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Home » Africa » Kenya » East Africa on a scooter | Part 3 | Lake Mburo National Park – Kabale

East Africa on a scooter | Part 3 | Lake Mburo National Park – Kabale

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, buffaloes, hippos and elephants up close, among other things. My name is Eric and I like to travel around on a scooter. Read here part 3 of the unique report of an amazing scooter adventure Uganda, Rwanda en Kenya† In the third part of this trip I drive from Lake Mburo National Park to Kabale, about 230 kilometers.

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)

Visit to the Igongo Cultural Center

It starts to rain and that results in a slide after five minutes. Dangerous. I lose control and I'm lucky that the car approaching me doesn't have too much speed. I have now been warned! Driving on these roads is not allowed in the rain.

The rain has just stopped on the dirt road near Lake Mburo
The rain has just stopped on the dirt road near Lake Mburo

The pace is back on the well-maintained asphalt road towards Mbabara. About ten kilometers before Mbabara I stop at the Igongo Cultural Center. The center was opened in 2011 by Uganda's President Museveni. Eriijukiro – the museum of Southwest Uganda – is housed in the center.

The Eriijukiro Museum at the Igongo Cultural Center
The Eriijukiro Museum at the Igongo Cultural Center

This is a museum after my heart. There is a lot of interesting information about the ancient Ankole culture of the Banyankore people. The Banyankore are livestock farmers and are world famous in Uganda and far beyond for the Ankole cow. In the courtyard is a beautiful statue of the cow with the big horns. 

The Ankole cow with the big horns
The Ankole cow with the big horns

Click here for more information about the Igongo Cultural Center

From Mbabara to Kabale

A huge billboard along the road welcomes me to Mbabara Town. Next to it is an even larger sign with an appetizing lady holding a bottle of Coca Cola. Wouldn't that lady distract the motorists too much?

Billboards on the outskirts of Mbarara
Billboards on the outskirts of Mbarara

A little further on, a few Chinese are busy gesturing to a number of Ugandan construction workers. The new ring road around Mbabara is almost finished. I ask the Chinese if I can bypass the barrier and perhaps be the first to test the new ring road. There I go.

The brand new bypass road in Mbarara
The brand new bypass road in Mbarara

Time is slowly running out. On the flat road, my scooter reaches a top speed of 50 km per hour. However, I regularly have to brake for a speed bump. In any case, these thresholds always announce the beginning and the end of the built-up area. The first hurdle is often easy to overcome, but after that they get higher and higher. My 50cc scooter has the greatest difficulty with that. He pulls up very slowly.

One of the many speed bumps on the 'highway' to Kabale
One of the many speed bumps on the 'highway' to Kabale

A white man on a scooter

It is five o'clock and I read on a road sign that the distance to Kabale is still 78 km. It's time to stop and stretch your legs again. A group of children watching a game of football turns around en masse. A white guy on a scooter doesn't stop here every day. Another time-consuming factor is now announcing itself. The mountains are coming. Kabale is located at an altitude of 2.000 meters and is surrounded by mountains. A 50cc scooter is definitely not made for that.

Fans at a football game take a look at me and my scooter with the mountains in the background
Fans at a football game take a look at me and my scooter with the mountains in the background

I'll be in Rubare by six o'clock. Again I attract a lot of attention with my scooter and the mobile phones are pulled to take pictures.

Fans in Rubare
Fans in Rubare

Well and then it really gets saved. Sometimes the scooter does not want to go up at all. I step with my foot to keep up a little bit of momentum. The sun is about to set. I step inside the Great Lakes Museum. Take a break and enjoy a cup of freshly ground Ugandan coffee. There are plenty of coffee and tea plantations in these fertile regions at altitude.

One of the statues on the grounds of the Great Lakes Museum

The museum contains a large number of images of wild animals living in Uganda, such as a giraffe, a lion fighting a buffalo, the rare shoebill stork and the national symbol of Uganda: the gray crane.

The sun is gone and darkness has fallen before I know it. It's starting to get chilly, but I don't notice it much. I am fighting an incredible battle with the mountains, which are getting steeper and steeper. At half past seven the end is finally in the form of a final hairpin bend. Completely exhausted, I can start the descent. Some caution is required.

I can already see the oncoming traffic in the form of large trucks by their headlights a few kilometers in advance. They regularly disappear in a hairpin bend. Just before the finish in Kabale I don't feel like colliding with a truck at 50 km per hour.

The Switzerland of Africa

I reach the Switzerland of Africa, or Kabale, at eight o'clock. There I report to the reception of the Kabale Backpackers. There the surprise is great to welcome a guest on a scooter. Owner Lilian arranges everything for me. I get a private room and a special parking space in the closed courtyard.

Together with David for Kabale Backpackers
Together with David for Kabale Backpackers

Stay at Kabale Backpackers

I immediately feel at home at the Kabale Backpackers. The employees are extremely friendly and helpful. Owner Lilian wants to know everything about traveling on a scooter in Uganda. I also discuss my wish to do a gorilla trekking with her. “It's going to be very difficult, Eric. Those trekkings are really fully booked months in advance. But let me give it a try. A good friend of mine works there. Maybe she can arrange something.

I have now made a friend for life. Not only tourists stay in the guesthouse. David, an orphaned boy, has found temporary shelter. I bought lollipops for him and all the employees. David can't get enough of it. He would like to sit on my scooter for a photo. And actually he wants to come with me today. But that's not allowed by Lilian.

Lake Bunyonyi near Kabale
Lake Bunyonyi near Kabale

Kabale owes its nickname 'the Switzerland of Africa' to the many lakes surrounding the city. The comparison with Switzerland doesn't quite work. The lakes here are formed from volcanic craters and the snow is missing. But who cares for that?

A trip to Lake Bunyonyi

On the scooter to Lake Bunyonyi is not an unqualified success. Halfway through, my scooter doesn't want to go further up the mountain. I park it on the side of the road and hail a boda boda (motorbike taxi). He drops me off at the top of the mountain. From there I look out over a small part of the lake. Lake Bunyonyi is 29 km long and 7 km wide. There are 29 islands in the lake.

For more than three hours I walk to my heart's content to the edge of the lake and back up the mountain. A boat trip is not possible, because dark clouds have gathered over the lake. It could start to rain at any moment.

On the shore of Lake Bunyonyi
On the shore of Lake Bunyonyi

If the gorilla trekking does not go ahead and the sun shines again, I intend to stay here for a few days.

Gorilla Trekking

I receive the good news, what is called, the excellent news when I return to the guesthouse. “Eric, it worked. The day after tomorrow there is a place for you. My friend has very exceptionally added you to a group as the ninth person. Officially, only eight people can join a group of gorillas at a time, but she loved the story of that scooter so much.'

I immediately put the plan to visit Lake Bunyonyi on hold. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Tomorrow morning I leave on my scooter for the gorillas. wow. Just the thought of it.

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.

Seen a mistake? Ask? Remark? Let us know in the comments!

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Eric on a scooter in Uganda

Eric

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