BootsnAll Travel Network

Ilebo, DRC: River life

Ending up in Ilebo, the deepest to the central of Congo that I was going and the end of trains made it a somewhat joyous place, but also somewhat daunting as I was now in the middle of the Congo and still had to get out.

Now a big part of traveling in the internals of the Congo is the lack of tourists and the deep untrust of strangers especially by anyone wearing a uniform (which was half the population.)

My first negative experience was in Kananga when I was picked up at the train station by an Immigration officer. There I had to go to the train station immigration, questioned, and then taken to the immigration headquarters a hours walk away. There I was held under the pentance of not having a permit to be traveling in a minerales zone (diamonds.) I had heard a permit cost $500, but was told that I had to pay $100US. My response was hell no, I’m not paying. That in turn caused the guy to say fine and took my passport and left. The captain of the station immigration pleaded with me to pay and said that an officer was on his way to arrest me. Just before the guy with the machine gun came in, we settled for $10US. With that, a stamp and a signature, I was on my way.

In Ilebo, I didn’t even make it out of my cabin before an officer was standing there to take me away. Some guys I met went with me to make sure I didn’t have any trouble. All that did was get them in trouble about their ID’s and the officers thinking that they were trying to scam me. In the end, after all the paper work, I was told that I would be escorted to a hotel where I would stay. Pretty convenient. The next day I was to report back and we were to go and visit the commander. The next day I ended up visiting the commanded of Immigration, Captain of police, Captain of tourism, and the commander of the military post. It was one long day. The next day I was picked up by immigration and escorted down to the boats to see about arrangements. There we found that no boats would be leaving for a few days so I had to wait again. I spent the time visiting the market and seeing the river. One of the surprising things is that there is no food. No restaurants, no stores selling prepared food, nothing. Since it is such a pocket community and there really aren’t any visitors, there is no need for restaurants as every body just eats at home. I found that the only way to get food was to ask the mamas at the surrounding houses if they would cook a meal for me. That was the only way to get any food besides peanuts, nsima, and dusty bread.

Luckily it rained a couple of times so I was able to collect some water for showers and drinking. The Congo rivers look like the chocolate rivers in the Willi Wonka chocolate factory, so drinking water is still tough to get.

After almost a week, a boat was going to head down river to a place called Dubai. My plan was to catch the boat, head to Dubai and from their take ground transportation to Kinshasa.

At the moment I am in Kinshasa having just escaped from the Republic of Congo. Tomorrow I am flying to Goma where I hope to escape from all places Congo. I have had enough.

Hopefully the next update will come from Rwanda.


Tags: , , , , ,

4 responses to “Ilebo, DRC: River life”

  1. Sean McLeod says:


    Holy crap! The Congo! Malaria!

    Jesus man. Travelling is supposed to be fun!

    I’ve been following your blog and you’re without a doubt the craziest guy I’ve ever met. 😉

    Anyways, keep up the website, it keeps me dreaming of my next trip. And try to stay away from all those diseases… though there’s probably not a lot left you haven’t already contracted!

    Keep in touch!

    Sean and Amarens

  2. Anar Ansel says:

    Hello Steve,
    I was searching something on google and came across your blog. your Kitwit experience really made me laugh. i work in mining industry based in lubumbashi, east DRC. i was wondering why have you chosen to travel to these most remote places?

  3. steve says:

    Anar,nrnrThe big draw was just to see the Congo and the Congo River. In my point of view, you haven’t seen Africa unless you have traveled through the Congo(s). Really though, since childhood I have wanted to experience Africa. Doing the package tourist thing is just not my cup of tea, so I figured doing the cross country route definitely would get me off the standard tourist trail. It definitely did. I got to see things that very few travelers have and that to me was worth it. Also, a little bit of it was to hopefully revive tourism a bit and get foreign travelers into the Congo where they will spend money and also to put pressure on the government to start getting things fixed which in turn would hopefully help the people that live there.nrnrSo did you check out my Lubumbashi map? It gets a lot of web hits so I am guessing people are interested. I just haven’t got any feedback to tell me if it was useful or not.nrnrGood talking to you,nrnrSteve

  4. Guilherme says:

    Hello Steve, great blog!!
    I’m so happy that I fond it! I backpakled in africa about 2 years ago, and probably this year will go again, but working.
    Not easy to find info about Congo.
    Do you think is possible to go by 4×4 from Ruanda or Burundi to Angola?
    Have you met some people doing it by road?
    I know that is easier to go by boat, I would do it this way if I was traveling by myself, but I will be part of a group traveling with 2 jeeps.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *