The Congo: Voyage to the Heart of Darkness

 

“Going up that river was like travelling back to the earliest beginnings of the world, when vegetation rioted on the earth and the big trees were king. An empty stream, a great silence, an impenetrable forest. The air was warm, thick, heavy, sluggish. There was no joy in the brilliance of the sunshine.” Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad.

It takes us 22 hours from Brazzaville to reach the research camp, deep in the Congo jungle, where we will spend the next four days. We travel by car, by motor boat, by dug-out canoe and on foot through the Congo forest, the world’s largest primary rain forest after the Amazon.

The hours we spend going up the meandering river take on a strangely hypnotic quality. We are alone on the broad river, surrounded by thick jungle, a green impregnable wall hiding the mysteries which lie behind it.

The last leg of our journey, in flimsy dug-outs through a maze of swampy water channels alive with the buzzing of swarms of abnormally large bugs tests our nerves.

We finally reach M’beli research camp, sore and exhausted and wondering what on earth we are doing in the heart of darkness.

The journey begins

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Ready to embark

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“an empty stream, a great silence, an impenetrable forest”

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we’re almost there

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