République du Congo - Pool district
Day 155 (9 March) – Brazza to Mindouli
We have about 80kms of good road leaving Brazza to the west. After that the road narrows to a dirt/dust track. We are following behind a transport truck – they let us pass and we stop to ask them about the dangers – they confirm that attacks are commonplace along the route. Hmmm.
The road quickly deteriorates into a mud bath. We haven’t come through anything like this yet – it is an opportunity to put the mud tires to use! The first mud patch Julia and Stanley put it in low gear and power through. We barely make it through and look back to see chaos. The other three cars are turned every which way. There is another truck which gets stuck heading the opposite direction and another truck is trying to pull it free. It is chaos.
We all make it through but this sets the tone for the next 100kms (and, honestly, we all loved it!! That is why you drive a Land Rover!)
We arrive in Mindouli late afternoon and are allowed to camp behind the customs house.
Day 156 (10 March) – Mindouli to the border with DR Congo
The next morning we are taken by military escort to the border (again because of rebel activity). The escort is a land cruiser pick up with a driver and two solders, all heavily armed. They escorted us over horrible ‘roads’. Rutted paths that are obviously not often driven. Even the flat sections were difficult – the mud was like pouring oil on ice and trying to drive over it. We ended up having to drive off the road in the bush to move forward.
At one point as we were going down into a narrow ravine and around a sharp corner, the solders all got out their guns – loaded and ready to shoot… Two of the guys went ahead on foot – we were getting a little anxious. The driver slowly started to drive around the corner and then they got stuck!! Ugh! We all got out and managed to get them out of the mud again.
There are no people there and no signs. All of a sudden, at some special piece of grass, the escort stopped and turned around and announced we were at the border with DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo). They bid us a good and safe journey and went back. They were really friendly and helpful and we were a bit sorry to see them go. We were now on our own, in the middle of nowhere with unknown dangers…
Amazingly, the roads managed to get even worse on the DRC side! Slick mud gave way to gutted roads and deep crevaces. But the ‘roads’ were taking us through largely uninhabited green grassy hills speckled with palm trees – it was beautiful. After some kilometers we came to a military post. We stopped to sign in with them although they don’t stamp the passports or the Carnet. It would take us 3 days in DRC before we would be able to be stamped in by immigration. We were stateless having emigrated from NL and now not legally in any country. Just off the grid in DRC…
We find a place along the side of the road to pitch for the night.