Across The DRC Day 3 – Luozi

With a lot of waving and distracted kids, we leave the school buildings behind and continue our Eastward journey. Shockingly the torrential rain during the night has not changed the road much. A few long stretches are soggy and we leave deep ruts in the mud, but certainly not a nightmare, and nothing we can’t handle.

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The BFG KO2s are eating up the mud!

Sometimes before midday, we find ourselves in the extremely famous town of Luozi. Set just back fro the mighty Congo river, this town is famous for the ferry we can use to cross the river. This particular crossing has been used by Overlanders since the beginning of time. In the middle of town we soon find Customs, where a friendly man is happy to sort out our paperwork. He has obviously seen foreigners before, and everything is easy.

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A typical village on the road

Soon a very large and imposing man makes his presence felt. Towering over me, and much wider across the shoulders, his immaculate army uniform adds to his seriousness. His black boots are polished to a high shine, and his pants are meticulously tucked into them, in true army style. He tells us his is the Immigration man, and we must follow him to his office.
He does not smile.

At his office we are made to wait while he yells at his off-sider, yells at his assistant and generally makes his presence felt. Immediately I sense this is a show put on for our benefit, and continue to insist we don’t speak a word of French.
Slowly and meticulously, he reads every single page of each of our passports, before eventually taking out forms and starting the whole entrance process. These are exactly the same forms we filled in at the border, though he does not care about that.

Just as he finishes up the form for my friend, he holds onto it and the passport and says it will cost $10 US Dollars. We have come expecting this, and politely say that we don’t actually need these forms, or his services – thanks anyway. When we explain the entrance stamps in our passports he is a little dumbfounded, and clearly is unhappy that we are not reliant on him. I can tell he really does not know what to do, and he hesitates.
My friend reaches across the table and takes his passport, something the big man does not like one bit. Calmly, and without raising his voice he demands the passport be returned, and then lectures us about how they are his and it is wrong for us to take them without his say-so.

After more waiting another form is filled in, and again the man asks for $10 US Dollars. Again we say thanks but no thanks,  to which he does not hide his shock. Before filling in a form for me, the Immigration man decides there must be something wrong with my visa, and so calls in his off-sider. In French they discuss the start and end dates, validity and length. He is sure there is no such thing as a one month visa, and so it must be a fake. He is also throughly confused about the difference between “issue date” and “start date”, and his off-sider actually has to count out the months on his fingers before the big man realizes it is still clearly within the validity date.

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Stack of bills. He had tons of Euros and USD too

Reluctantly, he finally fills out my form, before again asking for $10 US Dollars. We all sit back in our chairs, making it very clear we have all the time in the world.
With little choice, he eventually hands over the passports and bids us farewell. With thanks all round we quickly drive away before he can change his mind.

While driving back across Luozi it occurs to me that if I were casting a B-Grade movie and needed a “very mean African warlord”, this is the perfect guy for the role.

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Downtown Luozi

In the town itself we wander around the market and chat to some locals, attempting to get supplies. Unfortunately the bread has sold out for the day, and the shrivelled vegetables do not interest me. I am happy to exchange some money and get local DRC notes, and the guy changing it is as friendly as always. When I ask for directions, he simply drops his stack of bills on his chair and walks through the market with me, completely un-concerned about the thousands of dollars sitting in the open. Again, he knows there is no risk of theft.

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Guys playing game

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Betting fast and furious on cards

We buy lunch in a road-side restaurant – which turns out to be a tin of canned soup on pasta – and chat to some friendly drunk guys betting on a fast-paced card game. There is no official gas station here, though a guy on the side of the road has huge drums, and sells gas and diesel for 1,500 Congolese Francs a litre (around $4USD / gal). I have been watching my consumption like a hawk, and I am fairly confident I will have enough. I also suspect the quality from the drums is not great, and so I don’t buy any.

Done in Luozi, we head out of town, aiming directly for the mighty Congo River.

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At the mighty Congo River


8 Responses

  1. Jim Korczak says:

    Great perspective on the DRC, Dan. I am so glad you decided to take the “risk”.

  2. Steven Peake says:

    Hi Dan,

    I am looking into the feasibility of driving from Accra, Ghana down to Namibia, and the most troublesome point is crossing the Congo.

    Can you give me an idea of the road north of Luozi into Congo ? On google maps the N12 seems to just peter out at the border between DRC and Congo.

    I’ve driven my Mercedes Spring camper down from the UK but am pretty sure that I’ll need to swap it for a 4*4 or pick up when I get to Accra.

    Any thoughts / advice most welcomed !

    • Dan Grec says:

      Hi Steven,

      You can absolutely make the trip in your van, I am very confident you will make it. You don’t have to follow my route, and you don’t have to cross the Congo river on the Luozi ferry – you can cross the bridge at Matadi. Friends went that way and said the road is very good gravel, no problem in a family sedan.
      There is a whole section on the many ways to cross the Congo (or even skip it entirely) in my new eBook about West Africa.
      It’s for sale on amazon here – Overland Travel Essentials: West Africa


  3. Steven Peake says:

    Hey Dan,

    thanks for the advice. Have downloaded your guide – some good tips in there.

    So, am I right in thinking that to get to Matadi, you go through Cabinda and before that Point Noire ?

  4. Steven Peake says:

    Ignore the last question – the biggie now seems to be where to get the Angola visa !

    I can see from your blog, that you got yours in Pointe-Noire, but there are plenty of other reports of other travellers not managing this. Were you able to get it because of help from Pascal, or are you confident that it’s generally possible now ?

    Sorry to pester you with questions…

    • Dan Grec says:

      Hi Steven,
      Are the reports from other travelers recent? I would only take into accounts reports from AFTER I was there.
      I know quite a few people who got it there since I did.. and I have not heard of anyone not getting it since mid 2017.
      Try a question on the African Overlanders facebook group and on the HUBB.


  1. October 9, 2017

    […] not before the nastiest "warlord" Policeman of the journey has his say! Read that story here: After finally getting away from him, I make my way to the mighty Congo river, and cross on the […]

  2. October 9, 2017

    […] the nastiest "warlord" Policeman of the journey has his say! Read that story here: Across The DRC Day 3 ? Luozi | The Road Chose Me After finally getting away from him, I make my way to the mighty Congo river, and cross on the […]

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