zondag 15 april 2012

The road to Cameroun

We spend a week here for free!

After spending 3 weeks in Abuja, and  being looked after by Stefan and Dagmar (thanks again for everything, guys) the frame of Anita's car was welded realy proffesionally (here we have to thank Udo Strack, we owe you big time)
So now we could leave for the border of Cameroun, before our extended visa's ran out. That evening we found a nice place on the riverbank near Katsina, but the locals came and insisted we saw the village chief. That ment we had to pack up everything again, and reluctantly we followed them to the village on the main road. After getting the permission it was almost dark so we setteled for an improvised camp under the bridge where we were witness to a spectacular lightshow announcing the start of the rainy season.
 Next day we drove up to the border, first on perfect tarmac to Takum, then on potholled roads to Bissaula. Nigeria had been crossed without problems, except for  a few rather aggressive immigration officers holding us up for an hour or two, and the people were friendly, athough not all of them appreciated having their picture taken, or as they call it here 'make a snap'. Many times we heared them say 'did you snap me?' .

So that was Nigeria, but we sure expected to get to Cameroun a little easier. Our logic on where to cross into Cameroun was a bit faulty, which had us end up on the worst road between the 2 countries.

 We didn't want to take the infamous Ekok-Mamfe stretch (just type it in YouTube) although we were informed that it is easily passable now and soon the Chinese will finish it. We also had information on the moutain road via Gida, Beli, Mayo to Gemou which was good but ment a 200 km detour. So when we arrived in Takum, and the locals assured us the road was good (why do we every time believe that) to Bissaula and the border.

 Actualy the locals were right, up to border the road was nice, with a few water crossings and beautifull lush rain forest. It was the next day, just after we were stamped out of Nigeria, and still in no mans land, things got hairy. After a watercrossing and a steep rocky hill, that already had my heartrate up and had me sweating profusely, I decided to put all my luggage in the car. A little further came the real test, even without the heavy luggage I only made it halfway up the nasty steep and very bumpy hill. When a big rock slowed me down, I had to put the bike down, luckily just hurting my finger, but by then I was exhausted, and close to heat shock. It took me some time to catch my breath, all the time being harassed by the tiny flies (witch had the habbit to crawl only into my ears, the others had no problem).
The hill that beat me. Trust me, it is steeper than it looks here.

 When I tried to attack the same stretch, it went all wrong at the same place, the bike went to the ground, sending me flying down the hill. There Regis was in the right place to catch me in full flight, and we almost went down toghether, but we mannaged to stay on our feet, lucky escape. We then decided to get the cars up first, especially Regis' car, which had a winch, that could winch us up in the worst case scenario. With fear and amazement I watched the cars crawl up the hill, the diff lock on and the 4 wheels strugling to find grip on the loose rocks, all of them only just missing the stranded bike while rocks shot from under the wheels. When we had a break halfway up, eating some pineapple, three guys arrived on a moped (a moped in Africa carries 3 or more, yes) and they convinced us we had to get the bike up as soon as possible, because by now it had started raining, and the piste would get slicker by the minute. With combined effort, it took 6 guys and a towing rope, we pulled the bike up 30 meters. The last part up was just as difficult, but miraculously I stayed on the bike and 20 minutes later all the cars and the bike were on top.

Santa and his helpers

Sliding down

 A quick snap with our rescuers and then on to the descend, as daylight was fading and the skies looked menacing. This also soon turned out to be tricky, just as steep and more slippery as the other side, my two wheels where going in different  directions and as I picked up more speed I came close to having a crash several times. The others seemed to enjoy all of this, but I'm no thrillseeker, no adrenaline junky, I find it hard to enjoy myself when I fear for my life, and this was certainly the scariest thing I ever did! So after the cars slid down, some sliding into big rocks or ditches, we made it to a flat piece of road just before dark and spent the night right there, on the 'road'.
Next day rewarded us with an easy connection onto a good piste where we picked up some workers and gave them a lift to the border town police office of Ako. Some of us then  got into Cameroun without a valid visa, because the officer didn't bother to look at any of the visas and as the customs where not in the village, we also didn't bother with a 'laisser passez'. If it wasn't for the gnarly road, I would even recommend this border, realy easy.
Cameroun was all I hoped for, nicer and more developped than Nigeria, very friendly people and stunning landscapes. It was no coincidence then that our bushcamp that evening was the most special so far, under some eucaliptus trees, right next to a spiky hill, overlooking the whole valley.

The 'Fon' of Kungi

An 'actor' from the movie

 The villagers soon informed the chief that some strange people had landed, and a couple of hours later the 'Fon of Kungi' himself was standing on the hill. We promised to come to the palace the next day, where a whole ceremony with some fermented drink and cola nuts followed and it was made clear that a donation was expected. Kungi was such a nice place, and soon it was decided we would stay for a few days. Regis especially liked it as he got to play a role in a movie some guys where filming and even we were filmed having breakfast at our camp place. The next morning we saw the 'gorilla' the people said lived on the mountain. It turned out to be a baboon, but it made the whole experience even more special nevertheless. This place was just magic.

3 opmerkingen:

  1. Zalig,... Hevig avontuur en dan een paradijsje op aarde vinden. Life doesn't get any better than that! Mooie foto's bij! Je bent precies wat afgevallen Tony.
    En hahhahaha! Volgens google maps bestaat er helemaal geen weg waar jullie gereden hebben. :)

  2. Woohoo! wat een avontuur zeg. Ja, grensovergangen nemen die niet op de kaart staan, zijn daar wel een garantie voor! :-)

    'k vind ook direct dat ge precies een pak bent afgevallen.
    Leeft ge soms alleen van de liefde en het avontuur? :-)

    Inderdaad, magnifieke foto's bij.

    Moest mijne moto niet uit Calabar / Nigeria naar hier geraken, zit er niets anders op dan terug te vliegen en verder te rijden. Dan ga ik dat lost paradise met veel plezier ook is bekijken indien mogelijk. Maar dan wel via de Ekok-Mamfe stretch. Droog geeft die geen problemen.

    Doe zo voort, verken nog paden /grensovergangen die niet op de kaart staan. Real adventure. Zolang ge er verslag van kunt doen hebt ge ze overleefd. LOL!

  3. @ Tony's status: Slow is the best way to go