Republic of Congo/DR Congo: Crossing Congo River from Branzzaville to Kinshasa

The Congo River separates Brazzaville and the Republic of Congo from Kinshasa and the Democratic Republic of Congo. In theory – an east crossing, but in reality (based on many travel stories) this is one of the roughest crossings in the world with all the bribes, checks, money extraction, and overall messiness. To our great surprise, we got through quite smooth and easy. On the Brazzaville side, we immediately got a dozen “helpers”, but brushed everyone off and spoke to a police office. He volunteered to help and escorted us through customs, got our passports stamped, skipped though all the lines, took us to the ticket counter to buy tickets, skipping lines again and yelling at all the “helpers”, took us to departure point, and got us to board the speed boat first. Price – $10. The 20 minute ride across the river was fun and bumpy. On the Kinshasa side was the real mess, but we had a pre-arranged fixer who met us, got us through customs and stamped in, negotiated no bag checks (huge thing because this is where the real problems with bribes and extraction begin), guided us through crowds on the way out and even helped exchange money at a reasonably close to reality rate. Price – $20. Hello, DRC!