I left Ferdie and Luanda early this morning. I was onto the ring road just before 8am and headed North towards Nzeto. The ride out wasn’t to bad, the traffic was bearable and the road was good tarmac.
I was amazed at the size of Luanda. The ring road took me approx 60 km around the city. Now some of you would say that’s like the N1 in joburg or the M1 in London but the difference is the density of the city, if I can call it that. 8 million people are squeezed in there, there are no parks or gardens in there. Its all city and people and a huge amount of cars and scooters.
I eventually turn right towards Caxito. I pulled over just outside Luanda, filled up the by now empty bike and paid the attendant 1000kwanzas or R100 or $10. HAHAHA that so cheap!
I entered Caxito 30min later and turned left towards Ambriz. The road turned to gravel and I turned into off-road mode. The surface wasn’t to bad, I had to deal with some mud right from the start but that was handled with ease. The road was a mix of hard gravel with rocks, corrugations and then sand. Then just as you ride on the last one the new section starts like a cycle. Rocks, corruption, sand, rock, corruption sand all day long.
The road took me trough the most beautiful Boabab trees and jungle like bush. Every now and again the Atlantic Ocean shows its face and as soon as I looked and marvelled at it, the front wheel went haywire and I knew I arrived at the sandy section.
The Chinese are hard at work all along today’s ride building a new road that runs north from Luanda. So in a couple of year’s time you will be able to ride smooth tar all the way there. Yes I know what some of you would say, “that’s not adventure biking”, maybe not but I prefer tarmac to gravel, because I don’t ride a KTM 450, I ride a tank and secondly it always feels like I am looking at the surface constantly and not the surroundings.
Once you head through Ambriz (which is really small) the roads go a little haywire with the diversions for the roadwork’s. I got a little lost at one stage and asked the locals: “Nzeto?” and they would all laugh and say in Portuguese “ that way, that way”.
That’s one thing on today’s ride how friendly the people were. More on that later.
I headed north and became constantly happy at the sight off some smooth black surface ahead only to be disappointed by a 300m piece of tarmac. They obviously tarred the really hairy sections of the gravel road.
I stopped at one stage to let the shock cool down, had a snickers bar en some water and just listened to the sound of nothing. There was no sound at all, eventually the sound of a 3 wheeled scooter came alive and the locals at the back all gave me the thumbs up!
I was off again looking at the GPS which is acting up again. It said I still had 60km to go. My power supply seems to be a problem, it doesn’t charge when connected. I need to sort it out. I guess all the dust is getting to it!
I reached the outskirts of Nzeto and filled up at the Pumagol service station which is brand new next to the gravel road. Kind off funny when you first see it! Brand new pumps, fully stocked convenience store in the middle of nowhere.
I entered Nzeto on its gravel roads, headed to the beach and tried to find a “pension” (small motel) . By now I was starving and I grabbed some “vetkoek” type of thing from the ladies at the beach. There was a huge amount of fisherman bringing in the days catch.
While driving through the streets I was stopped by the cops. They ranted on about something which I couldn’t understand. Some local guy that spoke some English came by and told me the cops are suggesting that I sleep at the Police station at no charge. I was amazed, I said thank you and told them that if I don’t come right I will be sure to knock on their door.
I eventually found a “pension” at $65 but at least it had a shower and A/C.
I am off tonight to grab a bite to eat and then off to Soyo on the most NW point of Angola. I will be taking a ferry from Soyo to Cabinda and cross the border to the Congo from there. I changed my route slightly as I don’t think there will be much to see in Kinshasa anyways.
I left just after 7am this morning hoping to cover the 190km to Soyo chop chop and organise the ferry to take me across to Cabinda. I had this funny feeling in my gut that I was doing the wrong thing. As it may I went with the thought off going via Cabinda to Congo.
I said my fair well to Sebastian at the pension and hit the gravel track towards Soyo.
The road was bad from the word go. Its a really bumpy track and with the heavy bike the suspension always seemed to be very close to bottoming out! I pushed on regardless as there is no other route to take than the one I am on in anyways.
I bashed the bike up well today, the road was just so strenuous. I felt so sorry for my bike, I am almost sure that when they designed it they didn’t really design it to be hammered on poor gravel roads the WHOLE day! The road today was made up of small corrugations and huge potholes and even heavier sand than the day before.
I passed the town of Quinzau and what awaited me lifted my spirits and gave me some kick in the arse to push on!
Once I was out of there the road really became hairy. The mud seemed to be more frequent and for much longer sections. The sand went haywire and made me work the handlebars furiously. I was really getting tired after 4 hours of bashing around and only riding 120km. I had used all my water, had no breakfast and I could feel serious fatigue setting in. The temperature in my gear was so bad that I had to stop twice to cool down.
I only had approx 30km to go so I kept telling myself that it is 1.5 times to work and back. The thought of that made me nauseous so I rather opted to count sheep.
I entered Soyo just after 2pm and headed straight for the port. Soyo is at the heart of the oil fields for Angola. There are quite a few people in town and all of then seem to be hustling and chasing a few dollars.
I wanted to get the time-table for the ferries departing tomorrow… Ja right! When I got to the gate I was advised that the ferry is broken and that I should return in 3 months time… I said “sure no problem, i’ll just hang around!”
I thought that I should stop at the airport and ask them what it would cost to fly the bike across.(Just asking)
After 45 min a guy came out and informed me that I may purchase my ticket for the trip to Cabinda. I thought, cool man! I enquired about the price and was advised that it should come to round about $3000. I laugh in his face and left. As I was about to leave and head for the DRC border I was stopped by a guy in a car. His name was Basilio.
Basilio told me that he helped Jolandie Rust last year on her tour and will be off my assistance. How cool was that, I was fed up and very irritated when this guy saw me in the nick of time and offered to assist me. He arranged with fellow South Africans for a room at their compound. I was greeted by Jos and crew 15 min later.
When I arrived, I was ushered to my container room. Jos told me to relax an freshen up while they finished there days work. They told me that we shall have a braai tonight and drink some beer. I was stoked.
Jos and crew are de-miners. They are contracted to various companies in Angola to remove landmines that was left from the war. They showed me around and explained to me that this year alone they retrieved 11 000 pieces of ammunition, landmines, air to land missiles etc.
Quite cool I would say!
So I am typing this at 3:22am as we only finished the braai just over an hour ago. (Dont say I am not dedicated).
I am off to bed now. I will be uploading the video now and post it in the morning!
Tomorrow I will try to find a boat across to the DRC and hopefully meet up with Kris in Kinshasa. (Thanks Geert)