The Congo is a river of superlatives. It is the world’s second largest river (only the Amazon River moves more water) draining an area the size of Europe. It also holds claim as the deepest river in the world with measured depths in excess of 220 m (720 ft). It is so immense that its source waters at the Chambeshi River in Zambia take more than six months trudging through 3000 miles of highland, lakes, savanna and rain-forest before exiting into the Atlantic Ocean.
The Congo River is much more than its mighty discharge, it has given its name to two countries, The Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Republic of the Congo. Its identity is inseparable from that of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It remains an integral constant – a vital artery of communication, connective tissue between the village, the city, the ocean, and the outside world. The DRC has several major rivers, with numerous more tributaries that feed the Congo River. But when referring to the largest one of all, the Congo River, Congolese simply say “Le Fleuve” (The River).
A Cargo Barges on the Congo River. The barges are vital for ferrying goods and passengers along the river. Basically consist of a ‘pusher’ boat – this has the engine and houses the crew. In front of the ‘pusher’ boat will be one or two barges,; long, almost rectangular boats used for carrying cargo and passengers.
From its sources to its mouth, the Congo River system is divided into three distinct sections—the upper Congo (the section between the source and the Stanley rapids), middle Congo (a thousand-mile stretch of navigable river between the city of Kisangani and the capital Kinshasa), and lower Congo (where the river narrows and falls through a series of rapids and cataracts in deep canyons before the final 100 miles where the river empties into the Atlantic Ocean in a powerful estuary.
At the Malebo pool a lake like expansion of the river near the end of the middle Congo, the river slows to a virtual stand-still for 20 miles. At this point it is 15 miles wide and is flanked by the capital cities of Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Brazzaville in the Republic of Congo. Kinshasa and Brazzaville are on opposite sides of the river at the Pool. (They’re the world two nearest capital cities to each other, if you don’t count Rome and the Vatican.)
Below are scenes from “la Fleuve” at the Malebo pool
The sunset – the river a radiant glow scintillating and beaming as the last threads of light linger in the sky.
The sky; ablaze, adorned with a fiery kaleidoscope of colors, clothed in garish splendor, mingling with trails of wispy, frail and tranquil clouds.
The sun left hanging in the crisp air floats downwards like a deflated balloon. The brilliant orb of amber dipping steadily behind the horizon, threads of light lingering in the sky, painting the sky in magnificent hues from maroon, purple and neon pink. The colors then fade to gold, bronze and honey tones.
The Congo with its checkered past has witnessed its fair share of upheavals with generations of foreign exploitation, political instability, negligence, mismanagement and civil war. Subsequently the country and the river seems to have been given a wide berth. But if you’re looking for a true adventure travel, an off the beaten path destination – the Congo has plenty to offer.