Trans Africa update - Gabon & Congo

Here is the next update from Nev & Kristy our crew running the Oasis Trans Africa expedition and a few members of the group of their tales and stories of their adventure.

GABON – By Lisa….
In Gabon, we crossed over the equator, and in Lopé National Park saw buffaloes bathing in mud and forest elephant. We saw three herds of elephant, two of which we viewed from the 4×4, and one of which we followed on foot at dusk. As we were struggling to take photos with low light and no flash, we were suddenly told ‘Reculez! Reculez!’ [Get back! Get back!] as they had begun slowly walking towards us. They stopped for a little while but then continued walking towards us and we were told several more times ‘Reculez! Reculez!’, before finally having to get quickly back into the safety of our 4×4.

We only had one night and morning in Libreville unfortunately, but still made the most of the time we had, having dinner at ‘La Dolce Vita’ (clearly we need to get out more often as we were all over-excited by the packets of butter and wine that doesn’t come in a carton or 5 litre plastic bottle, let alone the meals themselves!) and dancing with the locals at the nearby ‘Aristocrat’ nightclub.

The following day, we were offered a lift into town by a very friendly local ‘Chef de l’Entreprise’ who ended up offering all four of us jobs! He said he needed someone in marketing to work in Paris and Luxembourg from time to time. A-MA-ZING! We only had a few hours that morning to visit Libreville, and spent most of it bargaining at the Artisan’s Market and visiting the waterfront sculptures. 

CONGO – By Josh….
“Congo”, a famous name that invokes a sense of the exotic and the unknown, even the slightly mysterious. I’d heard it as a child and never dreamed that I’d ever find myself in a position to visit this heart of Africa….Yet there we were, sitting at the border, eagerly awaiting the stamps in our passports and permission to explore this new country.

Eagerly waiting….and waiting…and waiting. Yet another border crossing in West and Central Africa, and another game of patience while the baffling bureaucratic processes were performed by the border guards, bemused by the sight of a big yellow Truck filled with dirty but smiley foreigners….and possibly slightly annoyed by the disturbance to their sleepy peace.

For us this had just become part of the routine of travelling in Africa, and for me at least one of the vaguely frustrating aspects which I secretly love. But this border was particularly memorable for one reason – beer! Yes, the Congo side of No Man’s Land was ready and waiting for us thirsty overlanders with a shack-bar, and the luxury of cold beer.

Cold beer remained at the forefront of our minds for the remainder of the day, and when a local man arrived at our bushcamp trying to sell us a variety of medications by the single tablet, we seized our opportunity to ask him if there was a local bar. “Bien sur!” he replied, of course “a 20 minute walk”. Done. The hunt was on, and a group of us headed out in search of Ngok and Primus.

Crucial error: we had forgotten to translate African time. The 20 minute walk became 30 minutes, and then 40, and no sign of a bar, though the clusters of wonderfully Africa huts and beautiful jungly landscapes made the walk extremely enjoyable….As did the hordes of little children shouting and waving at us, something common throughout West Africa but something that can never be tired of. Finally, after nearly an hour, we arrived, our quest complete, cold beer! But, having taken so long to get there, it was almost time to return, and Amy, the only French speaker with us, spent valuable drinking time negotiating a ride home – by now it was dark, and the long walk back didn’t sound so appealing. Instead, we clambered onto the back of a pickup, already loaded with a collection of local people and chickens, and enjoyed travelling local style back to our bushcamp.

The next few days in the Congo were drive-days, filled with incredible scenery, from forests and plains to bizarre and breathtaking hill formations. Most of us spent our days hanging out of the side of the Truck, enjoying the feast for our eyes, and waving happily at the villagers whose shouts and cheers of greeting were the soundtrack to our journey.

Look out for the next episode and many more tales and adventures to come from Africa soon!