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Photo by Mark Newton, Mexican camping

I haven't been everywhere...
but it's on my list!

Photo by Mark Newton,
Camping in the Mexican desert

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  • 1 Post By kampalaric

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Old 1 Nov 2013
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Uganda Road Trip Honda XLR250

Recent Road trip around Uganda from Kampala down to Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, on the border with Congo and Rwanda. From here travel through Bwindi Forest to Queen Elizabeth National Park and back to Kampala, totaling around 1,500 miles.

Undertook the trip in my Honda XLR250 which was faultless throughout totalling around 10 days of riding. Roads consisting of good tarmac down to loose gravel and mud all the way to volcanic bolder and hard high incline mountain roads.

I have attached some of the photos I took and thought I would go through a few of them for anyone who is interested in a trip through this beautiful and bike friendly country where I live for two years.

1. First crossing of the equator into the southern hemisphere! This is just before the city of Masaka, around 150km from Kampala. I aimed to leave at around 5am but delays dont see me depart until 7am and I arrive at the equator for a morning coffee at just past 9:15, just as Im beginning to get a bit of butt ache!

Bike performing great but I have to take the sun visor off my helmet after getting neckache and to increase fuel consumption. You can see the spare bottle of petrol attached to the back. The reserve switch on my tank has never worked, so this is my reserve tank and it comes in Handy just before I reach the city of Mbarara after around 260km as the bike stutters to a halt. I am concerned about a mechanical failure but after a pepsi bottle of petrol its all back to life!

After lunch in Mbarara I ride on to Kabale over hills that form part of the great rift valley. The begining of the ride is desperate over crippled tarmac, dodging huge potholes and lorries, sharing a slither of good road. Progress is then hit by 100km of roadworks before finally finding some brand new tarmac which I can get up to 140kmh. The bike performance is significantly reduced over the high passes up to 2,500m with acceleration impossible above 5th gear, so I worry about fuel as the ride to Kabale is much longer than I remembered, some 270km, but amazingly I make it after a total of 8 hours and two and a half fuel stops.

2.Left Kabale after a heavy night at the local bar so much delayed! This is the part of the journey I am looking forward to most, the 70km road to Kisoro over more of the great rift valley and down toward the virunga volcanoes, all over brand new twisting mountain roads. The photo shows the bike in front of Lake Bunyonyi, a large crater lake rumored to be among the deepest in Africa, though never recorded as such. The BBC once claimed to to be the most beautiful in the world, it is certainly special. I have put the visor back on the helmet and it shows in the windy hills!

3. The Kanaba Gap on the Kisoro road offers a clear view of the Virunga mountains. Here Mts Muhavura and Gahinga are partially visible with the remaining 5 mountains obscured by the cloud which often rolls in after around 10am. The bike is so much fun on these twisting roads! Again I am suffering from the altitude though but with no concerns about fuel I am gassing it in 2nd and 3rd almost exclusively with lots of raises and falls before the pass drops toward the town of Kisoro, where I spend the next few nights.

4. I take the bike up to Mgahinga Gorilla National park, which means a 15km bike busting trail over volcanic rocks with a very steep incline. Most cars take 2 hours to get up the trail if they make it at all, I manage it in 21 minutes despite one or two near drops over some very wet rocks. The geography is like the scottish highlands with volcanoes.. and it is hard to believe you are in Africa. Here the bike poses in front of a school with Mt Muhavura (4,200m) visible behind. I stay at a lodge at the foot of the mountains for a few days.

5. On the way back down the mountain road with Mt Sabinyo (3,700), forming a border with the Congo and Rwanda behind. The road is thankfully dry which is bad news for a friend who took a motorcycle taxi which tried to keep up with me!

6. The southern Sector of Bwindi Forest, deep in mountain gorilla territory! The ride here takes three hours back up the kisoro-kabale road which is just as fun as before! Spent the day riding along forest paths around 2,000m, often tiny track roads with huge drops to rivers below. Managed some impressive speeds along lose gravel and mud, often competing with goats! Stopped for lunch at Clouds luxury lodge before coming back down a different route to Kisoro past lakes Mutanda and Melehe. The last 20 minutes on back breaking volcanic rubble. Bike never missed a beat.

7. Overnight at the Golden Monkey Guest House in Kisoro which overlooks the virunga mountains. Outside is a Suzuki Djebel, which is effictively a DR200. Took it if for a quick ride, more comfortable than the Honda but not as fast and feels a bit heavier despite the smaller engine. Went for a ride with its owner and tried to get up one of the nearby hills for sunset but we left too late and got lost so had to come back and go to a bar instead.

8.Long day of riding to Queen Elizabeth National park, some 400km away. Retraced my steps over the high passes to Kabale. There is another route back through Bwindi toward the Ishasha region of the park. This would have been fantastic but the last 90km is through the national park wilderness and might be impassable in the wet and I didnt want to get stuck or run out of gas in lion country!

Progress was slow past Kabale as there were masses of muddy roadworks all the way through the mountains and it was raining hard. Riding in the path of speeding trucks on lose surface was quite scary so I took it slow. Roadworks continued for the next 150km and progress is desperate, though I am still the quickest thing on the road all I can recall is the dust.

I've been given a tip of a short cut to avoid the last 100km back to Mbarara and it takes me along a gorgeous country road on surprisingly good tarmac. It looks like the lake district until i find a big sign that reads ISHAKA 35km which leads me onto a path that follows a river. It's beautiful but again roadworks start. I can see an enormous storm on the horizon so I push the bike hard but 35km seems optimistic at best and it seems to take me nearly two hours to roll into Ishaka where i'm surprised to see I have half a tank of fuel left.

I was looking forward to the final 50km to my overnight stop as the road is fantastic, like the Kabale to Kisoro, a winding well tarmacked dream road through tea plantations and green hills, but just as I left Ishaka the heavens opened. It rained so hard I had to pull over when I reached Kilinzu forest as visibility was at zero and the trucks were now braver than me and passed very fast and close. By the time I reach my overnight stop at a luxury camp in the small village of Kyambura I am much in need of a hot shower! The views across to the snowcapped Rwenzori mountains are spectacular though and after a shower I am tempted for a quick spin down the hill and into the park.

This photo shows the Eastern side of the park as I come down the Kyambura escarpment and into the flat open plain of the park. The road then straightens out for about 25km totally flat as it bisects the park. I run into several elephant and antelope on my joyride and the bike is a lot better through the potholled road than a safari jeep or bus!

9. Some new friends overlooking Queen Elizabeth National Park. The Rwenzori mountains can be seen in the distance, which top out at around 5,300m with Mt Stanley, Africa's third highest. Lakes Edward and George can also be seen glimmering in the distance. The photo was taken on the Kyambura escarpment near my overnight stop where I spent three days.

10. Back into the North! The equator runs right through Queen Elizabeth national park so its a great photo op by the dilapidated sign which coincidentally comes at 1,000 miles for my trip. My plan is to ride to Kasese at the foot of the Rwenzori mountains and then on to Fort Portal, easily Uganda's prettiest town before the final leg back to Kampala. The roads are all good and its less busy than the route I took in through Masaka and Mbarara so it would complete my circle nicely.

However, after reaching Kasese, 2 hours from Kyambura, I am met with a flood which has destroyed a bridge. I am told by some locals that they can get me around it, but I hear that up to 20 people have died so I am not taking any chances, there must be 2,000 people crammed onto what remains of the bridge and for the first time on the trip I become scared, it looks like an accident waiting to happen so I make the call to ride all the way back through the park, adding another 2 hours to my trip. On the plus side, I get to ride the beautiful road back from Kyambura through the tea plantations in good weather, and it is a riot!

I must ride back to Mbarara, which takes longer than I thought, some 100km which I had driven a month earlier in an hour, but now takes twice that and my butt really feels it. I cant see how I will get all the way back to Kampala today but I need to be at work tomorrow and I really want to watch a football match which kicks off at 7pm!

I have lunch in Mbarara and fill the bike up for a run back to Masaka, I feel bad wasting an hour but I need the rest, unlike the bike which seems more energised than ever as I kick her to life! Again it seems a hell of a lot longer back to Masaka than it was getting in but the roads are good and I play a game of cat and mouse with a safari vehicle which drives like a madman on the straights but is easily caught up in the villages which are built along the roadside and pop up every 10km or so and are riddled with enormous speed bumps which I can sail over.

From Masaka I make my last fuel stop and make the last run to Kampala. The road is again heavily disrupted by roadworks. When they finish all of these I would love to come back! It rains too and progress is slow and muddy but at least flat and before long I reach the swamps of lake victoria which surround Kampala. The bike squirms through the chronic traffic and I fly past several rally cars from an event in Mbarara who are driving home before finding my way back to the northern bypass, Kampala's ringroad.

The last 10km back to the city feel like I am riding on silk such are the slower speeds and though I am 40 minutes late for the football, I really dont feel like I have had an 8 hour ride!

Feel free to ask me anything about riding in Uganda, I have a lot more photos too!
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Old 21 Nov 2013
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Great Tour


great Trip.

I want go also to Uganda and in the National Parks, I come from Germany fly to Mombasa make tour through Tanzania and Rwanda.

Have you an Idea what is the best Park for Gorilla watching?

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Old 18 Dec 2013
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Great photos!

You travel light! Does that include a tent, etc?


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Old 1 Jun 2014
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Thanks for the great information. I'm hoping to pass through Uganda in June/July, after i've traveled up from Dar through Kenya to Ethopia and back again. I am looking for routes down through Uganda/Rwanda, so your information is great.

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Old 1 Jun 2014
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Thanks for the great information. I'm hoping to pass through Uganda in June/July, after i've traveled up from Dar through Kenya to Ethopia and back again. I am looking for routes down through Uganda/Rwanda, so your information is great.

Follow my travels Facebook page
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