zondag 20 mei 2012

From Gabon to Congo

The convoy. Regis went ahead to DRC.
Bridge to Lambaréné

Lambaréné center

The Albert Sweitzer hospital, where we camped for free

On one of the many bushcamps..

..we enjoyed the sunset
Welcome in Congo

Everybody does what he can
Congo drivers
Lay it down gently

It will get even worse

Stunning Congolese landscapes

donderdag 10 mei 2012

Gabon - central Africa

After 5 months and 16000 km, I passed the border to Gabon. Again, most of us got through a country without insurance, a stamped carnet or laisser passer. One of our group even had a 3 month expired visa, and although there was no shortage of checkpoints, every time we bluffed our way through, showing plastificated copies or just our european insurance. Swithing subjects or language would also work when talking to police, as does listing all the countries you passed through to get there. After shaking their head in disbelieve, they would just wave you on.
Can't believe it took me 5 months to get here!

The first days in Gabon we finally crossed the equator while enjoying the perfect asfalt moutain road towards the turnof to Libreville. This road is a real bikers dream through dense rainforest following the big Ogooué river for the last 100 km.
the fast flowing Ogooué river
 Here me and Anita made a bushcamp near the river at a real idylic place, and as we checked out the dense bamboo we heard branches breaking followed by a very big splash in the water. We froze for an instant, as we both realised it could only have been a big crocodile, but we didn't see it, nor any other that evening.
 A bit later it began raining hard without warning, so we retreated in the car and the tent and later took a nice rain shower, all the time watching out for more crocs.

The last bit to Libreville was the usual african potholed asfalt and we found cheap accomodation at the 'Soeur Bleu' as we applied for the last visa's on our way down the west coast. The Congo 'Brazza' visa was no problem and also the DRC visa's seem to be handed out without trouble here in Libreville (40000 CFA for one month, one photo + application form). There is only one visa left and that is the Angola one, the embassy here assured us that at the border in Matadi (DRC) we will get the transit visa, but we know from other travellers that it is near impossible, as it is in Brazzzaville, Kinshasa or Dolisie.
'Soeur Bleu' in Libreville

We will have to see and hope for the best, as we go on this last and hardest bit of West Africa, the roads will sure get 'interesting' now in the rainy season and if Angola lets us in, we might be in 'western' Namibia pretty soon...

Relaxing in Cameroun

From Yaounde, we went on towards Kribi at the coast of Cameroun, a touristic city popular with the expats. We managed to find some cheap places, right on the beach, although the heavy cars got stuck a few times in the soft sand. It was good practice for the winch on Regis' car and the sandplates got used for the first time too.
Streetfood, eat for less than 1 euro

Camouflaged my bike
 Internet was a bit of a problem through Cameroun, and here in Kribe again it was very slow and you need to watch out to get a cyber café with a generator, or the mail you were typing for half an hour, is gone when the power cuts out (happened several times to one of us).
My problem was that I wanted to get some movie clips online, but after trying 7 times over several days, I only ever got as far as 3% upload, so I gave up and hoped for faster internet in Gabon.

Ebolowa was our last town in Cameroun and was reached along a reasonable piste from Kribi. Most of the pistes here are safe to drive, unless it just rained , and the red soil becomes a sticky and slippery mud road. But so far I got lucky and only on the ring road near Bamenda it got tricky with the bike. The road was so slippery, that on the hills the cars would come sliding down with all 4 wheels locked, unable to steer. (see video cameroun part 2).

I found Ebolowa to be a charming town with good food and for 2 days I enjoyed the luxury of hotel Sara, where for once, everything just worked as it should, plus it was realy clean and modern and good value at 10 euro.
The road to the border of Gabon

So after 3 weeks in Cameroun, we were sad to leave, as it is such a nice country. Most of the asfalt roads are good, there were bars and street food in the smalest villages and  the landscapes were amazing, but we needed to move on, always on the run for deadlines on our visa's.