From Matadi to Kinshasa


As you will notice, our site was not updated for a while and this was due partly to non availability of connections and partly to the fact that we had a hard time surviving. But, at the end, we are well and ready for the next chapter.

Stan was partly (at the time we thought fully) fixed on Monday afternoon. At that stage we realized that we cannot continue on our planned route as it included a portion of Angola (Cabinda) situated in the middle of DRC and our Angolan visas expired. We therefore had no option but to travel to Kinshasa, take the ferry to Brazzaville Congo and then on to Gabon from there. What complicated matters even further is that our Congo visas also expired soon so we had 3 days to get out of Congo.

A typical truck transport for humans and whatever fits!! All along the way we saw lots of burnt out trucks, had no idea why, now we know!!

Once again the women do all the hard work the men

                                                                                                                                                                                use bicycles!!!

We were told that the trip to Kinshasa will take 4 hrs at the most so we were under the mistaken impression that we will easily make it before sunset. No so, at 6 we have been driving for 4hrs30min and were nowhere near Kinshasa. We therefore had to find a place to stay for the night ASAP. We found a “hotel” which was nothing more than a mosquito infected, urine smelling hole, but at least it had a double bed( Yeah!! after spending 4 nights on the floor in the convent with a snoring/coughing nun right next door and only a cardboard wall in between) Unfortunately this village was not on the garmin nor on the map so I do not know the name.

Early morning market along the wayIt looks great onthe pic!!! Note the smal door

We left at sunrise the next morning and just as well as it took another 2hrs 30 min to Kinshasa. This capital city of DRC is a madhouse, the 3rd biggest city in Africa with 6 million inhabitants and in fact only place for about 3 mill. Nevertheless we still noticed the friendly spirits of the people and were helped on our way to the ferry by a very helpful garage owner who gave us a map of the city. The garmin was absolutely useless here as was our guidebook as it seems that whoever loaded the info has never set foot in DRC, so not much help.

DRC Hairdo!!! No idea what this is but it is everywhere and seem to be very popular food

We rushed to the “Beach” the area where we had to board the ferry as we have been warned that the ferries are very irregular so we wanted to get as much info as possible due to our expiring visas. Got there and discovered after a lot of sign language and shouting that the next ferry left at 2 O’Clock that same day ! We quickly got the tickets, bloody expensive at US$ 60, but beggars can’t be choosers. The next 4 hours were hard as we sat I the blazing sun, in temp of 40 degrees with me nursing a hectic migraine and with hawkers harassing you every 2 seconds selling everything from water to plastic chairs.

The officials were for some reason not too pleased to have us there and it was hard to establish exactly where and when to go, but at 1.15 we decided to push through the gate despite verbal abuse, a lot of shouting and finger pointing and finally got onto the ferry. Not a moment too soon as what followed was complete mayhem. The whole population of Kinshasa as well as all their possessions including their furniture stormed to the ferry whilst the workers started loading uncountable bags of foodstuff, sugar, flour etc at the same time. Absolute mayhem!!! Fun to watch from the top as we made sure to get outside as soon as possible due to the heat. After at least 1hr45min the last truck was pushed on with the last 1000 bags of foodstuff and we were off !!

This was goodbye to DRC and hectic madness of Kinshasa. Despite setbacks and a few unpleasant experiences, we enjoyed this friendly, disorganized country. The people were so good to us and we do hope that they will be able to sort out their problems as it has so much potential.

Just as a warning, we discovered later that we truly have guardian angels as the road from Matadi to Kinshasa is considered extremely dangerous due to highjackings as well as robbing and shooting in as late as August last year ! It seems that our case is one of “fools rush in where angels fear to tread” but we are still not sure whether it is better or worse to know about all the dangers. As we since tried to keep up with info on safety but if you listen to the advice, there is in fact nowhere you can travel