DAYS 22 – 52: DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO (DRC)
You will enter the DRC in the region known as the Copper Belt and travel to the country’s second largest city – Lubumbashi. Colourful markets buzzing with energy are scattered throughout the city selling copper and brass bracelets and rings, carved animals made out of wood and religious figurines and crosses. The city also hosts prominent examples of colonial architecture, such as the art-deco style Palace of Justice, the Grand Hotel and the Catholic Cathedral St Pierre et Paul.
Travelling towards Kinshasa from Lubumbashi is an adventure too far for most. As far as the operator are aware this part of the journey has never been travelled with an overland company, and only very recently, after many decades, by a few western travellers on motorbikes and 4×4’s. How long the adventure will take? Well that’s not certain, as there are many factors contributing to the unknown – nonexistent roads in some areas, broken bridges, river crossings and extremes of climate to name a few. However, it is travelling through remote and rarely visited areas of Africa such as this where you can expect to encounter some of the friendliest and most welcoming people and have some of the best experiences.
Along this leg of the expedition you will encounter some of the most challenging road conditions on the whole of the route. Team work will definitely be needed if you are to overcome what lies ahead – from clearing paths through water logged pot holes the size of the truck to only travelling a couple of miles in a day over wet and unkempt mud roads. At times you will need to travel in convoy with local trucks to help each other through some of the bog holes. Hopefully one will be a Primus truck – DRC’s beer of choice! This is where everyone will be relied upon to help negotiate the roads.
The intended route follows the old train line and passes through villages such as Kamina, Kananga, Kikwit, and then onto Kinshasa. Your tour leaders will however need to discuss routes with local villages, officials and local truck drivers along the way who travel this road a little more frequently with their cargo. These are some of the most memorable times you will take away with you.
Your journey will eventually bring you to the much famed capital of Kinshasa. Situated on the banks of the mighty Congo River, the largest river in Africa, it is home to the 20th May Stadium where the historic world heavy weight boxing contest ‘The Rumble in the Jungle’ took place between George Foreman and Mohamed Ali. You will spend a couple of days in this sprawling city recharging your batteries, and obtaining visas for onward travel if required. You will have the opportunity to visit the markets selling traditional handicrafts, Congolese fabric, masks and drums. The city also hosts a vibrant nightlight where you can dance the night away. Time-permitting yo will visit Lola Ya Bonobo Sanctuary, providing a home for orphaned Bonobos. Along with the common chimpanzee, the Bonobo is the closest relative to humans and in fear of being endangered. Trails lead around the large forested enclosures enabling you to view these amazing primates.