hello and goodbye Rwanda, off to Tanzania.

Posted: November 8, 2010 in Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I left the campsite (adrift) in Jinja quite early the next morning, knowing that I have about 500km ahead of me to get to Kabele, just north of the Rwandan border.

I sat off and mistakingly, but maybe unavoidable, the GPS routed me straight through the Uganda capital, Kampala … what a mess. From now on I will make a point to miss all major cities and or capitals on my journey if possible.

Anyway, through Kampala and off I went .. the road wasn’t the best, roadworks in the middle of nowhere with no signs, the road just disappears all of a sudden and this went on for quite some time, maybe the majority of the 500km. The worse thing was hitting thunderstorms around 100km before Kabele and going through the mountain passes, the temperature dropped to around 15c. I couldn’t see anything, I was wet and cold and maybe a little irresponsible, I sped up just to make it to my destination, dodging potholes as much as I could in the pouring rain.

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Veiw from the restaurant at Lake Bunyonyi Overland Resort

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I arrived at Lake Bunyonyi at a place ironicly called Lake Bunyonyi Overland Resort. Very nice place .. cold and wet I decided to take a bungalow instead of pitching my tent … all I wanted was a hot shower, food and straight to bed I went .. I think around 19h30.

Beautiful sunshine the next day, so I hanged all my wet clothes from the thunderstorms the night before to dry out. I got word from Lindsay and Delilah that they are heading my way. When they arrived, we decided to stay one more night at Lake Bunyonyi, but I pitched my tent the second night as it was considerably cheaper.

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In an attempt to get them dry again …

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Our tents next to the lake

The next morning, we had breakfast and headed to the Rwandan border. I was amazed at how developed Rwanda was … especially the capital Kigali. We reached Kigali around lunch time, so we stopped, had some lunch at a very nice coffee shop … some bickering in the camp with no one able to make up their minds were to go next, we just headed straight out of Rwanda again .. all in one day. Did not see much of Rwanda, which is a shame as it looked awesome, maybe one day I will go back 🙂

We reached the Rwanda – Tanzania border just before sunset … which none of us really like .. never nice to reach a place so late at night. Immigration done, passports stamped, we walked over to customs to get our Carnets (Motorcycle “passports”) stamped and to our disappointment, they were closed already … maybe 5 minutes too late. Lindsay asked if they could phone the customs official to just stamp our carnets so we can get on our way, but no luck … they just refused. We couldn’t go anywhere.

Stuck in “no mans land” between two countries was probably not something I would have imagined on this trip. I love the idea of going into a new country, but I hate borders … and some how all the dodgy people hang around borders and now we were forced to camp there until the next morning so we can get our carnets stamped. No facilities, no toilets, nothing … I should have taken a photo.

Next morning we found out that the customs official actually lived directly opposite the border post, but I assume being a clock watcher, 7pm he was out of there.

Carnets stamped, we headed into Tanzania … not sure if we should go down the western route, the B8 or head east towards Dar Es Salaam and then go down towards Malawi. One thing I didn’t have, was money ! With only $5, 50EUR and very little Tanzanian shillings, we headed for the first town Kibondo, but found out I couldn’t use my visa card to draw money or exchange euro anywhere in town. Stuck again !! Luckily Lindsay had some cash, so I could get around 6 liters of petrol, which should hopefully last me to the next town where there is supposedly a bank which accepts Visa cards. This town was Kasulu which was down the B8 (western route) …. maybe our minds were made up for us … western Tanzanian road down to Malawi it is then.

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Beginning of the B8 route going south in Tanzania

I was actually quite glad as that western route was the way I wanted to go from the start. Some of it you actually ride through a National Park .. with potential lions and other wild animals next to the road … was looking forward to it. The others were not so keen on this road … they probably didn’t say much, but I could see it.

As we reached Kasulu, I found out it was the same bank which doesn’t accept Visa, dammit ! … Tracks4Africa (GPS maps) have it sometimes so wrong … Luckily they agreed to change the euros for me. While I was waiting in the bank for countless papers they have to fill in just to exchange some money, a massive thunderstorm was brewing outside. Money in hand, we quickly headed for the Kasulu Motel just outside the town in pouring rain and yet again, soaking wet.

That evening the discussion came up about the possibility of taking a ferry from Kigoma in Tanzania to Mpulungu in Zambia, skipping the whole western route. Like I said, not my first choice, I came to ride my bike in Africa, not spend time on ferries. Slightly to my relief, we found out that the ferry does not run this week, maybe only in 2 weeks time, so that meant we had to take continue down the B8. I think by this time we realized that what we wanted out of this trip is slightly different from each other.

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At Kusulu Motel, Tanzania

Anyway, still wanting to try their luck … we are off to Kigoma tomorrow to try and find out if there is a ferry or maybe if they can organize one .. at least I can get some cash in Kigoma as they promised me there will be a bank which accepts Visa cards 🙂

  1. Gina Hall says:

    Hi there. What a fantastic journey! I want to go overland by motorcycle from Midrand to UK, next year, sometime around July/August. I’d really appreciate any info on everything…vaccinations, paperwork, emergency kit etc. I will be looking for sponsorships as I intend to do this in support of Compassion in World Farming. Will return the same way. I don’t want to use air transport as I’d like to keep my carbon footprint as small as possible. Airplanes leave prints the size of Yeti by the thousands.

    • m0ng00se says:

      Hi Gina,

      Well … it’s much easier than I thought it would be. The hardest part is packing the motorcycle 🙂

      The only paperwork I ever used on this trip was:

      *Carnet (we get it from RAC, probably AA in South Africa) – It is a temporary import/export permit for the motorcycle at each border)
      * Obviously passport (with visas for required countries)
      * Motorcycle registration document (original and some photo copies)
      * Make some photo copies of all your documents .. I also scanned it and emailed it to myself.

      Take some dollars with you, we were told Euro is also useful, but I found some places, especially Tanzania does not want to change Euro, so USD is the best to take … you can use your visa card almost everywhere, except Sudan, so take some USD maybe around 200 for emergencies, you can change money at every border.

      Vaccinations – I went to the local doctor who provided me with a travel pack for the countries we went to, this included Yellow Fever which is a must for some countries, apparently .. and obviously Anti-Malaria. The doctor should be able to tell you what you need for every country.

      Emergency kit I never used … luckily 🙂 But the basics should be fine .. some allergy stuff, maybe some paracetamol, bandages etc …. Mosquito stuff is a must .. they are hectic over there !

      On my bike I also never used any spares, only changed tyres in Ethiopia.

      My recommendations:

      Proper tent .. comfortable one, gets annoying when you have a crappy tent and you have to pitch it and take it down every day. Sometimes I wished I had a little portable fan as well, like those little battery power ones, some nights are so hot (as I didn’t really have much of a breeze through the tent).

      Just enjoy it .. it’s awesome and I wish I was still on the trip. It is not my last …. I am planning a next one 🙂 Any questions let me know.

  2. […] hello and goodbye Rwanda, off to Tanzania. To ferry or not to ferry … Down Tanzania – Part 1 source […]

  3. […] hello and goodbye Rwanda, off to Tanzania. To ferry or not to ferry … Down Tanzania – Part 1 source […]

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