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Author Topic: To the Lungs of the Earth  (Read 18205 times)

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Offline nicolasbahm

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Re: To the Lungs of the Earth
« Reply #100 on: March 12, 2020, 04:51:20 pm »
When is the next episode due? Iím looking forward to it!
 

Offline Berden

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Re: To the Lungs of the Earth
« Reply #101 on: March 12, 2020, 08:26:39 pm »
also looking forward to it !
 

Offline NiteOwl

Re: To the Lungs of the Earth
« Reply #102 on: March 14, 2020, 01:32:40 pm »
My apologies for the slow updates- perhaps I should blame it on the corona virus, but in truth life has moved on and I am trying to set up a small business in the only part of the economy with good growth prospects ;).

The next post is imminent.
Do it before you die!
 

Offline NiteOwl

From Congo to Congo
« Reply #103 on: March 14, 2020, 03:09:50 pm »
There used to be three Congos during the colonial era:
The Belgian Congo (formerly Zaire and now called the DRC, which we are leaving), the French Congo (now called the Congo Republic, which we are entering) and the Portuguese Congo (now called Cabinda, an exclave of Angola- more on that later).


*****

The next morning is a Monday, and patients start queuing up on the pavement outside from six oíclock while we get dressed and pack our tent and damp sleeping bags. Over breakfast we discuss tactics, as there is no doubt that significant bribes will be demanded to exit this warren of bureaucracy. After agreeing on the maximum amount of dollars we are willing to part with, we divide the notes between ourselves in order display as little of the potential booty as possible.



On the way out, we make a short detour past the South African embassy. Itís rather unassuming on the outside and still securely locked (diplomatic hours mustnít be too taxing) but on the opposite pavement the street vendors are in full swing.
 


The port office is not yet open for business by the time we get there, but a friendly policeman, who introduces himself as Matthieu, assures us that it will be plain sailing as soon as Mr Hofman arrives. We get regaled with most of his life story as we wait.



The great man duly arrives and ushers us into his office. Heís in plainclothes (like most officials here), speaks good English and gets straight to the point: ferrying passengers with motorcycles is a complex business that he can organise on a canot rapide (local ďspeedboatĒ) which will cost $300. Just for calibration, that's more than a flight to Cape Town from Pretoria. For two people.

We insist that we donít need a private speedboat and were hoping to catch a ride on one of the regular boats for much less.

He wants to know how much we would like to pay for the ferry trip across the Congo river, and ďAs little as possibleĒ makes little impression on this icon of officialdom. Heís seen it all before and insists on a number. $100, perhaps? After some toing and froing we agree on a price and he sets off with our passports after pocketing the greenbacks.

We are guided through a gate and then another one, close to the edge of the river, and are told to wait. Hoffman returns after a quarter of an hour, introducing us to our captain. After another fifteen minutes heís back: thereís a problem. The ferry captains is not keen due to the complexity of taking two bikes across the water. I remind him of his status at the port and express our full confidence in his ability to organise our transit.

An hour later, heís managed to negotiate a solution, but we must go on one boat and the bikes will go on another. This sounds like a scenario where we will never see our bikes again and I suggest he tries harder. Another hour and he has a better solution: we must each go with one bike, on separate boats. It makes little sense, but at least this is acceptable, so I prepare to ride my bike down to the jetty.



A phalanx of porters appear and start grabbing parts of the bike, to carry it down. This will cost more dollars Ė they want $10 per bike, so I try to ride up the stairs to the ramp. Halfway up and Iím stuck, so I start to remove the luggage. More negotiations follow and the price drops to 5000 Congolese Francs. Ten jobs are created on the spot as the bike gets carted off.



Soon enough both bikes and our luggage are on the jetty, and I produce yesterdayís rejected CF 5000 bill to pay the porters.



A near riot erupts and once again the offensive note is rejected. Grudgingly, I part with my last dollars and everyone is happy. We get told to wait back on the parking lot until a boat is ready to take us, and wait in the sun, keeping an eye on our kit down by the river.

A ferry arrives from the other side with no less than FOUR big bikes on the deck Ė so whereís the problem? A stud in shorts and flip-flops bravely rides his GS1200 up the ramp and gets stuck on the opposite side of the stairs, which are pretty steep. More business for the porters!



With loud revving the four bikes, including two superbikes, are parked near us while the paperwork gets sorted. Theyíre going to tour the DRC, (havenít seen many roads for that around here) and donít carry much luggage.

Just before noon Hofman returns with Mrs Owlís passport and ticket (note the price!), and tells her to embark. Iím not allowed to go down to the jetty again, so that my wife is forced to pay more portage to get BOTH bikes and all our luggage onto the boat. I'm quite disgusted by Hofman's tactics.



Half an hour later the boat returns, and itís my turn to depart the DRC. Since we paid so little (!) we are second-class passengers, which means you ride on the rear deck of the boat without a life-jacket (unlike the first class, seated under a roof).



As the boat is about to set off, Hofman and the reticent captain appear. He suggests a small cadeau for all his and the captainís efforts! I mention that we had already rewarded him rather handsomely, and can honestly say that I am fresh out of cash, when I remember the infamous CF5000 notes . They certainly will not be of any use outside the DRC and, by the look on their faces, not much use in the DRC either. It feels good to get out of this Congo. There's a cargo port alongside the ferry port, but it is bereft of any signs of activitty.



Apart from the canots rapide plying these waters, many locals use wooden boats. They look equally speedy.



At the ferry point, the Congo river is nearly 3 km wide and some 150 m deep. It takes about 15 minutes to reach the port in Brazzaville, capital of the Congo Republic.

More porters and runners pounce on the foreigners disembarking, offering to carry, guide, helpÖ by now Iím quite fed up with this fleecing and send them packing. Officials (again in plainclothes) wait at a table up the ramp and once more my passport is taken away. Immigration is a manual process, with every entry painstaking written out in longhand. But after getting directed to the chefís office, my passport reappears, gets stamped and thatís it- no charge!

By the time I reach my wife she has packed the bikes, but is harassed by a swarm of runners demanding to be paid for their services (carting the bikes off the boat). Sheís already given her last dollars to a guide who said he would sort everything out for her, but he has pocketed the money for himself. Now they want money from me and the police get called over.

Itís an unhappy start to our stay in the new Congo, but thereís no point in trying to discuss this- we make it clear the we can not pay another cent and ride off to look for our hotel.

Brazzaville immediately has a better vibe than Kinshasa. Thereís quite a bit of traffic, but most buildings are only two or three storeys. We follow the GPS and 3 km later pull in at the Hippocampe Hotel. Itís meant to be an overlander hotspot (like Jungle Junction in Nairobi), but thereís no sign of rugged vehicles, let alone bikes. Perhaps it is because the original owner, Olivier Peix, has moved to Vietnam.

We book a room for two nights and unpack before sitting down for a very welcome cold beer, cider and lunch. We have no local currency yet, but are allowed to run a tab. The rate for a room is CFA 28 000 (about R 700); breakfast is CFA 5 000 extra- worth skipping. Oh, and thereís wifi.



Itís time to do our laundry again and we waste no time stringing up a washing line and scrubbing our riding gear under the shower.



By late afternoon we walk down to look for an ATM, but we can only find VISA terminals, so we cook the last of our instant meals and dive under the mosquito net- mŰre is nog Ďn dag!



Brazzaville turns out to be quite an oasis. Since this was the French Congo before independence transformed it into the Republic of the Congo, French influence is ubiquitous. Apart from the language and street names, French products line the shelves in the upmarket supermarkets. The currency here, as in the rest of Francophone Africa further north and west, is the CFA franc and it is guaranteed by the French treasury. The rate is fixed at CFA 655.957 = Eur 1 and therefore freely interchangeable with it. No need for US dollars here!



But the Chinese are making inroads to wean the Congolese off French influence, in order to gain access to the region's oil and forestry reserves. Initial populist tactics like this poster declaring support against the imperialists of 1964 Ö.



Ö. have given way to more subtle approaches like sponsoring hospitals and study at Chinese universities.



Politically, the Republic of the Congo has fared little better than its neighbours with a history littered with coups d'ťtat and a president (Denis Sassou Níguesso) who has changed the constitution to cling to power for the past 27 years. Quite a contrast to Pierre de Brazza, the Italian who established Franceís foothold in the region.


 
Everything we need is within walking distance of the hotel, but the gutters along the roads are real booby traps at night.



Religion is pervasive, and Brazzaville boasts a rather striking church near the city centre, the Basilique St. Anne du Congo, built by the French some seventy years ago. The walls echo with the melodic sound of a choir practicing.



Next to the canals, a much more informal form of worship takes place.



As for us- we are more interested in food and coffee, and discover an oasis of both at La Mandarine:



Real cappuccino!



Spaghetti bolognaise here is about R120, half the price of our hotel, and with visibly more meat. The menu prices and quality are very reasonable.



At the Geant Casino around the corner we are able to stock up our larder again. They even sell cheese and long life milk- we havenít seen those for a while! As in Angola, South African wines compete with Europe's finest; but at double the price they are back home.



Iíve taken new spark plugs along as both bikes tended to ďhesitateĒ during commuting (although a dyno test showed good power delivery) before our departure. It hasnít been a problem on this trip, but we want to reduce our baggage a bit, so we might as well fit them. Both bikes came without tool kits (what happens to those things??), so I bought a socket with a 3/8 drive and ground the top to fit my size 17 hex axle spanner before we left. But the gap where the plug fits between the cams is less than a 60 degree arc so I canít turn the plugs out. Luckily, thereís a car workshop around the corner from the hotel and they allow me to use their grinder to grind 12 sides on the socket (to halve the arc).



But my grinding is too uneven and now the spanner slips. Despite not knowing us from a bar of soap, they let us walk off with their 3/8Ē ratchet, which is fine enough to replace the plugs. The difference is negligible, but weíre finally able to dump the old plugs.

Our sleeping bags are way too hot for this climate, so we dump one and buy a sheet at Geant instead- much cooler, less sweaty, less luggage!

Blocks of flats surround the hotel, and for some reason none of their balconies have railings, even seven floors up. I snap a picture but note that people shout when they see a camera. It gets serious when I lift my iPhone a bit further on, to focus on a kid playing on one of these open balconies while we are walking through a shebeen where some soldiers are having a drink. I get apprehended and they demand to see whatís on the phone. Luckily, I didnít get a shot so there is nothing to find on the phone, but the aggression is surprising. Signs of a police state with a governing party desperate to stay in power.


« Last Edit: March 15, 2020, 01:33:35 pm by NiteOwl »
Do it before you die!
 
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Offline Hermit

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Re: To the Lungs of the Earth
« Reply #104 on: March 14, 2020, 09:43:38 pm »
Yeahhh ... some action at last ! 😀👍
Lekker !
An' here I go again on my own
Goin' down the only road I've ever known,
Like a "drifter" I was born to "ride" alone
An' I've made up my mind
I ain't wasting no more time = Whitesnake
 

Offline Tom van Brits

Re: To the Lungs of the Earth
« Reply #105 on: March 15, 2020, 03:29:58 am »
Yeahhh ... some action at last ! 😀👍
Lekker !

+1  :3some: :thumleft:
 

Offline Kaboef

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Re: To the Lungs of the Earth
« Reply #106 on: March 15, 2020, 06:41:59 am »
Best report I have read in years.

Thank you so much.
And Saint Attila raised the hand grenade up on high, saying, "O Lord, bless this thy hand grenade, that with it thou mayst blow thine enemies to tiny bits, in thy mercy."

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Offline Berden

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Re: To the Lungs of the Earth
« Reply #107 on: March 15, 2020, 12:38:21 pm »
Glad it's back !
 

Offline Kaboef

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Re: To the Lungs of the Earth
« Reply #108 on: March 15, 2020, 08:08:16 pm »
My apologies for the slow updates- perhaps I should blame it on the corona virus, but in truth life has moved on and I am trying to set up a small business in the only part of the economy with good growth prospects ;).

The next post is imminent.

Which part is that? The funeral business?

And Saint Attila raised the hand grenade up on high, saying, "O Lord, bless this thy hand grenade, that with it thou mayst blow thine enemies to tiny bits, in thy mercy."

www.cfoconsult.co.za
 

Offline Shaun M

Re: To the Lungs of the Earth
« Reply #109 on: March 17, 2020, 01:18:13 pm »
Jeeeeeezzz I am so enjoying this report.

Keep up the great work, looking forward to the next installment.
See it - Plan it - Believe it - Do it
 

Offline Sam

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Re: To the Lungs of the Earth
« Reply #110 on: March 17, 2020, 04:59:47 pm »
Thanks for the update!

I must admit........I don;t think that I have the patience or temperament to handle that rubbish at the border.....! Hats off to you.
 

Offline NiteOwl

Re: To the Lungs of the Earth
« Reply #111 on: March 18, 2020, 01:05:36 am »
For all of those confined to staying at home and still manfully wrestling through this yarn- another page turner coming up.
« Last Edit: March 18, 2020, 01:28:38 am by NiteOwl »
Do it before you die!
 

Offline NiteOwl

Lefini
« Reply #112 on: March 18, 2020, 01:27:13 am »
All too soon our two rest days are over and the town feels eerily quiet as we depart from the Hippocampe around noon. Itís Mayday- a public holiday. We need cash for fuel and food along the way, but the ATM we previously used is now depleted so we have to hunt for another one on the way out. It takes quite a while to find one that accepts Mastercard.



The area north and east for the city centre is clearly poorer. As the houses thin out the road becomes a dual carriageway, built on piles above the floodplain of the Congo river flowing alongside.



The water is not far away from the road and the vegetation is lush.



It takes quite a while to finally exit Brazzaville (the Pool region) through a police checkpoint- a feature of every provincial border, as we discovered. They check passports, but itís routine. The land undulates as the road rises to the Bateke Plateau- which feels like KwaZulu Natal.





At PK Rouge we get our first confirmation that we are on the right road and the distance to go: we are heading for Ouesso, where the Congo Republic meets Cameroun and the southern tip of the Central African Republic. Why? All will be revealed after the next post.



The RN2 (Route Nationale) is the main north-south highway, while the RN1 is the main east-west artery connecting Brazzaville and Pointe Noire on the Atlantic coast. The ďhighwayĒ part needs to be taken with a pinch of salt- this is Africa after all.
   


Not having any idea what the road conditions here would be like, we are expecting to reach Ouesso in three days. And we havenít booked any accommodation (not that I could find much). Initially, progress is pretty good- maybe we were too pessimistic? But then things change.





This is a high rainfall region (1500 mm per year) and the combination of all that water plus the heavy trucks that are carting off the rainforest take their toll.



Not to be outdone by their DRC neighbours (or the trucks), the local taxis also get loaded to the gills. (They all have a "panda" paint scheme, according to their home city; green and white for Brazzaville, Blue and white for Pointe-Noire).



Fortunately, it doesnít last that long and there are roadworks in progress to lay new asphalt with better drainage.



Although we pass plenty of villages, the distances between towns are quite a bit further here, and consequently fuel is not readily available. Few people have cars, and the local motorbikes are just for commuting. Most of the sparse traffic comprises trucks and the odd bus.



Despite being in the higher Plateaux region, the weather is hot and humid. 170 km outside Brazzaville we see our first filling station and are told by the man chatting to the pump attendant that we are in Lefini, named after the river passing through the town and Reserve of the same name.



It turns out that we are talking to the townís main businessman, and when we ask about accommodation around here, he informs us that he owns the local inn (auberge). Conveniently, itís right across the road from the filling station and it is nearly dusk. We ride across to take a look.



Once upon a time this was probably a nice hostel, but the plumbing and wiring is no longer functional. Thereís a bucket shower and a bucket-flushed toilet around the back. We get offered to camp in the covered picnic area (?) for CFA 10 000 (R 250). We accept, pay and unpack.



Down the road are stalls where all sorts of food and drink are on offer: fish, bread, sweet potatoes and fritters (fried on the spot), fruit, eggs, cold beerÖ we drift from one stall to the next and gather our supper.



Fresh!



Back at the auberge we heat up some of the patats while boiling the eggs- itís a pretty substantial meal- before braving the rather dodgy bathroom facilities...



Ö.which have probably not been exposed to any cleaning for decades, but they compare rather favourably with the Kinshasa experience.
.


As mentioned before, our host is the main entrepreneur in town. Not only does he own the auberge, he also owns the adjacent sports bar. Which boasts the townís only TV.

And on this night of all nights, Liverpool is facing Barcelona in the UEFA Championís League semi-final. Not long after washing up, the crowd starts filling up the courtyard as the TV gets pride of place in the bar. Football is a big deal around here too, and everyone is a Messi fan. The boisterous entertainment lasts well into the night.


Do it before you die!
 

Offline Kaboef

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Re: To the Lungs of the Earth
« Reply #113 on: March 18, 2020, 12:09:20 pm »
That toilet.....


Couple of swipes with some Mr Min and it's good as new.

 :biggrin:




More!!
And Saint Attila raised the hand grenade up on high, saying, "O Lord, bless this thy hand grenade, that with it thou mayst blow thine enemies to tiny bits, in thy mercy."

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Offline ChrisL - DUSTRIDERS

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Re: To the Lungs of the Earth
« Reply #114 on: March 19, 2020, 12:21:54 pm »
That toilet.....


Couple of swipes with some Mr Min and it's good as new.

 :biggrin:




More!!
Ek verstaan nie hoe die eienaar van die plek nie fout sien met daai toilet? :o
Laat my dink sy toilet by die huis lyk ook so.
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Offline Hermit

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Re: To the Lungs of the Earth
« Reply #115 on: March 28, 2020, 07:54:19 pm »
Trip full of challanges, but most enjoyable to read.  :o   :thumleft:

Makes me realize its time ...   :ricky:
An' here I go again on my own
Goin' down the only road I've ever known,
Like a "drifter" I was born to "ride" alone
An' I've made up my mind
I ain't wasting no more time = Whitesnake
 

Offline MRK Miller

Re: From Congo to Congo
« Reply #116 on: March 30, 2020, 08:15:35 pm »


Our sleeping bags are way too hot for this climate, so we dump one and buy a sheet at Geant instead- much cooler, less sweaty, less luggage!

Where/ how did you dump your sleeping bag
I would rather fall a thousand times, and keep riding, than to stop riding and never fall
 

Offline NiteOwl

Zero Latitude
« Reply #117 on: April 01, 2020, 06:43:58 pm »
Despite the noisy night, weíre up early to see what the new day will bring. The stalls are still lit, but deserted.



I take a look around the back of the auberge to see what the well looks like from where the water in the bathroom comes. It turns out to be the edge of the Lefini river. Due to the high rainfall and low population density in the Congo, the waterís pretty clear.



Here too, beer bottles are returnable and after breakfast we drop the empties off on the way out of town.



At the edge of town thereís another police checkpoint- we are transiting to the Plateaux region.



Nobodyís manning the booms, however, so we manoeuvre through the obstruction and head for the big bridge spanning the Lefini river. 



Itís a massive dark water mass, the likes of which you do not see in Southern Africa, flowing swiftly eastwards to join the Congo River running parallel to our route.

The mist hangs heavy in the valley beyond the bridge; for a change we are moving before the sun is out. The air is crisp and cool- riding at its best!



The road climbs steeply and the scenery is beautiful. There is no traffic other than a lonely labourer walking past as we stop to take it all in.



Not all of the trucks here make it to their destination; as the road levels out a rusty wreck lies forgotten next to the road, surrounded by its cargo. There are probably no cranes around to load those massive trunks onto another trailer. Note the S-shaped nailplates to prevent the wood from splitting.



There are plenty more abandoned wrecks along the road. We pull over on a side road for the morningís coffee break. Itís strictly self-service in the Congo.



Todayís route entails a few towns that are between 50 and 100km apart, interspersed with villages bisected by the EN2 road. Due to the low traffic volume and its recent construction, the RN2 is actually in very good condition here. At most villages we pass through, there are water tanks in the colours of the national flag. Theyíre made by Asperbras, and are the Brazilian (!) equivalent of our JoJo tanks.



Despite the high rainfall in this region, these tanks are filled from solar-powered pumps locked inside boreholes behind the tanks. Clearly, theft is a problem. As is maintenance- quite a few of the tanks along the road are dry. What is really puzzling is how few houses actually have gutters to catch the rainfall around here, which is plentiful and falls regularly.  :o As a result, only about 1/3 of the rural population has access to clean drinking water.



Outside the towns, the roads are all in great condition. They tend to be overgrown by the dense vegetation, except where villagers have cleared the areas around their huts. It makes riding here a unique experience. Soon enough we reach Ngo, a town that is not to be confused with an NGO! Weíll get to know it a bit better in the way back. .


 
We cross more big water (tributaries of the Congo), which the locals navigate with long boats carved out of those massive tree trunks.





Gamboma lies on the Nkeni river, and its busy main street is lined with shops and buses, with people milling about between them.



Here we come across another weird Soviet-style statue. Gucci handbags anyone?



On the outskirts of town we finally get a SIMcard at a grocery/ pharmacy/ butchery/ mobile shop. I opt for Airtel, but it turns out to be a poor choice as their coverage here is inferior to MTNís.



The local FICA process is quite practical: there are no forms to fill in, the agent just needs to forward a copy of the customerís ID document to the police network for approval. The practical solution to this requirement is obviously a cellphone pic. But my shopkeeper is no Yousuf Karsh and it takes four attempts and the best part of an hour before heís managed to send a copy that is legible enough to allow him to release it.

The next town is Oyo. Itís an important place: the presidentís home-town and nearly halfway to Ouesso. For the first time since leaving South Africa we see horses and cows in green pastures. Itís not a commercial operation, however, but the prezís private vanity project. The only milk we saw in the Congo was in Brazzaville supermarkets, imported from Denmark.

Despite its remote location and modest population, Oyo is artificially stimulated with an international airport opposite a deserted five star hotel that none of the locals can afford. Its key asset is its location on the Alima river port, forming a gateway between Franceville in Gabon and the waterway connecting it to the Congo river. Like the RN2 road, itís a project built by the China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC).



On the northern outskirts we find an SNPC filling station, and pull over to fill up. Apart from a taxi, there are no other customers. The attendant warns us that this is the last fuel until Ouesso, so we do a quick check on the likelihood of making it. Thatís still nearly 450km- quite a stretch even with the jerrycans we now fill. And because we havenít managed to find anymore EcoBank ATMs, we are now running worryingly low on cash.



A word on fuel in the Congo Republic: the pump price is fixed throughout the country at CFA595, about 10% less than in South Africa at the time.

Despite the warning in Oyo, the next town (Owando) does actually have a filling station, so we top up. With full tanks and a jerrycan each we should now be able to cover the remaining 350 km.

At Makoua thereís yet another huge waterway. Unused boats are moored zig-zag fashion along the Likouala riverbank, making for an interesting image.



We are now approaching Sangha province, where the Congo Republicís premium wildlife conservation area is located: the Odzala-Kokoua National Park. A rusty poster tries to encourage conservation of the regionís great apes for future generations.



Steam rises from the road after the dayís showers, so I ride ahead to get a shot of my wife approaching through the spray. As she passes, she asks how far we now are from the equator.



I check my GPS and find weíve actually arrived in the northern hemisphere without any sign or signal. We turn around to backtrack to the equator, which should be just about one nautical mile back:



Back over the bridge thereís a deserted building that actually turns out to be the town hall (le mairie).



Behind the town hall is a traffic circle with a police station on the opposite side and a brass globe in the centre. A band around it bisects the African continent, with the Congo Republic highlighted in gold. The equator!



According to our GPS, the actual equator line is 100 metres further south. AA Roadside Assistance out here is unlikely, but I can tick off another box for this tripís objectives:



Mrs Owl tries the coriolis test on either side of the zero latitude line with some leaves in a cup, but itís inconclusive within such a small diameter.



Not long after Makoua we pass another roadblock. It demarcates the entry into Sangha province, as well as the southern edge of the Odzala-Kokoua park. They are more strict here, and record our passport and vehicle details in a register.



By now, sunset is not far away and although we have food for supper, we need water and villages have become quite sparse. Fortunately there are still a few street vendors opposite the police tents selling water and fried patats.

Now to find somewhere to sleep. We are down to our last thousand CFA, so another auberge is out of the question. Although there are plenty of trees around, the undergrowth is so dense that you cannot even see beyond it. Then we suddenly pass an open patch to our right- a roadwork clearing. We turn around, park at the edge of the trees some 100m from the road, and pitch our tent.



So here we are right opposite the Congoís most exclusive reserve, under the stars, at an ideal camping spot that wonít cost a single cent or CFA. How lucky can you get?



A few words about our neighbour: Odzala-Kokoua is one of Africaís oldest parks and covers an area of about 13 500 km2 (70% of the Kruger Parkís area). Despite its diverse mammal and bird population, less than a hundred visitors make the trek annually due to the high entrance fees and limited infrastructure. Only the ultra well-heeled can afford to spend $1000+ per day here, so most of the visitors are actually conservation and research staff, funded by EU and US grants. Itís obvious that without this money, the whole operation canít possibly be economically viable.



The main attraction of the park is the great apes, specifically the Western Lowland gorilla and the Central chimpanzee. The Congo civil war (1997-1999), followed by Ebola from 2001-2005, decimated the local gorilla and chimpanzee populations to the point that they are now critically endangered. On top of this, poaching is a major problem here as well.



Despite our proximity to the park, we have not seen or heard a single mammal all day. Or night.
« Last Edit: April 01, 2020, 07:33:58 pm by NiteOwl »
Do it before you die!
 

Offline Offshore

Re: To the Lungs of the Earth
« Reply #118 on: April 01, 2020, 08:20:49 pm »
Awesome Report, thank You. :thumleft:  :sip:
 

Offline Amsterdam

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Re: To the Lungs of the Earth
« Reply #119 on: April 02, 2020, 04:22:01 pm »
Thanks for taking the time to do this write up.  The Congo is one of those places that holds a mysterious fascination for me.  But, after reading all this, I am not so sure if it is worth the time and trouble to go there.
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