• Some Stats: Mwanza-Muscat Part 18 April 10th, 2016

    Before I head off on another adventure I thought it would be interesting to post some statistics from my recent tour, alongside a few comments and reflections:

    Duration of tour: 238 days

    Total distance cycled: 10,375 km

    Total distance on unpaved roads: 2071 km. In northern Kenya and South Sudan I had no other option but to ride on dirt tracks. In other countries – Uganda, Ethiopia and Oman for example, I sometimes chose to take dirt tracks as a more adventurous/quieter alternative to the paved roads.

    Climbing away from Jebel Shams

  • Northern Uganda: Mwanza-Muscat Part 5 September 1st, 2015

    Not many people visit northern Uganda. This is understandable. For a number of years most areas were considered off-limits as a rebel group known as the Lord’s Resistance Army terrorised villages and communities, effectively dividing the country in two.

    The LRA and their infamous leader Joseph Kony no longer operate from Uganda, but places ravaged by years of destruction, child abduction and neglect don’t recover all that quickly, and memories for people don’t fade.

    I had this in mind as I moved north from Arua. The road was actually only a few years old – a smooth ribbon of tarmac cutting a wide swath through a peaceful countryside of conical straw-hut villages.

  • ‘Watch out for the animals': Mwanza-Muscat Part 4 August 20th, 2015

    I slept on a vibrating bed during my first night out of Kampala. Slept would actually be the wrong description. I lay wide-awake with my fingers pushing earplugs ever deeper into my skull and a pillow pulled over my head.

    There had been a power-cut when I arrived in what seemed like a quiet roadside village some 90km north of Kampala. That of course is a minor problem when a generator is available. Had I seen the 1.5-metre high speakers in the bar when I rolled my bike into the £2 per night room out the back I might have enquired if there was alternative accommodation.

  • New visas: Mwanza-Muscat Part 3 August 10th, 2015

    A refrigerator box made an excellent container to transport my bicycle on a plane out of Tanzania. Cycling away would have been preferable, were it not for the fact that in order to go north, which is the direction I’m generally going, I’d be re-riding some of the roads I’d already covered. This rarely has much appeal, unless the roads are stupendously scenic, which they weren’t.

    Fortunately FastJet fly from Kilimanjaro Airport to Uganda and tickets cost all of £20. Well that’s before tax, after which the price quadruples. Even still, with an extra £20 for the bike and several quid for the gear the total price made it an affordable option. I also had good memories of cycling in Uganda.

  • Old roads and new: Mbeya-Mwanza Part 3 March 18th, 2015

    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.

  • Around Mt Elgon July 1st, 2011

    “After your first day of cycling, one dream is inevitable.  A memory of motion lingers in the muscles of your legs, and round and round they seem to go.  You ride through Dreamland on wonderful dream bicycles that change and grow. “ (H G Wells)

    Leaving busy highways is always a relief on a bicycle. When you hear your own tyres rolling over tarmac rather than the continuous drone of engines and exhaust pipes it’s one good measure of a cycle-friendly road.

  • Jinja and the source of the Nile June 22nd, 2011

    “Though beautiful, the scene was not exactly what I expected…still it was a sight that attracted one to it for hours” (John Hanning Speke)

    If I were to list the 10 worst roads that I’ve cycled on in Africa, which I may well do in a later blog post (along with the 10 best) then the 85km ride from Kampala to Jinja would probably make the cut. Too much traffic for a road which is far too narrow basically. And most of the vehicles characteristically travel too fast.

  • A post without much mileage June 10th, 2011

    “Uganda is from end to end a ‘beautiful garden’ where ‘staple food’ of the people grows almost without labour. Does it not sound like a paradise on earth? It is the Pearl of Africa”. (Sir Winston Churchill)

    I almost wasn’t going to write this post, and I’m still not completely sure why I am. I think it’s my internal blog clock announcing ‘Your audience, whoever and wherever they are, await’. Ten days have passed, but not a whole lot wildly exciting has happened on the road since then.

  • Anglophone Africa again May 30th, 2011

    When the traveller first enters Uganda, his path seems to be strewn with flowers, greetings with welcome gifts follow one another rapidly, pages and courtiers kneel before him, and the least wish is immediately gratified. (H M Stanley)

    Well that sounds very nice, but things have moved on a bit since 1871. Stanley would now just be another Mzungu in Uganda, and there are quite a lot here, comparatively speaking. But if 10 days in a country counts for anything, this one scores pretty high up on the friendliness counter.

    Banana boy