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Ω2

Central Africa

Cameroon (May 2014)

Visa

From the embassy in Calabar, Nigeria (N4 59.777 E8 19.429)

Issued: On the spot!

Duration: Three months, single entry

Cost: 91.80 Euros (20,000 Naira)

 

Border crossings

Nigeria – Cameroon (Mfum): They stamped our documents without any troubles. The road from Ekok to Mamfe is nowadays passable even during the rainy season. 25 km (16 miles) of it are already paved and the Chinese are paving gradually the rest as well. At the moment the remaining 35 km (22 miles) consist of flattened dirt roads.

Cameroon – Congo (Mbalam): The staff at the border were friendly and they did their job without causing us any trouble. The dirt road until there was easily passable.

 

Checkpoints

Usually we didn’t have trouble with policemen or military at the checkpoints all around Cameroon. In Douala, however, there are plenty of municipal policemen who wanted to stop us every time they would see us. They were always asking us for bribes. We achieved to make our way without bribing anyone but they made our life there harder.

 

Motorcycle shops

Noko Motors: Rider’s and bike’s equipment in Douala. Telephone: (+237) 33 14 23 51, Coordinates: N4 02.766 E9 43.946

You can find tyres in Yaoundé at the street nicknamed “Bike Street” (coordinates: N3 52.546 E11 30.682) or you can get expensive Pirelli in Dacam, in Douala or Yaoundé (coordinates in Yaoundé: N3 52.203 E11 30.995).

 

Digital maps

Garmap Sub-Saharan Africa Streetmaps 2012.2 is the best map about Cameroon too, with many details, village names and off-road routes! Nevertheless, Open Street Maps show more clearly the road to the border of Congo.

Some beautiful off-road routes, like the one to the Congolese border, sights, places to wild camp, repair shops and motorcycle shops in Douala and Yaoundé: you can download the file in GPX format.

 

Wild camping

The jungle is verdant, so it’s hard to find free space for wild camping. Usually we were camping in open spaces that the Chinese road constructors had made to take soil from.

 

Congo-Brazzaville (June 2014)

Visa

From the embassy in Yaoundé, Cameroon (N3 53.717 E11 31.198)

Issued: In eight working days. You can get it in 4 working days, if you pay double fee.

Duration: One month, single entry. Despite us begging them, they were telling us that they cannot issue a tourist visa for more than 15 days but finally they gave us a one-month visa!

Cost: 45.74 Euros (30,000 CFA)

 

Border crossings

Cameroon – Congo (Souanké): The amazingly friendly officers stamped our documents without any trouble and they even suggested us to camp there because it was getting dark. The border closes at 18:00. The dirt road to Ouesso is very muddy for about 30 km (19 miles) but the Chinese firms are paving the road.

Congo – D. R. Congo (Tombo): Once again the officers were friendly and they stamped our documents without causing us any trouble or asking for bribes.

 

Checkpoints

They stopped us only five times all over Congo. They never asked us for bribes and they didn’t cause us any trouble!

 

Digital maps

Garmap Sub-Saharan Africa Streetmaps 2012.2 are not updated and some roads are not depicted accurately. Open Street Maps are less detailed but have more recent information.

Some off-road routes to enter and exit the country and some places to wild camp at: you can download the file in GPX format.

 

Wild camping

North of the equator, the jungle is verdant, so it’s hard to find free space for wild camping. Usually we were camping in open spaces that the Chinese road constructors had made to take soil from. South of the equator we could find some space easier.

 

Democratic Republic of the Congo (July 2014)

Visa

From the embassy in Cotonou, Benin (N6 21.454 E2 23.657)

Issued: In one day. They wanted us to be declared as residents of Benin but that was easy. A local can take you to the appropriate office and you will get the right document for 7.62 Euros (5,000 CFA). They also asked us a hotel booking.

Duration: Two months, single entry

Cost: 118.91 Euros (78,000 CFA)

 

Border crossings

Congo – D. R. Congo (Ndalatando): We used this remote border post in order to avoid the troubles of crossing straight from Brazzaville to Kinshasa. It was a detour of 580 km (360 miles) and most of them were on dirt roads, so it took us three days.

Even there the border officials didn’t like the fact that we didn’t get our visas in our own country of residence. The Beninese residence permit didn’t help at all, since they could see that we spent only a few days in Benin. They called the chief, who gave us the permission to enter in D. R. C. after a couple of hours. The border officials asked us 10 USD per person but we finally didn’t bribe them.

In Luozi we had to register again at the D.G.M. (Immigration Service), where they asked us 20 USD per person. Once again we refused to bribe them and they let us go after a couple of hours. We also stamped our Carnet de Passages en Douane at the town’s customs office. The barge which crosses the Congo River there is free for motorcyclists and their riders!

D. R. Congo – Zambia (Kasumbalesa): The border post is facilitated in a big and modern building. Exiting the country is quick and easy. Nobody asked us a bribe.

 

The Kinshasa – Lubumbashi route

There was a lot of sand until Tshikapa and the ruts were so deep that sometimes my panniers were crashing. We were riding 70 km (43 miles) per day there. Usually there are bicycle trails which are more decent. It’s important for motorcyclists to keep looking for them. The locals always point the riders towards them.

Some local motorcyclists indicated a route to us that we had never heard of. We tried it and it was really easier than the route through Mbuji-Mayi. The petrol was cheaper there, since it’s coming from Angola. It costs 1.7 euros (2,000 CF) per litre. Just before Kananga we turned south to Luiza. Before Musumba we had to cross Luluwa River. There was a barge, which could take even a truck, but it was too expensive to use it just for our motorbikes, so we used a pirogue. We rode through Sandoa, Kasaji and Kolwezi. You can check out our route in GPX format.

The whole route was 2,500 km (1,553 miles) and it took us 13 days on a slow pace. Sure you can do it faster. Nevertheless, for a 4-wheeler even this route would be a hell, since it would be impossible to avoid the tough parts through the bicycle trails. Moreover, if your vehicle breaks down, it would be difficult to find assistance because there are parts of this route were trucks are rare.

 

Checkpoints

They stopped us 20 times in total and almost everybody was asking us for bribes. Some of them were keeping our documents and they wouldn’t give them back unless we paid them. We were very patient and finally we didn’t have to bribe anyone. On the route that we tried the checkpoints are less and the policemen are not as horrible as on the route through Mbuji-Mayi.

 

Digital maps

Open Street Maps work great even on the route to Lubumbashi!

Some public services, places to wild camp, the off-road route to enter the country and the whole route to Lubumbashi that some locals indicated to us: you can download the file in GPX format.

 

Wild camping

In the area between Tshikapa and Luiza we often couldn’t find some space for wild-camping, since the region is either inhabited or it has lush vegetation. What we were doing was to choose a small village and ask for the chief’s permission to camp there. However, this means that more than 50 persons were gathering around us and they were not letting us alone until we were going to sleep. They would not mess with our stuff but that situation was quite annoying when it was going on for days in a raw. An alternative solution is to camp in some missions which function in many towns. In Katanga Province we could find quiet places for wild-camping, so we were enjoying the tranquil nature by ourselves.

 

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