Bonjour from the Congo,
Here is how my last 2 days played out. Red is when I was on the boat.
So yesterday morning I got a call from Basilio that one of his guys managed to organise me a boat going to Cabinda. The main ferry that goes to Cabinda is broken. So I hung around the whole day n Soyo watching movies and watching the time go by. I was so happy that I wouldn’t have to backtrack the 180km back to Nzeto to get the tar road to DRC.
I phoned Deidre just before 4pm my time and loaded the bike and headed for the docks. Basilio phoned me en route and told me to meet him at his workplace so that we can go together and have a look at the boat. I met up with Basilio and we were off.
When we arrived I was shocked. I immediately said to Basilio that there is no way that I am going in that boat. Basilio had a chat to the guys and he seemed convinced that they knew what they were doing. They offered me a lift for $100.
We went back to collect the bike and to load it before it got dark…
When the bike was tighed down and the covers put on Basilio invited me back to his house for dinner while we waited for the 9pm departure. Basilio is also a biker and owns a Aprilia Copanord and a Honda Varadero (dink hy is jou tipe ou Tewie) and he just loves to entertain and assist the bikers that come through his town. Without his help I would have NEVER come right.
Anyways so we had a couple of beers and dinner which went down really well. He loaded me into his Cruiser and off we went. i knew from the start that it was a 9pm departure and that it would take 4.5 hours to reach Cabinda. I arrange a place to sleep when I arrived and all seemed to be sorted out.
What lay ahead was a total different story!
We lifted anchor, Dudu the captain started his 15HP engine and we headed of down the Mighty Congo river. It was amazing at first seeing all the channels line with mangrove trees. The water was like a mirror with only the moonlight given us any form of light. We headed out through all the small channels and entered the main river. I went into Ipod mode and just watched and prayed that the sea was going to be flat because there is no ways that this boat was going to make anything more than a 1.5 meter swell.
As we entered the main channel the engine went dead, I realised that they switched it off and I was trying to figure out why… The answer was the Police. They pulled up next to us and demanded paperwork for the boat we were on. Obviously there was none. These guys were also transporting other goods like coke, fans and even babies.
They enquired about the bikes papers and I have it to them. May I remind you that this was at 10pm on a pitch black night on the Congo river… The cops werent amused and told us to tie onto them as they take us to the Police dock. Now I don’t care were they take us but when I heard it was the small light on the horizon I knew it was at least an hours ride there. So we went.
I listened to my Ipod as the cops and the crew argued about… whatever they were going on about.
They still had my papers and refused to return it, but they were very friendly towards me as they knew I was a tourist. Eventually after 1.5 hours in tow the crew handed the bribe over and we were off. I was kind of hoping the cops would tell us to go back as I was kind of looking forward to rather ride the bike to DRC.
I was very nervous as we entered the open ocean round 11:30pm. My GPS told me that we still had 61km to go to Cabinda and at our current speed would take 6 hours. I said a prayer again and tried to lie down and just wait it out! I dozed off a few times as the sea was kind of rolly. The fully loaded boat swayed and heaved about while I just hoped that we were going to make it in one piece.
So eventually 4:30am we arrive in Cabinda. We dodged oil platforms and sea swells the whole night and I can see by the look on everybody faces that everyone was relieved that we made it. We started off loading the cargo and by 6am my bike was on the beach and the only scar a broken mirror.
I was so tired that I paid, said thank you and headed for the Congo border some 150km away!
I was so tired that normally during the day I plan the blog update and decide which photos to use. I normally take between 30-50 photos a day, today was only 9. I made only a few videos aswell today.
The scenery was amazing, the start of real african jungle. I crossed the border with Angola. The guys must have seen that I was worse for wear and told me to sit in the A/C office while they got me stamp out. The Congolese one was next and it was also really smooth with very friendly border officials!
As I crossed into Congo everything changed! The people, the smiles and my mood! I looked forward to getting Point Noire.
Point Noire… Stopping so the bike can cool down. Traffic was hectic
You can feel the French influence here. Small restaurants and coffee shops everywhere./
I drove around the midday heat and tried to find a place to sleep. I was advised by a french lady of the Foyer Sueco, a type of church hostel. Clean and comfortable but only a weak ceiling fan.
I will go and explore tomorrow morning and provide some feedback. Other than that I am off to bed.
I might also try and get some km under the belt aswell!
Have a good night!
Point Noire, Congo
Hairy boat ride, pitty you could not get a nice pic? Would like to have seen it 🙂 Glad you made it across….in one piece !
You make us proud!
Yes ou, klink soos ‘n crazy boat ride! Ek was so twee weke terug in Point Noirre! Warm en humid!! Heavy cool jungle in die Congo!
well done ou! jy vorder goed! ek verbaas dit is so skoon! ry mooi en wees veilig!
ag man! this reads better than a clive cussler book! awesome Riaan. enjoy!
Wow Riaan wat n trip amazing hoop jy gaan n boek skryf hierna absolute amazing stories alreeds en jy begin nou net. Ons bid elke dag vir jou en Liewe Jesus hou jou baie styf vas.
Hi Riaan ons volg jou blog religiously ek gaan more na Botswana terug om my gebreekte capo te gaan haal lekker ry
Dankie Tewie. Good Luck met die bike…
Ho Riaan. Been a while since you had this adventure. Do you still have the contact who helped you arrange the boat? I’m planning a similar trip (by bike), and would rather avoid DRC too.
There is a ferry from Soyo to Cabinda. This small boat was illegal and very dangerous. So just rather use the ferry.
I just came across this, which suggests it might actually start up again reasonably soon.