If it’s the ‘real’ Africa you’re looking for, Central African Republic (CAR) may be it. A country of staggering rare natural beauty, with some of the world’s most amazing wildlife, it nonetheless remains underdeveloped, fragmented and poverty-stricken. It’s a country, like so many in Africa, that could and should be very prosperous; it’s just that pesky ‘government-that-doesn’t-care-about-its-people’ factor that gets in the way. The country has important mineral deposits and great natural resources, yet precious little of the wealth generated seeps down to the population. For centuries CAR has endured rapacity from invaders and then its own leaders. Sadly this is ongoing. So, why would the people of such a historically plundered nation be open, friendly and generous? As we said, that’s the real Africa for you.
Travelling here is a backpacking bungee jump. At the time of writing most of the country was not considered stable or safe enough to travel through. Look at the neighbours: to the east CAR borders on the troubled Darfur region of Sudan, to the north Chad is often in turmoil, to the south things are far from placid in Congo and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Only to the west is Cameroon a region of relative stability. Apart from business and government callers to the capital, Bangui, There are a handful of lucky visitors that search for gorillas and elephants in the Dzanga-Sangha National Park, in the little finger of land in the southeast corner of the CAR. Whatever you do check the situation with your embassy before attempting to visit.