Lulua River, DRC
In 2014, photographer Archie Leeming and I bought a 5 metre long pirogue (dugout canoe) for £100 in the town of Sandoa in Katanga Province, DRC. We paddled this hollowed-out tree trunk 350 miles down the Lulua River, a little-known tributary of the Congo.
During this journey, apart from learning how to manoeuvre a clumsy pirogue, we faced danger from rapids, waterfalls, hippos and crocodiles. We left the river after a month upon encountering a series vast cataracts which were impassable in our lumbering, leaking canoe. Three days later we limped into Kananga where I was bed-ridden with typhoid fever and a severe strain of Malaria.
Along the Lulua we met many interesting and isolated characters from village chiefs and a tribal queen to crocodile hunters and a Belgian missionary who had lived in a small, remote town for 40 years. There were days when we were helped down rapid systems by groups of kindly fishermen and others where we encountered no people and fell asleep to the honking of nearby hippos.
The story of this journey is recounted in the book On Roads That Echo
Photos © Archie Leeming