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sub-Saharan Africa Topics specific to sub-Saharan Africa. (Includes all countries South of 17 degrees latitude)
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  #1  
Old 12 Aug 2010
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Is the Brazzaville-Kinshasa ferry operating again?

Hello fellow overlanders! A Swiss team (Afrika erfahren) reported in mid-July this year that the Brazzaville-Kinshasa ferry had broken down, with no date known when it would resume service. Unwilling to cough up the cash for a barge (180000 FCFA if I remember well), they were forced to divert to Pointe Noire and cross Cabinda.

If anyone has any more information on this subject, I would appreciate feedback.

Safe travels

GeorgesSnailTrails - Posts

Last edited by gternes; 12 Aug 2010 at 18:09. Reason: Original post didn't show correctly
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  #2  
Old 13 Aug 2010
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In February there were several ferry boats doing the trip each day

Have a safe trip
Albert
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  #3  
Old 13 Aug 2010
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Hey Georges,

Hadn't heard that it was down, having seen the condititon of it in May or June, doesn't surprise me though

It is a very well used crossing so the privateers would have stepped in immediately to offer their services at negotiable and exorbinant prices. You wouldn't expect the ferry to be out of service for too long but in the DRC they have their own concept of what constitutes a long time.

If you don't get a answer back from someone here that has crossed recently, I'd try to contact one of the common travellers stops such as the Hippocamp in Brazza or perhaps the Catholic Mission in Kinsasha who see people coming/going across weekly and would have up to date info.

Safe travels.
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  #4  
Old 14 Aug 2010
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Contacting Hippo Camp for info is a good idea.

Here is there e-mail address: hotresthippocampe@yahoo.fr

Albert
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  #5  
Old 14 Aug 2010
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It was still down last week (early August 2010) and they had no idea when it would run again.

A German couple I met at Hippocampe was quoted 300000 for a barge for their Landcruiser, they were told this included the Kinshasa side, but you know how it goes...

I was told a bike could cross on one of the smaller boats for around 20000.

In the end I decided to join two young Germans in a Nissan van and take the route via Pointe Noire, Cabinda and Songolo. But just so everybody knows, Brazza-Dolisie is hell, deep dust with hard packed ruts and rocks underneath. On the fourth day the dust killed my friends' engine. In the rainy season the piste is going to be much worse. But there are no more Ninja Rebels on the route, only a couple of police checkpoints, villages all fly the Congolese flag. French expats who do security in the area told us though, that north of the Brazza-Dolisie RN1, in Ninja-heartland, there had been two armed attacks on foreigners last week alone.

On a more positive note: the Angola embassy in Abuja issue 5 day double entry visas, so you can go through Cabinda.

Julian
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Last edited by eljulian; 14 Aug 2010 at 14:27. Reason: typo
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  #6  
Old 15 Aug 2010
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Thanks for these helpful answers. As we're coming down through Cameroon, not Nigeria, we won't be able to go to the consulate in Abuja and will have to figure something out to get the transit visa in Yaoundé, Libreville or later.

Needless to say, I'll report back on the route we took, in due time!

Georges
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  #7  
Old 15 Aug 2010
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kinshasa ferry, my 2 cents worth

we were there in April and the ferry was down at the time. unfortunately we were on the last day of our visa so were desperate.

we were 'befriended' by a guy to our detriment, because he wanted US300 for two bikes and 2 people, and after he had spent 5 minutes with us no one else would deal with us so we were stuck with it.

if you need to negotiate a rate, make sure you do it INDEPENDENTLY, refuse any and all help from locals, get a price from a ticket office, or from a boat operator.

The ferry tickets at the time should have been US25 for the bike, and the same for a passenger.

You should be able to hire a small boat for a similar price.

cheers,

Dean.
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  #8  
Old 16 Aug 2010
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Angola visa

For the Angolan visa we didn't try Yaounde but managed to get it (June 2010) in Kinshasa. We were outright refused at the embassy in Libreville and also Brazza. For the Kinshasa application we needed letters from our embassies. Good luck!
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  #9  
Old 25 Aug 2010
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It works most of the time - there are actually different ferries - some for passengers and some for cars (twice a day for cars I think).

I was there when it wasn't working but it was fixed a few days later. Money is being lost when it is not working so it normally only takes a few days to get fixed.

If your on a bike you should be able to get on the passenger ferry. The port people are all fairly nice as in Congo Brazza in general.
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  #10  
Old 7 Sep 2010
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After a few days of finding our bearings in Brazzaville and checking out the ferry situation, here's the deal: the regular large roll-on ferry (called "bac" here) is out with no idea as to a resumption of service. Private barges are now transporting anything and everything across, in a typically chaotic and unscheduled fashion that was fun to observe for an afternoon.

I suppose it must be possible to manhandle a motorbike onto one of the barges, or even one of the smaller crafts, there's plenty of guys around hauling stuff from the quay over several barges to the one that's planning to leave sometime soon... For an overland truck, it's something else: they need to be lifted with a crane, the barge needs to be positioned, etc. This all makes the crossing a prohibitively expensive proposition (500.000.- CFA), so we dropped it and will now attempt the Cabinda route to Matadi.
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  #11  
Old 26 Sep 2010
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Hi,

I just crossed yesterday with a bike (sept 25). The official ferry that is running is actually 3 ferries roped together and it will not carry cars/trucks. The ferry doesn't have room and on the Brazzaville side there are 3/4 stairs you have to climb to get to the ramp. Unofficial ferries are taking cars/trucks, but I don't know any details about them.

Here's the basics...

-Normal mob scene when I arrived. Stupid prices thrown about, etc, etc.
-Ended up using a guy just so the others would leave me alone, but he wouldn't negotiate price in advance.
-Got me through customs and immigration very quickly.
-Tried to change the cost on my 'ticket' (scrap of paper from ticket counter) from 38,000F to 138,000F (~40USD to 150USD). When I caught him and asked the cashier she screamed at him. I paid 38,000F.
-Rode the bike onto the ferry, though people were yelling at me and each other the whole time. One would get in my way and try to stop me and then another would pull him away, etc, etc. The fixer kept trying to stop me to talk about his fee, but I just kept riding down the ramp.
-On the ferry the fixer started to ask for stupid amounts of money. I gave him all my remain CF and Angolan Kwanza (~$10USD) and told him that next time if he treated people honestly he might do better. My bike was on the ferry and it was leaving, so he just cursed at me and left.
-On the Brazzaville side there are 3/4 tall steps to get to the ramp and I needed help. There were some decent guys on the boat I had been talking to (joys of speaking good french) and we worked out a decent deal- 2 guys to lift the bike at $2USD a person, and then $5USD to 2 guys who arranged it, helped lift the bike, and also did the whole immigration/customs dance for me (including visa!).
-Everything worked fine and they never tried for more cash.

So, for me and a bike:
ticket ~$42USD
Kinshasa fixer ~$10USD (luck)
Brazzaville help $14USD
Congo-Brazzaville visa $50USD
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  #12  
Old 19 Oct 2010
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Thumbs up Update!!

Ok guys, here's the latest from Brazza, and I'm sure bringing good news. There is no need to endure the horrors of either the Luozi or Point Noire route, for both bikes and cars, even though the main ferry is still down. I just helped a fellow overlander on his crossing by car (big Landrover) and got through it without too much of a hassle (or barely any at all, really).

Here's the deal: there is another ferry operating right now, which is, like I said, mostly hassle free on this side of the river. They've got three boats in dock, one of which goes to the other side everyday, except on Sundays, at 10 o'clock. No need showing up before 8 (they actually told me to show up at 8.30 when I'm crossing at the end of the week) as there will probably not be any other vehicles crossing and the paperwork is done quickly.

We were charged coming into the port (11.000 fCFA), which seemed to be legit (supposedly other travellers thought it wasn't, only to find themselves stopped by proper police on their way out - there actually is a port charge). We hitched up witch a fixer (or 'protocol') there, who showed up exactly where to go and when. You guys travelling on four wheels are screwed a bit, because they have to take the boat out to the other side of the port, where you can roll your truck on board. The ferry costs fCFA 75.000 for driver + car, and being the only car, moving the boat to get the vehicle on board is another 20.000. And that's ALL. No hidden charges there. So it'll be somewhat expensive (adding up to 106.000 fCFA), but I'm sure it'll beat the hassle of a Cabinda visa.

Now, I got some conflicting stories on bikes, but one thing's for sure: we're lucky here. We don't pay the 20.000, as we can get the bike on board where the boats are docked. The quotings I got for the ferry ranged between about 10.000 and 25.000 fCFA, everything included. So.. it'll be a fair price. I'll post on that when I've actually crossed next week.

Then a final note on paperwork; both the guy in the 4x4 and I actually got our Carnet stamped coming into Brazzaville (customs guy probably just trying to make a buck by attempting to charge us -in vain- for the stamp) - side note: he just stamped the top section, and didn't fill in or take out the slip . Customs at the port basically called this guy a bloody idiot, wrote over his stamps and made the carnet in order again. Again no hassle, just sympathy. So, try not to get your Carnet stamped coming into Brazza, and if you do anyway, don't worry.

Ok, for you guys coming down here: enjoy Brazza (it's a really pleasant city) and good travels!

Mike

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