Train to Kisantu and Mbuela Lodge

Train.jpg

I had two goals for this trip – to take the Kinshasa to Matadi train and to ride a quad bike.  This trip was a success.  It took a few times going to Gare Centrale in Kinshasa to figure out the tickets and timing, but I will save you the effort by sharing all of that information here!  You purchase the tickets on Wednesday and the train leaves Saturday for Matadi (via Kisantu, where we got off) and returns to Kinshasa from Matadi on Sunday.  So you either go for a day…or for a week.  Instead of the 8 hour-ish ride to Matadi, we got off in Kisantu, which takes about three hours.  We happened to take it on the one year anniversary of train renovations, so there was a camera crew as well as some high-level officials.  I believe we purchased second-class tickets for about $10.  While there was not air conditioning in our car and sand/dirt blew into the train at various points, the seats and the interior felt brand new.  There’s even this AWESOME bar that blasts music at all times.  So if you want to drink beer and dance at 9am in a discotheque, this train is perfect for you.

After arriving at the Kisantu train station, our resort hotel – Mbuela Lodge  – picked our group of 10+ people up from the Kisantu-Inkisi stop.  The resort was wonderful.  We stayed in chalets and there were many activities to choose from (some at an extra cost).  You could play tennis, swim, play mini golf, ride a horse, ride a bike, play basketball, take a quad bike out to watch the sunset, and there is even a children’s indoor playground area.  We spent the first day enjoying the activities, and the second day at the Kisantu Botanical Gardens (the Kisantu Botanical Gardens is highlighted in another post … and is incredible, aside from the monkeys and crocodiles stuck in cages…not that they should be out of the cages roaming freely in the Botanical Gardens, but maybe they should not live there at all).

After the Kisantu Botanical Gardens on Sunday, we took the train back.  It was less novel than on the way there, but still pretty cool.  Overall – taking the train in the DRC, quad biking at Mbuela Lodge, and the Kisantu Botanical Gardens (minus the animals), made for a wonderful weekend getaway from Kinshasa.

Train sign.JPG
Logistics:

What to Bring: Train tickets, snacks for the train (though they give free sandwiches), sunscreen, bathing suit, copy of passport and visa, camera, money, overnight bag and items.  The lodge offers everything from tents to luxury rooms so the price varies.

When to Go: Saturdays to Sundays, any time of the year.

How to Get There: You purchase train tickets on Wednesday at Gare Centrale.  You should go in the late morning/early afternoon.  If you bring copies of the passports/visas of people going, DGM can stamp the tickets then.  If not, you will need to come early Saturday morning to get the tickets verified by DGM.  Once in Kisantu, you can purchase the return ticket to Kinshasa and then show the copies of your passports and visas to DGM.

Travel Time: On Saturday, the train leaves Kinshasa at 0730 and arrives to Kisantu at 1030.  On Sunday, the train leaves Kisantu at 1230 and arrives to Kinshasa at 1600.  So three hours.

Risk Assessment: The train is up-to-date and brand new.  Mbuela Lodge is a nice resort and arranges transportation in and around Kisantu.  So pretty low risk overall.

Contacts:

Mbuela Lodge: http://www.mbuela-lodge.com

+243 (0) 825 44 33 22
+243 (0) 972 42 00 57

reservation@mbuelalodge.com

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