Gbadolite is a city of just over 100,000 in Congo Basin and the ancestral hometown of former dictator Mobutu Sese Seko.
Nicknamed Versailles of the Jungle during the era of Mobutu Sese Seko (1965-1997), Gbadolite was showered with investments and luxury while most other parts of then-Zaire languished. With lavish palaces, an international airport made to accommodate Concorde flights and even an underground nuclear bunker, Gbadolite became the ultimate symbol of the kleptocracy of Mobutu's rule. Ransacked during the civil war following the ousting of Mobutu in 1997, most facilities in Gbadolite are now either ruined or in disrepair. However, for the intrepid traveler it is possible to catch a glimpse of faded luxury.
Unlike the rest of Congo, which celebrated the fall of Mobutu, locals tend to have a positive view of his legacy. With the town taking a massive downturn in recent times, and in light of it being his hometown, it could be unwise to engage in political discussions regarding the Mobutu era.
The massively over-sized 1 Gbadolite Airport once saw direct services from Europe, including chartered Concorde flights. During the last decades however, it's been reduced to a small domestic airport with just a few weekly flights from Kinshasa.
Travelling by road is difficult at best, usually near-impossible. However, roads surrounding Gbadolite itself are in good shape, another legacy of the Mobutu years.
- 1 Palais des Bambous. Mobutu's former personal sanctuary; complete with massive dining halls, marble floors and swimming pools. Locals will show you around for a fee.
- 1 Motel Nzekele. Visited by both French president François Mitterrand and the Pope John Paul II, it opened as a five star hotel in 1979. Nowadays, the swimming pool is emptied and the whole facility are in disrepair but Motel Nzekele is still open to the few guests that makes it here.