Uganda 3 to 13 July 2023

My first impression of Uganda

The Republic of Uganda, another land locked country in East Africa. Sir Winston Churchill, in his book “My African Journey 1908, called it “The pearl of Africa”.  I quote from the book: “For magnificence, for variety of form and colour. For profusion of brilliant life -bird, reptile, beast, – for vast scale – Uganda is truly the pearl of Africa” And this holds true to this day and yes, I read that book when I was in secondary school. The name Uganda derives from the Buganda Kingdom whose language Luganda is widely spoken throughout the country. Like most of the African countries, it too, has a troubled past. It achieved independence from Britain in 1962. In 1971 Idi Amin seized power and ruled the country for 8 years with the help of the army and outside powers in the form of, first, Muammar Gadhafi and then the Soviet Union. In 1979 his rule came to an end after the Tanzanian army reinforced with Ugandan exiles invaded the country and toppled his government. It’s currant problem is an ongoing Aids epidemic.

But despite all that it remains the Pearl of Africa. It has lush arable land, and it is home to half of the world’s mountain gorilla population, who live in the Bwindi Impenetrable National Forest, now a national park. It has also a large amount of water in the form of lakes. It is home to the world’s largest lake, Lake Victoria. It also has other smaller lakes like Lakes Kyoga, Albert, Edward, and George. It is also the source of the longest river in the world, the Nile.

The lush arable land of Uganda

The border crossing from Rwanda was painless and efficient. I had an East African visa. I had to pay 20 USD road tax, but this took a complicated form. The office was a cashless place where you couldn’t pay in cash. But also, not by debit or credit card. You had to pay by mobile phone transfer. This was done by one of the money changers outside. They called him into the office, and he transferred the money for a fee of 2 USD, that I had to pay him. Strange system.

Crossing the Rwanda Uganda border
Uganda on the other side of the barrier

After the border formalities were finished, I headed to Lake Bunyonyi.

Uganda on the way to Lake Bunyonyi
Uganda on the way to Lake Bunyonyi

On the way to Lake Bunyonyi, market

Uganda, on the way to Lake Bunyonyi Heritage Lodge
Uganda, on the way to Lake Bunyonyi Heritage Lodge

I had heard about a place called Heritage Lodge that offered camping and chalets on the lake and I went there to check it out. It didn’t seem to have survived the covid time. When I rode in, they said to me that they only have camping. The chalets were all rundown. I fell in love with the place and pitched my tent on the side of the lake. The place is just a restaurant now. I also met the Dutch family in the Toyota Hiace there. The same ones as on the border exiting Rwanda.

Lake Bunyonyi

My camping spot at Heritage Lodge

I wanted to cook so I got my gear together and then the pump on my MSR burner gave up the ghost, but I could fix it next day.

Long horn African cows

I nipped across the road where I saw some locals sitting around a charcoal fire and where the smell of food was drifting across. I ended up having a chips omelette, in Swahili “chipsi mayai” and fresh beans. But what was really fantastic was sitting chatting and laughing with the locals. This is what travelling is all about for me. I decided to move on the next day as there were no showers.

Chipsi mayai

Chipsi Mayai prepared with passion…

I decided to go to a place called Bunyonyi Overland Resort, located on Bunyonyi Lake shore. This place is just outside of Kabale, down an 8 km dirt track. I was checking out the camping spots when a Belgium couple in a Land Rover warned me that a group of 15 vehicles was gonna arrive. Then one of the workers came up to me and also told me that I would be surrounded. They gave me a discount on a furnished safari tent, so I took that, and I am glad that I did. The group slowly arrived, and they were a mixed bunch of German, Swiss and one Dutch couple. This was a fully organized all in tour. This was a super spot on the lake, and I stayed there 3 nights.

On my way to Bunyonyi Overland Resort
Road leading to Bunyonyi Overland campsite
Road leading to Bunyonyi Overland campsite

The view from my tent

Lake Bunyonyi

Lake Bunyonyi

Gorilla showing off

The way out…
Friendly locals… They just whizz past wearing flipflops….

Then on to Kampala, the capital city. I broke the journey in a town called Masaka. This was a local town but really okay. Full of life. I was eating at a local place and chatting to a local girl who I had also met, previously, at the mobile provider shop. Something that she said really disturbed me, she said that she was afraid of white people. This affected me deeply because there was no way that I was gonna be able to dispel her fear. She also said that we didn’t like Africa. But after a while she decided that not all whites were bad.

Police checkpoint… on the way to Masaka

Street scene Masaka

Then on to Kampala. I stopped briefly on the Equator. Bought a fruit juice, coffee and a cake, took the photos and carried on.

On the way to the Equator

Tiggy Moondust at the Equator

Juice and cake on the African Equator

In Kampala I stayed at a backpackers place. It was really nice. I rented a little thatched rondelle. I needed good Wi-Fi, and I needed a laundry. I also needed to buy some Castrol synthetic motorcycle oil. I also wanted to post. Stayed 4 nights there. Met some really nice people. One of them, Solomon, was a biker, from Uganda. I also had a dose of culture shock. I went to the local mall and ooohhh boy…. Bright lights lit up shops with western names, KFC restaurant and a big Care Four supermarket. Now this, I hadn’t seen for months. I was eating on the side of the dusty road with the locals and buying things from the local markets and now back to so called civilization.

Traffic jam of motor taxies, Kampala

Sleeping Boda Boda (motor taxi) rider, Kampala

Next destination was Jinja and a camping spot on the Nile. Jinja is the source of the Nile. I arrived to “The Haven”, a place that was really highly recommended. It was really fantastic. I met up once again with Phil and his trusty Badger. That was once again a nice meeting. Phil, being South African, lights a campfire and we had some good chats sitting around the fire. The second night he also made a super fantastic curry. Unfortunately, the weather had turned. I rode though torrential rain to get to Jinja and the second day it also rained as it did that night. The camping was situated down a 4 km dirt track, and this quickly turned into mud. But honestly it was OK to get out. We decided to drive/ride together to Kenya.

Torrential rain on my way to Jinja

Jinja, the Source of the Nile

Camping at the Nile

I think that all South African are Pyromaniacs… Phil trying to burn down the source of the Nile

Sunset over the Nile

Sunrise over the Nile with Tiggy Moondust

Sunrise over the Nile… with Badger

Lunch… it is called a Rolex. It’s an omelette rolled up in a floury chapati

Phil and his amazing curry dinner

Sunrise over the Nile…. photo taken by Phil

After two fantastic nights at the The Haven we set off to the border, 186 km away. Unfortunately, I picked up a puncture in the back wheel. I had converted the wheel to tubeless during covid lockdown. But when I tried to plug it, it turned out to be a cut in the tyre. I had no choice but to pull off the wheel and stick a tube in. I am carrying spare inner tubes just for this occasion. As luck would have it a local guy stopped on a little motorcycle and started to help. He knew of a place just down the road who could take the tyre off and insert the tube. We loaded the wheel into the back of Phil’s car and he along with the local guy, on his bike, went off to fix the tyre. I stayed behind to watch the luggage and my tools. The whole process took two hours.

Trying to plug the tyre … Photo taken by Phil

Taken the wheel off… have to put a tube in

One wheel Tiggy Moondust

The wheel on it’s way to the repair man in the next village

Then it was an uneventful journey to the Uganda, Kenya border. I have to admit that the scenery was just fantastic in Uganda. This is a country that has it all and I would have loved to have stayed longer and explored more. But circumstances dictated otherwise.

Kenya Uganda border

Now it is your turn to explore the sights of Uganda. Pull up your favourite chair, fluff up your cushion, make a nice wee cup of tea and grab a nice sticky bun. Plonk yourself down and go to the like named photo album on my Facebook page and click your way through Uganda. Facebook Photo album Uganda

Thank you for reading the posts, looking at the albums, liking and commenting. Thank you for sharing this incredible journey with me, I appreciate it. My real time location is back in Amsterdam, Netherland!

Asante Kawaheri hadi wakati mwingine ……. Swahili for “Thank you bye until next time” ☘????????