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999 Days Around Africa: The Road Chose Me
A move South in Gabon, until I am almost at the Southern border with the Republic of Congo. I have enjoyed my time here so much I don’t want to leave yet, and so swing North and East, aiming to cut directly through the middle of the country. My map and GPS show the road I aim for as a major highway, and major highways in Gabon have been great, so I expect it shouldn’t take to long.
After half an hour of pavement I am confused when I turn off onto a tiny potholed dirt road. A local taxi driver sees my confusion and confirms this is actually the road I want when I say the name of a town shown on my map. Oh well, this must be it.
What follows is three days and two nights of bumping along a tiny gravel road, cutting right through the mountainous region of Gabon. Each night I simply drive until I am exhausted, and find a place off the road to setup camp. For the three days I only see a handful of vehicles, always clustered around the little villages I pass through. The road is already impressive (though old and maintained) and I am staggered to see teams of Chinese surveyors walking the roads taking line-of-sight measurements and readings. I can only assume a massive upgrade is in the works.
At times the road is amazing, at times it degrades into a muddy slip-n-slide. At more than a few river crossings I wonder if I will be able to continue, and always find a way across on everything from concrete bridges built with a major highway in mind all the way down to a pile of sticks and logs.
Unfortunately, the tiny biting bugs have persisted, and on consecutive nights I have to dive into the Jeep at 7pm and zip up all the mesh windows, turning the inside into a sweltering hot box. At times monkeys dart across the road, though I don’t see anything bigger.
I am extremely happy I chose to get off the major North/South highway and explore off the path in Gabon!