40.7K Followers

Home » Africa » Kenya » East Africa on a scooter | Part 1 | From Kampala to Bugala Island (180 km)

East Africa on a scooter | Part 1 | From Kampala to Bugala Island (180 km)

Who dares to drive more than 3.000 kilometers on a scooter through East Africa? Visiting mountain gorillas? Scooter safaris (does this word exist?) in five National parks† To admire lions, buffalo, hippos and elephants up close. My name is Eric and I like to travel around on a scooter. Read part 1 of the unique report of an amazing scooter adventure here Uganda, Rwanda en Kenya† In the first part of this trip I buy a scooter in Uganda and travel from Kampala to Bugala Island (about 180 km).

Also read:

East Africa on a scooter | Part 1 | From Kampala to Kigali (180 km)
East Africa on a scooter | Part 2 | Bugala Island – Lake Mburo (170 km)
East Africa on a scooter | Part 3 | Lake Mburo National Park – Kabale (230 km)
East Africa on a scooter | Part 4 | Kabale – Ruhija – Gorilla trekking (50 km)
East Africa on a scooter | Part 5 | Bwindi – Kabale – Kigali (160 km)
East Africa on a scooter | Part 6 | Kigali Genocide Memorial – Kabale
East Africa on a scooter | Part 7 | Kabale – Queen Elizabeth National Park (175 km)
East Africa on a scooter | Part 8 | Queen Elizabeth NP – Fort Portal (120km)
East Africa on a scooter | Part 9 | Fort Portal – Muhorro (100 km)

Short explanation of the itinerary

I start in Kampala, Uganda and drive to Kabale in the southwest via the island of Bugala and Lake Mburo National Park. From Kabale I visit the mountain gorillas and my tire breaks down. New tires are for sale in Kigali, Rwanda† From there I drive back to Uganda and visit three national parks.

East Africa travel route on Google Maps
East Africa travel route on Google Maps

After a challenging ride through the land of the Karamojong (near Kidepo) with lots of dirt roads I reach Sipi Falls† A day later I cross the border to Kenya. Via Kakamega and kericho my journey ends prematurely in Narok, Kenya† Fortunately, a truck driver is kind enough to take my scooter and me for a small fee. With some art and flying work I reach the airport of Nairobi in time for the flight to Amsterdam† I leave the scooter with the driver. I will pick it up again in a few months!

The scooter is broken and is being loaded onto a truck near Narok (the entrance to the Masai Mara in Kenya)
The scooter is broken and is being loaded onto a truck near Narok (the entrance to the Masai Mara in Kenya)

Buying a used scooter in Kampala, Uganda

Initially, it did not go smoothly with the purchase of a scooter. In Kenya you hardly see scooters anymore. Cheap motorbikes off India have pushed the scooter from the streets. After a two-day search in Nairobi I decide to follow the advice of a Ugandan. According to him, there is only one city in East Africa that still sells scooters in abundance, namely: Kampala.

Purchase of the scooter in Kampala
Purchase of the scooter in Kampala

On my way to Kampala I experience for the umpteenth time why I really prefer to travel on a scooter through East Africa. The matatu's (minibuses) are packed, never leave on time and stop everywhere and nowhere to admit more passengers. After arriving in Kampala I pass with flying colors the next day. In a suburb, there are dozens of shops that display hundreds of second-hand scooters, mopeds and motorcycles outside.

For barely 300 euros I buy a fun 50cc scooter with helmet and liability insurance (which is linked to the vehicle in Uganda). Unfortunately, along the way I will experience that 50cc is really too little. It does make for a very enjoyable read though.

The scooter trip from Kampala to Kigali

The first part starts off right. After a visit to the Ssese archipelago I make my first scooter safari in Lake Mburo National Park† With a lot of luck I manage to get a permit for a gorilla trekking. Then disaster strikes: a flat tire. For new tires I travel to the capital of Rwanda: Kigali. Because it is a big adventure about which there is a lot to tell, I will divide the stories into different stages. The first part is the drive from Kampala to Bugala Island, about 180 kilometers.

Itinerary part 1: Kampala - Kigali
Itinerary part 1: Kampala – Kigali

Kampala – Bugala Island (180 km)

It's my first day on the scooter and the weather is nice. The shop where my scooter is ready is located in a suburb of Kampala. So I don't have to drive through the chaotic center. I keep my backpack with all my stuff between my legs. At my leisure I drive out of Kampala on a flawless asphalt road.

At the equator in Uganda
At the equator in Uganda

At a quarter past one I reach my first milestone. I am right on the equator. After more than two hours on the scooter it is time to rest. Of course the necessary photos are taken.

With the scooter on the equator in Uganda
With the scooter on the equator in Uganda

On the GPS I figure out the rest of my trip. The decision to take an inland road at Kadugalu means that I have to continue on a dirt road. I actually find it very enjoyable to drive. Suddenly I find myself in a beautiful no man's land. There are many stray donkeys and the occasional passer-by on a bicycle.

A lone cyclist near Bukakata
A lone cyclist near Bukakata

The inland road is 30 km long and not too bad. The sand is hard, but it should not rain. Then the road turns into an incredible slide.

On the back road to the Bukakata ferry
On the back road to the Bukakata ferry

Everything is going well today, because I arrive exactly on time at the ferry to Bugala Island. It is just before four o'clock and the ferry leaves at four o'clock. The captain can't contain his laughter when he sees me on that ridiculous scooter.

'Mzungu (white person in Swahili), where the hell are you from?' "From Kampala," I answer. 'You are kidding me. On such a thing. You're very jog.'

A woman in Luku fills jerry cans with water
A woman in Luku fills jerry cans with water

Arrival at Bugala Island

The ferry from Bukakata takes more than half an hour to Bugala Island. The boat moors in the village of Luku, a settlement on the northwest coast. Luku doesn't amount to much. It is not more than a cluster of huts. Before that, a woman is busy filling her jerry cans from a water pump.

At my leisure I drive from Luku to Kalangala. The distance is 30 kilometers and the road is again unpaved. The red sand is firm, you absolutely won't slip in it, but of course this changes when it rains.

The road from Luku to Kalangala, Bugala Island
The road from Luku to Kalangala, Bugala Island

The next morning I am awakened in a very cheerful way by hundreds of colorful birds. They sing everywhere and nowhere. It is cloudy and not too hot. Ideal weather to discover a little more of the island.

The Ankole cow

Towards the south I regularly have to brake for a herd of cows crossing the road. Normally I don't think cows are really special, but in Uganda it is clearly different. Uganda is the birthplace of the Ankole cow. These cows have horns that you say to you. They can be one and a half long. You shouldn't get a kick out of that. There are also quite a few monkeys and birds on and around the road.

An Ankole cow, the pride of Uganda
An Ankole cow, the pride of Uganda

In the landscape, grassy plains and palm oil plantations alternate. The palm oil business in Bugala, like in many countries elsewhere in the world, is an extremely controversial affair. Not everyone is equally happy with it. Many farmers have lost their grazing land in recent years.

Fishermen in Bube, Bugala Island
Fishermen in Bube, Bugala Island

My visit to Bugala is almost over. In the afternoon I take a few more pictures near the beach. A couple of Ugandans swim in Lake Victoria. Still, I notice that most prefer their hotel pool to a dip in the lake. The fear of Bilharzia is still big. Bilharzia used to be common here. According to the swimmers in the lake, that fear is outdated.

Also read:

East Africa on a scooter | Part 1 | From Kampala to Kigali (180 km)
East Africa on a scooter | Part 2 | Bugala Island – Lake Mburo (170 km)
East Africa on a scooter | Part 3 | Lake Mburo National Park – Kabale (230 km)
East Africa on a scooter | Part 4 | Kabale – Ruhija – Gorilla trekking (50 km)
East Africa on a scooter | Part 5 | Bwindi – Kabale – Kigali (160 km)
East Africa on a scooter | Part 6 | Kigali Genocide Memorial – Kabale
East Africa on a scooter | Part 7 | Kabale – Queen Elizabeth National Park (175 km)
East Africa on a scooter | Part 8 | Queen Elizabeth NP – Fort Portal (120km)
East Africa on a scooter | Part 9 | Fort Portal – Muhorro (100 km)

Eric on a scooter in Uganda

Eric

What is it like to drive more than 10.000 kilometers in Madagascar on a locally bought scooter? Or on a pikipiki (scooter in Swahili) through East Africa? In more than 20 years I have visited more than 100 countries. This has resulted in a lot of priceless travel experiences, which I would like to share with you.

ERIC – OVER 100 COUNTRIES
– Currently in Kenya.
– Share unique travel experiences.
– Favorite destinations: Madagascar, Uganda, Japan, India and Colombia.

1 comment

  • I'm going to follow this. See already a number of places known to me are also mentioned. The equator, yes I've been to that point too
    Have only traveled with guides. Walk very badly, but every effort has been made to get to as many places as possible that I had mentioned before. Ug and Kenya 2 times been to Kigali, only seen the airport, stopover to Entebbe. Tanzania 5 times. Got friends in all 3 countries and even went to a maternity visit 2 x

Written by:

Eric on a scooter in Uganda

Eric

SOUGHT

TRAVEL CHECKLIST

✔️ This travel insurance also covers orange covid-areas.
✔️ Compare and book the cheapest airline tickets here..
✔️ Save and book the best activities on GYG..
✔️ Multiple hotels? Then book with 20% Genius discount.
✔️ Save and reserve your airport parking spot.
✔️ Roadtrip† Compare and book a discount rental car.
✔️ Prepare for a trip? Score a practical travel Guide.
✔️ Need a backpack or suitcase? Offers here.
✔️ Gift† I'm giving away 500 times 10 euros!

Translate »
Copy link