Things to do on your birthday…

Ndjole Travel Blog

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half way up the world...or is it half way down??? all depends where you're standing...

Eventually we got the Gabon visa and Matt’s bike appeared to be working again after stopping many times on the way in, had bad connections from sat for 18months in the Togo’s sea air.  We left the Cameroon’s capital city loaded with cash and this time I avoid bashed by a taxi, unlike my way in. 

It was an easy ride to the border apart from a huge tropical downpour that forced us off the road and taking cover in a local’s house. The crossing was simple, one of the guys commented about my birthday the next day and I couldn’t resist asking for a gift in French (cadeau! cadeau!), I’ve been asked for gifts so many times during the trip but now it was my turn.

My first rear flat...not the last
  The custom guys had a good laugh at the irony of me asking for a gift instead of them and said to come back tomorrow and they would give me a gift.  That night we got to Bitam and I hit reserve tank on the bike, I suck the juice on the way down and the fast ride in as it was getting dark, but it was only 300km?  it was also bad fuel as the bike was lacking the power.  That night when we were in the hotel the heavens opened again.

It was a slightly cloudy start to my birthday and I dug to the bottom of my pannier to retrieve my water proof top to keep handy.  The road heading south had me wishing I was on a sports bike again, lovely twisty smooth banked roads with little traffic cutting through the forest.  In this part of the world vehicle wrecks by the road was replaced by massive logs that rolled off the logging lorries, they were not worth recovering, I’m not surprised by the speeds these lorries travel and the way they secure there loads.

the route to Lope
  Eventually we were on the equator and did the usual photos, I felt so good to be on the south of the world, an excellent birthday treat, all down hill from here!!  Hahahahaha  And HAPPY BIRTHDAY PAULINA!!  8)

Just after the equator the road disappeared into a rough track and a couple of dogs shot out from a nearby house wanting a piece of me running along side the bike barking, they got a bit confused when I started to bark loudly back at them.  We were hoping to be in Lope national park but first we had to ride another 37km to get fuel then double back to where the 90km piste lead to Lope.  It was getting dark soon so we stayed in transport town of Ndjole after getting fuel (reminded me of a border town) and had some lovely food from a street stall.

view from hotel in Lope of the Ogooue river

The next day we rode the piste to Lope, was a bit rough in places but it was a wide hard gravel piste with logging lorry’s kicking up a huge cloud of dust.  I was really enjoying the route and having fun but then my back end felt very loose sliding much more than normal.  My first rear puncher, had to happen some time.  Under the shade of the trees we got to work and I had my spare tube fitted pretty quickly, I picked up a piece of metal.  The sweat fly’s and a couple of bees bussed around us as Matt pumped it back up, 25lbs, then there was a sudden release of air, the tyre was flat as a pancake again.  I had this tube patched over a weak point and the guy who did the repair managed to split the tube just under the patch.  One of the good things about travelling with someone with the same bike is its handy when fault finding, Matt’s bike, and when you have no other spare tube, my bike.  The sweat fly’s multiplied and the bees had told all there mates about the crazy bare topped white dudes fixing a flat.  When the wheel was finally back on the bussing was wild and I had to walk/run down the road to put my gear back on, the bees loved me.  When I picked up my helmet it was full of bees, honestly I had the run down the road shaking my lid madly with them bussing free and I checked under all the inner lining for any strays before I put it on!  Last thing I wanted was a pissed off bee in my helmet!!

We checked into a nice hotel be the river in Lope, a beautiful view as the sun went down behind the hills in front of the large river Ogooue.  Had a swim in the river but not too far as the current was ripping in the 200-300meters wide flow.  The hotel was quiet, not many tourists in this part of the world and nearly all trade was from ex-pats in Libreville getting away for a while. 

After a couple of nights it was time to move again.  Before that it was nice to wash our biking cloths again, a regular part of the trip tasks and something you did when possible due to the amount of sweating and red dusty routes in central Africa.  Also went on a safari to the national park, was a bit of a disappointment, hardly any animals in lush park for some reason or they decided to have the day off.  Saw some water buffalo, chimpanzees far away and a forest elephant in the distance, thought it was a young one but adult forest elephants are much smaller.    

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half way up the world...or is it h…
half way up the world...or is it …
My first rear flat...not the last
My first rear flat...not the last
the route to Lope
the route to Lope
view from hotel in Lope of the Ogo…
view from hotel in Lope of the Og…
photo by: MrDuck