Rumble through the jungle reaches Cameroon

This year we ran a one off exploratory 'Rumble Through the Jungle' expedition through the heart of Africa to celebrate our 20th year of running overland tours and expeditions.

Setting off from Arusha, Tanzania near Mount Kilimanjaro on 15th May, our adventurous travellers led by legendary crew Andi and Grant, finally reached their end destination, Buea at the foot of Mount Cameroon in West Africa earlier this month.

Arusha, the start point, is a tourist hotspot but the expedition soon headed well off the beaten track to Western Tanzania and the shores of Lake Tanganyika, the world’s longest freshwater lake. Tucked in the north west corner of Tanzania, the lake is home to Gombe Stream National Park, set up by Jane Goodall in the 60’s and where our group tracked chimpanzees, followed by Katavi National Park where hippo and crocodiles were spotted.

Our group travelled south along the lake, stopping in small towns and villages to shop at local markets before crossing into Zambia and taking a break at Kapishya Hot Springs and finally arriving in the capital Lusaka to obtain Angola visas.

Visas in hand, Andi, Grant and the group set off via Kafue National Park to Western Zambia and the border with Angola. From the town of Mongu the terrain of the Zambezi river floodplain was challenging, using shovels to dig the truck out of bog holes and using sandmats to drive across wet or sandy ground. It took one and half days to travel across no mans land from the Zambian border post to that of Angola and they were the first tourists to cross this border in two years. Days of driving through remote villages, passing abandoned tanks from the civil war and camping out in the bush ensued before reaching the stunning Calandula Falls in a forest setting. Finally our group hit the west coast and travelled north. The road conditions were so bad that the truck travelled at an average of 6km per hour but eventually reached the border with DRC at Matadi and a few days more brought them to the capital of DRC, Kinshasa.

Kinshasa lies on the southern banks of the Congo River which is also the border between DRC and the Republic of Congo. The city looks across to Brazzaville, the Republic of Congo’s capital and the group’s next destination.  However, it was not possible to cross the river with our truck at this point so after a few days in the city, the group journeyed south following the Congo River before crossing this vast waterway and the border into the Republic of Congo.  Backtracking up river to Brazzaville, the two countries and their capital cities appeared to be very different, Brazzaville being much more relaxed and friendly with some great places to pass the time – fancy drinks and beach volleyball on a sandbar in the river anyone? Meeting another traveller coming from the north, Andi, Grant and the group were informed they would see a change in the weather and extra shovels were bought in anticipation of the rainy season and the resulting bog-holed roads that lay ahead.

Travelling north our group had some fantastic experiences including viewing Lowland Gorillas in the wild along the banks of the Lefini River, not at all like the Mountain Gorilla trek in East Africa as the gorillas are not used to seeing humans and the riverine landscape is so different. Further north near the town of Ouesso, some of the group met families from Baka Pygmy villages on the Sangha River which forms the border with Cameroon.  The truck and group were loaded onto a ferry to cross the Sangha and take them to Cameroon and headed to Lobeke National Park for a fantastic trekking and wildlife experience, hiking through swamps and forests to see Lowland Gorillas, antelope, forest buffalo and incredible birdlife and sleeping in remote camps.

From here slow progress was made as the rain set in and road conditions deteriorated. After a few days tough travelling north and west through small villages and lush rainforest, Cameroon’s capital Yaounde was reached for some rest and recuperation before the expedition’s final drive to Buea.