I was not a tourist. I had two weeks to visit our new southern base camp from which we are exploring the entire 23,000 sq miles of forest that make up the three-river basin, Tshuapa-Lomami-Lualaba (TL2). Importantly, I needed to make “diplomatic” contacts with local authorities.
John came out from the camp to meet me in Kindu. He let me know that the trip, although less than 150 miles, would be a trial by water.
“Prepare yourself,” he said. “There are 99 bridges to negotiate and none of them are easy.” That seemed extreme. So I tried to count them along the way. Indeed our motorbikes had to cross water more than 80 times, but I lost track both going and coming.
Of these crossings:
Two were dug-out ferries (across the Kasuku River and the Lomami River).
Loading our motorbikes to cross the Kasuku river. The ghostly struts of a bridge from “colonial glory” stand waiting for some still indiscernible change in fortune.
Eight (still close to Kindu) were “legitimate” bridges that we could cross without dismounting our motorbikes.
The rest were each and every one a project.
First: get off the moto .
Second : at least two people (preferably bigger and stronger than me) position the bike on the narrow uneven logs.
Third : balance, counter balance, re-position and heave.
Some of the streams we tried to ford, few of them successfully.
We made it in two days, arriving at Katopa camp at 19hr 30 (7:30 PM, well after dark) on the second day. The distance : 230 km or 143 miles. Of course we did not meet a single tourist and it has probably been at least 30 years since anyone even remotely considered this magical place as a possible tourist destination.
We will continue to build a little collection of notes for the intrepid Congo Tourist.