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Congo one of the most dangerous countries in the world is waiting for Helen Lloyd

Posted: Sep 15, 2010 04:48 pm EDT

According to travel advice from the American and British Foreign Services, travel in a major part of the Democratic Republic of Congo, is not advised. Mainly due to lawlessness, violence, kidnappings and it is considered generally unsafe. But it is also one of the most exiting, beautiful and adventurous countries on earth. The real Africa, which is still as Colonel Kurtz described it in Joseph Conrads epic, The heart of darkness, the real Africa. One reason the intrepid adventurer Helen Lloyd wants to visit the country on a bicycle. As part of her challenge to cycle from England to South-Africa.

ExWeb:s Mikael Strandberg talked to Helen today and asked if she was worried:

Not really worried - just don't really know what to expect - but my guess is it'll be fine, tough times to be expected but that's the same everywhere on the road, on the whole the good times outweigh the tough ones!

I've decided against heading up Congo river and then road from Kisangani as since it's further north it'll be in the wet season at the time I'd be passing through and having travelled roads in the wet through Nigeria/Cameroon I've since gone off the idea!! So I shall stick to crossing further south.... I can always go back to the north another time!

Back in Africa

Since we last heard from Helen, about a month back in time, when she took a well deserved rest in the U.K, she has returned to Africa and cycled south from the capital Yaounde in Cameroon through Gabon to a small town called Booue. Having drunk some dodgy water and thrown up in the middle of the town crossroads, she thought it best to leave as soon as possible. This she did by taking the train to Franceville. From there it was three days (one day cycling on tarmac and two days mostly pushing the bike through sand) to Okoyo across the border in the Republic of Congo, where she is at the moment. She told this to ExWeb:

Not entirely sure on the plan for DRC yet as depends on what options are available. But at the moment it could go something like this: a few days in Kinshasa organising plus a week or so trip in the Bas Congo region perhaps (down to the coast via Matadi and Boma). For crossing the DRC I think I might head to Ilebo (not sure whether by road or to take a boat though) and from there across to Kalemie by road. If I have enough time on my visa (I have a 3 month one) and it is safe enough to, I shall head on up to Bukavu/Goma (probably by boat on the lake) so I can explore/see the Virunga NP (although probs will leave the bike somewhere and do this by 'public transport' / foot or depending on costs through a tour group.

ExWeb contact i Goma

For this reason ExWeb contacted one of the local experts, Kennedy Nalis in Goma, who said the following when asked about Helen´s chances to pass this spectacular country without to many problems:

Congo is safe now, it has been very stable the last six months if you avoid certain areas, like the north-east, theres no problems, except the normal African one´s. Like bad roads. The government haven´t done anything since the days of Patrice Lumumba. (He was murdered 1961, ExWeb notes) I think she can cross this in three weeks.

ExWeb:s reporter visited Congo three months ago and nothing has changed since he passed through the country 21 years ago on a bicycle. It is a formidable challenge for Helen!

Helen Lloyd from the UK started her 20 000 km bike ride to Cape Town, South Africa from Cambridge, UK on 14 July 2009; a journey that will take 2 years. She is undertaking the bike ride to help raise money for the Welbodi Partnership, a UK based charity working with the children's hospital in Freetown, Sierra Leone (www.welbodipartnership.org). If you would like to donate, please visit Helen's Justgiving page (www.justgiving.com/takeonafrica).

Helen left the UK from the port of Portsmouth, taking a ferry to St. Malo. From there she biked through France and Spain before taking the ferry to Morocco. Helen spent two months in Morocco and then crossed the Sahara desert by following the Atlantic coast road south through the Western Sahara and Mauritania. In West Africa Helen cycled through Senegal, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Sierra Leone, Mali and Burkina Faso, where she then headed to Ghana, Togo, Benin and into Nigeria. She also spent two weeks in Guinea paddling a locally built pirogue down the Niger River.

In planning the route, Helen has consulted the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website for the latest travel advice. Originally she was going to fly across Central Africa but has since identified a route across the Democratic Republic of Congo. Once in East Africa, she intends to cycle through Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania and Malawi and into Southern Africa for Zambia, Botswana, Namibia and finally South Africa.

Helen Lloyd was born 1981 in Norfolk, UK. Her travels have taken her to the Indian Himalayas (at age 16), the High Atlas of Morocco (at 17), South America, the Silk Route, the Karakorum Highway, East and South Africa and cycle-touring in Ireland and Cuba. Helen combines her travels with her passion for photography and writing.

#Trek #topstory

Helen Lloyd is getting ready to cross one of the most dangerous countries on earth right now - Congo!
Image by Helen Lloyd courtesy Helen Lloyd, SOURCE
What to expect from Colonel Kurtz Africa?
Image by Helen Lloyd courtesy Helen Lloyd, SOURCE
Congo - the real Africa
Image by Helen Lloyd courtesy Helen Lloyd, SOURCE