Originally posted to HUBB on 15th August, 2017
To pick up where we left off though, we departed Brazzaville early to beat the road closure for the elections that weekend. No troubles through the Poole region down to the Boko crossing into the DRC. We got our passport stamped in Louingui based on iOverlander advice. Stamped again at the border. Great roads on an adventure bike if they are dry. Wouldn't be much fun in the wet.
We were stamped into the DRC no problems and ended up on the ferry before we realized customs for the bikes was on the north side of the Congo. It never mattered anyway as we never pursued it in Kinshasa and never got asked for it departing.
We had a wild experience heading into Kinshasa. We stopped in a town to check the map and were just swamped with people and a policeman stroking a taser asking for our documents and to "Give him money!" It was the DRC you hear about. Intense, overwhelming and awesome. We won him over finally without paying anything and reducing the aggression. We ended up having him offer his office to lock the bikes and pitch the tent for the night. It was late in the day and we weren't going to make it to Kinshasa and it worked out in our favor. Just had to stay cool and ride it out.
In Kinshasa we were introduced to Frank Verhoestraete, a 4 x Dakar racer and all around great guy, riding a rally spec KTM 690. He is Belgian but grew up in the DRC.
Richard had another rocker arm explode which was frustrating. It failed on the way to Frank's garage so it could have been worse. We managed to swap out the arm with the other spare that we brought with us and get as much exploded metal out of the engine. That would come to haunt us again but we will get to that in Namibia.
We changed our our tires, putting on Continental TKC80s front and rear. After ~15,000km the Mitas E-07s still had a good 30-40% on them. We probably could have gotten all the way to Cape Town on them, but with the rugged, sandy Lubumbashi crossing that we planned, the TKCs made good sense. We left the Mitas tires there for any bikers in need of tires. Get in touch if you need them and I can put you in touch with Frank. But there are 2 sets of E-07s (21-90/90 and 18-140/80) there in Kinshasa.
The bikes needed quite a bit of TLC once we got into it. Just wear and tear and rubbing and general maintainence. We swapped out our front sprockets from 15T to 14T for the slower, clutch heavy Lubumbashi crossing. Both our headlights had vibrated the frame loose but nothing some good African skills couldn't fix easily.
We had planned to leave for Lubumbashi the next day but needed a rest day and so postponed a day. That day off we met a restaurant owner that basically talked us out of crossing the Kasai region. There were the 2 UN experts murdered recently and 40 policeman beheaded. None of that was new information but he got us thinking twice. Current info from connections of Frank's who drive the road regularly said it was possible, but with Richard's wife at home pregnant, there was no good reason to chance it. We were pretty disappointed to not do the crossing which was one of the big attractions of the trip, but that is life.
We found a cargo flight to Lumbumbashi for $200 per person plus $1.5 per kilogram for the bikes but our preference was to keep the rubber on the road in a continuous line through Africa so we set about getting an Angola visa.
This was not easy, but in the end it worked out. The first visit to the embassy in Kinshasa they flat out refused, but we managed to get a phone number for a Mr Amba and that got us through another door and then the process began to move forward. It took 3 days, a bunch of waiting, and a Note Verbal from the British Embassy but we got a 5 day transit visa in the end. If we had of considered Angola sooner, I think the place to apply for the visa is Pointe Noire in Republic of Congo.
We left Kinshasa for the Kimbala border. It was another DRC experience, riding crazy roads made fun on the bikes, snaking up through the mtns and through villages. We spent another intense night in a village and crossed over the next morning. We were sorry to not experience more of the DRC.
The DRC exit was a little prolonged and they searched our bags, for what we weren't sure. If it was diamonds they didn't look very hard. But it was all friendly enough. They don't see many tourists through that border and inspected our visas intensely, even though we were leaving.
The tarmac started right at the gate with Angola. Angola was all above board. Computers and clean offices and clear procedures. It was a bit of a shock actually. Visas were accepted no problems and the TIP for the bikes was all very official. I forget exactly how much we paid, but it was perhaps $19 each bike. We didn't have any currency so changed some with some locals near the exit. That would come back to haunt us also.
Approx 40kms down the road a check point stopped us. Thankfully we stopped instead of our normal habit of running them, but they unholstered their guns and seemed to mean business. Shortly after a car pulled up behind us and it was the guy Richard changed the money with. They thought we gave them fake USD and had phoned the checkpoint to alert them to the foreign hustlers headed their way. The $50 bill was printed in 2009 and that wasn't good enough apparently. It was quickly remedied by swapping it for a crisp bill printed in 2013 and everyone was jovial again.
From there on out Angola was great. We moved quickly to get through with our 5 day visa but it was a great experience, camping with local farmers and generally some spectacular scenery.
We made it through Angola in 5 days. 4 days would be possible but it is faster speeds and slightly bigger days. We didn't go through Luanda at all or get to enjoy any of the things Angola does offer, but that's the way it goes.
We crossed into Namibia at the Calueque border crossing, riding some fun sandy roads off the highway from Xangongo. Stamping out of Angola was easy and while Namibia took a bit of time, it was easy enough. Namibia checked the VIN numbers on the bikes and gave us a TIP free of charge. They were a bit unsure how to process us without Carnets but they figured it out. As of May 2017 there is a road tax. It was all very legitimate with prices printed on the window. N$177 per motorcycle and N$277 for a 4x4. We got a printed receipt. Try to have Namibian dollars if you can as there was no currency exchange there and we ended up getting a terrible rate.
Otherwise we were into Namibia which is just an incredible place to ride a motorcycle. I'll pick that up in another post.