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Getting around

From Brazzaville’s MayaMaya airport, Trans Air Congo (81 1046) runs four flights a day to the coastal town of Pointe-Noire and two flights a day to the towns of Dolisie (Loubomo) and Nkayi, while flights to Imfondo leave once a week.

Passenger trains from Brazzaville to Pointe-Noire via Dolisie (Loubomo) aren’t operating due to unrest in the Malebo Pool region. If stability returns, so might this service.

A good sealed road goes north from the capital as far as President Denis Sassou Nguesso’s home town of Oyo. Beyond that the roads are increasingly bumpy until they disintegrate into sloshing mud lakes in the rain, and hard-set ridges with potholes of several feet after the rain. From Owando onwards the journey north can only be made in a convoy of 4WDs, stopping every 20 minutes for one vehicle to pull the other out of a hole. The coast also has a new road that reaches right down the coast to the Angolan enclave of Cabinda.

Shared taxis and minibuses run on an ad hoc basis between towns and villages. They are ridiculously cheap, great fun and crammed with Congolese villagers taking chickens and even goats to the capital. Car hire is available in Brazzaville with Europcar (81 33 38; Av du Camp) from US$120 per day.

Alternatively, bargesfollow the Oubangui and Congo Rivers from the Central African Republic all the way to Brazzaville. However, they leave irregularly, and the journey can take anything from 10 days to three weeks depending on the vessel and whether the rains have come. Most barges are operated by the logging companies, so ask around at the Beach – Brazzaville’s river port.