Through the Mud of the Democratic Republic of Congo (former Zaire)
5 Days for 125 km from Komanda to Beni


1st Day:
Four times we had already towed Tom and John's Landrover out of a water hole. The fifth time it happens: while we are able to manage with our Toyota a steep detour through dense bush, the Landrover does not succeed. He has no choice but to go straight through the deep water hole where he gets stuck right in the middle. The motor dies and the reddish muddy water penetrates into the car up to the front seats. The only chance to rescue the Landrover from the hole is the winch. Afterwards, we try for hours in vain to start the engine again. Countless times, we tow it between two waterfilled mud holes fore- and backwards, but with no success. Night is approaching and we have to sleep just along the mud road. An incredible mixture of strange sounds echo through the deep jungle.

Landrover towed by our Toyota
On the way Komanda - Beni, Eastern Zaire

Mud on the Transafrica-Highway
  2nd Day
By chance a Dutch mechanic with an Enfield motorbike with trailer stops. It is Benno with his wife Thekla. They are completely covered with mud as they had to push their vehicle through the mire and carry the trailer through the waterholes. Benno tries the whole of the following day to make the motor run again. He takes half of the engine to pieces, but there is no result. There are only two solutions left for the Landrover crew - either to be towed by a strong truck or load the car on an empty trailer. The first choice does not work, as everybody asked refuses because they have to struggle enough themselves to get out of this hell. We offer the unfortunates to take one of them to the next village to organize help, but they want to stay together in this precarious situation.

(By coincidence we meet the Landcrover and his crew much later in Nairobi again, exactly at the moment as they are riding on a trailor into the capital of Kenia. Their adventure was incomparable: Once their truck had a breakdown of the gear box and new spare parts had to be organized in Uganda's capital Kampala. Another time, the towing vehicle turned over with his full 10-ton-load of coffee beans. And finally, at the Ugandan border, the co-driver from Somalia was arrested, as he had no valid papers. Tom and John had to pay for his release to be able to continue).

3rd Day
From stranded truck drivers we learn that in direction Beni 25 trucks are bogged down. Emil inspects the next big quagmire and comes to the conclusion, that with our top loaded Landcruiser we have no chance of getting through without turning over. That means, all aluminium cases on the roof have to be put inside the car. This enables us to slide through the most critical holes and passages.

4th Day
At a very bad waterhole, an English Bedford Overlander and two trucks are hopelessly blocked. As a last possibility to overcome this mess, we are fitting our snow chains on all wheels and manage thus to get straight to the middle of the bog before it starts to pour with rain again. So we have to stop right there in the centre, as the water comes flowing more and more. The Bedford Overlander manages finally to free himself, but then nothing goes anymore, as thunder-showers intensify. Therefore, we have to spend the night just where we stay and pitch up our tent on the roof of the car.


Even wedding guests have to make their way through the mud
  5th Day
Before dawn, life starts again: Women with full baskets, overloaded bicycles with bananas and curious goats are passing by. It is an absolutely bizarre situation, as later a procession of white dressed brides with families make their way singing through the red mud and their lovely song mixes with the howling car engines, pushing themselves brutally through the deep mud. While there is still a blockade by two trucks, we are shovelling ditches to divert the water, and finally the big moment comes for us: - The snow chains are miraculous and we manage quite easily to overcome the remaining difficult passages. Then, the trauma is finally over.
To the 1st Congo-Report: From Kinshasha to Kisangani - 21 days on the Congo River