Not to be confused with the Democratic Republic of Congo, it’s landlocked and much larger
neighbour, the Republic of Congo is known for its rainforest reserves and wild lowland gorillas. You can find the gorillas, as well as forest elephants and hooting troops of chimpanzees, in Odzala-Kokoua National Park. Take a private safari to guarantee a close encounter, or camp out in the wilderness for up to three nights – if it’s within budget. Further north, Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park also offers wildlife-watching opportunities. Congo’s capital city, Brazzaville, has a laid-back feel and a traditional craft-market culture. To get to know the city, stroll along La Corniche – a modernised embankment with excellent views over the Congo River – or explore the mid 20th-century Basilique Sainte-Anne cathedral, with its glittering green roof and carved copper doors. Along Congo’s narrow coastline, you can find a handful of beaches, the French-colonial city of Pointe Noire, and more of the warm and welcoming Congolese culture. There are several luxury hotels and a few cheaper options to choose from in Brazzaville and Pointe Noire, but there is little else available to book outside of these two cities.