BEAM ME DOWN, SCOTTY
Sunday 22 February 1998
6 20' N 20 31' E
Savannah! This looks like Africa.
COUNTRY AND REGION
Welcome to the south-west region of the Central African Republic (CAR).
NATURE OF THE TERRAIN
You have landed on an immense plateau of long grass and few trees, broken by deep river valleys.
The small road-side village of Battinga. Expect to find a muddle of livestock here as most people are engaged in agriculture.
Falling victim to choloroquine-resistant malaria or Aids - both are serious problems in the CAR. Getting mugged by drunks on the streets of Bangui, one of the most dangerous cities on the continent.
The official language is French. But you'll be better off with a knowledge of Sango (originally a trading language spoken along the Oubangui River) which nearly everybody understands.
TAKE ME TO YOUR LEADER
The unforgettably named President Ange-Felix Patasse.
As a rule, the country has a comfortable climate, though you have hit the hottest time of year, with temperatures above 30C.
REASONS FOR HANGING AROUND
Visit the 15,000 Pygmies who live in the nearby equatorial forest, preserving their nomadic hunter-gathering lifestyle. Or wait for the rainy season and visit the Chutes de Boali - CAR's spectacular waterfalls.
GETTING THE HELL OUT OF THERE
Hack across the savannah to Battinga and catch a mini-bus to Bangui. From here you can hop on an international flight or take the direct bus to Cameroon.
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