Friday, 16 May 2008

11th May 08

Date: 11th May 08
Location: Franceville, Gabon
Weather: Lovely day, sunny and scattered clouds….although I hear it’s very warm in the UK today….still 10°c colder than here. 37°c
Status: Happy as you can get, loving Africa and still moving south.

Got up lazily and thoroughly enjoyed my morning, superb breakfast, internet connection where I managed to phone Mum in Spain in time for her birthday, followed by packing up the tents and hitting the road for the border town of Leconi, our next stopping point on the mission as we prepare to cross the border into Congo even though our visas don’t start until the 14th we’ll go there and give it a go to see if they will let us through early. Failing that there is always a good deal still to see in the area.

The road to Leconi was another suprising newly laid tarmac delight which wound its way out of the forested areas and higher up onto the open rolling hills of eastern Gabon which I didn’t expect at all. Some parts looked like the New Forest in England and some parts like Natal in South Africa but it was truly awesome and very photogenic!

Pulled into the police stop outside of the town to ask about the visa situation and they recommended just giving it a go and see what happens, they will allow us back into the country if we have problems on the Congo side. As we left the police stop the radio crackled into life and Kees reported that he was getting a load of wobbling from his wheel so we stopped had a look and found that one of the rear wheels had cracked totally around the welded seam in 3 places and was about to fail completely so we had to remove the replacement at the side of the road and fit it, rather worrying though that such a major part had gone wrong. We checked the other wheels carefully but found no further problems.

As we were stopped a Toyota Hilux pulled up along side and I chatted with the driver who asked where we were off to, when I said the Leconi Canyon he recommended that we take a guide up there as there had been bandit activity in the area and it would be best for our safety! So we rounded up a likely candidate and he directed us to the canyon. It was beautiful, a red and orange sandstone wash out area which had been formed over the last few thousand years and looked like a mini grand canyon, if you can have such a thing! Took photos and headed back on the sand road towards the police station where we’d camp the night.

Bre drover from the canyon back to the road but as we got halfway there the big truck got stuck…..again, this time in soft sand and after about 4 attempts finally pulled itself clear by cutting a new track at the edge of the existing one. This left our route soft and rutted, Patrick had fun driving out of it and got bogged down but the Colonel sailed through as ever, proving yet again the worthiness of a Land Rover as an overland vehicle!

Got back to the camp, Kerry cooked dinner and Bre and I sat in the hammock talking before hitting the sack.

End of day location: Leconi, Gabon
Distance covered: 119kms

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