We here at Uproxx Life want you to travel. If you can just make it happen, we believe your life will be better for it. Sometimes adventures are death-defying exercises, others are just getaways to unwind from the frivolity of everyday life. Wherever you find yourself on the spectrum of world traveler, we hope to help.
With our new series of Uproxx Pocket Guides, we hope to provide the encouragement needed for you to go out and explore. Whether you only have a weekend to play with or are planning a year-long trek around the globe, our goal is to shine a light on places that deserve your attention. These aren’t meant to be comprehensive guides, more like movie trailers that will grab your attention and convince you to dig deeper.
Not all adventure is purely pleasant. Some adventures test your limits. The Democratic Republic of Congo is just such a place. War and the scars it has left behind on local communities have wrought havoc on the country. But if you look deeper, you’ll find a convivial, resilient people and an amazingly verdant landscape.
That’s not to say you have to search hard to discover the country’s magic: Flatlands to the west, savannas to the south, massive volcanoes to the east, and, in between, one of the largest jungles in the world. Flowing through that sea of green is the Congo River. So yes, beauty abounds, but the DRC is not for the faint of heart. This isn’t door-to-door resort travel. You won’t be able to avoid witnessing the widespread repercussions that our lust for disposable technology has created. You will see the scars — on the land and the people and you will come out a better person, and a more deeply caring traveler.
You can travel to the DRC as a tourist easily enough, but traveling as a volunteer and bringing some much needed money and support to the Congolese is a much smarter way to see the country. If you go, here are some things to expect:
There aren’t a lot of food options in the DRC. Expect to eat a lot of stewed beans, roasted bananas, and a plentiful amount of Fufu. The giant white dumpling of cassava flour is the main staple of almost every meal. It fills the belly and gets you through the day. Stewed or barbecued goat and chicken round out most meals, when they’re available. When you’re near the sea, a river, or one of the great lakes, fish will be a staple. Generally, it’s baked or barbecued whole. Roadside farmers sell avocados, melons, onions, tomatoes, and the occasional chili or pumpkin. Most supermarkets are stocked from the Arab world, so don’t expect to see a lot of familiar products, though there are a few French supermarkets selling cheese and wine along with a lot of western liquor and beer. There are plenty of restaurants in the bigger cities. You can even get a decent pizza in Goma. Outside the cities, look for a shack with a pot of beans bubbling away and a farmer on the side of the road. One thing is for sure, if you’re into “local” and “seasonal,” you’ll have no trouble finding it.