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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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  #16  
Old 12 Mar 2008
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BTW, what's the latest on the ferry at Ilebo? Is it running?

What is the route to take betwen Ilebo and Kikwit?
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  #17  
Old 20 May 2008
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Right we made it. Drove all the way! Took us 45 days.
DRC is a pretty messed up country, that's for sure. Not really a prime tourist destination I can add ;-)

The good news is that we did not have any permits and you don't really need any. We did not pay any bribes whatsoever, but this was very hard work.

The bad news is that you can't really get trough without seriously damaging your car. Our bodywork is completely ruined (picture here: http://radiobaobab.be/assets/etogal/...tkasai2021.jpg ). You are better of on motorbikes. Quite a few stretches see no traffic at all. Most stretches see only bikes (pushbike, no petrol). Few trucks run in the interior. Most corrupt country we have ever been to as well. We never had so many problems just because we are whites...

But if you want to go to a place that even Coca-cola hasn't reached yet... the interior of DRC is you destination!

I've collected loads of information on roads, ferries, availibility of goods, etc... It will take some time to process it though. I will post it here if it is ready.
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  #18  
Old 21 May 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2cvfred View Post
Right we made it. Drove all the way! Took us 45 days.
DRC is a pretty messed up country, that's for sure. Not really a prime tourist destination I can add ;-)

The good news is that we did not have any permits and you don't really need any. We did not pay any bribes whatsoever, but this was very hard work.

The bad news is that you can't really get trough without seriously damaging your car. Our bodywork is completely ruined (picture here: http://radiobaobab.be/assets/etogal/...tkasai2021.jpg ). You are better of on motorbikes. Quite a few stretches see no traffic at all. Most stretches see only bikes (pushbike, no petrol). Few trucks run in the interior. Most corrupt country we have ever been to as well. We never had so many problems just because we are whites...

But if you want to go to a place that even Coca-cola hasn't reached yet... the interior of DRC is you destination!

I've collected loads of information on roads, ferries, availibility of goods, etc... It will take some time to process it though. I will post it here if it is ready.
I saw your pic of the damage on the SA lancdcruiser forum. How did it happen.
Up to date info will be very useful - we might venture into the unknown as well next year...

Good luck with fixing it (if you are going to try and have it fixed...)
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  #19  
Old 22 Sep 2008
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I’ve been researching this route from Kinshasa to Lubumbashi in case Angola visas cannot obtained when I get there in early 2009. 2cvfred, thanks for the posts, if you find the time to post more info either at HUBB or another site on roads, ferries, goods availability & etc. that would be great to check out.

Fred, one question on petrol availability. How far between petrol availability at the most?

I assume you carried lots of jerricans on the 4x4. With my Suzuki bike I can go 320 miles / 515 km between fueling. Some more if I carry a jerrican or two. Enough?

I found this backpacker’s report, sounds like he had his share of struggles getting thru as well. Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) » For Mom, Love Steve Anyone else come across any good Web reports?

Thanks all.
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  #20  
Old 25 Sep 2008
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I am going to attempt this route from Zambia to DRC as well in my Landy around Jan/Feb. Dates are pretty flexible. I'd like to know if anyone wants to come along. I've been going everywhere alone in my Landy, but that's one leg of the trip I wouldn't mind having a second vehicle along!

Pls email me on jpgaillard@gmail.com

I am also taker of any further detailed route info. I will try to post a proper summary of it once I have completed it here.
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  #21  
Old 25 Sep 2008
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Apologies for not posting back earlier. I really had the intention of writing up a detailed report on routes, roads, ferries, availibility of fuel, etc... I actually have all the data, I just need to process them.

But then came the end of our trip... rolled back into everyday live (yuk) and couldn't find the time. And to be honestly, we are still very impressed (in a not so good way) of what happened in Congo.
I hope to post it anytime soon though.

Anyway, to make a long story short: think twice about going trough Congo. Technical 4x4 driving in the midst of Africa is fun. Just don't forget you are in for at least a month of very hard moving, will you still think that is fun? Do you think tipping your car on its side is fun? You'd better, we had days were we tipped our car over more then 5 times. You get used to the sound of crunching bodywork though ;-)

There is NO spot in the middle where you can relax. You will be confronted with a lot of misery. You are bound to have problem with the people. Problem with the officials is guaranteed. Police/army/etc... are tricky people, they make the Nigerian police look like angles. Damage to a car is impossible to avoid. If you break down, you are in major trouble and you will have to choose between abandoning the car or forking out huge amounts of money to get the logistics aranged.

Trying to avoid rainy season could help ofcourse :-)

When travelling on a bike you will spend a lot of time looking for fuel. I'd say 500km would be the minimum range. There are a few towns where they normally have fuel. It is not unusual to be out of fuel for a few months though. Fuel will be very dirty and very expensive (>2 euro a liter).

Don't plan your range so much in kilometers, but rather in engine running time.
To give you an idea. About 30 days of our time in Congo, we had the engine running at least 12 hours a day(moving... sometimes).

Don't tell I didn't warn you! ;-)

If you still plan to go, feel free to contact me for more information.
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  #22  
Old 25 Sep 2008
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Thanks for the response.

I have actually spoken and exchanged emails with the French consulate in Lubumbashi. They claim that the Katanga part of the route (i.e. from Lubumbashi to Ditu Mwene is safe security wise and a good route).

Thereafter he claims the right route is NOT to go through Tchikapa as mentioned initially in the post here but keep going north and follow the railway line. I.e.:
Kanaga -> Mweka -> Ilebo -> Kikwit.
Once in Kikwit the drive to Kinshasa is easy.

cv2fred - could you let me know which stretch of the road you struggled most on re driving / damaging vehicle? if it was mostly on that southern stretch then that would put me at ease...

The other thing he sais is that going through the southern route (Tchikapa) is actually not smart because it gets you too close to diamond country and other nasty areas, and following the railway line is always the right way to go. I have to say that it seem to make sense to me.

anyone has any thoughts on that?
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  #23  
Old 25 Sep 2008
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Tchikapa is indeed a no-go. It is being used by truck drivers. But the ferry there can not take big loads. They usually unload and ship the cargo and the truck seperatly. Big queues, chaos, expensive. At least, that's what I was told. The stretch between Kananga and the ferry is infamous for it's mud.

We went via Ilebo. The road between Kananga and Ilebo is pretty damn bad. No traffic at all. The good thing is that a few ngo's are funding road-works there. No machines, all manual.

You will pass a truck that broke down. When asked how long they have been there they answered little over a year (!!). But they were positive as they just had news from Kinshasa the broken part was ordered in Germany. It would only take a few more months to get going again.

Between Kananga and Ilebo, and between Ilebo and Dibaya-Lubwe is the worst stretch. Most of the time it is not driveable. When a truck needs to pass, they hire a crew of villagers to dig out the road. They average 5km/day. If it wasn't too long ago a truck has passed, you are lucky and can pass as well. If not, you'll have to hire yourself a crew (As a reference: two landcruisers from the mobile company passed before us and they payed 400US$ for a 3 day job). Try to avoid paying at all times! It is fairly common for people to deliberatly destroy the roads so you would have to pay up to free them again.

There are only two ferries to be taken. Both do not have batteries! In Ilebo you might be able to arrange batteries, but the second ferry is in the middle of nowhere, no batteries to be found. They are 24volt, so make sure you have two batteries! We had 74ah starting batteries. That was not enough to start the second ferry. We eventually had to use our auxiliary batteries (115ah) to get the engine going. Our Landcruiser is 24 volt btw.

You need to supply your own diesel for the ferries. I think the Ilebo ferry requires 150liters of diesel (you can buy in Ilebo at about 1,5euro/liter). The second ferry only needed 25 (or 30?) but you wil lhave to bring it yourself.

Second ferry had a bad oil leak. Take some oil.
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  #24  
Old 25 Sep 2008
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I found these pictures quite interesting.
Panoramio - Photos by Thomas Tvergaard > Democratic Republic of Congo

None of them look particularly scary though... I think they went through in December (dry). as you point out, I'd not be keen to go through here if it is wet!!!
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  #25  
Old 25 Sep 2008
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Being wet is actually not all that much of a problem. Yes it will be a muddy, but that's why you have a 4x4. But the majority of the tracks are actually sandy, so no drama's.
The big problem is the erosion that a rainy season causes. It just makes huge gullies (sp?) right in the middle of tracks.
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