Bikepacking the Democratic republic of congo (DRC) Introduction The following is a collection of stories from 5 weeks bikepacking through the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). I continued riding through
MAKING NEW PLANS
WHILST IN KIGALI (RWANDA)
Hiding my drone while crossing the border
While crossing the border into Rwanda I had to hide my drone.
Drones are illegal in Rwanda and I heard that at the border they were quite strict in searching and X-raying your person and bags on the bike.
After consulting with some people that had recently crossed the border with their bikes, I decided the best thing to do was hide the drone in a dry bag and then place it in the frame bag on my bike. Of the 3 people I spoke to, none of them had their frame bags checked.
So that’s what I did, and lucky I did!
While I didn’t have to X-ray anything because the security guard at the X-ray machine was at lunch, I had to take all the bags off my bike and empty the contents onto a table for a security officer to check.
The lady was even checking all the little bags inside the big bags. So just asI was told, every single bag was checked quite thoroughly except my frame bag, which was poked at with 2 fingers once.
So I guess I was pretty lucky. I’ll make sure not to fly the drone while in Rwanda but it would have been a real hassle to try and return to the same border to retrieve the drone in a few weeks when I leave Rwanda.
Taking tHE Bus to Kigali
After making it across the border, I would have to take another bus to Kigali, the capital, as my rear wheel now had 2 massive chunks missing out of the rim and it really wasn’t safe to ride…especially with all the hills here.
So I asked the bus driver if I could take the bike on the bus and he made me pay for 5 seats, 1 for me and 4 for the bike. The buses were more like mini buses (Toyota Coaster). I tried to negotiate a better price because the bus was only half full but he ensured me the bus was going to get full along the way…which indeed it did and in fact people weren’t let on the bus because it was too full.
Most of the time they looked at the bike taking up the back 4 seats and then looked me in the eye and shook their head haha
After a few hours, I eventually made it to Kigali where I’m spending 10 days waiting for my brother to arrive with my new rear wheel that Priority Bicycles had sent me.
Kigali was the first city I’d been to that had gardens and plants around the city. It was really nice. A really built up clean city that was a great place to rest and recharge.
Visiting the Congo (DRC) EMbassy
Planning to travel across the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), I knew that obtaining a visa outside your home country was almost impossible.
But I decided to try my luck and visit the DRC embassy while in Kigali as I wanted to cross the DRC in 3 months.
However, I was ensured by the immigration staff that it was impossible for them to give me a visa there and they can only give it to Rwandan Residents.
I even called their boss on the phone to explain my situation and plead with them, but no luck.
A new plan
With Sudan closed due to the ongoing war, I will be unable to ride one continuous journey all the way to Egypt.
I’ve been dreaming about the Congo Jungle since I was a kid, so I’m trying to come up with a solution to visit there even though I’m not able to get a visa here in Kigali.
I will most likely try again at the DRC embassies in Kampala, Uganda and Nairobi, Kenya since I’m passing there anyway. But I don’t have high hopes I will be able to get a visa.
However, while trying to find another solution, I heard from other travellers that it might be possible to get a DRC visa whilst in Cameroon. So a new plan is festering in my mind to fly from Nairobi to Cameroon in 3 months.
Fly to Cameroon and get a DRC visa and continue south through Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo, DRC and finish my time in Africa in Angola…we will see what happens.
If I still don’t get the DRC visa in Cameroon, I will continue to ride South towards Angola through the Republic of Congo and maybe even visit Gabon.
The Congo Jungle covers Cameroon, Central African Republic, Gabon, Republic of Congo and Democratic Republic of Congo. So either way, if I fly to Cameroon, I’ll have the option to visit the Congo Jungle which really excites me.