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Old 12-22-2011, 04:42 AM   #106
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Thanks you guys!!!

Margus&Kariina it's so nice to hear from you! Even I deeply regret that we did not met each other on the way is nice we've found people who did (Delphine&Jacques&Co) and this is some consolation. Maybe in the future we'll met somewhere. Like I already said you guys help a lot when I was really down after my big crash last october and your perseverance and amazing pictures & stories fueled me to start again.

Cheers from Kinshasa, DRC.

Ionut & Ana

PS How is Estonia after 3 years? How is going back to "normal" after this amazing journey?
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Old 12-23-2011, 02:55 AM   #107
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Originally Posted by mrwwwhite View Post
Cheers from Kinshasa, DRC.

PS How is Estonia after 3 years? How is going back to "normal" after this amazing journey?
You guys are fast!

Good to know you got into DRC, I guess they've changed their visa system again. And I'm sure you have your Angola visas at hand too. West-Africa is pretty much yours and East is about to come. Just try to enjoy some civilization in Namibia and especially in SA (wines!), so you can have some nostalgic emotions in East-Africa to carry on

Back in Estonia it's allright, still waiting for snow - it came for 1 day and dissapeared - it's been proper nuclear winters (the ones I like!) when we were away and now it's a miserable winter when we're back, I already stripped our bike for overhaul and the weather is rideable outside even in december, bloody irony.

Safe journey,
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Old 12-26-2011, 02:57 PM   #108
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Aveti nervi de otel, citeam postul vostru cu sufletul la gura si cand vazut ca ati primit un ambreiaj diferit mi-a cazut fata. Nu vreau sa stiu ce a fost in sufletul vostru. Pfffiuu, bine ca sunteti in regula acum si pe roti din nou. Pozele sunt bestiale iar locurile fabuloase. Ma bucur pentru voi.

Drum bun si Sarbatori Fericite!
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Old 12-28-2011, 08:00 PM   #109
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Loving it!

Just found your report yesterday and have now read it all and thoroughly enjoyed every amazing photo. Phenomenal job! Subscribed and looking forward to more.

It's great how outgoing you and Ana are. And it's really inspiring to see such a free-form trip with stops to volunteer.

If you're still in Kinshasa- enjoy. My grandmother lives in the Kintambo neighborhood there. There is a cool little art gallery near there. After your work at AFI you may also enjoy the Bonobo sanctuary just outside Kin.

Cheers to you and Ana!
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Old 01-07-2012, 08:05 AM   #110
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GABON 01/12 - 06/12

Happy Anniversary, Romania! We celebrated the National Day with the chilled and rather hip looking border officers who welcomed us to Gabon, and handed the first professionally printed immigration forms in Africa. It was the first sign that this 9th African country we were entering was different. We had gotten the visa rather effortlessly in Yaounde (50,000 CFA), after trying in vain in Lome, Togo and in Abuja, Nigeria. From the border there was perfectly smooth tarmac, the kind of track designed for a petrol-head. Twists and hairpins, rapidly alternating at sometimes adrenaline pumping incline, spectacular luck jungle, 100% pleasure for hundreds of kilometers.
Even if we roll through diminutive villages with no more than a dozen wooden huts, long is forgotten the poverty of West Africa. And if life in Nigeria is unthinkable without the power generators, the Gabonese must have is the grass trimmer. The result is the entire countryside looks like it could host a golf tournament anytime, even if it's not likely that many villagers would attend. The prices for everything match the manicured look: double or even triple compared to other CFA countries. Petrol is still at about 550 CFA/l though, so we soon arrived in Bitam, where we humbly requested permission to sleep for the night at a catholic mission.

The sister in charge kindly invited us to join an impromptu jamming of the kids. We learned that they are all orphans, hosted and schooled by the mission, and that the money for this charitable operation comes from Canada. We sing and dance into the night. All our misery in Cameroon and the aggressivness of the people seem a thing of the past.

We were heading towards Libreville and soon big artificial openings were replacing the dense jungle, signalizing massive logging operations, just like we'd seen in other parts of Africa. During the 50 years of African independence, many countries were torn apart by bloody conflicts and political mayhem. Gabon managed to somehow stay afloat, building a solid, stable economy, based on petrol and rich mineral resources. Then, in 1999, the english explorer J. Michael Fay hiked over 2000 miles along the Congo basin. His 455 day adventure changed Gabon forever. The president declared over 10% of the surface of the country as national park, transforming Gabon overnight into a champion of conservation. The unique biodiversity of this largely unexplored country was on every eco-tours agency mind, so they soon started moving in and advertising fabulous and very expensive packages for the rich. We could never become their clients. We were just going to Libreville to meet the Romanian-Gabonese family of Radu, a project initiated over a year ago by the only Romanian ever to have kissed the lips of Billie Joe Armstrong, Stoi.

Soon our GPS let us know we were crossing into the southern hemisphere.

The sign that marks the Ecuator is covered in overlanders' stickers. We put the dot on the I.

On the Ecuator equality of the sexes is finally achieved.

We were chasing the time, with visas for Congo and DRC soon to expire. We had no expectations, only stress that we were late and unable to spend more quality time with our new friends. But radu had a different plan. He would guide us to a place that we were sworn secrecy to. Beautiful, impossible to find unless initiated by someone who knows it well - and there are very few of those people - this place can read your emotional profile and respond with the right energy, the one you need to recover your balance, to feel one. In this LOST place there is a beach, the perfect beach.

Anticipating arrival.


The off-road that eventually arrives on the beach is temperamental and difficult, separating the brave from the unworthy. The rain was soon melting the sand and laterite into a lava under our truck. Then we arrived on the shore: mellow waters washing white sands, not a soul for miles, paradise.

The only human touch: a shed with a table with benches, a barbecue, a hammock.

I struggle for hours to light the barbecue. I am having a great time doing this.




Cristina tastes the olive oil.

The photos are far from the unbelievably laid-back reality.

After sunset we lay the table: grilled chicken and pork, tomato salad, chilled pineapple and beer, a very summery Romanian fare.

The day of our departure from Libreville, Frederik dressed Ana in elegant African attire. The girls spend the entire morning at the Angola and Congo embassies, trying to find out more about the elusive visas.

Good bye, Radu & co., good bye Libreville! Thank you for your hospitality and see you soon!

Another catholic mission becomes our home for one night: we sleep over in Mouila, hosted by a very smart monsignor, who serves us local beer and invites us into a room that is also the library.

Magnificent books, some even from the XVIII th century.

In the morning we cannot find any petrol in Mouila or N'Dende, so we make a 35 km detour to Lebamba, then we return in N'Dende for exit stamps. Now less than 50 km separate us from the misterious border to the Congo and then DRC, the dark heart of Africa. Soon, we will descent into the unknown.

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Old 01-07-2012, 08:12 AM   #111
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asa mai zic si eu ( that's what I am talking )

Imi pare bine sa mai vad si romini care viziteaza lumea . Foarte frumos si sa aveti un drum bun ! Dumnezeu sa fie cu voi !

( I am glad to see other Romanians traveling the world . Very nice and safe travels ! God Bless You ! )

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Old 01-07-2012, 08:16 AM   #112
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100% Off Road

CONGO 06/12 - 09/12

"Donnez moi l'argent!" were the first words spoken by the Congolese at the border. As always, people, especially when in uniforms, were demanding money, souvenirs, even our bike, dead sure that we are being sponsored by our government, our rich parents or that we can easily take a plane back home or just buy a new bike. We managed to avoid paying any bribes one more time and a hour later we had our passports stamped in on time. The Congo visa was not hard to get in Abuja, but it was soon to expire: we had only until the 11 th to exit the country, but what made things even more tricky was that on the 14 th a second visa would expire swell, the one for DRC. That meant the countdown to Matadi, the last place we were hoping to get the Angola visa from, had started.
The neat Gabonese landscaping had been already replaced by a hot mess of savannah vegetation, piles of garbage and laterite huts. Hordes of street kids roaming the decrepit villages, along untamed chickens, piglets and goats. Tarmac had finished long ago, we were rolling on a piste of laterite bearing all the ugly scars of recent rains. We were back to the realm of rainy season, off-road and pain.

The custom police and border control people warned us about another overlander's vehicle crossing the border about 2 hours before. Hoping we would be fast enough to catch up with them, I went full throttle ahead. When passing through Kibangou, the first little town after the border, I was so into the groove that I could not even glimpse at the police officers waving desperately. Some 5 km outside town though, I hear the unmistakable sound of a bike engine closing in. I wonder if we are being followed, but minutes later a white guy shows up on a KTM. I am so surprised that I can aryl mumble a hello. Alper is from Germany and is traveling together with his friend Esther around Africa for 8 months. They had already pitched their tent in the backyard of some villager, so they summon us to join the party. Back in Kibangou we learned that the German's set-up kicks ass: a Toyota Land Cruiser + a KTM 690, a solid mix of contort and fun!

Our host is Madame Poulet, the wife of a local motherfucker

We learn that we and the Germans share the same problem: if our DRC visa is valid until the 14th, theirs will expire only 1 day later. We conclude we all have less than 10 days to transit the two Congos, while avoiding the turbulence in Kinshasa and the potential refugees in Brazzavilles, to get the elusive Angola transit visa and, subsequently, to exit DRC. We also discover we have been planing to follow the same piste south of Mindouli, and to catch the ferry in Luozi. It's only logical that we decide to team up until Matadi...

The next morning the rain is back, we fight not to fall while riding on the bloody laterite slippery like glass and we hardly notice the stunning surroundings. The Mila-Mila mountains stretch their curvy shades of green into Gabon; a misty fog camouflages their geometry.

We soon arrive in Dolisie, the first big city in Congo, where Madame Poulet told us we can find another Angolan Consulate. Indeed, there it is and the diplomat confirms that a 5 or 7 days visa is available for 100 USD. But there are over 500 km of corrugated road to the border with DRC, so she suggests to get it in Matadi, or buy 2 transit visas and go back to Pointe Noire in order to cross Cabinda. A quick lunch and a quick run to the mechanics for the Toyo suspension and later we decide to move on with our initial plan.

The Chinese are working on the road, so we try our luck on the under construction portions, but we get in even more trouble. The sticky laterite into a deadly concoction - the African ice - that soon claims my 90% bold back tyre. Bloody Conti TKC 80! Twice I bite the dust (mud), it feels like riding on wet soap! The aluminum boxes get damaged and my rear brake lever is bent; I hammer everything in place as much as I can, but I am forced to tie one of the boxes to the frame to kind of make it work. Later, in camp, I try to get the job done more professionally, but I manage to puncture a vein with the hammer instead. Esther intervenes to stop the freakish Tarantino-style blood squirt and everything seems under control.

The next day Alper rides along on his KTM and we are having a bloody good time.

We find drinking water in a village, where, as usual, dozens of villages gather while we fill up the tanks.

For a while the road seems to improve a bit; the sun is up, and I remember how easy and fun is to ride without pillion!

The corrugated road with large potholes is more difficult for the car, so the girls are having a rough drive.

One more unidentified bush animal ends up in our lunch in Madingou, where once again we have a meeting with destiny. At a nearby table we meet a man who tells us about a different piste than the one we were to follow, a better one, he says. 100 km shorter, via Boko Songho. He was crossing that route regularly 2 years ago, we write down the name of the villages along it, we sketch a map and off we go. Beyond Boko Songho there is a blank area on the Michelin map, we will have to ride through to see what's there.

Unfortunately rain returns, and soon after the village we realize the road is not as great as we hoped. As always in Africa, information about distances, time and quality of the road is to be taken with a big grain of salt. We arrive in Boko Songho only late in the afternoon, and we are immediately summoned in the gendarmerie office. The unfriendly chief of immigration police almost has us arrested for being tourists. Who are we? What is our real mission? We are ordered to set camp on the football field and told we must stay here for 2 days, because the borders to DRC are closed. We are awaiting the official results of the elections to be broadcasted from DRC, until then nobody makes a move. Many worrying thoughts trouble our night, but before laying to sleep we have to shower in front of the whole village. The next morning we are late for our appointment with the chief, who comes up with a completely different story: now the borders are open, even if the proclamation has been delayed, but we have to pay for the exit stamp or buy a laissez-passer (in fact a document that substitutes a passport + visa for citizens of neighboring countries). We discuss a lot, finally managing to get the stamps for free, but we have to pay a visit to the sub-prefect office before departure, which is not entirely unpleasant.

Rain clouds again

The marshes, many potholes and unrelenting rain slow us down to an unbearable 6 km/h, we have only 12 km to Minga, the actual border point, where we can solve our customs papers.

Three sets of custom and police people question and want to search our vehicles in Minga. We learn that only 3-4 vehicles cross this border each month, and that the last white people were here about 12 years ago. We have to go through the meticulous and utterly ridiculous process before being told that they want some money: to stamp our passports or just to let us go, or to fix the bridge that they just found out that had been washed away by the rain. We cannot trust anybody anymore, we just want to get out of this mercantile toxic place.

Unfortunately some 2 km away the drama unfolds: the information about the bridge proves accurate, we explore by bike the surroundings only to find an alternate route that stops in a village, so after pondering the idea that we could fix the bridge ourselves, we eventually return to Minga, to negotiate a solution with the village chief.

Alper is delegated to hire a team of workers and in the meantime we are invited to sleep over in the mayor's house, still under construction. We dine by oil lamp light and all we can think of is whether the villagers will cooperate to make the bridge somehow posable tomorrow…As the house has no windows and no doors, chickens, pigs and goats roam our "bedroom" all night. We put our mosquito net on the floor, everything is wet and reeks of sweat and mud. How will we get out of this?

At 9 in the morning we are happy to count 14 villagers working on the bridge thing. We just might make it!

Also the water level has dropped considerably overnight. 90 minutes later we are able to cross the makeshift bridge.

And it only cost 10,000 CFA, a t-shirt and 1,000 CFA worth of Pastis.

11 km farther we reach N'Finga, the dreaded and much awaited frontier of DRC. The people are so surprised to see us that they forget to ask any bribes, and so we cross the friendliest border in Africa so far. The custom formalities and actual stamping takes place in the next bigger village, N'Kundi, where we find more friendly faces and loads of kids who, we are told, are seeing white people for the first time in their lives. A man in uniform starts directing the kids to chant our names, tattooed in their young memories as marks of a historical moment. But for us, the moment is indeed a milestone to remember: we managed to get inside DRC before our visa expired, and in a time when all foreign media had launched a paranoid propaganda about the elections.
Now we were chasing the Angola visa before the 14th of December. A new challenge was on!
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Old 01-07-2012, 08:23 AM   #113
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We got into DRC. Now How Can We Get Out Of Here?

DRC 11/12 - 19/12

In N'Kundi we were now gods, so changing money, refueling and finding food was a child's play. In this country everybody "eats" the dollar, or the congolese franc. It feels like a parallel universe: while nobody outside here gives a damn about the US currency, here they only take and use crisp banknotes that look like they just came out of the printer. And the prices are quite paranormal, compared to the rest of West and Central Africa: we don;t know how will we afford to even transit this country, food, fuel, everything is expensive, and low quality. At least we are being told that the road will start to get better from here on, but how can we trust such an information?

Should we have made this journey by boat?

Our semi-amphibian vehicles suffer a lot. Some flooded passages are so deep that my front like is completely submerged. The Toyo is having even a harder time coping with the immense pools, due to the extreme back load.

Every other pool of water we have to stop and check the depth and discuss how to approach it. Sometimes I ride in front, right through the moddle of the ponds, to help Alper assess the water level.

In between drama we take a breather on the sandy rocky patches. Our boots are filled with dirty water, we are soaking wet and no more dry clothes in the sacks!

We completely miss the beauty of this charming region, totally stressed out and worn out.

Disaster strikes: trying to avaid the deep middle, Toyo ends up with both differentials stuck in the mud. We try everything; we push…

We fight...

We dig with shovels, hammers, our bear hands…

Then we push again…

Finally, 3 long hours later, we manage to extract the car from the mosquito infested marsh. We are totally exhausted, wet and in dispar, but we decide it's impossible to stop now. There is no place to camp, we have nothing to change into and we have to push it to Luozi, where we hope to catch the ferry tomorrow. Two more times the Toyota gets stuck: once a providential Rover comes to the rescue. At almost midnight we arrive, and almost faint asleep, at the catholic mission in Luozi, where we are hosted for free.

We were on the ferry the next day at 11, but we crossed the mighty Congo only 5 hours later. The very drunk ferry worker that has squinted to see the rain coming made everybody leave the deck and wait and wait and wait. The rain came indeed, an hour later, then there was nothing else to do, but drink, talk and hope the rain will stop. On the other side of Congo the road was almost impassable after all that water had fallen over for hours: I don't even know how we managed to get through. Every meter of that road was pure hell, alternating rocky steep inclines with deep ravines, deep soapy mud with sandy tracks, punctuated by abyssal holes filled with sticking water. To make our ride even harder, rain started once again: small drops, cold, unrelenting. I couldn't believe it when at 21 hrs, after 6 days of riding over 700 km off-road I finally hit tarmac again. We had to stop and cheer, then we decided to splurge on a room for the night. In Kimpese we found a catholic mission, not so catholic after all, as they wanted to charge us 100 USD for two not so functional rooms. Finally we settled for 40 and got some salty goat brochettes and beer to celebrate our success.

Back to our fav breakfast in the mo'

We fill up our tanks under the electoral posters. In the background, the opposition candidate who had announced organized riots after the voting.

The 140 km to Matadi are a breeze as the sun is shining for the first time in days and we have perfect tar road under our wheels.

By 11 we were knocking at the Angolan Embassy. But here we had another shocking news: the consul had fled to Angola on an early Xmas holiday, under the pretext of potential civil unrest before, during and after the DRC elections. There is nobody here to make our visas, only the bodyguard and a secretary remain, the consulate is closed until at least the 15th of January! Our hopes are shattered, we have made it here in time, in spite of all the hardships, only to knock at a closed door….What will happen now? Was all this that we have been through in vain, or will we somehow find a way out?

mrwwwhite screwed with this post 01-07-2012 at 11:13 AM
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Old 01-07-2012, 08:30 AM   #114
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Off to Lubumbashi

For more than 10 days we have tried everything: Muanda, going to the border to talk to the police on both sides, Dolisie. We interviewed truck drivers and car salesmen who go for Angola runs all the time. We got the chief of immigration to mobilize his connections for us. We rode to Kinshasa in the middle of the presidential inauguration, when the capital came to a standstill. But it was all for nothing. We cannot get the Angola visa, the embassy will not issue it for tourists traveling by car/bike and the French consul cannot help us. We could apply at an Angola embassy in Europe, but only in January, as now all diplomatic missions have closed for holidays. We had to get an extension for our DRC visas, so now we have 2 months to figure this mess out.

And we have made our decision! We are leaving to Zambia, 2000 off-road tracks will hopefully get us closer to our destination. We will have an extrem Xmax indeed! Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you all!
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Old 01-07-2012, 08:32 AM   #115
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We are here

Our possition in real time (GPS Spot on the Defender)
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Old 01-07-2012, 08:58 AM   #116
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This is one hard core ride report!

Well done guys, keep it up!
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Old 01-07-2012, 01:20 PM   #117
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Fingers crossed for you guys, the road, ..erm, I mean the sandy path to Lubumbashi will not be easy. I see from tracking you've made some serious progress already - we'll all wait pics and stories how it went.

Safe trails,
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Old 01-08-2012, 05:04 AM   #118
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Guys, this is an incredible journey! My wife and I are watching/reading every minute and hoping you stay safe. Good luck!!!
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Old 01-14-2012, 03:13 PM   #119
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GREAT...keep it coming!!!
The Suit:What would you consider to be your greatest weakness?
Me: Honesty.
The Suit: Honesty? I don't think honesty could be construed as a weakness.
Me: I don't give a fuck what you think.
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Old 01-14-2012, 04:54 PM   #120
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>"Our host is Madame Poulet, the wife of a local motherfucker"

Eh ???? !!!!!!!!!!
"I don't really know, I've been too busy falling down."
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