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7th Nov 12’ Yaounde, Cameroon – Bifoun, Gabon

November 11, 2012

419 miles (6022 miles to date)

I packed what equipment I hadn’t sent home and left Yaounde early this morning, as planned. I was pleased at how better the bike handled now it’s carrying less weight.

I made good progress and soon crossed the border in to Gabon. At the border post, I had nothing to pay exiting Cameroon nor entering Gabon to the Police, Military or customs which is a sure sign of a welcoming country.

Riding through Southern Cameroon and in to Northern Gabon was a magical experience. The perfectly tarmacked road twists, drops and climbs through rain forests as the mist hangs between the tree tops. At higher altitudes, the humidity takes your breath away until the dampness from the mist cools you down. Dark clouds form above indicating a thunder storm is brewing and with no village or town for miles other than the logging villages I lean in to each corner as if I was riding the luxurious Alps.

Along the way, I finally see my first monkey but unfortunately its hanging by a stick, dead at the side of the road, the seller presumably waiting for a Chinese man to buy it for his dinner. Higher up in to the rain forests, barbecued fruit bats are waved in front as me as I ride past saying “no merci”. There are various other dead animals for sale though I’m unsure what they because their skinless.

I stop at an isolated location by the side of the road so not to be bothered by locals and remove my helmet. It is silent from human or vehicle noise, apart from the musical sounds of animals echoing from the dense jungle. Times like this makes me realise how far away from home I really am (err yeh, blinking 6000 miles, that’s how far). I walk slowly in to the jungle watching for snakes, spiders and monkeys none can be seen but I can hear the animals warning each other of my presence. The other growth was too dense for me to walk any further, well that’s my excuse, but really, I was scared. Just a few meters earlier I noticed some carved stone heads staring at me from the road side which made me reconsider entering the jungle any further.

Since entering Gabon, logging trucks are a familiar sight. They carry four or five huge tree trunks which are  around three meters in diameter and hang over the rear trailer of the truck. Each log is stamped indicating its origin and size. The trees must be hundreds of years old and I look away shamefully when I notice bull dozers and robot like circular saws clearing large areas for either profit or to improve the road network.

The Chinese haven’t quite finished the road I’m riding along, but up until now the roads have been well constructed considering the environment. There are several diversions along the way taking me through almost abandoned villages. The road suddenly turns in a pot holed grave track usually crossing a small river or passing under a water fall. Once i re-join the newly constructed road, I have to swerve to avoid crater like sections which have been smashed away by recent landslides which have left boulders the size of houses impressed in to the tarmac, unmoveable.

Lower down the in the forests, I crossed the immense Ogoou river which is twice as wide as the Thames (seems ironic comparing it with a London landmark being so far away, quite a contrast), with currents evidently strong. I look for crocodiles but can’t see any. I am becoming desperate to see more wildlife and need to train my eyes in to the bush rather than concentrating on the road, it’s a fine balance, but eventually I see a monkey in the distance but it’s too far and too scared for me to take a photo.

The light is fading quickly and I’m now worried that I may have no option but to ride the forest at night. With minutes to spare I find a hotel in Bifou, a bustling town in the middle the forest next to the river. It’s incredibly hot and humid here, even at night. I sit in my room watching the ceiling fan shadow the light every time the blades circulate as the lizards scatter beneath my bed. I go to sleep listening to the bats high pitch squeaks as they hang in the hotel corridor just a few feet away on the other side of my door.