The Margouilla's Advice on Nightstopping in Bangui

 

BANGUI - MPOKO (FEFF/BGF)

 

 

What airfield can I expect?

Bangui is a quiet international airport. Despite repeated coups and civil war outbreaks, most of the airport infrastructure in Bangui is in good shape, apart from the main terminal. Bangui Mpoko is open H24; it has Jet A-1 available from hydrants located on the main terminal parking. Avgas usually comes in drums, check for availability (phone?). There are two parking options in Bangui: larger aircraft normally stay in front of the main terminal, while smaller ones can park to the south of it, on the aeroclub parking. Concrete blocks are available for tiedown in the grass on the edge of the main parking.

Airport security non-existent. Fuel is sometimes stolen from the drains at night, even in front of the main terminal.

The ASECNA "bureau de piste" under the control tower is where you can file your flight plan, pay your taxes, and get weather & notams.

The airport is located almost in town, so taxi rides are usually quick and cheap, for maximum 2,000 XAF.

 

Where am I?

Bangui was founded in 1889 next to rapids on the Ubangui river as a French military outpost. The post-independence years were marked by the reign of harsh yet temperamental Emperor Bokassa, whose legacy can still be seen today in the form of Roman-style triumphal arches scattered around town. Since his demise in 1979, the Central African Republic has been ravaged by countless coup attempts and civil wars, making it one of the poorest countries on Earth.

Bangui is the only real city in the CAR, with a population of 700,000. Yet there is really nothing there: no economic life, no resources, almost no infrastructure. The first traffic lights in the country were installed there in the late 2000's... Roads are in shambles, power outages happen everyday, nothing works. However, people in Bangui are extremely friendly and welcoming, so it is a pleasure to walk around town or have an evening out.

Where do I sleep?

JM Residences (10mn from the airport)

Bangui, avenue de l'Indépendance across from the National Assembly

As far as hotels go in Bangui, JM Residences is the least terrible of the lot. It consists is a compound of grey bungalows, equipped with air-co and TV. The place isn't nice, it isn't well constructed, yet it is pretty new (late 2000's), reasonably clean and everything works. Prices are around 40,000 XAF per room.

Hotel du Centre (10mn from the airport)

PO Box 1015 - Bangui, avenue du Président Valérie Giscard d'Estaing
Tel: +(236) 21 61 02 79
Fax: +(236) 21 61 47 90

Another vaguely acceptable option is the Hotel du Centre, with a better location right in the city centre. Air-co and TV with local channels normally work, yet the rooms are oldish, humid and smelly. There is a swimming pool for the most reckless. Expect around 45,000 XAF a night.

Hotel Levy's (10mn from the airport)

PO Box 117 - Bangui, avenue Boganda
Tel: +(236) 21 61 66 19

This would be a second choice, as rooms are pretty dirty in this hotel held by Lebanese tenants. There is air-conditioning in all rooms, and a nice terrace out to enjoy a cool Mocaf. Rooms around 35,000 XAF.

Oubangui Hotel (15mn from the airport)

PO Box 1044 - Bangui, boulevard Charles de Gaulle
Tel: +(236) 21 61 30 38

Don't let this former Sofitel fool you: since the chain has left the place, maintenance has been virtually non-existent. A place to avoid. 50,000 XAF a night.

 

Where do I eat?

Le Relais des Chasses (10mn from the airport)

PO Box 2144 - Bangui, near avenue Boganda
Tel : +(236) 21 61 84 07

Excellent meat restaurant, with an exceptional choice of bush meats. Terrace and buckaroos set in a nice garden. The fresh fruit juices are great. Friendly French owner.

Boui-Bouis (food stalls) (10mn from the airport)

Bangui, quartier Sika, avenue de France

If you fancy something more local, the street-side food stalls on avenue de France sell good grilled "cabri" (young goat) with "ndongo" (lethally hot yellow pepper powder).

 

What can I visit?

There isn't much to do in Bangui. Yet it is a great outing to go and have a drink on the terrace of the Oubangui Hotel, on the rocks overlooking the rapids. This is the upstream limit where French explorers managed to navigate the river in the XIXth century, and thence the very reason why they founded Bangui there. Across the water lies Zongo, in the DR Congo.

Nearby is the Bangui Rock Club of colonial fame, a sports and leisure centre founded in 1906 on the river bank. They have the cleanest swimming pool in town, along with various sport activities. Daily entrance fee is 5,000 XAF.

The largest market in town is the PK5, at the end of avenue Boganda. Nice typical African market with local ambiance. Friendly, but be on your guards.

 

Where can I go out?

Le Songho Night

Bangui, avenue de l'Indépendance

The classic nightfighters club of Bangui. Mixed local and expat customers, good music, h-o-t atmosphere.

Le Mbi Yé

Bangui, avenue Boganda across the street from Orange

A much more local and pittoresque club is the Mbi Yé ("I love you" in the local Sangho dialect), a friendly open-air club with loud African music.

La Plantation

Bangui, town centre near hotel Somba

Le Nzété

Bangui, in the dirt street behind Hotel Levy's

This one is a bit hard to find (formerly called the "Timis") but a great 100% African club. Beware of drunk guys and potential fights in the late night.

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