DR Congo Rally: Kinshasa – Lubumbashi 3

Have you seen this show-stopper Dakar stunt? It gave us the chills, because it’s not very different from what happened on this very eventful day.

Day 4 – 26/12 

Km: 113

Road: deep wet black sand

Weather: 38°C, morning storm followed by sun

Rainy season is in full swing, but luckily we are spared from the impressive storm!

The moist sand is not so bad, but soon the sun dries up the road and I am reminded of the Mali to Burkina day of hell.

Elisa doesn’t miss a single chance to walk barefoot on the warm soft sand, a true free spirit!

At lunch we have a new birthday celebration in our little group: Lea is turning 5 and Delphine had improvised a yummy cake, breakfast cereals and chocolate truffles. Lea gets the classic French “1000 Bornes” and Cadbury chocolate from us. Happy B-Day, Lea!

The unsealed National 1 is routinely crossed by surreally charged trucks and lorries. The scarred body of sand, mud and water could be more accurately described as a piece of land art, rather than a national road. Torrential downpours transform the pits dug by the truck people into massive craters. Green murky waters fill them, rotting, smelling, glistening like puss on a corpse. This unimaginable road is where hundreds of bike-people spend their lives. They push their modified bikes, loaded with over 100 liters of fuel, for days and days under the scorching sun, through the deep muddy sand, supplying petrol and diesel throughout the region. This in turn yields record prices for fuel: 2600 francs/liter!!!!!

In this difficult terrain even finding a bush camp can be tricky…

Day 5 – 27/12 

Km: 30

Road: deep sand

Weather: 38°C, hot

Some 50 people arrive in the early hours to see the strangers who slept in the bush. They were hoping we can give them some jobs, but they had to settle with an ordinary session of white watching…

…followed by a hoot shoot.

Our day was to be remembered for 3 crucial moments when the Landie got badly stuck. We were becoming experts at lifting, cabling, digging, but we were still novices in tracing the hidden water under the sandy tracks, the moving sand patches, the traps. In Congo you are never alone, even in the apparent middle of nowhere people would start pouring in from the bush, asking for money to help or even to just watch us struggle. We discovered that communication was difficult, and that people’s minds are sometimes fogged by confusion and lack of correlation with the real world.

Then we hit rock bottom: it was my turn to get stuck, and it was to be the most spectacular moto event of the whole trip. If you have seen what happened to Cyril Despres during Dakar 2012, you get the idea. I tried to avoid the murky parts and I knew I could not balance the bike on the slender path for bicycles, so I took my chances and rev it up through what appeared to be a puddle. And I got stuck waist deep in mud, like in wet cement.

We got help from the 2 truck people we were helping to reach the next village. I was out, but I was also sure that I had to take some more load of the bike if we were to continue.