The tarmac stopped at the Tanzanian border. On the Burundian side the road was under construction. A man wearing a wide-rimmed straw hat was sat in the seat of a road grading machine. I waved at him as I slowly climbed up the steep slope that cut into the green hillside. Either he didn’t see me or pretended not to. I’m sure my bicycle must have been in his vision. I would have asked him many questions given the opportunity, but doubt he’d have understood them, unless I spoke Chinese.

This was my second visit to Burundi and I was happy to be back. The African mainland’s second most densely populated country is a great place to cycle, so it’s a pity the country isn’t bigger.

The photos in this final blog post cover the remainder of my journey through Burundi, Rwanda, a day in Uganda and then back to Mwanza in Tanzania. Lots more mountains, smiles, some great scenery and the usual great cycling.

Chinese road construction

Another new road in the making. Heading north from the Burundian/Tanzanian border to the town of Makamba, where the tarmac starts again.

Burundian beer

Now here’s a beer that’s worth drinking. It might not be African by name, but it’s brewed in Burundi and tastes great.

Mission beside Lake Tanganyika

One of the few flat roads in Burundi runs along the shores of Lake Tanganyika.

North to Bujumbura

Heading north to Bujumbura. I cycled this road in the opposite direction 18 months ago.

Sunset over Lake Tanganyika

Sunset over Lake Tanganyika. The sky wasn’t clear enough to see the DRC on the other side.

Burundian curiosity

It’s hard not to draw a crowd when stopping on the roadside in Burundi. Few people travel here and people are curious to get a closer look.

Bujumbura Coffee factory

The mountains in Burundi produce some great coffee. By the end of my trip my panniers contained about 4kg of coffee from Malawi, Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda. This photo was taken in Bujumbura. I stayed 2 nights and parted ways with Anselm here, who stayed on longer.

Bicycle cargo

Bicycles in Burundi are commonly loaded with all sorts of cargo. This is on the road north from Bujumbura to the Rwandan border post near Bugarama.

House on wheels

At least 100kg of bricks loaded up here. I discreetly took a picture from behind as I feared photographing from the side or front might cause this poor chap to loose his balance!

An aged saddle

An aged saddle with some serious character.

Weld job on Surly front rack

During the 7 week tour the brackets on both sides of the Surly front rack broke. It wasn’t hard to find a welder, but the welds broke on several occasions. I have new brackets back in the UK.

Burundi Map

Painted up on the wall of a bar. An outline of one of Africa’s smallest and most densely populated countries

Lake Kivu

On my first day in Rwanda I briefly passed Lake Kivu.

Tea Plantation

Tea plantations on the road east from Cyangugu at about 1700m in altitude.

Above the morning mist in Nyungwe Forest

Climbing up through the cool mountain air to 2600m in altitude, Nyungwe Forest remains a rare reminder of what so much of Equatorial Africa must have looked like before man started to deforest it.

Big day of climbing

Anything over 1500m of accumulated climbing in a day on a fully loaded bicycle constitutes a challenging one. Day 1 in Rwanda and typically it’s all up and down – mostly up.

Morning sunlight in Nyungwe Forest

Morning sunlight in Nyungwe Forest. This was the view from outside my tent, which was pitched on a rare flat space of land, fortunately invisible from the roadside. I had been told it was illegal to camp within the National Park. Had I been seen by Park Rangers I would have been fined and asked to move. The reality was there was no-where else to sleep.

The Congo and Nile River watershed

Some interesting African Geography I didn’t know. This was taken in Nyungwe Forest.

Local bike

Plenty of local wooden bikes like this on the road in Rwanda. Great for downhills, less so for up.

Local bike

Roadside spectators

Children are everywhere in Rwanda – something that could be said about a lot of sub-Saharan African countries. Here however the population density is so high that stopping on the roadside is almost always associated with a collection of young faces.

Project Rwanda: Coffee Bike

I saw a lot of these ‘cargo bikes’ in Rwanda. I think they were designed with the idea of transporting coffee, but any load will do.

French couple on tour

They told me their names twice and I still forget. They were headed south towards Burundi – their English as poor as my French, of which I seem to have forgotten lots since west and Central African days on The Big Africa Cycle. When the crowd of kids got too much we bid each other bon voyage.

Waterfall in Rwanda

I don’t remember the name of the Waterfall – in fact I almost missed it on the road north from Kigali to Uganda. Fortunately it was only a few hundred metres from the road and easy to reach.

Terraced slopes north from Byumba

After climbing north from Kigali on the RN3 – one of Rwanda’s super clean paved roads, you reach a small junction town called Byumba with a lovely view north towards Uganda.

Rwandan school student

I was as much impressed by this Rwandan boy’s English as I was his motorcycle side-mirror.

Kabale at dawn

I am rarely awake and on the road at sunrise, but during the final days of this tour I was on a mission to reach Bukoba in Tanzania in time for work. And so it was that I pedalled out of Kabale shortly before dawn – a good reminder that this is the best time of the day in Africa.

Katoro: Ugandan breakfast

Ugandans consume more bananas per head than any other nationality in the World apparently. Katogo is a common breakfast – plantain, beans – and usually offal, the latter fortunately absent here. Great energy for the road.

Roasted meat and phone charging

Just one of those random signs that make you laugh and stop.

Camping above the Kagera River

Another special camp spot, of which there were many on this tour. The Kagera River is, for want of argument, the source of the Nile. Its headwaters drain from Rwanda and the river itself flows into Lake Victoria. This whole area on the Uganda/Tanzania border had a remoteness to it. My tent was pitched a hundred metres or so above the river, soothingly audible as I fell asleep early after 135km that day, mostly on a dirt track.

Re-entry to Tanzania

This was interesting. My GPS and map was telling me I was now on the border of Uganda and Tanzania, but there was no immigration post nor anyone in sight, just a rusted sign showing the distances to various towns ahead. Fortunately I have a Tanzanian residency permit, so wasn’t fussed that my passport wouldn’t be getting a re-enty stamp into Tanzania. Likewise I was never stamped out of Uganda, having paid $50 for a visa when I was only there 36 hours.

Back in Tanzania I spent the first week dressed in shirt and trousers to attend a training workshop for Secondary School teachers. The plan after this had been to take a ferry from Bukoba back to Mwanza, but it was out of service and so I cycled the remaining 450km.

Fish soup, chapati and chai

Breakfast in a village cafe beside Lake Victoria. Fish soup, chapati and spiced tea.

Young girl and her mother

On the road from Bukoba to Mwanza.

School transport

It’s very common to see 3 or more people on a bicycle taxi in rural Africa.

Petelol Station

Rural Africa has lots of makeshift constructions like this selling fuel by the litre in plastic bottles. This however is the first Petelol Station I have seen.

Timber being transported

I wouldn’t want to be turning a sharp corner on this bicycle.

Charcoal transport

Charcoal is probably the most common source of fuel for cooking in Tanzania. Sacks such as these are transported from rural to urban areas, very frequently on the backs of bicycles.