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Roadtrip Africa | Border crossing Uganda – Kenya (one stop border)

The usual hassle at the border, a tropical funeral and Mr. Richard of Barnleys Guest House. In the first part I pass the border from Uganda to Malaba via the 'One Stop border' Kenya. More than 140 km after the border crossing, I settle around the fireplace of Mr. Richard, a genuine Kenyan from England.

Also read: Roadtrip Africa with scooter and car | 62.000 km – the introduction

Border crossing Malaba – One Stop Border

Briefly, there are two variants of border crossings in East Africa (including Malawi, Zimbabwe en Zambia). The first variant is a border on one side, a few kilometers of no man's land, and then the border on the other side. The original, so to speak. You will be accosted everywhere and nowhere by all kinds of traders. In insurance, currency, administrative handyman services (sometimes really handy), local supplies, food and drink.

Malaba One Stop Border | Border crossing Uganda - Kenya
Malaba One Stop Border | Border crossing Uganda – Kenya

The second variant is more recent: One Stop Border (Location here ). In this variant, no man's land has disappeared. Only one building remains in a gated complex. Touts are banned and everything runs smoothly.

Enter the scooter

The border crossing in Malaba is still in an intermediate phase. It's officially one One Stop Border, but the touts are still there and that is my big problem. They work closely with the border guards. If I'm stamped out in Uganda, a Kenyan tout is already targeting me. When I park my scooter at the Kenyan border office, he offers his services. I wave him off, but he chases me into the office of the Kenyan stamper. I hear him say: 'pikipiki' call. Well, and then the turnips are done.

Pikipiki is a scooter and it comes from Uganda. So I have to entering Kenya. My goodness what a hassle. I have crossed this border three times before and never experienced this. The stamper never asks himself how you got to the border. 99,9% of foreign tourists come by bus.

Everything goes on the scooter including 🍭 | One Stop Border border crossing Uganda - Kenya
Everything goes on the scooter including 🍭 | One Stop Border border crossing Uganda – Kenya

Stamps, stamps, stamps

All in all it takes me more than four hours at the One Stop Border border crossing to get everything in order. Stamp here and stamp there. A tip is always necessary (or else you have to wait much longer). I paid about 50 euros (for a nonsensical insurance and a pile of paper) and for that I received a temporary import document. Valid for 21 days (I was never checked afterwards 😂 and stayed in Kenya for over half a year).

Remark: this is on a simple scooter (for a car the rules are much more stringent, but there is an answer to that too 😀).

A donkey cart on the 'highway' near the One Stop Border border crossing in Webale
A donkey cart on the 'highway' near the One Stop Border border crossing in Webale

A tropical funeral

The drive from the border leads me past a mile-long traffic jam of trucks. The trucks sometimes wait for days to enter Uganda. It's Covid and the Ugandan and Kenyan authorities are more Catholic than the Pope and his associates when it comes to testing. I drive past it on my scooter and stop every now and then. After two stops I'm fed up. The drivers are constantly asking for food, drinks and money. Some have been standing there for weeks with sometimes perishable goods and tell me they were robbed at night.

Pleasant bustle along the road to Kitale
Pleasant bustle along the road to Kitale

I reach after an hour Webale and I can enjoy again. From the enormous chaos on and around the main road. Ladies who have built their stalls with fruit and other snacks from car tires. A donkey cart going against traffic. A few cows that I photograph because it looks like they are watching a football game…

Cows are watching a football match intently
Cows are watching a football match intently

About ten kilometers ahead Kitale I get off my scooter again. I hand out some lollipops to the little ones, who greet me everywhere and always with: 'Mzungu'. But that's not why I'm stopping this time. There is a beautiful vehicle along the road. For a tropical funeral I can call Tropical Funeral Services. Hilarious right? Then your body laid out amidst tropical fruits is driven to the final destination.

A tropical funeral in Kitale
A tropical funeral in Kitale

Barnley's home away from home

Chaos is complete about five kilometers before Kitale. There are road works everywhere and they ensure that the drivers of the matatu's (minibuses) no longer adhere to anything. They don't do that anyway: They drive against the traffic, through the verge, do not indicate a direction and stop everywhere and nowhere (often without indicating a direction). I'm extra wary, but I can maneuver the scooter around fairly easily.

The route map on Google Maps is completely out of whack. After driving around for the third time and ending up in the same street, I consult a police officer. He points me in the right direction Kapenguria. After 10 km I follow the sign direction Barnley's Guest House and camp site (location here ).

Barnley's Guest House
Barnley's Guest House

After a kilometer on an impossible cobblestone path, I have arrived in a different time. Here, Kenya seems to be still in the colonial era. Owner Richard greets me warmly. He is heralded in the reviews on Tripadvisor as a 'grumpy old man'. Whatever. Richard is old, he smokes like a heretic and looks like a grumpy old man. But that is all said. He is friendliness itself and, according to English custom, immediately gets the tea and rock-hard biscuits.

I am assigned an unparalleled room in his empire. It wouldn't look out of place in a museum. There's a stack of National Geograpics from the 1990s. We talk about anything and everything by the fireplace. Richard was born and raised in Kenya. And is the founder of it Saiwa Swamp National Park, where the endangered Sitatunga antelope is now thriving again. 

Cozy up by the fireplace at Barnleys Guest House
Cozy up by the fireplace at Barnleys Guest House

On to part 2: Kitale – Iten

The next morning I try the founded by him Saiwa Swamp National Park to visit, but experience scooter trouble. Back at Richard's I tell him about a new road that the Chinese have just completed. "I don't know that way, but keep me posted!" Just to be on the safe side, I write down Richard's mobile number. At ten o'clock I drive north. Looking for that road that Google Maps doesn't know. But the one that takes me after dozens of hairpin bends to a maximum height of 3.200 meters to 'the Home of the Champions': Iten. Attention marathon lovers 😀😀

Also read: Roadtrip Africa with scooter and car | 62.000 km – the introduction

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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