Crossing the Congo

Over Land and Water in a Hard Place

September 2016 9781849046855 240pp, 64 colour illus
Temporarily out of stock
March 2023 9781787389625 240pp, 64 colour illus


In 2013, three friends set off on a journey that they had been told was impossible: the north-south crossing of the Congo River Basin, from Kinshasa, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, to Juba, in South Sudan.

Traversing 2,500 miles of the toughest terrain on the planet in a twenty-five year-old Land Rover, they faced repeated challenges, from kleptocracy and fire ants to non-existent roads and intense suspicion from local people. Through imagination and teamwork — including building rafts and bridges, conducting makeshift surgery in the jungle and playing tribal politics — they got through. But the Congo is raw, and the journey took an unexpected psychological toll on them all.

Crossing the Congo is an offbeat travelogue, a story of friendship and what it takes to complete a great journey against tremendous odds, and an intimate look into one of the world’s least-developed and most fragile states, told with humour and sensitivity.

Table of contents

Preface, by Robin Hanbury-Tenison

Introduction, by Chloe

Chapter 1: Kinshasa

Chapter 2: Kinshasa to Kananga

Chapter 3: Kananga to Lomela

Chapter 4: Lomela

Chapter 5: Lomela to Kisangani

Chapter 6: Kisangani to Juba



‘The narrative moves along easily from nervous excitement at the beginning of each day to exhausted relief at the end. Moments of suspense, surprise, joy, anger and danger keep the daily round interesting … If you would like to know what is involved in crossing the vastness at the heart of the African continent with a couple of enterprising friends … you will find it here in all its mud-splattered glory.’ — Wall Street Journal

‘For all the bloodshed, emotional upheavals and catastrophic breakdowns, their account is also punctuated with heart-warming tales of the kindness, hospitality and generosity shown by village communities with little to share.’ — The Telegraph

‘Their success, as it unfolds in this lively narrative, reflects a unique combination of skills – an Army veteran of Afghanistan to deal with logistics, a doctor to look after medical issues and a photojournalist to set it down for the record in a splendid set of illustrations.’ — Geographical Magazine

‘A story of human endurance . . . [and] a searing condemnation of the corruption that is endemic in the Congo’. The Lahore Daily Times

Crossing the Congo gives you a deeply, brutally honest view of what it is like to complete a great journey.  At times they were lucky to survive.’  — Robin Hanbury-Tenison, OBE, DL, Dsc, Dhc, MA, FLS, FRGS. President, Survival International.

‘A remarkable story of psychological and physical endurance, and a compelling account of what pushes people to embark on impossible journeys.’ — Sir Ranulph Fiennes OBE


Dr Mike Martin is the Liberal Democrat MP for Tunbridge Wells and a Senior Visiting Research Fellow in the Department of War Studies at King’s College London. His previous books, also published by Hurst, are An Intimate War; Crossing the Congo; and Why We Fight. He can be found at @ThreshedThought.

Chloe Baker is an anaesthetist working in critical care and emergency medicine. She has previously published research conducted in Tanzania, Sierra Leone and Togo, and recently received the Ebola Medal for Service in West Africa.

Charlie Hatch-Barnwell is a photojournalist. He was UN Winner of the prestigious 2014 Moscow Photo Awards (Portrait Category) and has been shortlisted twice for the Travel Photographer of the Year Award.

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