Getting out of Congo was time consuming and very bureaucratic itís all part of the trip I know, but there is a lot of admin to cross Africa! We eventually rode onto the boat to cross the mighty Congo River. The boat left the dock and headed up river a way and rafted up to two other boats. When the vessels were secure we got underway once more, three boats chugging away at about one knot, it took us about an hour to get to the other side. When we arrived at Kinshasa there was a stampede as everyone fought to get back onto dry land. I changed some money on the black market and got stack of local cash, which filled a few different pockets.
Kinshasa, the capital of DRC is an interesting city, we went for a stroll and it wasnít long before we found ourselves on the terrace of bar, drinking beer and eating good but expensive European food. Along the main street there were a few shops and a supermarket, which catered for the wealthy and many people driving around in Mercedes and four by fours. This was yet another African country with large natural resources of which only a tiny, tiny percentage will ever benefit.
We walked down another street and found the UN building, which was protected by a barricade of razor wire and armored cars with huge machine guns on top. I wandered up for a closer look, then thought it best to move on. There is a huge UN presence here; most of the trouble is in the east of DRC fortunately we didnít have to go through these areas to pass through. We moved on the next day, twenty hours was long enough in this city. I didnít want to risk taking any photos, Kinshasa is a city not used to tourists!
We headed to Zongo falls, which were, immense and spectacular camped up on the riverbank at the top of the falls the whole place to ourselves. It was an amazing place, definitely worth the 50km ride down the rough track to get to it. That night there was a huge thunderstorm, which made it a wet and muddy ride back out again, although in this part of Africa this is becoming the norm.
We arrived in Matadi to obtain our visas for Angola this took the whole day and cost $80. I was asked dozens of obscure questions, the relevance of which I wasnít quite sure but by the end of the day I had my five, day transit visa for Angola. Five days is all you get to ride 1600 km not a problem in other parts of Africa but I think you would have to use the term road very loosely when in Angola.
Just as we were leaving the consulate the Angolan officials just happened to mention that the border was going to be closed for the next two days. We had about an hour to get back to where we were staying pack up, fuel up and get to the border. We managed to get to the border in time and get stamped out of DRC. Although when we arrived at the Angolan immigration point we were too late. Stuck in no mans land for the night! Then the border guards said we could sleep under the porch of the police station in Angola. Which had a beautiful view across the green hills and the River Congo. We met three South Africans heading the same way as us on KTM 640ís; we all agreed a beer would be good after our taxing day. Unfortunately there was no bar this side of the border, but the AK47 totting border guard let us sneak back into DRC so we could get a couple of drinks.
In the morning the Angolan border guards who had slept in the police station all night. Stamped our passports in, although they couldnít stamp them the previous night. They still put yesterdays date on the entry, so we lost a day on the visa now only four days to cross Angola. We hung around for another hour for the customs to stamp our carnets but they didnít show. So we ended up leaving without the stamp, hopefully it shouldnít be a problem at the other end.
Posted by Michael Beckett at January 29, 2008 05:24 PM GMT