The Republic of the Congo, also known as Congo Republic, Congo-Brazzaville or the French Congo. Our welcome to the country wasn’t too warm I must say, it wasn’t a busy border at Souanke and we had to find the right person to open a big gate closing track. It didn’t take too long to find the right person, but he was also a very talkative man trying to “support his family”. Being white, people rapidly come to the conclusion that you are in a rush and therefore must go through the express procedure. Express means more expensive. We didn’t really feel like bribing people, so this man kept talking until there wasn’t anything to talk about anymore and then the awkward silence comes. One last try to get some money out of us, he directly demands an amount for his family and we stick to our NO. He gives up and just stamps our passport. The giant man at customs surprisingly stamps our carnet like he has done it before and on we were. CONGO HERE WE COME!
The next section of road, according to the blogs of people doing this route a few years before, was supposed to be the worst of our whole trip. We kept going and going, but the road was just getting better and better! Where was the mud, where were the hard times fighting and trying not to get stuck? When we hit the smooth Chinese tarmac we kissed goodbye to the idea of actually needing a 4 wheel drive on the trip. This means you could basically drive your little city car from your house all the way down to South Africa!(I'll take that back later in the DRC)
Arriving in the weekend, the capitol and biggest city, Brazzaville seemed very quiet. Getting into the city was a nightmare because of a lack in infrastructure. The owners at Hotel Hippocampe let us stay for free on the parking lot. This place is a true overlanding mecca as people have been coming here for years. They keep multiple guest books with notes of other travelers. It kept us busy for hours and was very inspiring to read. We had dinner at Mami Wata, overlooking the mighty Congo river during a sunset. This view was absolutely stunning, a moment no camera could capture.
At the hotel we met this other couple Roger and Rebecca from Australia, enjoying their retirement traveling the world in a Hilux. They were heading in the opposite direction, but we had a blast sharing stories over dinner. They were telling their experiences of what we would have to go through if we wouldn’t be able to get an Angolan visa. They drove the famous Kinshasha – Lubumbashi route in the dry season, getting through in a bit more than 2 weeks and minor damages to the car. In the wet season it would be a total different story, which was now. I got excited about it and was kind of hoping we wouldn’t be able to get the Angolan visa. Jasmin on the other hand wasn’t too happy about it. Our best shot to get a visa was in Dolisie, or further down to the coast in Point Noire.
The N1 main highway towards Point Noire was a true nightmare. A truly blissful tarmacked road had been created, but just because the ribbon hasn’t been cut by some politician we were not able to use it. This road was obviously not created by the Chinese that don’t care about this stuff. Instead we had to drive on the worst highway of our trip. Potholes knee deep, heavy corrugation and trucks stuck in mud everywhere. Pigs loved it though!
After receiving the visas we left as soon as we could. From here on the road was tarmacked properly, with an occasional pothole here and there. We passed Point Noire without stopping, except for the heavy congestion that is. We managed to cross the border the same day as leaving Dolisie, so that part of the trip was fairly painless.
In total we spent only a week in Congo, but the country has certainly made an impression in our trip. The Chinese have the country in their power and this will not affect the rainforests positively. Hopefully politicians will start seeing the fact that making decisions for the long term will affect their country more positive than the quick dollar here and there.