Just a short drive (30 minutes max) from the hustle and bustle of the Zongo resort is the peaceful paradise of Zongo Beach a.k.a. the Massage Falls a.k.a. Sunguza Beach. Many people visit the beach at Zongo (Sunguza Beach) for a day trip while staying at Zongo, but camping on the empty beach is a great, peaceful alternative to the roar of Zongo Falls and constant stream of people at the resort.
We arrived at the Zongo (Seli Safari) resort much later in the day than planned, so we were hoping our stop there to check in and pay would be short. After 30 minutes of the lady working at the reception unsuccessfully trying to convince us that we really didn’t want to camp because it might rain, we were off. You do need to stop at Zongo because you need to pay to camp there. Usually when people go for day trips they take a guide, but we found that a guide is really unnecessary. The route is well-marked, and if you aren’t sure you are going the right way, you can stop and ask for directions.
We found the beach mostly empty when we arrived around 4. There was one other group who had gone to the massage falls, but other than that we were alone. We packed up towels, drinks, and snacks and headed to the massage falls. We were with some people who had been there before, and they insisted that the path to the falls required crossing the small river that feeds into the Congo there. They were definitely wrong, but we only discovered their error after trekking through lots of thorn bushes and slippery rocks. The real path on the close side of the river is very well-trodden and not treacherous at all. It takes about 10 minutes to walk to the massage falls, which is a great place to swim and hang out for a few hours.
Since darkness was soon encroaching, we returned to the beach to pitch tents. There are nice grassy areas to pitch your tents on or, during dry season, you can also camp on the sand. There is a shallow pit toilet with straw walls, and that’s about it in terms of amenities. You need to bring anything you need for camping including water, but it’s not a far walk from the parking area to camping area. There’s plenty of firewood around, and some people have told us that when they’ve been there, the guards have helped them with starting fires. When we were there, there was no guard working; the only other people we could see were camping on the Brazzaville side of the river. Maybe that’s why the lady at the resort didn’t want us to go.
We had a lovely evening watching the sun set, hanging out on the beach by the fire, and enjoying good food. In the morning, we got up and relaxed for a bit before heading to back with a stop at Zongo Falls. As we were leaving, we saw a big group arriving for a day trip to the massage falls. They reminded us that during the day the beach isn’t as peaceful and empty as it is in the late afternoon and early morning.
What to Bring: Everything you’ll need
When to Go: If it has rained too much, then the road may not be great. Many people prefer to go in the dry season when the sandy beach is much larger than in rainy season.
How to Get There: From the Seli Safari Zongo Resort, turn left out of the resort and head up the hill. At the top of the hill, turn left (there’s a sign). Continue mostly straight to the beach, looking for signs to guide you.
Travel Time: 4-5 hours from Kinshasa. 30 minutes from Zongo (you should drive. I think it’d be a pretty long walk, but if you had all day, it might be fun to hike.)
Risk Assessment: Check to see about rain. Watch out for snakes and malaria-carrying mosquitoes.
Contact Information: Owned by the same people who own the resort. You don’t need to book in advance like you do for the resort, but you do need to stop at the resort to pay.