The wrong road

The wrong road …….

Today we continued to enjoy The Congo in the capital Brazzaville, we stay in a nice place, The Hippocampe, were we get washing done and mostly dry before the evening rain starts.

We have dinner by the mighty Congo river with Kinshasa on the other bank and we find a branch of the French Paul chain with bread and pastries just as if we were in Paris, Tony liked it so much he insisted we go for breakfast (you can tell he is getting demob happy with only a week to go)

After our lovely (expensive) breakfast, we go to see the rapids of the Congo River, which did for one of Tony’s great great uncles by marriage who was with Stanley on his expedition and died there.

We plugged Point Noir into Google at the rapids and set off, we had become complacent, used to the excellent main roads in the Congo, and expected the N1 diagonal route to be the same, missing the cross checks we usually do.

Big mistake

The road, busy at first, gradually became more lonely, at a roundabout we had to turn left and I said to Tony “did we miss a turn? This does not look good!” But no this was the route.

What followed was four hours of disintegrating road getting gradually worse and worse, soon we were in low ratio, picking lines across deep ruts, erosion gouges in the mud road, tiny narrow bridges with no sides and big drop offs and deep mud pools which came over the bonnet at times as we exited wheels spinning to the next challenge 10 or more times Tony had to get out and scout the route.

Turns out that the road we were on has been abandoned in favour of a nice new highway 100km to the north, but nobody told Google, once the road got bad no local cars, minibuses or trucks were seen, none….

We made it through to the main highway eventually but when we checked our system for notes on the road (a step we normally do but missed today) multiple travellers had turned back to the city….

So an unexpected adventure quite a way to spend a Monday afternoon….

The rapids of the Congo were a relative of Tony’s met his end
This does not look like the right road
Power on, low ratio, diffs locked and wheels spinning I exit yet another mud hole, some of the angles were so steep the back step got folded up by the ground
Running along the dried out ruts can get one quite sideways at times, and big gouges across the road from streams are a challenge to traverse without getting bounced onto your side
In the car this feels very steep, but the photo has the effect of flattening out depth perception, I remembered my off road driving instructions here, low ratio first, feet off the accelerator and brake, let the engine do the work
Finally onto “the right road” after four hours of sweat and anxiety I was knackered and Tony took over for the smooth run to Dolise, well smooth apart from the bit where he did not see a ramp at 70km/hr…..
As we near our destination we have been driving for 8 hours three hours longer than expected and dusk is falling, but we have a nice (free) place to stay and they have a restaurant so a good end to the day and another unexpected adventure under our belts

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