After 6 months of working at Drill Ranch in Calabar Jeremy finally got back to Nigeria so that we could get rolling on the road again. Jeremy had just acquired a 48 hour transit visa and my Cameroonian visa was about to expire so we had to get out pronto. It had been an awesome and compelling 6 months working at Drill Ranch and it was sad leaving the team behind. There’ll be more about DR in another post.
So with everything packed and the route ahead planed we set out to embark on the notorious stretch of road to Mamfe, often known as one of the worst stretches of mud road in Central Africa. The road is in Cameroon and lies between the border town of Ekok and the inland town of Mamfe which is located about 70k’s away. On leaving Nigeria and entering Cameroon the road instantly goes from nicely paved tarmac to complete dirt road.
We made it to the Nigerian side of the border crossing around 2:30pm after having fuelled up the bikes and ourselves at Ikom. The border crossing itself took an eternity. There was a sea of bureaucracy on the Nigerian side (5 guys had to individually take our details in their books and the boss man had to finish his lunch before he would check everything was okay!). There was also a small problem with my visa on the Cameroonian side.
As usual it all takes time here in Africa, and by the time things were all sorted it was getting late and a huge downpour broke upon us.Â On finishing immigration one of the women who worked there took a long and judgemental look at us. She made a kind of grimace and asked if we had ridden the bikes all the way from Europe. We retorted with a triumphant ‘Yes!’ and then she said ‘Next you’re going to see my road. After that you’ll really know what Africa is-o’. With that she turned and walked away with a sadistic smile on her face. It was clear that the road ahead was not going to be a walk in the park.
As usual we were offered the ever amazing African hospitality. The border officials offered us a place to pitch our hammocks for the night. It was like an open air rectangular bandstand. The main thing is that it was free, dry and had the the ever present sound of the jungle to send us fast asleep.
In all fairness the road was probably very manageable 2 days before we set out on it but with massive downpours on the last two days it was wet, muddy and slippery. There were a few events, non-events and falls. The funniest of which saw me ride straight into a deep patch ofÂ mud. It took an hour to dig the bike out with my bare hands.
Finally we got to Mamfe after the 4 and a half hours it took to clear 70K’s of slippery craziness. However all was not well. After setting out from Mamfe to Limbe Jeremy’s bike decided it had had enough. His bike kept dying every 10K’s and we were forced to make 10 minute stops before the bike would start going again. The problem kept deteriorating and the intervals were going from every 10K’s to every 2k’s. We knew it was a fuel delivery problem so we stopped in a small village and ripped out the entire fuel delivery system right down to the carburettor which was completely full of dirt. After 3 hours of meticulous cleaning the carb was clear but it also became very clear that we weren’t getting to Limbe that night. It was 6 o clock and we decided to stay in Manyemen for the night.
We arrived in Limbe the next day after riding through awesome roads and scenery. Limbe is a spectacular and beautiful place on the Cameroonian coast at the base of Mount Cameroon – it’s truly idyllic and the people are great. We started out staying at the botanic gardens on the edge of the sea but then met Jules who has put us up in his mansion to house sit while he’s gone to Gabon. Cameroon is like getting back to real Africa again. It’s bursting open with cheap food, beer and great bakeries. The people are also super friendly and the weather, apart from the odd bit of rain, is hot and sunny. We thought we were only going to be here for a couple of days to recharge, sort out any niggles on the bikes and get ready to move on to Douala but my bike decided to put a spanner in the works and up and die. The TDC sensor inside the engine is toast. It took around 3 days, numerous diagrams and a multimeter to figure that one out. So now we’re waiting on a part to be flown in from Europe. I suppose waiting in a mansion with views overlooking the sea in one of the most idyllic places on earth really isn’t so bad.
More pictures in our new Cameroonian gallery here.