Angola part 2

Recorded on January 29th, 2015

Seeing a local Angolan stagger into camp early one morning, totally dehydrated and delusioned, as he just stood on the beach staring unable to comprehend. He had walked 40-45kms overnight, of an 80km journey. This just highlights the heat in southern Angola, where temperatures don’t drop from high 30’s , until 3am. Rehydrated, medically by a local lodge, he continued his walk, 2 hours later. Tough or what !

Up the coast to Baia das Pipas, described in most articles as a beach haven. Well I thought it was a fly ridden construction site, stinking of sewage, so disappointed, headed back to Lubango.

*Moffies on tour

Staying for a paltry sum on a Namibian farmers property, I met a group of South Africans, being guided by Simon Wearne.

They claimed to be Afrikaaner South Africans, but I have serious doubts.

  • 1.Not one person sporting Khaki, of any sorts.
  • 2.No Klipdrift and coke in sight.
  • 3.Asked to use my inverter in the morning….for their hair straighteners.
  • 4.Wore shoes, and had clothes on coat hangars, in their chipped bakkies.

Eugene Terblanche is still spinning in his grave.

Hope Dood Akkers (Death Acres, beach driving south Angola) was great lads. See you at Toit’s later in the year.

Down to the Namibian border after almost 4 weeks in Angola, was a suprisingly easy drive, with the main road and then the side roads, littered with burnt out armoured cars, testament to the 27 year civil war, that only finished in 2002.

Quick crossing, in 46.8c, temperature, was gratefully appreciated, and somehow I felt disheartened, as Angola, despite being very difficult to get a visa for, was definitely one of the main highlights to date. Aside from being expensive, and lacking in any tourism structure, it hopefully will realise its potential in the coming years.

Angola…..part 1

Recorded on January 12th, 2015

What a transition, from the awful roads in the DRC, to state of the art ones in Angola, with little, or no traffic.

After a few days, bush camping, I managed to find the most beautiful remote beaches, south of Nzeto (a north-western urine stinking town, in total decay). Camping a few hours south, in total isolation, apart from encountering two Marine rangers, on day 6.

There’s nothing more pleasurable, than waking up to flocks of pelicans, doing an early morning fly-by, sauntering down to the gorgeous beach, to see hundreds of turtles, feeding off the rocks. Paradise !

Crabs galore, on the vast beaches, which proved to be Laica’s utopia. Chasing, but not catching them, gave her hours of endless fun.

Photos cannot describe the beauty of a desolate coastline, teeming, with birds and marine life…and no human beings. This is in stark contrast to West and Central Africa, where the majority of beaches have become villages, or alternatively rubbish dumps. What a shame, but they definitely lack the vastness of Southern Africa, where the landscape welcomes you with open arms.

The Kitabanga Turtle project, unbeknown to me, was but a few km’s away, and fortunately had created a track, which I’d initially used, to find my camping site.Great to see wildlife and marine conservancies being given the correct exposure, in preparation of tourism.Six out of seven varieties of sea turtles located around the world are endangered. Five of those types are found in Angolan waters and at least three are laying their eggs along its southern Atlantic coastline. See link

Running out of food and water on day six, saw me head down to Luanda. Driving through 10 km’s of slums, before dropping down to the famous esplanade…what a contrast. One star to five star, in 2km’s. A beautiful esplanade, which would not be out of place in Monaco, with pricing at a similar, or higher level. 13 years on, after the 27 year civil war, is seeing massive investment, by internationals, in Luanda, yet the slums, without basic services, are the most dominating feature.

Hopefully the regeneration, will touch the 70 percent of the nation, who still live below the Usd 2 per day threshold. Ueducated and unskilled, they will never be employed in the mineral sector, and tourism will be their only escape from abject poverty. I do hope the Angolan government realise that they should not just reap the benefits from natural resources, but create an industry with longevity, which will boost the economy overnight, in this wonderful country.

After a day in Luanda, I drove down the coast, looking for suitable camping spots, but was advised against it. 3 hours south of Luanda, hotels on the coast (there being no others), were asking Usd 230-300 per night, for 2-3 star accomodation. Porto Amboim, provided a nice, more cost effective stopover, before heading down the coast, and inland to Lubango.

Tundavalla Gap, some 17 km’s from Lubango has the most incredible views, and the Leba pass, enroute to Namibe, dropping from over 2200 m to 900m , surely has to be one of the spectacular drives in southern Africa.

Lubango, is a wonderful colonial styled city, and certainly does not seem to be as adversely affected by the civil war, as other regions of Angola.

After some rest and repairs, it was off to the coast, south of Namibe. Stark desolate landscape, rolling into the Atlantic. Stunning !

Dolphins, jackals, seals and even a juvenile peregrine falcon, visited the first formal campsite that Ive stayed in since Senegal. So great to have all the facilities on tap, Wi-fi, hot water shower, toilets (not long drops), along with two very interesting Rhodes University scholars.

Every moment was savoured, as its back to the bush again.

Brazzaville to Angola

Recorded on January 10th, 2015

ROC, DRC and into Angola.

After a good rest, and much needed Landy maintenance, it was off onto part 4 of the piste du horreurs, in heavy rain. The first 120kms to Boko, from Brazzaville, was bliss, on pretty good tarmac, albeit with pot-holes on the latter stages.

Then the toughest mud roads I’d ever seen, started with no warning whatsoever. The track/road to a small remote DRC border. 25 km’s, of hell followed.

3-4ft deep mud tracks, circling the very mountainous region. The base is mainly rock, covered by slippery mud, with the road heavily cambered to assist the drainage. Not ideal for driving on, as the track slants to the base of the mountains.

Sheer panic set in, 10km’s into the section, when trying to cross a small bridge, approx. 3 metres wide and 20 metres long, with a 50-75m drop into a fast flowing river. After attempting to cross, in low range, low speed, 3 times, and failing, there was only one option, to do it at speed.

Realising that only a 30cm mud hidden lintel, separated me from terra firma, and the aqua, I floored it, and managed to cross, sideways, bouncing off the lintels.

It is without a doubt, the most terrifying, yet exhilarating 30 seconds of my trip. Bloody hell, we made it!

Stalled Landy, waited for my hyper ventilating to subside, and then continued on what now seemed good roads, but were exactly the same, as pre-bridge. How your opinion changes, when confronted with the most incredible challenging track so far. Previous tough roads have been long, arduous and physically tiring. This was just like a roller-coaster in the mud. Terrifying, but afterwards, it’s exhilarating beyond belief.

All handbooks, forums, say ‘should not be attempted in rainy season’. Well it was rainy season, and had poured for 3 days, but there was no alternative.

Completing the first 25 km’s, I came across a locked boom, blocking the much better graded road. After locating a sleeping villager, he started screaming that the route to Boko had been closed for a month, and in his words was’ treacherous’. When I had finished explaining that I’d just arrived from Boko, I received a loud ‘Eish’, and the boom was promptly opened. The Republic of Congo border is quite hilarious. It is a shack, full of paralytic officials, 1km past a stone marker, advising you that you’re now departing the Belgium Congo.

No-man’s land, as with most borders is horrendous, with 5km of pure mountainous rock to cross. On arriving at 1 pm, at the DRC, boom/border, I eventually located the officials, (immigration and police, one of each, inebriated), 1 km away, in a small village. They totally stripped searched the Landy, which took 1.5 hours, then declared, that tourists weren’t allowed through the border, without prior permission. BS!

This equates to a bribe, which I have yet to pay, and will try to avoid, throughout my trip. The kind gentlemen, then retreated to the village, only to return at dusk, once we’d eaten and rested, in an incredible mountainous spot, with amazing views. The rest was most welcomed, but I was aware that I still had 68 km’s to get to Luozi, where I would cross the Congo river the following morning, should the 1950’s, barge/ferry be working.

5 hours later, I entered Luozi, after a taxing, tiring drive in darkness, constantly having to brake, for 2m wide, 2m deep drainage culverts, crossing the road, every 2km’s, without any warnings.

Locals directed me to the Catholic mission, where I spent the night, in a basic, clean and most welcomed room. James, a regional health manager, was absolutely fantastic, getting me drinks at 11 pm, and then taking me around the village the following morning organising a ferry ticket, currency exchange, and immigration formalities, as this had not been done by the corrupt officials at the border. A massive ‘Thank you’, James.’

The following morning the 8.30am ferry left at 10.30am, Africa is in no rush, but neither was I , as you have to wade the vehicle 20 metres into the river, before hitting the embarkation/disembarkation ramps. These ramps are then raised about 1 m above the water. No safety chains, then you plod across the fast flowing Congo River. Fantastic experience, and thank god I chocked the wheels, as the other vehicle a 1960’s Bedford truck, was catapulted into the river, upon arrival. I presume this was standard disembarkation, as the driver seemed well prepared.

Onto DRC border at Luvo, on much improved gravel roads. The DRC border resembles a massive beer-hall, and the officials seemed to have been quenching their thirsts, since early morning, but were very polite, and after a beer, didn’t even bother looking at any documents, but wished me a great trip.

Entering Angola, at Luvo was worlds apart. Polite, well dressed, officials welcomed me in air conditioned state of the art offices, and could not have been more hospitable.

Amazing what a few diamonds and oil rigs can do. Cold coke, provided by the Immigration department, then off onto brand new Chinese tarred roads. Heaven !