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 !