We had heard of this beach close to Kinshasa where you can swim in the river, picnic, play games and have a wonderful escape from the craziness of the big city. We had general directions, and though no amount of google map searching helped us find it, three and a half of us set out to find it in a large landcruiser* ready for any adventure. We drove towards Mbudi, but turned away from the river well before, and drove down a very muddy, bumpy road until we got to a big quarry. We could see the river, so we parked the car, climbed over some enormous rocks, and found a beautiful beach. Gorgeous white sand by an enormous river which seemed to be an estuary of the Congo River, surrounded by enormous black rocks – we’d found paradise. It was as if we’d found a place we could have a similar experience to a boat trip without actually have to take a boat (or paying as much)!
It was October so the water levels were high, but we still had enough beach to enjoy. We got out our lunches, sat on the sand and started to eat. Until we saw it, some sort of insect that was about the size of a ping pong ball and looked like it had a million legs. Yelling, screaming and running ensued, ending with three adults and a dog cowering on a big rock by the end of it. Geniuses that we are, we went back to look at it (with shoes on this time) – it was a spider, with a baby sac on its back! Of course we yelled, screamed and ran back to the rock, only to go back a few minutes later to take pictures. After sufficient pictures were taken, some more yelling, screaming and running took place, and we finally parked ourselves on the rock to eat our lunch in peace. With a few more visits to the poor spider to make sure we knew where it was.
We made it back to Kinshasa shortly thereafter, and could not stop speaking the praises of this hidden beach (mention of spider may have been limited to a select few), and planning began for holding a House Hash Harrier run/walk there. This turned into one of my favourite Hashes, not only because we had a great day planning it, but because I got named at the Hash, and everyone ended up in the water after the very hot hike we’d planned for them. We even repeated the Hash a year later, as big a success as the first time.
A few notes:
- The kids from the village love playing, so if you can challenge them to making a tire rim roll down a hill with only a stick, and not having it fall, hitting a tire rim without it falling, by all means do so. And be ready to lose!
- There are some nice short hiking paths behind the quarry on the two hills. You’ll walk through the village but as long as you don’t disturb anything, the villagers are very friendly.
What to Bring: There are no facilities here, so bring everything you want/need: picnic items, sunblock (very little shade), and a swimsuit. And shoes.
When to Go: I’ve been there during both seasons, and both are equally great. The road is significantly worse, though less muddy during the dry season!
How to Get There: Drive towards [Mbudi Nature], but turn left right after the cemetery and market. There used to be a PPRD office on the corner, but now it’s a small shop. The road gets muddy, keep going until you get to a fork in the road 1km in, with Centre Medical De Kitenge in the middle. Turn left, then turn right when you get to Bar Banana Bulu (or Centre Sante sign). Stick to the river, and keep going until 8km. There are several places to park – you can either turn right with the quarry on your left, or keep going straight on that road until you get to the end.
Travel Time: On average, it takes between 45-90 minutes to get there, depending on the state of the road, your confidence in driving, and how strong the stomachs are of the passengers in the car.
Risk Assessment: There have been instances of cars being broken into while people were at the beach, so it would be handy to park somewhere where you can keep your eye on your car, or find a villager to watch it. The quarry is protected by police officers, who can also be paid to protect your car.
*this landcruiser plays a role in several bucket list adventures, including Zongo Falls.