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Rwindi park (2)
The Rwindi with my Jeep : much better !
first visit accompanied, nothing would stop me anymore to go in the wilderness
by myself, particularly in the Rwindi. The fact that the park is wild and little
administered did not bother me, on the contrary: that's exactly what attracted
My Jeep on a track.
You don't see the track?
it is there!
Of course, it implied
a certain preparation: the track in those times was really very bad and one never
knew how long it would be take to go through the 120 km from Goma to the Rwindi
Records 1990-1991: the fastest in 3 hours (Rolf)
and the slowest in a week (a volunteer of Kinshasa).
see, this track was old and little maintained. It was opened between the volcanoes,
through savanna and jungle, made of soil, bits of gravel, cliff of lava (where
the track had been covered during the eruptions since its construction), mud,
A constant: holes. Natural
or dug and filled with water. Why? So that the inhabitants of the neighborhood
had the occasion to make a little money by taking your vehicle out of the mud!
problem is that there are holes, and so puddles, absolutely throughout the track.
If one does not want to take a week for the journey by stopping to sound every
puddle, it is necessary to trust one's instinct.
driving too fast of course, because the instinct and the conditions of braking
are really empirical.
And so, by approaching this puddle
on the photo at about 50 kph, I suddenly had a doubt and I stopped. From a far
distance, it looks nevertheless like a simple puddle, funny to cross by making
spring the mud and laughing...
The track is flat and clear,
the puddle does not look deep...
A simple puddle?
have a closer look...
The "simple puddle"
is more than a metre deep!
Instinct can be very useful. I can imagine myself, stuck deep
in the "puddle" with a 3 tons hippo on the hood of my 700 kg Jeep...
hole also illustrates, due to its likely origin, the biggest speed bump of this
As in any poor country, truck drivers have
to fill in every cubic centimeter to make some profit. Trucks are very badly maintained,
filled up (the driver often fits this description too), with even passengers and
their luggage on the roof.
On this track, trucks sink regularly
into the mud and are very difficult to take out of their hole.
If there is no place on the side, one should wait. Several days sometimes...
I lived this kind of blocking several times, but I was lucky: twice I was warned
and I was able to go by another track (that I didn't know, it was crazy!) ; once
the truck had been there for some days and was being loosened with the bulldozer
transported on another truck ; and a fourth time...
It was late and I knew
that I better be at the camp on the hill before the day fall, because numerous
armed gangs raged during the night on this track (in 1991). What's more, my battery
had died: impossible to restart by myself if I should stop. Still a good hour
away from my destination, bad luck: a truck broke its axle and blocks the track.
There is only a passage of about two metres, a kind of natural ditch, not very
deep. More to the right, the bank. Let's try: I dash. At the beginning, that passes.
The Jeep tilts strongly, but it's good until it sinks too much into the mud...
It tilts more, almost rolls over... Two days before I had a rollbar made with
bits of steelpipes welded together: relief!
But nevertheless, I'm in trouble.
Not even caring about my bags, clothes, provisions and the diesel of my jerry
cans which mix cheerfully in my back. I forgot how one says "Please, Come!
Please, come!" in Swahili, but at the time my intellectual cells were good
and I did not hesitate to use these wonderful words. It's kind of magic : you
consider yourself alone, and bang, everybody gets out of the wood... In no time,
around thirty (no kidding!) lads put the Jeep back on its wheels (with me inside)
and take us out of there, but... Oh no! These -censored- put me back behind the
And the engine is stalled... "Well, I explain to the lads: you
push me behind and then forward to start the engine, all right?" "All
right boss". A few minutes later, I have a muddy Jeep, with a roaring engine
that I have to keep this way, myself covered with food and diesel, and about thirty
lads to pay. Fortunately I had followed the advice of Danielle and prepared some
dozens small notes for this kind of situation. General distribution, then... "Make
way!" I charge. And this time, I go through.
One does not leave in
the wilderness without preparation and with an empty trunk... The metallic trunk
which I had welded in the back of my Jeep contained 150 liters of diesel, tools,
provisions, sleeping bag and clothes. No weapon: anyway, I would not have known
how to use it, at least not fast enough.
The only thing that was missing:
maps! It simply did not exist there, so for this matter too it was necessary to
trust its instinct and the "oral tradition" ;) Still today, I don't
understand how I never got lost, often taking tracks unknown or abandoned for
a long time, often invisible under the vegetation for several kilometres, reserving
their lot of treasures and dismays (including another one of these muddy tracks
in the mountain, with my mother this time: one would have imagined being on a
bobsleigh track, with the Jeep as Bob)...
The reception is good:
The small bridge
just before the Rwindi base camp is the realm of baboons.
who is not afraid of stopping is always welcomed there by these mischievous monkeys
and, let's say it, openly hooligans.
"Hurray ! A Jeep ! We'll have fun !"
"What's in there ?"
are a little bit intimidating at first, with their impressive canine mouth and
their impertinent attitude...
But without going as far as
tickling them, I had no problem with these small clowns.
one forgives them the small thefts, of course...
managed to steal things from me
(mostly food) in spite of my (friendly) attentiveness
and in spite of different "protections" (well closed bags and icebox).
always stopped there,
and always had fun.
They too: a
Jeep is funny, there are lots of places to hang on, it doesn't close...
is way better that one of these modern 4x4!
"Comeon, let's go, hey ?"
! Vroum ! Tût-tût !"
on this photo, you can well see the bump on my hood, recollection of an elephant's
Nooo, the elephant did not sit on my hood. It is
I who was sitting on the edge of the windshield, filming the group of elephants,
then the one that charged us. Seen in the camera's visor, it was great! Only one
problem, though: when I opened the other eye, I had the presence of mind to jump
on the hood, then on the ground, then on my seat, then on the clutch and the accelerator...
in the zoo, I have never seen an elephant so closely! My guard could confirm that
the elephant was touching the front of the Jeep while I was flooring the gas pedal!
We were very fortunate elephants abandon when they see you fleeing!
many adventures, recollections...
You certainly do not believe
half of them, at least if you never lived in Africa... Too bad!
I think that if I returned there, I would be much wiser. Well...Maybe...;)
recollection from the tracks? At the beginning of this first adventure in the
wilderness by myself, I was very careful and I drove slowly, appreciating the
power of the Jeep to climb on the lava cliffs, crossing gently the various obstacles.
feeling more rash ("Ha ! Piece of cake !" ;)) I accelerated, and I really
began to have a lot of fun with this magnificent and almost indestructible car:
I charged in a cloud of dust and mud (according to places), sliding, jumping,
I can smell something yummy in there !"
Little head, big... ;)
the Jeep? Doubtless, if one makes exception of the accessories... A (very) big
bump, a (very) big jump... I measured little scientifically that my wheels took
off from more than two metres, but I would not dare to swear it. It doesn't matter
I stopped to see... The liquid which passed by under
the Jeep did not only result from one of my jerry cans which had opened: there
was also water from the radiator!
Well, I am right by Katale's
plantation, at Nelly and Ernest; this Jeeps' lover is going to repair this radiator
hose in an instant. Let's restart.
H'm... No more battery
Well, let's just go down the hill and restart...
verdict: the shock of the fall after the jump had broken a radiator hose and made
one of the elements of the battery go down: short-circuited! I learned my lesson
Well, you're tired of my stories about my Jeep and the
baboons? All right, let's go on to see the other animals.
would you say about a buffalo?
A beautiful buffalo, grown-up,
sturdy and everything and everything?
if he's disguised and wears a wig?
Noo, he is not homo...
Maybe, after all. So what?
It is not because one is naked
That one cannot be pretty
"Good heavens! What does this strange
red and stinking
metallic animal want from me ?"
a lion, then?
Everybody loves lions: they are the stars of
the wild world.
This one is a rather young, magnificent male,
met on a little frequented track.
The proof: he is in the
middle of the track!
You had noticed that of course.
lion seems solitary, nevertheless I saw him again later with a lioness.
as he's red, he's even more beautiful.
Long live the red-haired !
alone, he's of course much more dangerous. Photos are taken without zoom, but
from the inside of the Jeep!
The protection is imaginary
because there is only a soft top to cover us, but as it was explained to me, as
long as one stays in a vehicle, the lion does not perceive us either as a prey
nor as a predator: he sees only a metal mass, without interest for him.
guard who accompanies me does not leave his rifle alone, though !
"Aaw, come on, I had found a nice place for the siesta,
And here is this big animal buzzing all around me !"
"OK, ENOUGH NOW ! UNDERSTOOD ?"
On his behalf, I should say that
2) He cares about himself;
He cares about me :
I hire him every time I am in the region
! At the end of the year, I shall have paid the whole roof of his house...
our lion would want a little tranquillity, let's go on.
This one doesn't look friendly!
solitary hippopotamus, outside the water,
It's more dangerous than a lion!
let him graze...
"Say boss, if you don't take the picture quick-quick
I am going to be eaten, hey !"
I have not yet shown you this common element of the Rwindi's landscape.
not the guard!
A termites mound.
one is rather impressive (not, it is not my guard who is small, he's as big as
I am- 1m86- it's the "termites city" which is... Oh, well...
many million termites in this one?
I didn't try to dig...
Page créée le 10 juin 2001 - Mise à jour le 6 juillet
Pierre Gieling - tous droits réservés