The rock shelter has some interesting cave paintings of felines, lizards, and other motifs.
Koumbala rock shelter (Bamingui-Bangoran) Koumbala rock shelter is a type of cliff formation rock shelter. The rock shelter contains various cave paintings.
Lengo cliff art (Mbomou) Hundreds of cupules and above 500 engravings on a massive, horizontal laterite slab can be seen in this place. Drawings show geometric symbols, animals, arms.
Toulou shelter (Bamingui-Bangoran) A Huge monolith, having a spacious shelter in it. The Toulou shelter comprises cliff paintings in black, white, and red colors. Paintings show elephants, people, buffaloes.
Boganda National Museum The museum is also known as the Barthelemy Boganda National Ethnographic Museum, is a national museum of the CAR. It is built in the Rue du Languedoc province of the capital city, Bangui. The museum is named after the first prime minister of the country. It was established in the 1960s and remained open until the CAR Civil War. Despite looting, the Majority of the antiques stay at the museum in the boxes.
Fufu Fufu is eaten in many countries in Central Africa. Fufu or fufuo is a popular food in the country. Fufu means mash or mix for a portion of doughy and soft staple food. The dish is made of boiled cassava mixed with cocoyams or plantains. It is battered together in a mortar and pestle and consumed with liquid soups such as light soup, palm nut soup, peanut butter soup, and Abunabun soup.
Chichinga Chichinga is a famous street food item in the country. In the Central African Republic, this dish is served as skewered pieces of barbecued goat meat.
Cassava Cassava is a traditional food of African countries. They are prepared by peeling the roots and putting them into the water for three days to ferment. The fermented roots are then cooked. Cassava is mainly eaten in boiled form, but considerable quantities are used to extract starch from cassava, known as tapioca, which is used in the human diet, animal feed, and even in some industrial purposes.
Makara Makara is the most common food item of the Central African Republic. Makara refers to homemade fried bread, which is primarily available at roadside stands in CAR.
Captaine Captaine is a fish primarily found in the Bangui river in CAR. The fish is smoked for preservation purposes. The delicious fish has off-white flesh and a mild taste. It is also called Nile perch.
Karkanji The karkanji is a type of tea made up of hibiscus flowers. The tea is most famous in Jamaica. The Chadian version of the karkanji tea is quite different from Jamaican tea. This hibiscus drink can be drunk hot as an intake, and the drink has a very warm and pleasant taste. It is slightly tart.
Ginger beer The traditional ginger beer is a carbonated and sweetened drink. It usually comes under non-alcoholic beverages. The natural fermentation process makes it of prepared ginger spice, sugar, and yeast. Currently, ginger beers are often produced rather than brewed, frequently with color additives and flavor. Ginger ales are not concocted.
Palm wine Palm wine, known by many other local names, is an alcoholic drink produced from the sap of numerous species of palm tree such as the date palms, palmyra, and coconut palms. There are four types of palm wine found in the southern and central Democratic Republic of Congo. Ngasi comes from the oil palm, dibondo is made from the raffia palm, cocoti is made from the coconut palm.
Banana wine Banana wine is a form of fruit wine made solely from bananas. It is a different drink from banana beer, which has a tradition and cultural importance in African countries. Banana wine is generally homemade. It is a sweet-smelling beverage having a light fruit flavor, honey-colored, and a unique taste.
Only near 75 % of CAR residents have access to clean water, while merely 27 % have access to sanitary facilities. Water quality in the CAR has been harshly degraded by deforestation, soil erosion, agricultural runoff, mining area effluents, and untreated sewage outflows. Hence the water is not fit for drinking; therefore, one should prefer drinking bottled water which is accessible across the country. Some of the locals rely on pump water which is contaminated and causes various diseases. However, the use of boiled water is promoted among locals by health care advisors. Tourists can purchase bottled water in bulk quantity for their comfort. If you stay in an apartment, you can reach a local water supplier for your stay-days in CAR. You can also use a reverse osmosis tap or install a water filter that will be suitable for an extended stay. Tap water can be used for other purposes like dishwashing, laundry, and other household work. If you frequently purchase bottled water, it will heighten plastic usage and cause pollution. Therefore, one must practice refilling the purchased bottles.
The country is one of the most impoverished and historically unstable nations globally, but CAR continues to be known for its openness. The visitors praise people here for their welcoming nature and optimistic attitude. The Central African Republic offers you to enjoy numerous fun and adventurous activities. You will get to witness the fantastic natural attractions of the country, such as rich wildlife and dense forests. CAR people are fond of sports, especially football. You'll get to experience memorable cultural trips and other fun-filled activities. Everyone loves to perform fun activities; they allow us to create recollections of the fantastic experiences of the place. Here are some activities that one must surely do while visiting CAR:
● Enjoy traditional foods.
● Get a taste of popular African wines.
● Witness wildlife.
● Attend folk dance and music.
● Attend football matches.
Many options for accommodation are available across the country. The big and significant cities will offer you luxurious facilities at reasonable prices. One can get distinct accommodation options at different rates, which will allow you to select a perfect fit. Wherever you choose to stay, you must act like a responsible tourist and should prefer eco-friendly measures, including less usage of plastic and adequate waste disposal. You can find accommodation options as eco-friendly hotels, hostels, apartments, guesthouses, and camping areas.
Green hotels are not like regular hotels. They are named green hotels because they adapt and follow eco-friendly measures that most standard-type hotels do not. They generate energy for electricity from windmills or solar panels, which are converted into power. The dishes served here are organic and fresh. The rooms are well-maintained, towels and bedsheets are made from organic fabrics employing more handwork than machine work. The hotel commodities such as shampoo, soap, face wash, and many more are herbal. The green hotels in this country offer a luxurious lifestyle at acceptable taxes.
Hostels and Guest Houses
Guesthouses and hostels are the best options for solo travelers who wish to explore the country on a low budget. Hostels and guesthouses provide you with well-maintained rooms, including necessary facilities. Many hostels offer shared dormitories that can let you get rid of boredom and make some new pals from different countries. Hostels may have policies that if one is not planning to stay, then they cannot enter into a hostel. The hostel security is very much active. However, in the hostel room, one won't get complete privacy as it's a shared room. While staying in any accommodation, one must be cautious about their belongings. Hostels can be located in many big CAR cities. On the other hand, guesthouses are more ideal for travelers that are touring with their family or friends. Guesthouses provide complete privacy. The guesthouses offer all kinds of appliances available for guests.
An apartment is a better option for a longer stay time. The flats are cost-effective than hotel rooms for more extended stays. You can find many furnished apartments here, and some of them are also available with a semi-modular kitchen along with 1 or 2 bedrooms, a hall, and one kitchen. These apartments provide you complete privacy; therefore, people can enjoy staying here with their partner, friends, or family. One can cook his/her meal with pure hygiene.
Couchsurfing refers to outsiders staying at any local's house without paying rent, and in exchange, they have to help the owner in his/her daily household work. It is the best alternative to hotels for solo travelers and is also a pocket-friendly way to stay for an extended period. There are many advantages of Couchsurfing; if you are staying in a local's house, then he/she can introduce you to pocket-friendly food places or also can benefit from money-saving tips. Locals can take you to the best tourist spots as well as help in socializing with fellow locals. However, a little alertness is necessary for travelers who choose to couch surf. There are hundreds of hosts in CAR that are ready to welcome any tourist. If you are interested in couch surfing, you must go through the reviews so that you'll know about the best and humble hosts.
For travelers, camping can be very adventurous as you'll have direct contact with nature and can enjoy your stay without any disturbance of technology or automobiles. If you want to try camping, carry your basic things with you, such as a tent, some food, and other essential items. Camping is good for 2-3 days or maximum you can do it for a week, but later on, it can become a tedious activity; therefore, use it as a short-term accommodation option. Please do not go camping during bad weather conditions, as it can get worse. The dry season would be the best time to camp but be aware of several insects that might irritate your skin or poison you.
Getting There and Moving Around
Getting there and moving around in CAR is quite simple. Travellers can get multiple transportation options that run at low to high rates. In general, people of CAR prefer using buses or cab, which is one reason for high air pollution in CAR. It would be best as a traveller to be conscious of your carbon footprint as much as possible. By road and by air are the best travelling options to reach this country. You can find a direct flight to Bangui city from any well-known town of a nation. Waterways and flight options are also available. Before you book a route or watercourse, you must make sure that the service is valid, as many smugglers transfer weapons, drugs, and other illegal items through waterways that may get you in trouble if arrested by the police.
You can take a flight to the Central African Republic via air by embarking on the flights which are accessible in France, Gabon, Cameroon, Congo and London. The Bangui International Airport is a significant terminal from where travellers board buses and cars to get around in the city.
The best way to tour around the capital city, Bangui, is to take the 24-seater minibus, which connects the city to other major neighbouring cities. Other methods of public transportation in CAR include pick-up trucks with fees as same as minibus tickets. You can enjoy a safe trip to CAR on the road. Since this nation is connected to Sudan, Cameroon, and Chad, it is vital to check out the border's status. Minibus facilities are widely accessible.
There are no train services available in the Central African Republic.
Hitchhiking refers to asking for a free ride from a fellow driver or passer travelling in the same direction. Hitchhiking is easily available in CAR because most of the locals like to travel on their vehicle to move around the city and sometimes even outdoors. Hitchhiking will be profitable only when you are on the road which is connecting to the city you want to go to.
There is one other way to move around in the Central African Republic, and those are a cab or motorcycle ride. These types of lifts are advised only in emergency cases. Because CAR is already dealing with a lot of traffic problems, noise, and air pollution, therefore, as a responsible tourist you must not contribute to it. Only in case of necessity or when there is a shortage of time may you use such transportation. You must be well informed about the taxi scams while borrowing a rental car for your trip. Most business travelers use taxis to move around Bangui; Travelers who prefer driving themselves must possess an International Driver’s Permit and keep a passport and a valid ID at all times.
Consider ferry services to get to the CAR. However, a momentary suspension of ferry duties is also commonplace here. The Ubangi river connects the CAR to neighbouring nations and is operated by barges and boats. The canals can take you to Stanley falls, which is near Kinshasa and Brazzaville. Travelling by boat may take more time, but it is an enjoyable and affordable way to go on day trips
Sustainable shopping means buying products that support nature and is not toxic to your health. You can find numerous sustainable shops and markets in CAR. Purchasing sustainable products implies that you are benefiting the environment and living a healthy life. These products are made up of natural materials that come from local sources such as local farmers, bakers, handlooms, handicraft shops, fishers, industries, and gardeners. The electricity requirements in the creation of such products are fulfilled from wind or solar energy, which is a renewable energy source. Other than this, sustainable products include items that are free from chemicals. Hence, the second-hand shops also come under sustainable shopping as they conserve the energy and raw material which would have been used in producing a new product. You can find many second-hand stores in several states of this country. The eco-fashion shops, food, and flea markets, also come under sustainable shopping. You can support local farmers by directly buying vegetables from local farms. Though these vegetables might not appear shiny and attractive, but they contain adequate nutrition and protein as they are chemical-free and do not have any artificial coloring. You can also purchase fruits and vegetables in bulk from flea markets where local vendors trade their products.
Recycling means re-manufacturing any product to make it usable in a different form. This practice is very much beneficial for the environment and one's health also. Recycling timber and paper will preserve a lot of trees from being cut down. Plastic waste can be controlled by recycling plastic, creating minor pollution, and this will result in less use of fossil fuels. Metals recycling will require less production of new iron, plus the energy use in mining of such natural resources will be reduced.
As the recycling process does not need raw materials, It decreases the requirement of raw materials and carbon emissions. The overall expense will be much smaller than standard products. Recycling also conserves vast land areas and energy, which would have been employed in dumping waste and fuel used in eliminating them. The government has been operating many recycling plants for this purpose in CAR.
A bunch of products that can not be used anymore is known as waste. There are two kinds of procedures for handling the wastage material; incineration and landfill. In incineration, the waste items are burned with the help of thermal energy. On the other hand, landfill procedure uses a massive portion of land to dump waste products collectively. The waste products stored in such landfills are later sent to the waste treatment plants to practice proper disposal of the waste.
The waste management system in the Central African Republic is not promising enough, and the locals here do not find the garbage disposal process of CAR as adequate. Moreover, the dumping ground is not adequately supervised. Proper maintenance is required for such areas to contribute to air and soil solutions in the Central African Republic.
Work and Study Abroad
The nursery schools, primary and high (secondary) schools in the Central African Republic offer their students prepare for International Baccalaureate and other diplomas in the Central African Republic. Schools may pursue the CAR model with teaching in English, while others may follow the French education system.
Education in the Central African Republic is compulsory from 6-14 age group children and public education is free. However, gross primary enrollment in CAR schools is only 56.9 %. Religious communities operate many schools in CAR.
Enrollment and admission procedures differ from school to school. Seats are often limited, and preference may be given to students on the basis of nationality. The French International School in Bangui, CAR, offers classes for preschool through senior high school. It is an organization created under local law and is governed by an association of parents, represented by the AEFE ( Agency for French Education Abroad).
The primary job options in the Central African Republic include Human Resource, IT, Receptionist, Accountant, Registered Nurse, Account Executive, Truck Driver, Pharmacy Technician, Pharmaceutical Sales, Medical Assistant. Choose the job based on your qualifications. A person working in the Central African Republic generally earns around 433,000 XAF a month. Salaries vary from (lowest average) 109,000 XAF to (highest standard)1,930,000 XAF. However, the actual maximum salary is higher. This is the typical monthly salary of a CAR citizen, including housing, transport, and other advantages.
The student exchange program is a policy in which bright students are sent to partnership colleges in other nations to attain their remaining degrees. Some international universities that provide such programs are:
● Mandela Washington Fellowship for young African leaders This is the flagship program of the YALI (Young African Leaders Initiative). Since the beginning of this program in 2014, it has empowered young people by providing academic coursework, networking, and leadership training.
● Sports Visitor Program Young non-elite coaches and athletes who are chosen by U.S. missions are offered to visit the U.S. for a fast-paced two-week exchange program.
● Study of the U.S. Institutes for Scholars These are designed to bolster curricula and enhance the quality of teaching about the U.S. in academic institutions overseas.
● International Writing Program Fall Residency Writers get to gather in Iowa city for this 10-week stay to work on their personal creative writing programs, to give lectures and readings, and to interact with literary communities across the U.S.
● Fortune - U.S. department of state global women's mentoring partnership This is a private-public coalition supporting women across the globe: economically, socially, and politically by regulating leadership workshops and mentoring appointments for up to 25 emerging women international leaders. These emerging women leaders are trained in a three-week program by U.S. executive women from Fortune's most powerful women network.
Au Pair is an individual who is from a different nation and chooses to stay in a particular city in order to help out a local family by looking after their children and other household chores. One can ask the regional employment agencies or can search in the journals to find about au pairing opportunities. You can search and fill in Au Pair job forms through online sites in the Central African Republic. However, Au pairing is not actively followed in CAR as most of the locals prefer to do their household work by themselves. If you get the opportunity for A.U. pairing, you must behave humbly and kindly to the couple who has offered you this job.
In CAR, some NGOs are working for human welfare and benefits for their citizens. Some of the best and active NGOs are listed below.
● ASSOCIATION LOCde Secours aux Femmes Enceintes Et Orphelins- ALSFEO Bangui, Central African Republic
● Action Evanglique de Developpement Holistique (AEDHO) Bangui, Central African Republic
As a responsible visitor, you must partake in such volunteering movements so that you'll be able to show your appreciation to the local communities of CAR for their hospitality and support. It will also encourage you to understand the various underlying problems that the locals here face.