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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 11 Jan 2011
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Gabon-Congo border crossings

Dear travelers,

This is not strictly a biker-related question, as we're traveling on public transport, but bikers would have answers and the answers will be helpful to bikers.

We’re seeking information from anybody who has traveled overland from Gabon to Republic of Congo. We’re heading to Angola, and the next major stop from Gabon would preferably be Pointe-Noire. We’d like to avoid the Poole region for obvious reasons (the Ninja security situation).

We’re looking at three border crossings:

1. Ndende, Gabon, and onward to the nearby border at Doussala, and from there to Dolisie, where we’ll try to get the train to Pointe-Noire. Based on our limited information, this is the preferred option. The route is labeled a "national highway," but that means little. From one biker blog (Torstens Great Escape), we understand there’s a Catholic Mission in Doussala, but other information is thin on the ground. How much traffic is there on this route? What’s the likelihood of getting a lift or, in the worst case, hiring a car? Has anybody attempted this during the rainy season, and if so, in wet conditions, where does the road become passable again?

2. Mbinda. There’s an account of crossing here in the most recent Congo Bradt guide, and it sounds difficult, even by Congo standards. Any information would be helpful. That route links up with the "national highway" mentioned above, which then goes on to Dolisie.

3. Leconi, near Franceville. This route would have to go through Brazzaville and Kinshasa, which we’d like to avoid entirely – and if we’re to avoid Pool, we’d have to enter DRC in Brazza and therefore bypass Pointe-Noire.

We’re looking for information and advice on border issues, transport, food and accommodation options, hopefully from somebody with direct experience of these routes. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Scott and Roger WanderingSavage.com
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  #2  
Old 11 Jan 2011
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Hey Savages,

In regards to option #3 (Leconi, near Franceville), the road is passable by truck/bike. However, didn't see anything like public transport though, the road is fairly rough and it didn't look like there was much traffic between the countries at that border crossing so any transport would likely be hitching a ride. (The border crossing itself is one building and a gate on the Gabon side. On the Congo side you have to ride a number of kms in before you hit the first village and there is a customs hut there.)

Pretty easy travels on the Gabon side, you could get public transport to Franceville certainly. Beyond that, there are a couple of small villages prior to the border where the paved road ends so hitching/begging would probably work to that point. On the Congo side, there is about 100km of sandy/loamy road with sporadic villages. After that, another 100km of gravel road that they are working on so more traffic to hitch a ride. Probably the soft and deep sand/loam on the Congo side is one of the deterents to regular transport and as such you would have to rely on rides from any 4x4s or big trucks that are plying that route.

I would be of the opinion that if you are looking for regular pubic transport, probably not the direction you want to go. If you are willing to work your way along and negotiate rides and have the time to do so, then it's certainly doable. Brazza's not bad, Kinshasha is as advertised but riding across the river as foot passenger with all the traders would be a memorable adventure! Happy travels.
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Old 11 Jan 2011
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I used the Leconi crossing, near Franceville, in January 2010 on a motorbike: Apparently one foreigner every two weeks is using this border. No public transport, possible to go with “smugglers” transporting petrol to Congo. Talk to the manager of Lekoni Hotel at the entrance of town opposite petrol station, he has the right contacts. Very remote area, no traffic, very corrupt immigration on Congo side, but otherwise no problem in this country.
Have a safe trip
Albert
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  #4  
Old 12 Jan 2011
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Ndende - Doussala

We did this crossing at Ndende (4x4), albeit 4 years ago! Then it was very easy, actually quite friendly both Gabon and Congo side, no corruption at all apart from the Bic, which was funny because we complained that we were down to our last pen and then the guy gave us his pen!! Brilliant.

Bring copies of your passports though because one unforgetable remark of the Gabon custom officer was; if you get killed in Congo then we can proof you exited Gabon.


The Congo side is major wood logging area, many big trucks on major gravel roads but in the rainy season it can get blocked with bogged trucks. Point Noire was nice. Have a look at

YouTube - Crossing Africa full version part 5

for some video footage on roads in south part of Gabon and north of Congo. Would love to do that part again some day.

Cheers,

Noel

PS; we did not get killed entirely.

Last edited by noel di pietro; 13 Jan 2011 at 09:36.
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Old 25 Jan 2011
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I also used the Ndende-Doussala crossing in June 2010. No problems, friendly officials but was forced to sleep over in Nyanga (Congo) because I got there at sunset (even confiscated my passport to make sure I would not travel at night!). Lots of logging trucks on the road south to Dolisie, LOTS of powdery dust. From Dolisie to Pointe Noire will be a highway once the Chinese are done with it but at the time it was still a lot of fun on the motorbike. There's convoy of 18-wheelers doing that route apparently quite regularly. If you can't pay for a seat inside the cab, make sure you sit on the one right in front - if it's dry season the dust will kill you otherwise.

In Pointe Noire there's an ex boarding school building now turned into Youth Hostel-type place and it's one block away from the Angolan Embassy/Consulate. it was very clean, cheap by Pointe Noire standards and they had decent internet. Sorry, can't find the name - ask for that embassy.
Crossing into Cabinda was easy but leaving for the DRC from Cabinda was not possible on Sunday - the chief had gone to Muanda (Congo) for the day - sounded like that was normal.

Have fun!
Kobus
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Old 9 Feb 2011
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Franceville option

Hi

we did Gabon to Congo via Franceville / Leckoni and onto Brazza in a 4x4.

Things to consider on this route:
  1. There is some traffic - we did meet 2 people from Finland in Brazza who came on "public" transport - was a "taxi" of sorts. Best to ask around in Franceville.
  2. Franceville is a pretty sorted place and appears to be out of place considering the drive you on to get there but there is plenty going on and it would not be too hard from what the Fins said to get a lift
  3. We encountered no problems at all on the route - border exit / entry at Lekoni is easy and drive to Brazza was fine
  4. Road into Congo is sandy (100 miles) but is being tarred by a massive Chinese gang of workers so expect it to get easier
  5. would avoid this option in wet season!!
  6. We posted some footage of the Cameroon to Congo leg on our U Tube site - it was pretty dry when we did it.
  7. Cannot comment on other routes. Its also possible to avoid Brazza / Kin ferry by taking the Pioka or Luozi ferries - public transport to and from this is unknown but would be fare cheaper than the main ferry.
  8. Recommend getting DRC visa in Brazza - same day issue and was approx 30,000 CFA each.... also avoid trying to get Angola visa at Matadi - its $100 each - we got ours in Abuja.
HTH

Nick
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