12 – 18 JULY 2018
Day 12-17 of the adventure.

We have no other better way of describing Rwanda. Rwanda is simply amazing.

We entered Rwanda on our Day 12 of the ride. It is the same day we left Kabale in Uganda which was our night stop before crossing the border.

This might end up winning the award (if there is one 😉 ) for the country we rode the least. We only did about 314 kilometers in total.

BORDER CROSSING 2 OF THE TRIP.
We had spent the night only 18 kilometers from the border. We arrived at the border early which was a really good thing. Kabale to Kigali is about 115 kilometers. So, it was a pretty short ride for the day.

At the border, Uganda immigration and Rwanda are very separate but not far apart. Being in the morning, we did not find many people but there was more than we found at Busia. There are people who cross the border from either of the two countries (Uganda and Rwanda) for work and have to go through the immigration although their paperwork processing is different. There were also trucks that had arrived early and a bus or two had arrived as well.

We cleared with Uganda side for exit and then went down to the Rwanda side. We joined the line for the immigration desk and as soon as we were done, we headed for the customs. Cleared the bikes and went to the security desk to get our gate pass. Make sure you pick a gate pass to exit the border as you enter Rwanda. There is a barrier and the security will not let you out if you don’t have the gate pass.

THE SURPRISE MOMENT.
In Rwanda you drive on the right side while in Kenya and Uganda you drive on the left. So, picture our brief moment of surprise. You must be wondering why if we already knew this – right? Once you pass the barrier to enter Rwanda, you do not switch from left to right immediately. There is about 500 meters you drive on the left then have to switch to the right. Wamuyu was leading and although she was aware of the short distance, a truck just appeared from downhill and there were instant breaks right there. Anyway, he gave us way and we switched lanes. And that was our welcome to Rwanda moment.

RIDE TO KIGALI
After switching to the right lane – right side, we were all ready for the 97 kilometers to Kigali. It was going to be a slow ride. From the border to Kigali is all down hills. No climbing but descending.
The speed limit on the road is maximum 60 KPH and lowest 40 KPH. There are blind corners and sharp bends almost every 800 meters to a kilometer. Our estimate may be wrong but that was the feeling we got on the road. That explains why the speed limits are set that low. In Kenya we have 50 KPH within cities, towns, shopping centers, near schools and hospitals. The road is very good tarmac and very scenic. Kigali is a city of a thousand hills and you can imagine the feel going down the hills with a magnificent view from the top. It took Wamuyu a longer time to get used to the right-hand side driving and every time a car showed up from a corner. She freaked out. Otherwise the ride was smooth all the way till we got in to the city and were welcomed by a roundabout. A pretty confusing moment right there and we almost made a serious mistake. Luckily, a motorist right in front of us noticed our dilemma and stopped. He offered to lead us and even blocked traffic for us. Once he made sure we were in a safe place, he stopped and asked where we were going. We informed him we were meeting someone at a particular place in down town. He called the gentleman on our behalf, confirmed the location and offered to pay a boda boda to take us there. God always sends angels your way.

Riding from the border.

WELCOME TO RWANDA BY REUTERS MEDIA HOUSE.
A night before leaving Kabale, we received and email from Reuters saying they would like to cover our stay in Rwanda. We got it just right on time. The “someone” we were to meet at a particular place is the very kind Reuters journalist in Kigali.

Welcome by Reuters

We arrive at our meet up point and in a short time him and his colleague arrive, and the interviews begun. Once the interview was done, it was time to go to our hotel which we had earlier been recommended. Unfortunately, everyone we asked said they don’t know it including the journalist. He was kind enough to recommend another hotel. He took us there and also negotiated for a good rate for us. This was really very kind of him.

Once we settled in to our very cozy room, we planned the rest of the interviews and coverages for the next couple of days were going to be in Uganda. There was going to be a cricket match and Kenya was playing and that was one of the events we really wanted to catch.

Cozy room that was also gifted to us for one week by Naledi and Godfrey.

GETTING AROUND IN RWANDA.
When we think of Kigali roads, we have the image of a web in mind. First, you drive on the right-hand side and besides that, the road network is like a web. We went to many places but could still not figure out the route back to the hotel. We therefore decided we were not going to ride in Kigali. A decision that we did not honour to the full. Once a biker always a biker.

In-case you visit Rwanda and find yourself in a situation like ours of getting lost in Kigali don’t be worried, the boda boda’s in Kigali are the perfect alternative. There is not Uber, Taxify, Little cab or any of those taxis you find on an App. Sorry  . There are the yellow line taxis but very few and not easy to find. There is also public transport but to specific areas.

The Boda Boda’s of Kigali are not your usual boda guys – no, scrap that. They are organized, clean, have helmets for passengers and only carry one passenger at a time. If you are two people and stop a boda boda, he stops a second one and the price is agreed before you leave. They also confirm that the other boda boda rider understands where the passenger is going and also knows the route there.

The rider and the pillion MUST wear helmets and they follow traffic laws to the letter. If driving in Rwanda, NOTE – you cannot have your wheels touch the zebra crossing. That is a traffic offense.

MEETING THE RWANDA BIKERS.
The love among bikers is an envy for many. Kudos to the world-wide family.

While in Uganda, we got in touch with the President of Kigali Bikers (Cedric). Cedric spoke to us on daily basis and ensured we were comfortable and progressing well. He organized a meet up over the weekend. We had the Friday night out and on Saturday we rode to the cricket match after which Cedric hosted us to a sumptuous lunch at his house. Whoop whoop! Kigali is such a blast.

With the brothers (Kigali Bikers)
With the sisters (Kigali Bikers).

Reuters covered this Saturday ride, the cricket match and the lunch. We understand this particular coverage was aired on K24

Stolen moments in the heat of things.

TO MEETING AND MAKING LIFELONG FRIENDS.
Have you ever met someone, and the feeling is more like, where have you been brother/sister? You feel like you have known them all your life but one of you have been hiding from the other? We found ourselves in the situation. That was the feeling when we met Naledi and Godfrey. A couple that rides together too. From the first day we met during the Friday night out, we connected and spent amazing time together during our stay in Kigali. We are a bit emotional writing about this right now. These two made our stay the most amazing experience we have had. They accommodated us, fed us, gifted us, spent loads of time with us, took us to places and we can never thank them enough for their kindness and generosity.

Gifts from Rwanda – Made in Rwanda
Gifts from Rwanda – Made in Rwanda
Delicious

THANK YOU SO MUCH NALEDI AND GODFREY, MAY GOD RICHLY REWARD YOU, MAY YOU NEVER LACK.

THE GENOCIDE MEMORIAL.

We all along knew we were going to visit the genocide memorial. There is no amount of preparation that will have you ready and comfortable for the experience. It was the first place we visited in Rwanda and we are grateful we did that because, you get to understand the cultural context which makes it easy to travel the country and understand the people. Entry is free and the only thing you pay for is the audio guide equipment and taking pictures inside the memorial.
– The audio guide equipment – USD 5/=
– Taking pictures inside the museum – USD 10/-
– Taking pictures outside in the compound i.e. grave area is FREE.

This should be a MUST visit for everyone who visits Rwanda. Carry enough soft tissues or a number of handkerchiefs. The experience is going to initiate a mix of emotions. You may lose faith in humanity, you may appreciate what you have, you may be filled with bitterness and will cry most likely through the entire time at the memorial. One thing that is for sure, you will leave there changed. Spare about 2-3 hours for the visit to the memorial. Brave yourself for wall displays of photos, video footage, weapons used during the genocide, human skulls and bones and the most heart wrenching children’s memorial.

The outdoor exhibit has the mass grave sites and some beautiful gardens that seem to offer some peace after the heart-wrenching experience. People from Rwanda come here every day to mourn and reconnect with their families – one of the Rwandese told us. “We bring flowers, we have quiet moments with our families here”. We saw baskets of flowers, roses and some single ones too. Visitors are also allowed to place flowers to honour those that died.

There is then the black marble wall etched with the names of those who died.

There is a coffee shop in the memorial which is a nice way to calm down and relax.

Make sure to make a donation. The memorial relies on monetary gifts to maintain it.

We decided not to share pictures of the memorial.

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VISITING THE KENYAN HIGH COMMISSION.

We paid a visit to the Kenyan High Commission. We walked in without an appointment and we were really fortunate to be able to get some time with The Ambassador John Mwangemi from his busy schedule.
Like we told you in our previous post, Embassies are for the people. There is so much to learn. We think we converted the Ambassador. We look forward to the ride soon 😉

At the High Commission with The Ambassador.

THE RWANDA INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE CENTER.
This is basically like our KENYA INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE CENTER. Why does it make for a tourist attraction site or place to visit? It’s simply a good, well thought, well planned, well executed piece of Art. Opened in 2016, you can be sure it comes with some of the very best modern technology. It is dome shaped and has very beautiful lighting in the night that changes to multiple colours.

We had wanted to see this place so much both in the day and night to just enjoy the lighting. However, there was another important reason that we had to go to the conference center. We were meeting our friend, fellow Kenyan biker lady Kui Bett. You have no idea what it is like to meet people from home when traveling, or maybe you do, and you understand how important this was.

Meeting with Kui in Kigali

VISITING LAKE MUHANZI
The most popular lake to visit in Rwanda is Lake Kivu which is between the DRC and Rwanda. We however did not visit this lake. Our friends Naledi and Godfrey suggested we go to Lake Muhazi and they actually drove us there. It’s about 40 minutes to an hour’s drive. There is a section of the road that is not good, but this is being repaired or they are putting a brand-new road all together. The Lake is in the Eastern province of Rwanda.

There is a nice restaurant by the lake and lunch is served by the lake shores if you like. We took one of those lake shores tables. We had whole fish and chips ;). The fish is big, and the chips portions are large so just make sure you are hungry enough when going there. It’s a great place for relaxing and we enjoyed the sunset. This marked our lovely stay in Rwanda.

Sunset at Lake Muhazi

LEAVING RWANDA.
Our plan was to leave Kigali and ride to Kahama on this day as there was nowhere else on that route to stay. That was going to be a cool 539 kilometers in a day. We started early for the ride, had Reuters cover our ride out and we must say that was a wonderful escort.

The ride was all good till we go to Kayonza. The road constructions begun. We had been told it’s a short section but turned out to be all the way to the border. There were sections of scraped off roads, tarmac with potholes and dug up sections. This was one hot, dusty and long day. In the end, we could not make it to Kahama and only covered 307 kilometers in more than 8 hours.

And there – Good bye Amazing Rwanda.

Keep It here to hear about the border crossing at Rusumo, and the rest of the days experience.

We bid farewell to the coolest kid in Africa – Rwanda

5TH – 12THJULY 2018

(day 4 to day 11) 

800 kms of Uganda

 

Uganda was the first country we entered after leaving Kenya. We spent 8 days in Uganda.  This is from entering the border at Busia to exiting Uganda at Katuna border.  Just writing these two sentences we are asking ourselves “why did we rush through?”

We however had eight awesome days in Uganda. First, we have family in Uganda and it was really important that we spend some quality time together as we will be away for 3.5 years.

BORDER CROSSING:

We crossed in to Uganda through Busia border. This our first border crossing and true to your thoughts we were excited. The feeling was more like – “yeah, the adventure is really happening!!!”.We had our passports and carnet in hand ready to get into Uganda.  We found a parking spot at the border and everyone outside there walked to us. Can you imagine the feeling when we heard several people discuss who we are??? Kind of a brief celebrity moment right there.  Majority had watched the departure coverage by KBC a few days before and they were excitedly telling everyone who didn’t know about our adventure. Greeted guys, answered a few questions and then we headed to the immigration.

The Busia border is newly built.  We have no idea how it looked before the new beautiful buildings. Both Kenya and Uganda immigration offices are in the same building, something that makes the process pretty easy and fast. So, we headed to the Kenya immigration counter first for exit out of Kenya.  The process is, you first get cleared and get the stamps on the passports before going to the customs to clear the bikes or any vehicle.  After we got the “EXIT” stamp on our passports, we headed to customs to clear the bikes. The process is straight forward with a carnet and pretty fast. At this point, we are in no man’s land till we get the ENTRY stamps in Uganda which is the same process, first get the passports stamped and then clear bikes at the customs.  The custom officer however asked to physically verify the bikes and so we walked with her to the bikes and she looked at a few things like registration and condition of the bikes before giving us a pass in to Uganda.

In total the whole process took us about 30 minutes.  We were lucky there were no people waiting and therefore we did not have any waiting time.  It may not always be the case especially if you find buses crossing in to Uganda or Kenya. We arrived there around 2:00 pm and this could be a good time as most buses cross early morning or later afternoon. Important to note is check the busy hours at the border and cross at the less busy time. Also align this with how much time you need to get to your destination.

Border crossing

THE SURPRISE MOMENT

At the border, we decided to change all the Kenyan money we had in to Uganda shillings.  Between us we had Kshs 3,565/-.  We walk to the forex and ask the exchange rate and it was 1ks to 36.5 Ushs. Once we changed our money, we instantly became rich. Surprise number 1. We now had Ushs 130,122.5. Our heads registered the riches but did not move from our Kenyan currency. In our heads, it was now Kshs 130,122.5.  From the border we stopped at the petrol station and of cause, we thought we had so much money only for the pump to read Ugsh 85,000/-

What a nice welcome to Uganda. 😉

JINJA

First stop in Uganda was Jinja. Why Jinja? Well there are several reasons including it is on the way to Kampala 😉 but for us it was important we stop in this town for the following reasons: –

  1. It is the source of River Nile – River Nile is the only river in the world that flows north.
  2. Experience the historical town.
  3. Plenty of water sports available too.

We had a recommendation for a place to stay by our biker friends in Kisumu and we just rode to Signature Apartment hotel.  This place is really beautiful in all means.  Service, food, rooms, garden, location all in one word – GREAT!  We felt right at home and we were concerned we may not want to leave.  Check out why in the images below.

Signature Apartment Hotel in Jinja – Uganda.

Mr. Grace Kigenyi – the owner of this place is also a biker, and this was just another plus. We were with family.

The following day, we rode to the source of River Nile. It’s only 1.3 km’s from Signature Apartment Hotel, which is another plus for staying there. There are charges for accessing the source of River Nile.

–       Ugandans and East African community pay the same fee of Ushs – 10,000 (Kshs 274/=)

–       Vehicles going in are charged too.  We paid Ushs 1,000 for the bike (Kshs 30/- or less by a shilling or two).

There are licensed tour guides in uniform, so it is very easy to identify them. They are very organized and so you don’t have so many of them running to you each one asking if you could take them. We loved that so much. We got our guide and walked in.  There is a restaurant right by the waters.  Our guide took us through the options, the prices, what we would be able to do and see.  He was very professional.  He asked if we wanted to place an order for food so that when we finish the boat ride we can have our lunch.  The organization is amazing.

The options include:

  • Half an hour ride,
  • One-hour ride
  • Speed boat
  • Regular boat.

He explained that speed boat though the more expensive option would not allow for good bird watching, seeing the monkeys and all because it’s too fast and not able to access the edges of the river well. We settled for the option that would give us the best in terms of how much we can see and that was the regular boat.

The speed boat

THE BOAT RIDE:

The boat ride was slightly over half an hour even though we paid for half an hour.  There is so much history on the lake/river. There are some small islands on the river that are man-made.  They have been washed off in to very small islands and others totally gone. The smallest is right where the mark for the source of River Nile is. Its submerged but has a small curio shop built on it.  There were some toilets that are no longer accessible because the waters have raised so much, and they are just on river not submerged but inaccessible. There are plenty of birds, monkeys and lizards.  They are right at the edges and the reason a speed boat does not make a good option if you will like to see them.

The history of how the “source of River Nile” was identified is just another amazing reason you should make that trip. We aren’t telling you, smell the flavor and go fetch the food yourself. 😉

The source of River Nile
The smallest Island that holds the curio shop
Some cute souveniers at the curio shop
It speaks for itself
We spotted a lizard
The floating toilets
The camera shy monkey
Some of the birds we saw

NEXT STOP, KAMPALA

After two days in Jinja, we left for Kampala.  We regret not doing the water sports in Jinja.  This was a terrible mistake – but please don’t judge us.  We have many more opportunities ahead. Our consolation.

The ride out of Jinja was really nice till we got to Mukono. Jinja to Kampala is only 82 kilometers.  The first 60 kilometers were super good, then we got into traffic. We forgot to remove our thermal liners from the jackets and the weather was hot.  We also ran out of water.  This was traffic, heat, no water!! The next 26 kilometers were a real test, but we made it to Kampala.

Stuck in traffic at Mikono

We were received by our sister, bought lunch and we took off to go home, park bikes and rest. And this is where the traffic test changed to worse.  Kampala has really heavy traffic.  It beats Nairobi and New York. We made it home in one piece to a beautiful reception by Christian and Clarisa.  We also swore we are not taking the bikes out again till the departure day. We kept our word and opted for driving. Thanks to Collins and Pri for allowing us to use your car.  Geeez just realized we never topped up the fuel – shame on us – how ungrateful!!! We are really sorry Collins and Pri.

Thanks Pri for the warm welcome to Kampala

KAMPALA BIKERS ASSOCIATION.

Before we left Kenya, we contacted Morrisons of Morrison’s Leather (the best biker’s gear shop in Uganda). We know a few people from Kenya who have bought gear from him and he doesn’t disappoint. He is able to ship anywhere in East Africa too.

Morrison organized a meet up with the Kampala Bikers and we had brunch together on an easy Sunday morning. Kampala Bikers are very organized, a close-knit family and just one happy lot. It was really lovely sharing experiences.  There was also a surprise for us – we got to meet Grace Kigenyi of Signature Apartment hotel and Angie, the only lady who rides in Uganda with her beautiful baby – Suzuki GSX R-1000.   After the brunch, we rode together to Morrison’s shop.  This shop is one you go to when all your bills have been paid otherwise you leave all your rent and more there.  The quality of the gear he sells is worth it and not very easily available at the price he sells it.  So, Dos became a victim — no, he became the lucky one to find a jacket that fitted perfectly well and was way better than what we had bought for the adventure.  Don’t ask for the other jacket, it has already been donated ha ha ha. For the next 4 days we just soaked in to family love and enjoying every minute of it.

The Uganda Bikers Association – Sunday Brunch
Angie and Wamuyu
Morrison Leather shop

MEETING WITH KENYAN HIGH COMMISSIONER IN UGANDA

After a day well spent with the Kampala bikers, we made a courtesy call to the Kenyan High Commission in Uganda. Embassies are meant for the people and if you have ever thought that it is hard to get in to your embassy, scrap that now.  It’s pretty easy. Just walk in.

We arrived and were received very well right from the gate. The Ambassador was not in at the time and so we met the Consular Mr Macharia and the rest of the staff. We had a really good time with the staff who are very friendly.  As we were just about to leave, the High Commissioner, Amb. Maj. Gen. (Rtd) Geoffrey L. Okanga drove in.  To our surprise, he is also a very friendly and jovial person.  The mood at the embassy is one very happy family. He invited us for, yet another cup of coffee and we could not resist.  The cup of coffee ended up being close to two hours of a very impactful and informative session with the Ambassador.

Arrival at the Embassy
A moment with the Ambassador
The Team at the Embassy. Such a happy family.

LEAVING KAMPALA HEADING TO RWANDA

After a great time with family and friends, it was time to go. We left Kampala with another “we don’t wonna leave”feeling. It felt the same way it did when we were leaving Nairobi. Family is hard to leave.

Family
Family

We had 405 kilometers to cover in a day to Kabale. Kabale is the last town before Katuna border. Exiting Kampala was easy as we were not going to pass through the city and so no traffic.  We were staying in Kajansi area which is out of the city.  There is a new bypass that goes direct to Busega.  We missed the sign that motorcycles are not allowed on the bypass and found ourselves on the wrong side of traffic police at the toll station. There were also a few other riders who had been stopped.  We begged them to allow us and gladly they accepted. So, the whole lot of us like 15 bikes were let in.  We all zoomed and looked like someone blew the start whistle and there is a ribbon waiting at the other end.

The rest of the ride was uneventful.  We arrived at the Equator and had to stop and take pictures. For the first time we were so far from each other yet so close. One in Northern Hemisphere while the other in the Southern Hemisphere. We still could hug though ;).

From Northern Hemisphere and Southern Hemisphere

We also met and made friends with a lovely couple who lives in UK. Traveling is the best way to make friends.

We arrived at Kabale in good time to get a place to stay and relax for a night. Wamuyu had caught a terrible cold and we needed to keep warm and have a good rest.  Kabale is also colder than anywhere else we had been in Uganda.  The area from Mbarara to Katuna border is hilly, green and very scenic.  The road is very good tarmac all the way from Kampala but the twisties and bends from Mbarara all the way to the border are just what a biker wants on the road. Now you know. ;). Gear up!

Somewhere in the beautiful Mbarara and Kabale area.
Looking in the beauty of South Uganda
Where we stayed in Kabale.

It’s good to note that if you are going to Rwanda by road – overlanding like us. Kabale is the last town before the border and the best place to sleep if you don’t have enough time to cross the border and get to Kigali.  Its only 18 kilometers to Katuna border and you find some really good B&B.

The following day we woke up and left for the border. It was time to say good bye to Uganda and Hello Rwanda.

Keep it here for the Amazing Rwanda!!!