Travel: Beam me down, Scotty

This week's random co-ordinates chosen by the computer are: 0 46' N 20 21' E

First reaction

I'm ankle-deep in mulch and there are leeches in my shoes.

COUNTRY AND REGION

You have beamed down into the north-western province of the recently re-named Republic of the Congo, formerly Zaire.

nearest human settlements

Bokele lies about five km away to the west, through thick jungle. The nearest town is Basankusu, 74km to the northwest.

Nature of terrain

This is tropical rain-forest where the ground is a pile of mulch and the sky blotted out by the tree canopy. The din of insects fills your ears.

Altitude

About 300m.

Possible hazards

Pretty serious. Apart from the difficulty of finding your way, these range from the natural (festering wounds, leeches, mosquitoes, snakes and giant spiders) to the unnatural (robbers and wild, gun-toting soldiers).

Useful languages

French might come in handy though English is on the rise. Lingala, the local language, will probably be more useful than either.

Take me to your leader

That's right. No longer the man in the leopard-skin hat, but Africa's latest newcomer, Laurent Kabila.

Likely weather conditions

The temperature usually lies between 20 and 30 degrees. Although there is a dry season later, right now you are likely to encounter heavy rain.

Reasons for hanging around

Watch out for wildlife such as monkeys and crocodiles. In the villages, drink beer and dance with the friendly locals.

Getting the hell out of there

You'll need two months to get to the nearest international airport. Walk the short distance north to the Maringa river. From there, either make a raft or hitch a boat ride.

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