Motorbike safari in Uganda

Motorsafari in OegandaGrand waterfalls, white beaches on an azure ocean, tropical forests, gurgling volcanoes, blistering hot deserts and raging rivers. All this we saw during our trip through Africa. And chances are that we will see such beauty again on other continents. However, one thing is unique to Africa: the vast savannas bearing the ‘Big Five’. Africa is the only continent where lions, buffaloes, rhinos, leopards and African elephants still exist in the wild. They can be seen during a safari in one of the many national parks. And now we’re here …

We have to drive past most of the parks, because we are not allowed inside on the motorbikes. In Uganda they are more flexible, because there we may enter Murchison Falls National Park on the motorbikes to go on safari! The park is located in the north-west of Uganda on the banks of the Victoria Nile and is named after a spectacular waterfall where the Nile is pressed through a gap of only seven meters wide. The park is home to many different animals, including the ‘Big Five’. We decide that this will be our next destination, because how cool would it be to see elephants or giraffes from the seat of your motorcycle? “Or lions!” Peter then adds…. Well, we’ll see.

Motorsafari in Oeganda Before we go on motorbike safari, we first stay a few days in Kampala at “Red Chilli Hideaway.” A huge backpackers hostel with a good kitchen, a swimming pool and high-speed internet.
There we meet Mélu from Paris, who, like us, is working on her blog at the bar (blog). She travels by herself on her motorcycle (a Triumph Tiger 800XC) through East Africa. She started in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) and drove through Djibouti, Somalia and Kenya before arriving in Uganda. It is not just a holiday trip, because she makes a documentary during her trip that will be broadcasted on French television late 2014. Armed with a camera, she takes off to capture extraordinary stories of the people see meets along the way. We had already heard about her and had just missed her in Kenya at Jungle Junction. Great that we meet her now.

We share stories, drink a beer and agree that she will join us when we go to Murchison Falls. Great! Mélu has already been in Kampala a few days and now knows her way around. The next morning we followed her to a large supermarket to do some much needed shopping. Back at the hostel, I work some more on the website and Peter works on the bikes for some maintenance. While I stare at my screen and think of the next paragraph, I suddenly see a very familiar silhouette looming beside me in the corner of my eye. ROSS! His adventures in Uganda have taken him to Kampala. A fifth unexpected encounter! The laptop is closed, the tools are put back in the bag and a great evening with friends, beer, pizza and tough stories follows.

Motorsafari in OegandaThe next morning Mélu, Peter and I are up early to tie all our gear on the bikes. Although we do not carry much stuff with us, the motorbike are still quite a lot heavier once everything on there. But the weight with which we ride pales into insignificance compared with the motorbike of Mélu. She not only has a much heavier bike, but also carries a lot of stuff. And heavy stuff too, like her recording equipment. So heavy that the bikes fell over while packing and three people are needed to lift it. I can only imagine how it must have been to ride through the desert in Djibouti and Somaliland with all that. Once all three of us are ready to leave, we say goodbye to Ross -who has already been on safari in Murchison Falls- and we drive through the gate of the hostel.

It is busy in the city. The streets are full of long lines of cars and vans. Like the motorcycle taxis we zigzag between the traffic, something that goes a lot better now we have been in Africa for some time. Today it is my turn to ride in front. We have set the GPS to the entrance of the park. It is a useful device, but it cannot hurt to keep using your common sense. That thing sometimes sends you onto the strangest roads if ’he thinks’ that it is faster. The same thing today. The GPS seems to ignore the tarred motorway around Kampala and sends us through various small roads in a straight line to the north . After Mélu gets stuck on one of those small roads in a deep ledge (and again five men are needed to get her motorcycle back on the road), it is enough. I turn of the GPS and find my way north using the scarce signs and the road map.

Motorsafari in OegandaWe want to be at the entrance of the park in the mid-afternoon, so we have enough time to drive to the campsite. From the entrance that is still about 30km on a dirt road, which track we want to ride before it gets dark. In addition, the ticket for the national park is valid for 24 hours from the moment we enter the park. The later we go in today, the more time we have for the safari tomorrow. It is a long journey of nearly 400km so we only stop for gas and some food.

At the beginning of the afternoon, the “highway” stops and we drive onto a provincial road. The GPS is now back on, but due to the adventures of that morning, I still do not fully trust the GPS and the designated route. He points me to several small sandy paths, which I pass because I know there will come a tarmac road leading us all the way to the entrance of the park. Unfortunately, I manage to also drive past that paved road and ends up at a sandy track 20 km further. No problem, except that it has been raining here and the road has turned into a slippery mud path. Several cars are backwards on the roadside and cyclists walk their bikes on hand. After one kilometer slipping and sliding the ladies decide to drive back to the asphalt road, even if that is more than 20 kilometres back. Peter thinks it is all nonsense, but this time in the minority so we rides back with us anyway.

Motorsafari in OegandaDue to the delay in Kampala, the many miles and this detour, we must now really get along to get at the campsite before dark. Moreover, the sky above us starts to turn rather dark and it seems to rain any moment. That will change the dirt road in the park into a mud road. We hit the gas and try to stay ahead of the rain. It is quiet over the intercom.

At four o’clock we are at the entrance of the park and we start the journey to the campsite. We are only a few kilometres along the way as we spot our first ‘wild animals’. Impalas shoot off the road in front of us, in the distance is a troop of baboons sits on the road and next to us a warthog runs back into the tall grass with its tail up in the air. We stop to take pictures and film, but after one look at the dark sky we quickly drive on towards the camp. At the turn to the falls that gave the park its name, we decide to drive on. It starts to get dark and the air is so dark that we would prefer to go campsite now it is still dry and light. We can still go there tomorrow.

Motorsafari in OegandaAfter half an hour we reach the camp. In the last light we pitch our tent and from the terrace we see how the dark sky lights up in the distance by lightning. It is still dry when we get into our tent, but halfway through the night it starts raining exceptionally hard. As if buckets of water are thrown on the tent. If the alarm goes off the next morning, it is still raining. In the pouring rain we pack our stuff. Peter and I first want to drive to the falls before we drive to the north with Mélu. We leave our big duffels behind with her, let some air out of the tires of the motorbikes and drive off the campsite in the pouring rain.

The road that was so dusty yesterday, has turned into a shiny strip of thick mud. We drive slowly and still slip and slide in the tracks made ​​by cars. We are less than two kilometres on our way when my bikes starts to slip and I drive off the road onto the steep side. I am covered in red mud from head to toe, but otherwise okay. Motorsafari in OegandaIt was so slow so both myself and the bike are still intact. After much effort, we get my bike back on the road and we continue in the direction of the waterfalls. After one kilometre, Peter makes a pirouette and also lies in the mud with his motorcycle next to him. No damage or scratches, both just really dirty. The profile of the tires is completely filled with thick red mud and at the pace we are driving at, we cannot get it out. Once we have also lifter Peters motorbike, we decide to drive up to 10 kilometres, and if the road is not better there to turn around. But we do not even get that far. At kilometre six Peter makes another beautiful ’360°’ in the mud. This is not going anywhere, we will go back to the campsite. It is not very promising for the rest of the day, especially with Mélu her heavy bike.

Back at the campsite we tie the duffels back on the bikes and drive with Mélu to the ferry that will take us across the Nile. While we are waiting for the ferry to arrive, we see hippos stick there heads above the water. They flap their ears and then disappear again under the water with a sigh. Behind the hippo a huge crocodile moves smoothly through the water. Ferries are not as special to us Dutchies as to the other tourists, but it is not every day that you see hippos and crocodiles from the ferry!

Motorsafari in OegandaOnce we are on the other side the roads are luckily somewhat better than south of the river. No thick sticky mud, but hard-packed gravel roads. Although these are also quite muddy due to the rain, we can still ride on them. Mélu does not want to be in the park and on these roads much longer and decides to take the shortest way to the exit. She assures us that we do not have to drive with her to the exit, because she has already driven a lot of days by her self. We say goodbye and agree to meet in one of the hotels in Gulu that evening.

And then we are off, on safari on our bikes! We follow a path to the east and look out over the vast plain in front of us. It is still raining very hard, but the view is still amazing! Peter, the best spotter I know, soon sees the first wild animals. In the field next to us is a group Hartebeest, a large antelope with a strange shaped head that looks to be a crossing between a horse and a deer. Once we slow down and stop to take a picture they run in all directions, away from us. Once we drive off again, they stop and we can actually see them much better.

The roads are a lot better and we have no trouble keeping our bikes upright this time. Great, because the wildlife is already exciting enough. Motorsafari in OegandaWe drive a little further and see a group of elephants. They just crossed the road and trudge down the valley. When we stop to take a picture one of the elephants sticks its trunk in the air. Not long after, he turns towards us flapping his ears, the sign for us not to come any closer. He turns back and trudges after the rest of the family. We look at them until we cannot see them anymore and drive on, while Peter scans the area. And we are lucky, because after this first group of elephants, we see yet another group of those gray giants, a group of giraffes with baby-giraffes, buffaloes and many, many antelopes. No lions (to the disappointment of Peter and Leonie her relief), but we will probably still see them somewhere in Africa.

Around noon the rain stops and the sun comes out. It is immediately warm and the road dries off before our eyes. With the sun also the Tsetse flies come out again, they are some sort of horseflies that can sting. They are attracted to our dark gloves and even manage to sting through them. We cannot stop too long to take pictures because before you know it 15 flies are buzzing around our helmet. We drive on slowly, with just enough speed to keep in front of the flies. Eventually we arrive at the gate of the park at two in the afternoon. Earlier than we had expected, but at least before our ticket expires. We drive out of the park, giving a lot of gas to sway the last bits of mud from our tires and put some more pressure to the tires once we are back on the tarmac.

Motorsafari in OegandaAt the end of the afternoon we arrive in Gulu where we find a room in a small hotel. Mélu is not there yet. Strange, because we expected that she would be there before us, because she took the shortest way to the exit. We leave a message for her at the other hotel we had spoken about. We hope nothing has happened to her! All kinds of horrible scenarios with a fallen motorcycle, broken legs, elephants and even lions shoot through my head. We are feeling a bit nervous and with a knot in my stomach and a light feeling of guilt because we are not ride with her to the exit, we walk to the center of Gulu for a typical African meal of rice, ugali and fish. It has been dark for some time when we arrive back at the hotel. Just at that moment, we see a motorcycle driving up the driveway: Mélu! I am so happy to see her that I run off to give her a big hug.

She had indeed fallen when she was still in the park, but only two minutes had to wait for two minutes before the passengers of a passing car Motorsafari in Oegandacould help lift the bike. After that she reached the exit without any difficulty. When she arrived there, there was a large group of elephants. She parked her bike and started filming as long as her ticket was valid. Only at the last moment, she left the park to ride towards Gulu. Everything OK, not eaten by lions …

We ordered a beer and toast to a quite adventurous trip in Uganda.

Distance to Gulu: 16,122 km (10,018 miles)

Click here to see the photos.


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| Leonie | AFRICA, Uganda

8 Reacties (Comments) - Motorbike safari in Uganda

  1. Celine en Leon

    ‘tot teleurstelling van Peter en opluchting van Leonie’ haha komisch stel! Wat zijn die hartenbeesten gaaf zeg. En die rottige vliegen, zijn die endemisch voor Oeganda of….succes ermee in ieder geval. Pracht-verslag!


  2. Ray

    Bij een vette tocht hoort natuurlijk vette klei.

    Geniet nooit met mate


  3. Linda en Ton

    Vet jongens!!!!! Hey wij vertrekken morgen naar Vic Falls en surroundings! Zal je whatsappen! Enjoy !!!!

  4. Michiel Pas

    Wauw, jullie zijn nog steeds zonder twijfel de stoerste mensen die ik ken.
    Leuk verhaal. Die modder is zo bekend nog uit mijn jeugd, daar kan je inderdaad niets tegen doen. En dan die tseetseevliegen!! Helemaal vergeten maar ben er vaak door geprikt (in de auto!).
    Geniet lekker en met grote bewondering blijf ik lezen.
    Liefs M

  5. Jan en Mariët

    Zo we zijn weer op de hoogte! Liefs uit Eemnes xxx

  6. Danielle

    Wat een mooi verhaal weer zeg en wat een vet stoere tocht! Dikste knuffel je (schoon)zus x

  7. Mirjam

    Supergaaf verhaal weer en de foto’s maken het helemaal af; super om zo mee te kunnen genieten met jullie! (al zou ik liever zelf op de motor zitten natuurlijk ;-))
    Liefs, Mip

  8. Mieke

    Voor jullie heftig die tocht door de modder maar de foto’s van deze safari zijn weer ongelofelijk mooi! groetjes