Day 71… Sunday 11th June
Early start as we had 300 miles to cover and several hours of driving ahead. Road conditions and police stops are the unknown factors so allowing plenty of time helps. The road in the morning was in good condition and progress was easy. Gabon has a monsoon climate being close to the equator and we drove though several areas of rain. The landscape is dense tropical rainforest. We saw bushmeat for sale (a monkey and a young antelope). There is evidence of wide scale logging and we saw forest areas cleared with veteran trees tagged and being shipped elsewhere in logging trucks. Let’s hope Gabon has a re-planting program in place as the timber trade may be a short term gain but is clearly not sustainable in the long-term. Our road through the forest was constructed about 10 years ago and there were sheer flats sides cut into the land to create the road. It would have been an immense engineering operation. The afternoon stretch of the same road was covered in deep potholes – it made for a very bumpy and slow ride. Very little traffic on the road expect for Toyota Hilux’s, land cruisers and logging trucks (even on a Sunday the logging industry was working). Our route had followed a beautiful wide river and we crossed a bridge where our hotel was located overlooking the river. The local beer tonight was ‘Gareb’.
The first stop along the way was the equator. iOverlander had marked it as having a sign, with pictures of people next to it smiling… well, time had taken it’s toll and all that was left was the remnants of the sign on the side of the road. Before we got mown down by logging trucks I ran out to take a sorry looking photo and headed back on the road.
We were very spoilt up until this point by the smooth tarmac as the road suddenly deteriorated… and I mean suddenly. With little sign of how bad it was we hit a gravel section with some big holes, causing the car to bounce all over the place. Thankfully we were fine, and after that drove for the next 50-60 miles dodging some massive potholes and really bad gravel sections. Lets hope the road improves the further south we go.