Subscribe to SmallPlanet

We Need Your Help

Five stars on Amazon! Don't miss Talesmag's first book of essays, on cross-cultural food experiences from Mexico to Mongolia (plus recipes!)
Submit a Real Post Report

Kinshasa



What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

This place is the Wild West when it comes to driving. Bring something you don't mind getting a little dinged up and SHIP YOUR CAR EARLY or plan to buy one right when you arrive at post. Rav4 or something similar works well. One of the most difficult things for people when they arrive is no car bc there is zero public transport. - Dec 21, 2017
High clearance 4X4 SUV. Period. The local city roads are too much for a small car or even mini van. You CAN get around town in them but your options to avoids pedestrians, protesters, potholes, and traffic jams are even more limited without clearance. To enjoy the Zongo Falls, Bonobos, or really any outside Gombe areas you will need a sturdy 4 wheel drive. - Mar 2, 2017
Bring an SUV with four wheel drive. Everyone who has one of these is happy and you will be able to sell it locally when you leave. You may want tinted windows to help with the bright sun. Parking is not a problem and you will always be able to find space, even with a larger car. Do not bring a small/compact car--it won't be able to handle the potholes. It's theoretically possible to get by with something like a Honda Accord, but people who have these are limited to only certain parts of the city with good roads and can't travel outside of Kinshasa on weekends. - Jan 21, 2017
If you are never going to leave Gombe, a small, zippy car for moving through traffic and parking in tight spaces is great. But you will want to move a bit , so something with clearance is better. Auto locking doors is a plus; if you don't have them you will quickly train yourself to lock up first thing you sit down. Segues -- street kids -- can and will try opening doors on moving vehicles. - Sep 26, 2016
Bring a 4 wheel drive if you can. The roads are bad - lots and lots of potholes, many unpaved. You cannot import a car over 10 years old, which will be quite amusing when you arrive here and see many of the cars on the street (which are falling apart and are way older than 10 years). Toyota is probably the best bet (we've got a 4Runner and there are a dozens around). The country is left hand drive like the US, but because so many cars are imported from South Africa there are a lot of right hand drive vehicles as well. I've never heard of a carjacking. - Apr 26, 2016
Four-wheel drive is a necessity as well as high clearance. Many major roads within Gombe have been recently paved but successive rainy seasons will likely recreate potholes all too quickly. The vast majority of roads in and out of Kinshasa are unpaved and most are ungraded as well. - Jan 6, 2014
Four-wheel-drive would be essential to drive outside the city. Thanks to a lot of road improvements in town, you can get by with just about anything for the work commute. When it rains, the potholes and flooding can get pretty absurd. Most common expat cars are Xterras, Rav4s, Ford Everest/Explorer. Rich Congolese here drive Range Rover Sports or Land Cruisers, others drive Tatas, Chinese cars, Mercedes, and many derelict and second-hand pieces of junk. There are some motorcyclers in Kinshasa. - Nov 24, 2012
Get a 4x4. - May 21, 2012
A 4x4 is important as the roads are awful. Outside the city, a 4x4 is an absolute must. The roads are often dirt (mud in the rainy season) and very rough terrain. - Feb 13, 2012
Many potholes. It's best to have a 4WD SUV. - Nov 13, 2011
For in the city any car will do. Once you want to go a bit further, you definitely need a 4x4 - Aug 4, 2011
Something you donít mind getting beat up. It is not a matter of if you will be in an accident, only when. The best bet is a 4-wheel drive SUV type; high clearance, short wheel base, windows tinted with anti-shatter film(the darker the better, it keeps prying eyes from seeing inside), anything mounted on exterior of vehicle needs to secured. There are usually vehicles for sale by exiting Mission personnel, generally for what they paid for them new. Shipping a vehicle can take several weeks to arrive. I will sell our sedan when we leave. I have seen all types of vehicles here Ė 2009 Mustang GT, BMW, Mercers Benz, Jaguar, Hummer, PT Cruiser, Chrysler 300, all make and model of off brand you can think of. Repair is spotty and parts are expensive. Some repair can be done thru the Motor pool after hours. It is recommended that you ship spare parts/tires to have on hand, or thru a stateside service and have it delivered to the DPO address. A SUV type will allow you to do more of the exploring on the weekends. Road system here is terrible, pot-holes big enough for their own zip code, open storm drains, missing man-hole covers. - Jan 19, 2011
If you stay within Gombe, any car would do, although you'd have to go very gingerly over rough spots with a low-sitting mini. Ideally, bring something with four-wheel drive and some decent clearance. There's only regular gas here, so I wouldn't bring anything requiring super. Toyota/Nissan/Land Rover are probably best bet when thinking of service needs. I have a Jeep, and a lot of folks do, but there is no Jeep dealer. - Oct 16, 2010
You can get by with a "regular" car, but I would strongly advise bringing a high-clearance SUV. - Jan 21, 2009