More of the rain forest met us in Gabon, where we crossed the equator, going south, and once again we enjoyed empty, sun drenched beaches of powdery sand, the only tracks those of nesting turtles.
But the rains had begun to fall in Brazzaville, the road through the Ndoki park was under water, and we had to pack up and hurry, or get cut off. The Republic of Congo greeted us with hard clay roads, deep in fine dust, and our friends, two weeks behind, plowed through deep mud before bogged-down trucks closed the road. Our GPS insisted on taking us through the middle of the Pointe Noire market, and we spent time at the border, as an American tourist haggled to get his iPhone back. After paying an administrative fee of $ 50, it was released, and he pretended to delete the offending photo of the border post.
Cabinda was a tense and expensive oil-producing enclave, but we did not spend much time there. From here we entered into the Democratic Republic of Congo, where we spent five hours waiting for them to admit the legality of our visas, and paid $ 20 toll on what was one of the worst roads of the entire safari. But then we were through into Angola, and we could slow down, to wait for our friends.
Angola must be one of the countries with the friendliest people, and most unfriendly officials we met on our whole trip. The poverty we met four year ago have been replaced, in places, by signs of fast development, and signs of oil wealth contrast with the grinding poverty still in evidence everywhere.
And the beauty of the countryside will tempt us back, despite the disintegrating roads.
And at last we were in Namibia, having seen signs of the war of twenty years ago. Very good roads, including gravel roads that are regularly graded, people who consider hospitality an art, and good facilities made this the most pleasant part of our safari, but we did note that internet access, free in most of francophone Africa at hotels and restaurants, were costly and hard to find here.
Our last holiday stay was in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, which joins Namibia, Botswana and South Africa. Despite this being desert, we saw more wildlife here than in the rest of our crossing. And then we were home, tired, dirty, but with masses of memories!