Months before our wedding, my then-future parents in law asked us where would we like to go on a honeymoon. I didn’t have to think for a blink – the answer was DR Congo. Well we had to go to Hawaii instead, t’was okay.
Now starting stage 3 of our African expedition. On Thursday we shall be reunited with our bikes that have spent 11 months in a makeshift shed we built on a parking lot in Libreville, Gabon. We’ll be heading to the Congo river basin in the footsteps of the apocalypse, on to the plains of Angola and hopefully hitting the deserts of Namibia in January.
This is stage 3 of a long journey that started when we hitchhiked to the southern edges of Morocco in 2002, me being 20 and my brother 27. The desert whispered: “Learn to ride a bike young friend and come back here“.
- Stage 1 – 2009: London – Spain – Morocco – Mauritania – Bamako, Mali.
- Stage 2 – 2015: Lagos, Nigeria – Yaounde, Cameroon – Libreville, Gabon
- Stage 3 – 2016: Libreville, Gabon – …
- Stage 4 – 201x: … – Capetown, South Africa
In January we built a shed and left our bikes with our new friend in Libreville. He doesn’t speak English and I speak French only when on the road – so I’ve called his wife a few times. She says our bikes are still there.
Haven’t had time to plan. Will see what happens, something will happen.
We’ve got a passanger this time. Kriss is joining us for the first week in Gabon. She doesn’t get her own bike, but we’re riding two up on Kotilda. Many of the roads in Gabon are like this – it was much easier to ride these fast not slow, not sure how it is going to work with a pillion rider.
Would love to check out the river life in Gabon, traditionally they were the lifeline of the country. Not many roads. I’m sure we’ll also get to the Luango park on the coast, famous for its hippos hanging on the ocean beach. Kriss will have to take the bus back before we reach Rep. Congo, a.k.a the French Congo a.k.a. Congo Brazzaville.
Judging by the visa process Rep Congo was the most modern, on par with Namibia. Then again – looking at the map, the whole country has 2 roads and one railway line, where 17,000 slaves died building it. Most of it is a massive swamp north of the Congo river.
Have no idea how to cross to DRC, a.k.a Zaire, a.k.a the Belgian Congo. The capital cities of the two Congos are just across the river, which is ca 4km wide at that point. More importantly, we don’t have DRC visas yet, need to get in Libreville or Brazza. This place is the home of Apocalypse Now, bloodiest civil wars, most corrupt governments and I am sure some very cool people.
Angola is equally a mystery – don’t know much about it yet. We’ve got a 5-day transit visa, which apparently can be extended once you’re in the country and come up with a story.
Eventually we’ll get to Namibia – the country of deserts and bush, completing the journey of climate zones from desert (Sahara) to savannah (Mali) to rainforest (Gabon/Congo) to desert (Namibia) again.
Weirdly there is nothing to prepare this time – no shipping or box building. The bikes are already there, together with our camping gear. We’re just taking some spare parts, oil filters. Even tires aren’t worn enough to need replacing.
Unfortunately, it looks like our climate-planning isn’t off to a good start. For the first week it will be thunderstorms with some relief of just heavy rain.