James E Johannes and Lisa:
Hello Michel! We are back safely in the USA and all the Basenji Dogs are doing great. Very successful trip. I am inquiring of two items. First, I am trying to e-mail Terence and Evelyne (we very much enjoyed their company and want to keep in touch). So if you could give them my e-mail, much appreciated. Second, I do want to come back and do a more focused Basenji search. Possibly next year (late Feb). I would like to possibly buy the Basenji in Basankusu and then go to Bokoli and soend a few days to a week there and the surrounding, more remote, villages to look for more Basenji dogs. Looking for the hunting villages with very little connection to the river and commerce--they seem to have the most "pure" Basenjis. And I could do without a lot of the frills. I am not sure I will be able to find other people from the USA to accompany me, and if not, it would be me alone. Is that a problem? What would the cost be?
I just want to write to thank you, Michel, and Jacques for helping me have such a great trip to eastern Congo back in November/December. It was a great adventure that I will never forget.
Additionally, I want to let you know that I have recently written some journals and posted some photos of the trip online at IgoUgo.com:
http://www.igougo.com/journal-j72292-Congo-Finding_Brightness_in_the_Heart_of_Darkness.html. : Finding a tour company to take you inside the Congo can be a tricky undertaking, especially if you're going to eastern Congo. Months in advance, I contacted a tour company based in Goma (that I will not name here). Upon Laurent Nkunda's threatened takeover of Goma in the summer of 2008, this tour company simply closed shop and disappeared (I would eventually learn that the owner fled to Kisangani). Looking at my only other option for a Congo-based company, I contacted Go Congo to help me out.
Go Congo was nothing but helpful. They presented me with all the options I had for what I wanted to do, and never said it would be impossible even with all the fighting in eastern Congo. The owner, a Belgian man living in Kinshasa for decades, has intimate knowledge of the country, and he hires great local people to run his business in Kinshasa and Goma.
Go Congo offers a variety of tours on their website, including multi-week long trips down the Congo River. However, I simply wanted to hire them for a guide/interpreter. In return, they provided me with Jacques Sherty (email@example.com), a man local to Goma who runs the Goma office, and who was just as eager to see more of his country as I was (my trip involved areas he had not yet been to).
At one point during my trip, I was confronted by a supposed government official adamant on me paying a bribe to him. Jacques helped me as much as he could during the argument. But, when that didn't work, we called the owner of Go Congo to help us out. I felt good knowing I was with a company that was willing to do anything to make sure my trip went smoothly.
Rates for a Jacques were $30/day, plus food, lodging, and transportation costs. As Jacques only seemed to eat once a day, and was willing to sleep in my hotel rooms, he was a very inexpensive guide. Jacques met me upon my arrival in Kigali, Rwanda, then helped me make my way through Rwanda and Uganda to the Congo border at Kasindi. Once inside the Congo, he was by my side at all times to assist in anything and everything throughout my trip. I can easily recommend Jacques as a guide for anyone in eastern Congo.
Nathalie & Jean-Paul :
Je tenais en tous les cas à féliciter toute votre équipe pour la réussite de notre voyage. Vous avez vraiment de sacrées bonnes gens sur le terrain qui font un boulot remarquable. Nous avons beaucoup été impressionnés par le professionnalisme de notre guide Serge qui a toujours su prendre les bonnes décisions dans des moments guère faciles, ce qui n'est pas chose évidente dans un pays oû le tourisme n'est pas développé et oû il faut sans cesse se battre avec les autorités.
Serge a fait preuve d'un très grand savoir-faire et c'est quelqu'un qui sait satifaire ses clients et sur qui on peut compter à tout moment. On peut franchement lui faire confiance dans n'importe quelle situation. Il sait garder son sang froid et ne perd pas pour autant le sourire. A Serge, on peut lui demander n'importe quoi,il fera toujours tout son possible pour que ça se réalise.Il faut vraiment encouragé des gens comme lui. Nous avons voyagé dans beaucoup de pays africains et moi personnellement,j'y ai même travaillé, je connais très bien ce merveilleux continent et ses problèmes, tout ce que nous pouvons dire c'est que Serge est un pro, un homme de terrain qui aime son métier et qui se bat au quotidien pour faire changer l'image de son pays, afin qu'un jour, la RDC puisse retrouver ses touristes .
Nous lui disons merci. Grâce à lui et à toute l'équipe Go-Congo, nous avons passé une semaine formidable et nous avons bien l'intention de revenir en RDC pour faire la descente du fleuve Congo avec vous. Nous vous recontacterons au moment venu et nous voulons bien-sûr Serge comme guide à nouveau.
Nous voulons aussi remercier le mecano qui nous a accompagné à Zongo et qui a su faire preuve de ses talents culinaires en pleine brousse en nous concoctant un bon poulet.
Un grand merci également à Jean-Pierre, notre chauffeur, qui a su nous conduire en toute sécurité et dont nous avons apprécié sa très grande gentillesse.
Et puis un grand merci à vous pour l'organisation et votre très grande flexibilité avec des clients qui arrivent 2 jours en retard. Nous vous promettons que pour la descente du fleuve Congo, nous arriverons 2 jours à l'avance. Nous nous excusons encore une fois pour ces inconvénients.
En tous les cas, nous restons en contact. Nous vous souhaitons bonne continuation.
Nathalie & Jean-Paul
Many thanks to you and your team for a smooth few days in the RDC. Patrick scrutinized every transaction to make sure I wasn't over charged and faithfully carried my bag, camera or anything else he could lay his hands on to be helpful. He then waited at the airport for 4 hours (the plane was late getting into Kinshasa) until I boarded my flight, despite Jacques being there too, to make sure I left safely.
Papa Jean Pierre is a charming man. Full of good humor and a great driver.
The hotel was good and I even ran into the Swiss Ambassador's wife who was shopping at Symphony and was surprised to find a Swiss (I have double nationality) tourist visiting from Luanda. When the German owner of the art gallery heard I was with Go Congo, she abandoned the poor Ambassador's wife and gave us a VIP tour. I gather some other clients of yours bought a lot of paintings and she wanted to make sure Patrick knew everything she offered to explain to your guests!
Patrick and Jean Pierre tell me I need to visit the Bas Congo during the dry season and I will make plans to do so soon.
Suisse Embassy :