A Coastal City And Consternation In Congo — Republic of Congo Part 2

We last left off halfway through my trip to the Republic of Congo, where I had toured the capital city of Brazzaville and sacrificed some sweets in a sacred cave at sunrise. I had also experienced the highlight of my West Africa trip by visiting some massive gorillas in their natural habitat. While it was not my first time seeing gorillas in the wild (I had actually just seen some recently in Gabon), these were easily the most enormous wild gorillas that I had ever seen.

A huge wild gorilla I’d seen on the first half of my trip

Join us for the second half of our Congolese adventure as we explore a coastal town and visit the “Grand Canyon of Congo.” Buckle up for when we have a car-related accident, an unwanted visit to a lackluster waterfall, and ultimately get stranded in the country for longer than I’d bargained for.

Arriving in Pointe-Noire

The next day, I woke up early to catch a flight from Brazzaville to Pointe-Noire so that I could also see some of the Congo’s seaside. Pointe Noire is the Republic of Congo’s second-largest city, and it is the commercial center of the country. This city was originally occupied by the Portuguese before the Republic of Congo was colonized by the French. It’s rich in oil and has a booming fishing industry as well. I was looking forward to seeing what this coastal city had to offer.

Life on the beach

I went to visit Pointe-Noire with the driver from the tour company that I was traveling with. He was actually from the area, and he spoke great English, which made him a fairly pleasant companion. He showed me around his hometown, where we visited some interesting places like the local market and the usual stuff around town. The main thing that I enjoyed seeing was some nice scenery in Pointe-Noire.

So, we had arrived at the airport and went straight from there to the local Hilton Hotel, which is very new and quite nice. Since I have Diamond Status, they gave me the best room available. They were very happy to have a Diamond Member staying with them because apparently, they had never had one before. I was glad to be their first, and enjoyed my stay at this Hilton. 😊

This Hilton was not bad at all.

A Gorgeous Gorge

After checking into the hotel and seeing a bit of the city’s classic sights, we went to see some main attractions that were a little farther away.

A French-style train station

One of those was the Gorge of Diosso, which is about 25 kilometers out of town in the north, and is also known as the “Grand Canyon of the Congo.”

There, we saw a beautiful red rock formation in the middle of the tropical green jungle. The red rock cliffs and ridges towered as high as 50 meters above the ground, which was amazing to see. 🤩

Enjoying the vibrant colors of the gorge

We learned about some of the local history, like that enslaved people used to hide there and live off the freshwater springs and animals in this gorge. At some point, the gorge became a government-approved dumping ground, despite its significance to the locals, who believe the gorge to be inhabited by a snake goddess. But nowadays it looks nice and clean. The gorge lies near the sea with beautiful panoramic views, and it’s very interesting to hike.

So we hiked down through this great big jungle forest, then hiked back up again and took some beautiful pictures as we went. It was quite a hike, and I was exhausted from going down and up again and through the dense jungle. Some butterflies were flying around, and it was a cool workout overall. 🦋

The roads to and from the gorge were a bit rough.

The Accident

When we finally got back to the car, the accident occurred. The guide was locking up the car as he opened the car door, and then he put the key inside. Then, for some absolutely unimaginable reason, he closed the door, thereby locking his key inside of the car. So we were locked out, far out of town, and had to find a solution. 🤦‍♂️

There were some local guides around who had done the hike with us, and they decided to try to help us. They went into their nearby village to try to find a replacement key to open the car, but the doors were still locked to no avail.

This guy didn’t even try to help 😂

Luckily, after some time, we finally noticed that one of the windows wasn’t completely closed. We worked together and managed to jimmy the window, and then we could open the car from the inside. It took a while for us to figure it out and I was frustrated to wait, but that’s just how life in Africa works.

An Involuntary Trip Extension

After that adventure in the Gorge of Diosso, we drove all the way back to Pointe-Noire where we had lunch at a local beach. Apart from being dirty, the beach wasn’t really all that bad. We did some people-watching because there wasn’t that much else to do. They used to get a lot of French tourism in the area, but most of the city’s resorts and hotels are still closed due to the pandemic, so it was fairly quiet.

In the evening I had a nice dinner back at the hotel. The next morning I would go back to Brazzaville to visit a waterfall. Later that same evening I was supposed to fly to Morocco, my next destination. However, things did not go as they were planned.

My visit to the Republic of Congo was great, and my guides were pretty cool for the most part as well, so this was definitely the most annoying part of my journey. That day, we returned to Brazzaville and took a covid test upon arrival. A PCR test was still required to go to Morocco, so I took that, then we embarked on what turned out to be an extremely long drive to see the waterfall.

I had a feeling that the guide wanted to go there because I had paid for the trip and he’d never been there, but the drive to the waterfall caused me to miss my flight that evening. So I ended up having to stay two more nights in Congo, pretty much against my will. 😤

Waste-of-Time Waterfall

The drive began over relatively good roads as we headed west from Brazzaville. The waterfall is near the river, and they say that it can be seen all the way from the border of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the neighboring country with an almost identical name, across the river.

A peek at the DRC across the river

However, the roads got worse and worse as our journey continued. At some point, we ended up on a terrible gravel road that we had to take very slowly in order to not damage the car. We were probably only going about ten kilometers per hour. 🐌

Traversing terrible roads

I was looking at the time and wondering when we would finally get there. After driving for four hours, I said, “We need to go back now, or I’ll miss my flight in the late afternoon.” They didn’t seem to hear me, even though I told my guide every few minutes, “Let’s go back. We’ll never make it to the waterfall in time.” Earlier in the morning, I had even asked them if we had enough time to go there and still make it back for my flight, and they had reassured me that we did. At some point, I got really furious and complained. They just laughed and said I had enough time, which I thought was rude. 😠

After five hours of driving over this terrible road, we finally reached the waterfall, which was pretty underwhelming without much water. There was a nice view of the Congo River, but it’s actually four or five kilometers away from there, and I had expected for this to be a big waterfall dropping right into the river.

I’ve seen nicer waterfalls.

We walked a bit around the waterfall. I had a sinking feeling inside because I basically already knew that I was going to miss my flight.

It was hard to enjoy the view when I was worried about missing my flight.

I was ready to leave pretty quickly. Honestly, we could have left right away, but the guide took a lot of time and a lot of pictures. As I said, I had a feeling that they were really the ones who wanted to be there – not me.

Missing My Flight

We finally went back over the same roads, but this time we had a new driver now who was a bit quicker. We got back faster than I expected, as the driver was pretty much racing to the airport. He went so fast that I was almost afraid for my life. He used the blinker a lot and made a lot of noise as he raced, even though it was already too late, and I knew it.

The long road back

Even though I still missed my flight, I gave him an extra-big tip because he did his best. In some cases, this race to the airport would have worked to get me on the flight, but at the airport in Brazzaville, even though my plane was still there when I arrived, they decided not to let me board. 😞

So I had to stay in Congo and book an expensive new flight. I was supposed to fly directly with Moroccan Air to Casablanca, but now I had to book a flight back to Paris and from there back to Morocco, which took a lot longer. It was also a lot more expensive to fly with AirFrance, which isn’t as nice of an airline, especially when I should have been flying business class with Moroccan Air. I had to retake my covid test too because of the lost time, which was just another annoyance.

The weather matched my mood 😒

I went back to the hotel and had an extra day in Congo where I just stayed at the hotel feeling frustrated. I didn’t want to see my guides again after my argument with them the day before. I was especially annoyed that they had laughed at me and not taken my concerns seriously, and they caused me to miss my flight with their carelessness. I didn’t really want to deal with anyone, so I just stayed at the hotel all day, did some work, and had some food at the hotel. The next day, the guides took me back to the airport and I finally flew out of Congo to France and then Morocco.

A few weeks later I would return to Africa to go to Chad. By now, I had already seen the majority of the African continent. 🌍