Travel Through The Congo on a Harley-Davidson

By Peter & Kay Forwood

The Congo on a Harley (5/8/06 - 8/8/06)
Distance 424 km (465192 km to 465616 km)

This is part of the twelfth section of our around the world trip.
Complete Trip Overview & Map

Coming from Angola

5/8/06 Immigration was a bit slow, swamped with locals crossing and the need to stamp everyone's papers five times, sign them, write a receipt and the expiry date. The lone officer was processing paperwork in batches but we were squeezed in between batches and then customs stamped the carnet, we were on our way and instantly the road was better, smooth asphalt. The rate of the Central African CFA currency is fixed to the Euro and is exchanged at bureaux with the Euro minus a commission, up to 7%. I had no trouble changing our Euro's into CFA inside the Western Union office with someone who wanted to save the commission. Patisserie's lined the main street of Pointe Noire and we indulged in coffee and pastries, something lacking in Angola. We have only just arrived but are needing to look for a boat to Sao Tome and Principe, either from here or from Libreville in Gabon. The best information we could obtain on an after hours Saturday was that there is little opportunity of boats leaving from here. The yacht club,Yacht Club Pointe Noire where we camped near the port offers free camping to travellers, with the provision of toilets and a shower at a reasonable charge, so we set up the tent and watched the sunset over a glass of French wine and pizza in their restaurant.

6/8/06 It is likely that we will only be in this country for a short time and distance as the roads anywhere in this region are uncomfortable dirt and we would need to retrace our route if we ventured further towards Brazzaville than was necessary. The army personnel guarding the yacht club suggested the route towards Gabon, a logging truck road made by a Chinese logging firm. A firm request for money was made after the information was given and was linked to being the security for our stay at the yacht club, something I dislike. It is a bit like the parking attendant asking for money to guard your vehicle, if you don't pay you are sure to have a scratch on your return. It was perhaps the firmness that I disliked most, we politely refused as a matter of conscience. Pointe Noire is a quiet town on a Sunday, the seaside sandy beach at the yacht club a great place to spend the afternoon after another coffee in town. It is certainly a step up from Angola in terms of consumer items available in theLoaded truck along the logging truck road supermarket, mostly French, at French plus prices, but due to the petrol price at a dollar a litre there are few private vehicles on the roads.

7/8/06 It is always a bit depressing when you see that a country has experienced better times, where grand buildings are in decay, windows broken, rooves collapsing, asphalt roads crumbling or totally disintegrating. Whilst there is new construction in Pointe Noire there are fewer new or newly renovated than dilapidated buildings around. A few years ago there was a new logging road built from Pointe Noire connecting to the main road between Dolisie and Kibangou. We headed out of town asking for the Dolisie road but soon realised that it had long ago virtually disappeared and that all traffic was now going along the new logging road. Dirt started immediately at the edge of town and the first 40 km was a dreadful mix of broken asphalt through to quite deep sand where we dropped the motorcycle once and Kay had to walk a few patches. Once onto the newly formed road the surface was generally firm but there looks to have been no maintenance since the road was constructed and the powdery surface had blown away to rocks and water ruts whereThe road narrows as it gets closer to the Gabon border we were only averaging 35 km/hr. The scenery was quite stunning through much rainforest and over hills and mountains, through small villages and with almost no traffic, and no services. After the mountains flattened out the road became better and finally reached the main N.S. road after 195 km at Milla Milla, 35 km south of Kibangou, and a good stretch of dirt. It took us eight hours for the 230 km with only a few short stops as we were uncertain of what lay ahead and hurried more than was necessary. An Auberge (small hotel) and petrol are in Kibangou and a bit of street food, again exhausted we rested into the evening.

8/8/06 We hadn't seen any loaded logging trucks yesterday but all along the road there were signs. A log here or there that had fallen off or whole loads dumped next to the road where a truck had been bogged in the wet season or broken down. Heading north out of town this morning the good road slowly became smaller and worse as the logging trucks turned off towards their forests leaving our road little more than a track with tall grass on either side and grass growing between the wheel tracks. At Nyanga, after 90 km, the immigration, police and customs stamped us to leaveThe vegetation changes but the roads remain the same, dirt. Congo and for the next 45 km to the border we saw no vehicles. The traffic here is so sporadic that the police used us as the postman and asked that we deliver a letter to the Gendarme at the border. The last tourists to pass this way were the couple we had met in Luanda, on their motorcycle, passing on the 18th of July, three weeks ago, according to the police record books. By the time we were out of Congo, two more stops for passport checks and stamps, we had eleven stamps and three signatures in our passports just to leave the country. There were no requests for money and although slow the procedure went smoothly.
     
 



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