CONGO 11.04.11 - 21.04.11
the fun begins right after the border
We’re parking the bike right in front of the wooden barrier, which is apparently the border of Congo. No signs, no banners, no sign. Nobody is around. We have to have a look around the village in order to find the officials. We find the immigration guy chewing on a piece of chicken and flushing it down with a bottle of beer among other villagers. Slowly he gives up the piece of meat, wipes his hands on his jogging pants and shows us to follow him to his office. During the inspection of our passports he develops great interest in our money bags. Partly pretending to check up on our visas he’d squint in the direction of the neck pouch asking what is in there. I quickly get the point and try to avoid showing my purse. Well, we have a camera and here are the batteries. Oh yeah, a ball pen! Not getting any further with us stupid tourists he now needs to be more precise: “You need to give me some money” he’d demand! As I’m offering him my nicest smile asking him why we would have to pay a stamp fee, he just passes the passports to us wishing us a safe ride…
After three more stations at the border including Police, Customs and Gendarmerie we’re free to go.
sticky mud as far as one can see
The first 25km are hell! Mud, water, deep ruts, sand and some more mud. After 1 hour we’ve moved 12km and fell for the first time. Jane comes off quite unlucky hurting her back bone badly. For the next few days she hardly can get on the bike again.
Sometimes we can find a walking path beside the Route Nationale and so are able to avoid plowing through the mud but mostly the paths are just too narrow for our bike.
It takes all day to reach Nyanga, only 95km from the border! By now our passports show 4 Congo stamps, some of them seriously big. At every road block the guys are eager to stamp more. There are another 600km to go to Brazzaville and we’re seriously worried about our empty pages in the passports.
even without the front fender the wheel is still blocking
The young priest at the Catholic Mission offers us a room for the night but then quickly disappears. Together with some 3 girls they’d drink cheap mass wine till late.
Through the priests description the track ahead of us appears to us like a highway, even though the rains just stopped in the morning. We should have known better. Within few hundred meters the bike’s front fender plugs up with sticky mud forcing me to remove it completely. From now on all the mud somehow finds its way through the fairings straight onto my face. Not a very pleasant experience.
It takes 7 hours for us to ride the 90km between Nyanga and Kibangou – an average of 13km per hour! Completely exhausted, starving and covered in mud we finally reach Kibangou and its Catholic Mission. The priest is not around but some other guy is showing us the place. Quickly dropping our muddy riding gear we head for the one and only eatery in town. There is no such thing as a menu here but we can grab the last 3 pieces of chicken of the dirty wooden board. The shack is about 3 by 3 meters in size; its walls are only 1 meter high, the upper part is fashionable made of see through curtains. The chicken and goats are fighting for the leftovers as we’re chewing on the bony pieces with such a satisfaction. Someone points out the priest for us sitting in the neighboring bar killing his massive thirst with local men. We’re about to find out that there is never lack of beer in the Congo!
jane with a group of kids close to nkayi
Next day we’re reaching Dolisie at the breathtaking average speed of 20km per hour, means 5 hours for 100km. The track is not much different from the former but, at least, it wasn’t raining for 1 night and the upper layer dried out in places.
The track is following a valley. To both sides bare, deforested hills as far as one can see.
Congo is selling its rain forest to the Malaysians, Indonesians and Chinese. Foreign registered trucks with the precious load are heading for Pointe Noire all day and night. Very soon there will be no more rain forest in the Congo and all due to the steady demand for hardwood in the western countries.
gazelle for dinner
bike in the living room in loutete
many trucks are stuck for days
this truck wont come out on its own
We must be the only ones who still didn’t manage to get the Angolan visa. Others had enough time to wait for it in Abuja or sent their passports to their respective home countries. The plan is to try it in Pointe Noire and hope that the lack of applicants makes it easier for us to receive it. Some 90% of all overlanders are taking another route due to their worries about the long gone “ninjas”, contra government rebels.
It turns out that there is no need for us to ride to Pointe Noire. At the breakfast we’re about to find out that even here in Dolisie there is an Angolan Consulate! Angolan visa is very difficult to get and you just don’t turn up at the Consulate and fill up the application forms. No, you’d need to be well prepared! After several rehearsals we’re ready for the Lady Consul. My line is not to ask for the visa directly but get them rather interested in our RTW trip first. Slowly I unfold the battered world map showing the thin marker line of the past 3 years of riding around the globe. Some details follow as up how many countries we traveled through and how many miles we’ve done. My index finger is following the blue line down to Dolisie while I’m explaining our aim to reach Cape Town by road. Its kind of strikes the Consul and the Officer in charge that we’d need the Angolan visa to be able to reach our goal!!!
The Lady Consul stands back and asks “how many days would you need in Angola, are 10 OK?” Wow, this exceeds my expectations. Still, the visa would be valid from the issuing date on and we’d waste precious time crossing the DRC. This is something she understands and agrees on 15 days. I’d rather get a double entry visa, so we could skip the Route Nationale to Brazzaville and ride the brand new blacktop towards Pointe Noire and then straight to Matadi but “double entry = double price” according to the Consul.
Let’s ride the Route Nationale then, after all it can’t be too bad!
not the best road conditions
should have checked the deep of that one
me with the little "bandits"
must be the 6th time this day
jane after 12hrs and 80kms
no fear to beer
the last 25km before asphalt in kinkala
loading the bike in brazzaville
on the boat to kinshasa
Posted by Darius Skrzypiec at 12:53 PM
DRC (former ZAIRE) 21.04.11 - 28.04.11
no space for the passenger
liboke: fish stewed in maniok leaves
our camp at the protestant mission in kinshasa
planning the trip
Posted by Darius Skrzypiec at 04:37 PM