After finding out that the border crossing from Congo to Cabinda was closed to foreign vehicles, we had to take an alternative route through Gabon into the Republic of Congo, which meant we had to travel in convoy withanother truck on route to Capetown.

Our first drive day from Libreville was backtracking our way along the road from Yaounde. We turned off the main highway 40 kms north of Njole onto a lovely dirt road, and bush camped virtually on the side of the road, just in case of rain. The next day driving was not as easy with a few obstacles in our way. First being a downhill run through the rainforest on a wet slippery road, the second was an overloaded beer truck stuck side ways in the middle on the road.


Once he was pulled out we had to wait our turn on passing though a deep crevice in the road that other trucks had turned into slop. With Ruby’s great power she managed to get through on her first attempt. Just when we thought our luck had changed the beer truck overtook us and just up the road he was stuck again. With little effort we pulled him out, but he forgot to off load a crate of beer for us for our help, nothing is for free in Africa.

That afternoon we pulled into the Lope Hotel where they kindly let us stay for free, camping in the beautiful hotel grounds. The hotel was on the banks of the Ogooue River and ran walking safaris through the forest, where people saw some kind of monkeys in the trees and driving safaris with stunning scenery, elephants and buffalo.  Others spent the day relaxing by the pool. 

The most excitement in Lope was the rain and the winds.  Some of us were protected from the storm in the bar, most others soon joined us, after their tents failed to shelter them.   Many failed to reinforce their tents, and poor Daisuke suffered the most his tent flipping with him in it. 

We made the most of the facilities of Lope and then hit the road for a long stint of bush camping, stopping off on day one in Franceville for supplies.  We had the first of our daytime rains and watched the other overland truck washing off in the rain, we weren’t so desperate for a shower at this stage but no doubt should have joined them if we were.

One more bushcamp in Gabon before hitting the Congo and sand.  Crossing out of Gabon we watched 3 trucks getting pushed up a sandy hill by a huge front-end loader, who unfortunately didn’t wait around for us.  Both trucks managed to make it up this particular hill unassisted.

The road was slow going covering 200km in three days, who would have thought the Congo was so sandy.  We got stuck a lot, and we duga lot and got the sand mats out on numerous occasions, as were towed as well.  We discovered some great swimming spots, and entertained the locals who watched us cook, and sang and danced with us next the trucks.

Week 18

We were gratefulto hit the tarmac, after three days on the sand, and had one more bush camp at a catholic mission before getting to Brazzaville.  We took a stroll to the local bar and did what you do in the Congo, and drunk Primus, it was warm but if was great.

The next day we made much better progress and covered 350kmt hitting Brazzaville in the afternoon.  We had all been a little apprehensive about Brazzaville and were pleasantly surprised.  The City was easy to get around, very interesting with some nice sites to see and the people were fantastic.

We stayed at St Anne’s Catholic School, were the girls befriended Father Roderick, who would prove to be extremely helpful, along with the Nuns at the mission.  Also we discovered are bar which was very strangely in the Catholic compound, very handy!

We thought that we were going to spend 2 nights in Brazzaville, and got Ruby stocked up for a 2 nights in Democratic Republic of the Congo and a transit through Angola.  Things unfortunately didn’t go to plan, and trying to leave Brazzaville started a very testing time on Ruby.

We set off from Camp early heading down to start the formalities and purchase ferry tickets to cross the mighty Congo River which defines the border between Congo Brazzaville and Democratic Republic of the Congo.  All went well leaving the Congo, and all turned pear-shaped when we reached the other side.  We were all trying to find shade under non-existent trees. Before we knew it the immigration officials we’re calling out our names and handing back passports and pushing us onto the last ferry back to Brazza. On arriving back to Brazzaville we had another challenge getting stamped back into the Congo. Mark and Jose got a taxi ride to the chief of immigration’s head office to try and talk our way back into the country, it turned out for the best and all he wanted was to have a chat to us. We then made our way back to St Anne’s and our lovely nuns.

The next 2 days we’re spent going to the Angolan Consulate trying to get a visa or a letter from them to say that we will be given transit visa’s in Matadi. On our first visit we we’re told that the consular was not there and will not be back for 3 weeks. Our next consulate was the British, which was nowhere to be found.  The last was the DRC consulate, which told us that even though we had a full tourist visa for the DRC we still needed a letter from the Angolans, which he would make a phone call for us that costs us $15 US. The next morning we had an appointment with the consular of Angola, which we we’re told was not available. After the hour and a half meeting with him we still came out empty handed.

 On our walk back to St Anne’s we passed the USA embassy and asked for their help. They wrote us a letter to ask the DRC consular to provide assistance in getting us across the following day. The next day was to be a public holiday for the daughter of the President of the Congo who had passed away, so all borders we’re closed, so we had to stay put, the whole country came to a stand still.

We then chanced our luck at crossing through a smaller border post, with 3 nuns and 2 priests we set off on what would become a great weekend trip out of the city limits.  With the help of the priest and the nuns we managed to get the appropriate paperwork to get us across the border.  But we needed god himself to help us on the road. 

The convoy left us where the road started turning bad, and we were off on our own, on road that we soon discovered that hadn’t been used for a long time. We got 10kms down the road and hit a very steep hill where much of the road had been washed away.  The road proved all for much Ruby, and the prop shaft twisted into 2 parts.

Fortunately where we broke down was in a shady spot with a stunning river, which was perfect for swimming and bathing.  After assessing the problem, it was discovered that Ruby’s problems was not going to be an easy fix.  We prepared for the worst and started boiling water for drinking and making bread (after we sifted the weevils out of the flour using a mosquito net), it was however not needed, as the boys managed to get patch Ruby up to get us back on the road the following afternoon, and we limped back to Brazzaville.  Was a stressful trip back, with another flat tyre and clunking sounds getting louder as we approached the night lights of Brazzaville.

Week 19

It was all heads back to the drawing board for making plans on leaving Brazzaville again. 

Mark focussed on getting Ruby fixed and back on the road, and had some frustrating times with the mechanic who was sure that the prop shaft needed to be shorter than Ruby needed.  After several trips back and forth to the mechanic, he got it right, and Ruby was ready to go again.

Jose headed up operations to get us successfully across the river, and once again we were hitting our heads against a brick wall to get us across legitimately, and had to rely on alternative measures.

So on Wednesday morning we packed up once again to give the ferry crossing another try, and this time we were successful, YAH… with a little help from a friend, a letter and some money, we were through.

Thankfully we were escorted out of Kinshasa and hit the road to Matadi to chase the elusive Angolan Visa, bush camping along the way.

It was straight to the Angolan Embassy on arrival in Matadi.  A huge thank you needs to go out to our Portuguese speaking Jose, who managed to get us our visas on the following day, on a day that they don’t issue visas!  LEGEND!

So we finally had our visas, and had our last night at a campsite in Matadi, relaxing, before hitting Angola for our 5-day transit, as we only managed to obtain transit visas for the country.

Week 20

We got to the border at lunchtime, with Jose saying to Mark “Its all up to you now”.  The adventure was in full swing with 2000km to do in 5 days.  We did 12 hour drive days starting driving at 6am and stopping briefly for toilet stops and lunch.  We were under the assumption that most of the roads through were going to be great roads, recently completed by the Chinese.  We soon discovered that the roads were partially finished and built to taunt you, with large sections of the worst roads that we have been on, and small sections (that we kept fooling ourselves would take us right through to the border) of beautiful tarmac.

We did however see some of the most stunning scenery yet, and the people that we briefly met were very friendly.

The staple diet was the heaviest bread that most of us has ever come across, with laughing cow and a vast assortment of tinned meat.

We managed to get through Angola 5 minutes before the border closed on the sixth day of our visa (our visa was from the 28th March to the 2ndof April), and we think that the 31st somehow got lost in translation.

Week 21

On reaching Namibia, we started to feel a huge sense of achievement as we began to see the end of the first leg of the trip, and began to see we were actually going to make it down the western side of Africa.  We began to appreciate what we had been through.

It wasn’t long before we all became ‘little kids at a candy store’ when we reached our first supermarket in Tsumeb, where most of us were able to draw money out at an ATM, and had SO MUCH variety at a supermarket, and things were reasonably priced in comparison to where we had come from.

We did 2 bush camps on our way to Etosha for our first game drive.  It’s hard to say whether we were most excited about the showers or the animals when we reached the park.

The park was showing signs of the large amounts of rain and flooding that Namibia had experienced prior to us arriving.  The park was relatively green with long grass, which made animal spotting a little more challenging; we were lucky enough to be greeted by a lioness on arrival though.

We did an afternoon game and a morning game drive the following morning, where we saw giraffe, zebra, springbok, more male and female lions, Oryx, and plains game.  Jose and Carrie were the only ones that made it through the night watching the watering hole at the campsite, where they waited along time and were awarded watching an elephant coming down for a drink.

From Etosha we headed to Cheetah Park, where we all got to pat a tame Cheetah, and Lee discovered that he was allergic to Cheetah breaking out in a rash after bring licked by one.  That afternoon we went out on the back of the ‘bakkie’ for the feeding of the Cheetahs, where a large piece of donkey was thrown out to each of the Cheetah.  We also got to hold an8 week old cub, very cool.

From Cheetah Park headed down the Skeleton Coast on our way to Swokopmund.  Nambia stunned us with its diverse and picturesque scenery that would continue to amaze us throughout the country.

In Swokopmund the adventure continued, with kayaking, dolphins watching cruises, sandboarding, skydiving, quadbiking, and a lot of celebrating at the bar.

From Swokopmund we drove to Sesriem, and were up early the following morning for a magical sunrise and hike up dune 45, and once again Namibia treated us to more magical scenery.

From Sesriem we did a bush camp and were up the following morning for a trip to Fish River Canyon, 2nd only to the Grand Canyon.


We entered into our last country on our journey down the western side of Africa, into South Africa, where we spent our first night bush camping. And thought that was the end of getting bogged, with not much effort we had Ruby out in know time.

We headed first to Lamberts Bay, where we stayed at our first Family Campground for the trip that felt very strange.  Joost, Dean and Willy decided to test the cold Atlantic sea, to find that it was freezing and Willy knee discovered that was quite rocky, and is still recovering now.

We had a fairly relaxing time in Lamberts Bay, in preparation for Stellenboosh and the wine tour.  On the wine tour we experienced 4 wineries, at least 20 wines, and a number a cheeses, everyone was well behaved and we had a nice enjoyable day, finishing off with a traditional South African Braai.

We had a short last day drive on Ruby before reaching our destination Cape Town.  Here we say a very sad goodbye to Walter, Andre, Lance, Daisuke, Dean, Iain, Laura and Rob.  It’s been a fantastic journey so far, and it’s been great travelling with everyone, and will look forward and keep you posted on the second half of the trip up the eastern side.