Trip Start Mar 11, 2009
Trip End Jan 05, 2010

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Where I stayed
Motel Embeyi

Flag of Gabon  ,
Sunday, July 5, 2009

26th - Heading to the Gabon border just on the other side of the Ntem River.  Brief stop in Ebolowa to buy food.  After crossing the border we went through the town of Bitam where we could eventually get our entry stamp, weird how you can't get this at the actual border.  Had a chance to explore the town, it was interesting to see shops/supermarkets on a grander scale than we've previously seen since Morocco.  Bush camped after driving through Oyem.

Dist cov. = 335 km

27th - Stopped at the town of Mitzic to buy lunch.  It was unusual for us not to draw a large crowd when we stop in town, I think its a welcome change compared to other occasions.  After leaving here we are driving on the road to get as close as possible to Lambarene.  The roads are very windy making it an interesting challenge to read a book.  We crossed the Equator for the 1st time of this trip and my 1st time by land.

Dist cov. = 305 km

28th - Drove into Lambarene where the majority of the group including myself went to see the Albert Schweitzer (Nobel Peace Prize winner in 1952) Hospital.  The museum was based in the old hospital building from 1924, originally founded to treat lepers, and was set out in the original condition of the time it was opened.  It's definetly worth a visit even though we were not allowed a lot of time to view it, roughly 15 mins.  Mind you we were expecting to pay around US$6 but it was only US$1 - a complete bargain.

Had a short time in town before meeting the truck, this is where we encountered a problem.  We were to meet the truck by the post office, but this town has 2 - one on either side of the river.  Eventually sorted this problem out after losing an hour or so in the process.

Bush camped up the road we came in on and the cook group of Martin, Gwynne and Tamara made and cooked 9 pizzas for dinner - a very impressive effort.  There was also an Equator party after dinner with plenty of gin punch.

At this bush camp virtually everybody was covered in bites mainly from the evening but some, myself included, in the morning.  This was the work of the dreaded fourous (tiny insects) which leave red splotches that won't hurt until a couple of days later when the infernal itchiness ensues.  The splotches don't show for a couple of hours and deet doesn't stop this insects either.  But these are the most painful bites that I have ever had in terms of itchiness.

Dist cov. = 205 km

29th - Long day drive to Lope and and the Reserve de la Lope, Gabon's most popular national park, brief stop in Ndjole for lunch.  We are staying at Motel Embeyi - Annex of Lope Hotel in the heart of the town.

Dist cov. = 197 km

30th - Arranged to do a game drive at 4pm tomorrow, supposedly the best time to view the elephants, buffalo, birds etc. in the reserve.  Lazy day otherwise.

July 1st - Lazy day waiting for the game drive.  On the game drive we saw a family group of around 7 forest elephants, which were beside the forest edge.  Later we saw some monkeys in a tree, but too high up to make out the species.  Our spotter found some buffalo in the distance and some people got out to walk closer to them, but unfortunately for them the buffalo moved out of their view when they started to get closer.  It was a good choice for me to stay on the truck as 5 more buffalo appeared out of the forest from behind us around 1km away and out of sight for the walkers.

2nd - Left Lope to drive towards Franceville, but we stopped twice to fill up the radiator which hadn't been completely fixed during our stay in Lope.  We went through 100Litres of water in 2hrs due to this problem, so the truck was parked up at 10am and the radiator was taken away with Chris to a nearby logging camp to be repaired.  While they were away for nearly 4hrs the truck was swarmed with flies - so Ben+Sarah, Phil+Annie, Martin+Gwynne, Lene, Heather and myself got out our respective mosquito nets for the duration of the stay on the truck.  We are camping at the logging camp in the village of Offoue while the radiator is being repaired in the workshop.

My 'Africa Diet' is still working, dropped another 2.5kg this month taking the total loss to 17.5kg.

Dist cov. = 37 km

3rd - Radiator is fixed as well as it can be and we're off on our way to Franceville again.  We stopped for lunch in Lastourville (Bonda) and found a bush camp on the outskirts of town.  Initially we found a great place to camp but it turned out to be a runway so we opted for a gravel pit.

Dist cov. = 224 km

4th - Finally reached Franceville, which is spread over rolling green hills cut with laterite roads and is Gabon's third largest city (population wise) - it is situated on the Bateke Plateau.  We had 4hrs to explore, but as everything is spread out most people did the following: visit the market, use the internet and shop in a supermarket, while at some point having lunch.  We bush camped outside the city.

Dist cov. = 192 km

5th - We drove to the border town of Leconi, which is 70 km past Bongoville, birthplace of the late president.  Between Franceville and Leconi the road is tarmac, great for us timewise to drive to the border.  Brief stop in Leconi to fill up on fuel.  A few kms outside of town the tarmac abruptly ends and becomes a sand road....oh joy!  Eventually reached the first of many police stops on the Congo side, got through all bar Customs so we aren't officially in the country.  Bush camped on the side of the road and watched the bush fires off in the distance.

Dist cov. = 178 km
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