I know this blog took a while to get posted. Its because of 2 reasons. Firstly we did some serious mileage, but most of all it was very hard to post the second last post of the trip. Every time I load the photos I tell myself “ok, I will do it from there”. So with only 2 days to go I decided that its time.
Lets start 4000km back in Jinja, Uganda. We left The Haven (which it was) and headed west towards Kampala and Rwanda.
The road was ok I guess but there was a lot of traffic. Trucks driving from Mombasa to Uganda and Rwanda to supply food and goods to the harbourless countries. The road slowly deteriorated to a thin piece of tarmac and traffic mounted as we reached Kampala, the Capital of Uganda. As always the people were great, smiling and waving in our direction.
We never took the ring road as we couldn’t find it. That forced us to head right down the middle and heart of Kampala. It was riddled with traffic, diesel fumes and frustration. Kampala not being a big capital city by any means was still happening. People walking the street, touts selling water and fruit to the drivers stuck in the traffic and the smell of lunch being prepared from the little restaurants that lined the streets.
We managed to get through the 30km city and headed further west for the Rwandan border. The roads were fairly good and the traffic started to ease 100km west of Kampala. It was a leisurely drive and with decent tarmac we just watched the k’s roll by. Just before the turnoff to “Rwanda” Nelly stopped me. He said that I chose the wrong border to cross. I said it was impossible, I mean come on, I just rode through Africa… Well I was wrong and chose the border with Tanzania as a waypoint. After pushing all day to make the border before dark we were advised by the GPS that we still had 250km to do before dark. It was 4:30pm.
Ok so after we knew weren’t going to make it we decided to head for the Lake Mbiro National Park. It showed a campsite and was only 120km away. It was to be a blessing in disguise. We pulled into the park but they wanted $30 park fee. “Screw that” we thought. Their were all kinds off animals outside the park so why bother entering the park. We saw a sign for a lodge further back so we decided to ask if they had camping.
Chris the owner was a cool guy and had a really nice lodge. Lakwabo Rock. He advised us that he didn’t have camping facilities but he would offer us a luxury tent at $10 as he knew that we weren’t his normal customers and $40 was out the question. Nice huh?
We decided that because of that fantastic discount we will treat ourself to his restaurant. It was 3 course and bloody delish!
We were off the next morning and had an easy 150km to Rwanda and Ben our SA connection. We rode on almost empty roads and took the turnoff towards the Rwandan border. It was a really nice 50km gravel section.
We crossed the border with no problems and drove the 1km towards Ben and the guys. We had a warm welcome and where immediately informed that we will be braai-ing tonight. Mooi so!
The night was, well, quite ruff and the next morning we left with heavy heads.
It was Saterday and also the last one of the month. On this last Saterday they have a thing called Umaganda. Everything has to be closed from 7am-12pm, no driving and only tourist allowed to move in this time. Its where the whole country cleans. Yes, cleans. What do they clean? The Country, even the President participates.
Rwanda is so clean its insane. There are no papers or plastic lying around, street are clean, the small houses and huts are clean and all the properties have some flowers in front of it. Amazing to see!
The Rwandan Genocide was a genocidal mass slaughter of the Tutsis by the Hutus that took place in 1994 in the East African state of Rwanda. It is considered the most organized genocide of the 20th century. Over the course of approximately 100 days (from the assassination of Juvénal Habyarimana and Cyprien Ntaryamira on April 6 through mid-July) over 500,000 people were killed, according to a Human Rights Watch estimate. Estimates of the death toll have ranged from 500,000–1,000,000, or as much as 20% of the country’s total population. It was the culmination of longstanding ethnic competition and tensions between the minority Tutsi, who had controlled power for centuries, and the majority Hutu peoples, who had come to power in the rebellion of 1959–62.
In 1990, the Rwandan Patriotic Front, a rebel group composed mostly of Tutsi refugees, invaded northern Rwanda from Uganda in an attempt to defeat the Hutu-led government. They began the Rwandan Civil War, fought between the Hutu regime, with support from Francophone Africa and France, and the RPF, with support from Uganda. This exacerbated ethnic tensions in the country. In response, many Hutu gravitated toward the Hutu Power ideology, with the prompting of state-controlled and independent Rwandan media.
As an ideology, Hutu Power asserted that the Tutsi intended to enslave the Hutu and must be resisted at all costs. Continuing ethnic strife resulted in the rebels’ displacing large numbers of Hutu in the north, plus periodic localized Hutu killings of Tutsi in the south. International pressure on the Hutu-led government of Juvénal Habyarimana resulted in a cease-fire in 1993. He planned to implement the Arusha Accords.
The assassination of Habyarimana in April 1994 set off a violent reaction, during which Hutu groups conducted mass killings of Tutsis (and also pro-peace Hutus, who were portrayed as “traitors” and “collaborators”). This genocide had been planned by members of the Hutu power group known as the Akazu, many of whom occupied positions at top levels of the national government; the genocide was supported and coordinated by the national government as well as by local military and civil officials and mass media. Alongside the military, primary responsibility for the killings themselves rests with two Hutu militias that had been organized for this purpose by political parties: the Interahamwe and Impuzamugambi, although once the genocide was underway a great number of Hutu civilians took part in the murders. With the peace agreement ended, the Tutsi RPF restarted their offensive, defeating the army and seizing control of the country
What I saw sent siffers down my spine. Our time their was spent in absolute silence. You can see why. I kept asking myself :” Why didn’t anybody help them???”
We heard from local guys that the stench of death hung over Kigale for 2 years as there was just to much bodies to be buried.
Yes well I was shocked. More shocked and inspired by how a Nation could recover from such an episode. How could they just forget?
Kigale was amazing though, the roads were perfect, traffic lights state of the art and police in uniform everywhere making sure that everybody was looked after. We were staying with some SA guys aswell. They came to pick us up and take us back for some Rugby and a Braai. On our way home they stopped to show me the famous Mille Colline Hotel in Kigale. This is the hotel that Hotel Rwanda is based on. The same hotel were the manager sheltered over a 1000 people and the same pool where people drank from to stay alive.
The Kites had so much to eat after the genocide that they got over populated. 20 years later they still cover the Kigale skyline.
Karel, Brent and Neil were our host for the night. It was also a great night with the boys. We had some fillet steak and Brent entertained us with a great display of his guitar skills. After 10pm Karel said that we should experience Kigale at night.
It was a great evening and we strolled into the house at 4am. Karel however decided in the club that he had enough and would take a nap until we were finished with our party.
I was excited to enter Tanzania, but my excitement was soon squashed. As soon as we crossed it was so dirty, run down and the people weren’t the friendly type we got used too from Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda.
We kept pushing on and at about 5pm we found a small hotel and decided to call it a night. The hotel only had a double bed available but we decided to bunk up for the night. The entrance was so small and difficult that I ripped my whole bash plate of the bottom of the engine. I started in the rain to repair the bash plate bushes and Nelly went to get us some food for the night.
I glued the bushes back together and headed for the small table in the local restaurant. We ordered Chicken and Rice. It took forever, I guess because we saw the chicken pass us and then a cry and then we heard a grill cooking something. Fresh I guess. What followed was the toughest chicken in the World. It felt like I was eating or tearing away at a rubber volley ball. It was so tuff that I couldn’t properly chew it so I reverted to swallowing the whole piece of rubber as I got it torn from the skeleton. It was quite vulgar and so was the price. Normally you would ask how much etc. But we were so tired that we didn’t even ask. The bill came and clocked in at $9 each. They saw the Mzugu’s (white man) coming from a mile away.
We headed to our room and quietly decided that we should in no way touch, cuddle or even think of sleeping half naked next to each other. With full kit we grabbed a blanket each and drew an imaginary line through the middle of the bed. After I got into bed I got up and grabbed my phone and found instead of a small bar of soap that hotels give as courtesy, a small box of condoms. It was to much to handle so I just closed my eyes and made a mental note to get the F out of Tanzania.
Rain blasted down the whole night and when we left the next morning we decided that the Western Tanzania road that we wanted to take was too much of a risk with all the rain. We then opted for the tarmac road towards Dodoma. It was a hard day but we reach Dodoma at night. We stopped at the New Dodoma hotel, it was $40 a night but after the night we had we just instructed the porter to carry everything to our OWN rooms.
We then headed south towards Iringa and the Malawi border. The road from Dodoma to Iringa was a mixture of half built tarmac and very poor gravel road. It took us most of the day to do the 250km but we pushed on as we could hear lake Malawi and its clear waters calling us. We again saw that light was running out and with the crazy bus drivers in Tanzania we couldn’t risk driving at night.
We pulled in to a campsite marked on the GPS as Riverside Campsite. When we got there it was deserted and only us and a lovely river flowing infront of us. We set up camp and got down to cooking with some water directly from the stream infront.
It was a cloudless night and a good nights sleep.
The next morning we headed for the border with Malawi and met Matthew on the road. He followed my blog before he set off on his trip! As I got off the bike he shouted “Van”… HAHAHAHAH
We got to the border and got through with no hassles. I just used Nelly’s insurance on the Malawi side so no stupid third party insurance needed here.
Malawi from the word go was great. The people waived and gave us a thumbs up as we rode along on empty roads. Well no trucks atleast but thousands of people on bicycles.
We stopped for lunch in Korangwe and then pushed on south towards Nhkata Bay. We checked in at Moyaka Backpackes. At $17 a night the chalets looked good as if we opted to camp we would have had to lug out gear down 50 steps and and and. Chalets it was.
We spent two leisurly days here, snorkelling in the crystal clear waters and playing poker at night with the other travellers.
We had to keep going though as we wanted to reach Senga bay for my birthday. We pushed on and rode the 350km towards Senga bay.
You might ask why the rush. Well Nelly has to get back to work and I told him that I would like him to meet me enroute and then we ride down together. Its faster than I would normally go but it’s such a nice change to have someone to have a beer with and share the days riding with that it doesn’t really matter to me.
We had a good braai for my Bday and headed of to a small island for some swimming and snorkelling.
All things had to come to an end and we headed off again towards Mozambique. We change from original plan and decided to head down towards Mozam. I must say that I have some reservations over Southern Malawi. Some kids chucked stones at us and some weird dudes in masks would jumped in the road and swing their panga’s at us. Nothing harmfull but did leave a bit of a sour taste in my mouth.
We crossed in Mozam and headed for Tete. We passed through the border post with no hassles and nobody asked me for insurance so none was provided.
The road was destroyed from the border towards Tete. We reached Tete and found a place to camp with some SA guys again. I could sense I was getting closer to home as a lot of Johannesburg registered cars passed us.
We set off the next morning and drove the 856km towards Vilanculos. The road was great, little traffic and great tarmac. Bliss!
We chilled the whole day. Had 2 braai’s and called it a night.
This morning we arranged for some deep sea fishing and some snorkelling around one of the islands. It was quite a jam packed day. The guys picked us up at 6:30am and we headed towards the outskirts of the islands and what was hopefully some good fishing.
We had very bad luck with fishing but we were treated to some magical snorkelling. We found some Dolphins and a Turtle and then some Whales. I told the Skipper to head infront of the Whales and drop me there so that I could get upclose and personal with the creatures. We chased then down and the Skipper stopped and I prepared to jump in. I stalled a minute as we couldn’t see then anymore, then all of a sudden all hell broke loose. I double decker Blue Whale was bombing along at full speed and was heading straight for us and only 20 meters out. I shouted at the Skipper to reverse but the engine was off, I looked around and decided to jump of the skiff before the Whale crushed the little skiff. All of a sudden the Skipper started banging the side of the boat and we all joined in. This all happened in 10 seconds. The full speed Whale all of a sudden turned 90 degrees and surfaced 1 meter from the skiff with his whole family behind him. The skiff rocked and our faces were soaked from the spray of the whale. I was absolutely fucking terrified. There was a sense of relieve but we knew that we needed to get the hell out of there. I turned and told the skipper to start the bloody engine and give it some gas. At this moment the Skipper started unbolting the engine cover. I was like: “Are you fucking kidding me right know!?” The engine starter was screwed so he used a pair of pliers to short the starter so the engine could fire back to life. It took like 5 attempts. All the time we were scanning the blue waters to try and see if the whale was going to retaliate.
The Whales sped off again and we all had a good laugh. The guys took us for some more snorkelling again at a different island. It was absolute magic when we arrived. Crystal clear water and fluffy white sand.
So tomorrow we head towards the SA border. We will cross on Friday and head back to Johannesburg on Sunday morning. If anyone wants to ride up to Sabie and spend the night and then head back on Sunday drop me a mail.
Looking forward to seeing everyone again. Deidre, my mates and family!
Have a good week.