To Brazzaville

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I move South, retracing my steps on the main highway running the length of The Congo. I continually stop and ask at gas stations, and all are completely empty. About half way to Brazzaville I pull over and transfer everything in my Titan Tank into the main Jeep tank, then continue on my way.

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Transferring gas into the main tank on the side of the highway

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Transferring gas with a local vehicle

I struggle to find even a tiny road off the main highway, and eventually find a small track that dead-ends at a farm. It’s not ideal, though it will have to do for camping for the night. Just on dusk a couple of local farmers walk by, and they are eager to shake hands. I start to ask permission to camp there in French, and they immediately wave me down. These old men don’t speak a word of French, and I realize they are both pygmies. Both men must be well over 60 years old, and both have the height and build of a ten year old. I am amazed they are both shorter than my chest.
Using hand gestures I manage to show I intend to camp, and they both seem happy with that.

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It’s hard to find wild camping off the side of the highway.

In the morning I move on, passing through a couple of interesting road blocks. It seems the Police, Military and Customs have not figured out a way to work together, and so at each road block I must have my details entered into separate massive ledgers. Again, one officer takes my documents and the others immediately demand to see them – and again I have to explain they will simply have to wait. A couple of the guys ask for money, I simply stand my ground and ask why, which is enough to make them back down.

As is traditional in this part of the world the president has spent an insane amount of money in his home town, and I am shocked to see a beautiful monument and grounds in front of a huge modern-looking hospital.

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The grounds around a statue are extremely impressive and clean

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An extremely beautiful statue

I continue on and on, with the gauge on the Jeep getting lower and lower. Somehow I convince myself there will be gas in the capital city of Brazzaville, and so set my sights on making it there. On the edge of the city at a road block one officer talks to another in a local language, before looking straight at me and saying “That will be $20 for our services”. It’s already been a long day, so I immediately start laughing loudly. In English I say “that’s a good one” as I pick up my passport and walk out. Neither says anything more to me.

In the city the gas gauge pegs well below zero – the lowest I have ever seen it. All gas stations have at least fifty cars waiting, and again none have a single drop of gas or diesel. I start to really worry about running out, and so I turn off the Jeep at every red light and intersection.

Expecting the Jeep to die at any moment, I am relieved to drive into the gates of Hippocampe – one of the most famous Overland hangouts in all of West Africa. This restaurant has offered free camping for Overlanders in their parking lot for decades, and virtually everyone driving this side of the continent makes a stop here.

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910km (569 miles) without a gas station. Now what?

When the wheels stop I have driven 569 miles (910km) without a gas station. The computer shows an average of 19.9mpg. Most of that was on a flat highway with the cruise set at 50mph.

I am now in a huge city that has zero gas.

I have no idea what I am going to do now.

-Dan

11 Responses

  1. Jared says:

    Hi Dan, the Congo sounds lot different than Gabon and Cameroon. Hoping you can scrounge some up somewhere. If you could manage in Uyuni and Patagonia I’m sure you’ll find some there!

    • Dan Grec says:

      Jared,

      It is very different, in completely unexpected ways. I am loving it, and really enjoy being in a place that feels so “new”.

      I’m sure I will find some gas, there is always a way.
      -Dan

  2. Wolfgang says:

    Now this I call a cliffhanger…impatiently waiting for your next move. All the best!

  3. Brent says:

    How do you purify your water? UV light and a carbon filter? Or do you have to do more?

  4. David says:

    Even with all your extra weight your still getting better MPG than my 2nd Gen Tacoma, impressive!
    Good luck looking for fuel.

  5. Aaron says:

    Dan, I just started reading about your adventure….amazing! Be prepared for me to pepper you with 2 million questions! Considering your current gas crisis and knowing quality and octane may be a huge issue during your journey…do you have a “tuner” in your jeep? I would think a handheld tuner with 4-8 tunes could save your hide. Low octane tune, fuel economy tune, even a high idle tune if you are going to be doing major water fording. Do you bring any fuel treatment with you? Water separators? I have family/friends in South Africa that do some similar, but far shorter trips, and I would love to get the opertunity to join them some day! Good luck, and stay safe!!!

    • Dan Grec says:

      Hi Aaron,

      No, I don’t have a tuner. I’m not inerested in messing with the factory stuff (I learned my lesson).
      Vehicles run rich because it helps with cooling and therefore longevity. I would prefer to leave it that way. So far it runs fine on everything I have put in it.
      I don’t have a water separator or anything fancy, I did throw a bottle or two of injector cleaner in back in Cameroon.

      -Dan

  6. Ramses says:

    Dear Dan,

    Lovely website, really well done. I’m doing exactly the same route as you do, starting from Switzerland in November 2017. Websites like yours have been very useful for the preparation of my trip and you blog is a pleasure to read. Thanks! Good luck and who knows we’ll meet on the road somewhere!

    Ramses from Lausanne, Switzerland

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