Spencer Conway is robbed again on solo circumnavigation of Africa for charity
Conway is robbed for the second time during his journey
A British motorcyclist making a solo circumnavigation of Africa for charity is under way again after being robbed for a second time during his journey and then facing a two-week wait for vital spares in one of the most remote and dangerous countries on his route.
Spencer Conway, 42, left Kinshasa, capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, at the weekend bound for neighbouring Congo Brazzaville, a ferry ride across the river. He got his Yamaha Tenere going again after a local mechanic helped him fix a difficult-to-diagnose electrical fault that had developed during one of the roughest but most spectacular rides of his journey so far on flooded mud roads through dense jungle.
In previous episodes on his journey that started on November 1 last year and is expected to last at least until August, Conway has escaped after being stoned in Egypt and shot at by bandits in Northern Kenya and has been robbed in Nairobi. But despite all this he has now decided to add four more countries to the 28 on his original itinerary so he can stick closer to the West African coast.
“He’s learned how to deal with the bureaucracy and get visas for some of the countries that he couldn’t obtain before he set off,” said his father Michael at the family home in Biddenden, near Ashford, Kent. So far more than £22,000 has been donated to Save the Children through Conway’s website: www.africa-bike-adventure.com
The second robbery came during a 14-day delay to obtain a visa for Angola at the Oshikango border post with Namibia. His kitbag and cameras together with those belonging to a French Canadian hitchhiker he had met, were taken from a locked and barred room at a pension in the no-man’s-land between the two countries. The crossing is rarely used by westerners and notorious for its lawlessness.
Conway managed to find a police station and made a statement but was assured he had no chance of getting things back. Then four men, described in an email home as ‘renegades’ arrived armed with machetes and offered to return the kit bag and other items for $2,000. The cameras had disappeared. Within moments the police pitched up and arrested one of the men, though the others escaped.
After riding what he called “the roughest road yet, more a river with potholes the size of cars” and falling with his bike down a bank into jungle several times as glue-like red mud stuck to his tyres, Conway was able to visit Save the Children projects in Huambo and in Luanda, Angola’s capital. Fortunately the charity’s In-Country Director, Al Mcleod, was on leave in the UK for a week and was able to take back for Conway a new camera and other equipment and documents which were not returned after the robbery.
However, taking a secondary road through Maquela de Zombo and Ngidinga, on the way to Kinshasa, he found himself in “a tropical jungle with no cars, bicycles, people, electricity and -no road. It turned out to be a track with ruts metres deep, rivers and puddles as high as my waist and a thick wall of the lushest tropical forest I had ever seen.
“I had to pyschologically change my maxim ‘day by day, border by border’ to ‘kilometre by kilometre’ and eventually to ‘100 metres by 100 metres’. The first day I covered 30kms in 8 hours and too shattered to continue I sought refuge in the police station in the tiny village of Kizenga.”
After riding through Congo Brazzaville, he now intends to head for Gabon and Cameroon. His route has taken him more than 20,000 miles from Libya, across North Africa and down the East Coast, before visiting his brother in Swaziland and then turning at Cape Point in South Africa.
Further information: www.africa-bike-adventure.com or Michael Conway 01580 292474