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Into Congo

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I backtrack to the Immigration / Military Post just before Lekoni, where the friendly guy there remembers me from a few days prior, and is more than happy to stamp out my passport with any exit date I want. He is proud to hear I have enjoyed my time in the area, and agrees the Canyon is a highlight. I walk one hundred yards to Customs, and the temp import for the Jeep is also stamped out in less than three minutes.
With so many friend people around I feel a tinge of regret to be leaving Gabon – although I have explored for an entire month, I feel I am leaving a lot behind.

republic of congo sign 720x480

This way to Congo fun

I continue directly East on the major highway, and soon arrive at a barrier across the road, the formal exit of Gabon. I wait only a few minutes while a local ahead of me is processed, then it’s my turn. As usual all my details are entered into an enormous paper ledger, and I am asked to move the Jeep on three separate occasions for reasons that are not clear to me.

The minutes later I am on the road, and continue on the best highway imaginable into the Republic of Congo. The first barrier across the road turns out to be Customs, and the young man there is very apologetic when it takes ten minutes to write up a temp import for the Jeep. For the now standard price of 10,000 CFA (about $15 USD) I am issued a one month permit and a very official-looking receipt.

jeep africa congo republic 720x480

Entering the Congo, on the best road imaginable

A little further down the highway the story repeats at Immigration, though this time the boss (big man) has a helper. The big man does all the questioning and interrogation, while the helper tries his best to appease him. The big man is very formal and proud when he points to the list of countries that require a visa, and looks a little deflated when I show him mine in my passport. After a lot of careful inspection he accepts it, and has the helper write all the details into the obligatory massive ledger. At one point the helper makes a minor mistake (I think he can’t write very well – and I’m certain the big man can’t at all) and the big man goes absolutely berserk at him. I’m extremely uncomfortable to be in the same room during the belittling, but there is nothing I can do.

Waiting outside a young lady is waiting for a ride in the direction I’m going. Before stamping my passport, the big man asks if I can take her half an hour down the highway. I feel backed into a corner, although I would have said yes anyway, I always enjoy the company.

With a flash new stamp in my passport and the young lady in the front seat, we set off further into Congo. I ask all the questions I can think of about the country, and the young lady is happy to oblige me. She is a student, and although there is an elementary school here, there is no high school or University here. (In French I didn’t completely understand if she attends  a kind of University, or some kind of school after high school). She happily waves at her ten classmates walking on the highway as we pass by.

young lady in jeep congo 720x480

The young lady I gave a ride to

The amazingly good highway continues, and I am shocked to keep driving through open grassland and rolling hills. Again, I had always imagined Congo to be pure jungle. The heat and humidity ratchet up a notch, solidly into “unbearable”. After chatting back and forth we arrive at Congo’s North-South highway – the biggest road in Congo. I drop off my passenger before turning North, excited to be setting out to explore the Congo, country number fifteen.

-Dan

For all the details to drive your own vehicle in and around Congo, including obtaining a tourist visa, gas and diesel prices, border procedures, paperwork, insurance, prices, camping and more, see http://wikioverland.org/Congo

16 Responses

  1. Alejandro says:

    Hey Dan! I’m still following along and I’m always very exited when I see that you made a new post, keep them coming! On another note, I’m not sure if you already addressed this before, but I’m always wondering what you do for your tunes? Do you have an MP3 player with a massive collection? Just curious as I can’t drive without music! Safe travels!

    • Dan Grec says:

      Hey Alejandro,

      Happy to hear you are still on board!
      I have an old iPod loaded to the hilt, though I often prefer to drive without music… I find it distracts me and makes me think about everything other than where I am at that moment. I would rather be in the moment, so no music for me!

      -Dan

      • Alejandro says:

        That’s a very interesting approach and makes sense, I’ll try it in my next road trip!

      • Sabrina Krauss says:

        So happy to find your journeys here. I’m married to someone from Congo (Kelle, which is further North of where you start heading to Brazzaville) – we’ve been married about 30 yrs now with two grown kids and have not had finances to visit yet. However, the question about music above…I love that you prefer to be in the now or maybe you said “present”; I’d suggest, doesn’t that include local music? Congo had dine of the best music in Africa.

        • Dan Grec says:

          Hey Sabrina,

          I highly, highly suggest you make a visit. So far I am absolutely loving Congo!
          Oh yes, whenever I get out of the Jeep I wander over to whatever music I like the sound of – of course, you can always hear it!

          All the best,
          -Dan

  2. Roland Nzaou says:

    First time to read your blog. I like your way of writing your adventures. I am from the republic of Congo. You were lucky use the North highway. It is the best highway for the entire country why? Because the President in power since 1979 can drive to his village. The rest of the country is suffering while the president and his family are building their village and the surrounding. More than 80% of the country lives in the south.

    Otherwise, I hope you have enjoyed your trip. Good luck for the rest of your ride.

  3. Jonchar says:

    I’m still following and refreshing this page every few days to read if there are any new updates.

    Some questions. Does the mosquitos get to you? And have you found any surprising ways the locals do to prevent mosquitoes from biting?

    • Dan Grec says:

      Hi Jonchar,

      They really have not been as bad as I thought they would be. Long pants and socks and shoes in the evening is enough, most nights.

      …I have not seen the locals do anything specifically, other than sleep with a mosquito net.

      -Dan

  4. Hi Dan, nice to read your blog. We drove from Brazzaville up the Northern Hwy last month and into Southern Cameroon and Lobeki NP. It’s a great country with lots to see and do. All up I spent a month in both Congos travelling around. Some sites worth visiting are on my blog african50.wordpress.com

    If you need any gen, feel free to shoot me a message.

    Cheers Richard (Australian)

  5. Andrew says:

    I want to thank you for the post.I like traveling but due to lack of resources I can’t. I’m blessed to have guys like you that do the traveling for. Keep me posted please

  6. Dave in the Sandbox! says:

    Hi Dan,

    Great to hear from you because I am very interested in the Congo so hyped up so keep the posts coming and take a ton of photographs if possible.

    Great to hear you were able to help out the Congo girl with a ride an get a feel of the local scene. I pick up hitchhikers all the time (using some common sense of course) since I remember by teenage years hitching around Southern Ontario.

    Anyway great to hear from you and stay safe.

    Cheers Dave

  7. Steve says:

    Dan, I stumbled onto your website and I have been reading it for the last 4 days. I am totally amazed at your adventures! What a life! I look forward to your updates.

    Steve (Annapolis Maryland)

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