Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Murchison to Kibale - too far to drive in one day

As we left the Red Chilli, one of the bartenders told us that he "would miss us for the rest of his life".  Which, although it was just a joke, kind of sums the place up.

The bar/food tab that we had rung up was very reasonable, and I would heartily recommend the place to anyone visiting the area.

Even the small mouse that had joined me in the shower came back to see us just before we left.

Murchison Falls National Park entrance gate

We ate a quick breakfast at the park gate, and headed off on the long road through Masindi, Hoima, Kyenjojo and Fort Portal to the Kibale Forest.  This is a long road, with the only bits of tarmac being in the towns.  The roads are rough murram, and in many places had been worn away by the heavy rains.  We seemed to bounce from one pot hole to another, and the ruts seemed at times to engulf our wee car.

We passed through dozens of little scruffy villages, each with an enormous school filled with brightly uniformed children.  Each school has a different coloured t-shirt for their uniform, each more colourful than the last.  This helps with avoiding them, as the roads are very busy with pedestrians, and at each school there are hundreds of kids by the road.

We stopped in Masindi for petrol (about a £ per litre), cold water, snacky food and to change some money at the Stanbic bank.

The Stanbic branch has a fairly secure car park, with armed guard and you are given a metal detector test before entering the building.  There was a long queue when we got in, but we didn't wait too long.  Changed some dollars (should have taken sterling as there is a much better rate) only needing a passport to complete the transaction.  We didn't try to use an ATM.

Getting through Hoima was a little tricky, a total lack of road signs didn't help.  We eventually stopped and asked a group of boda boda drivers(motor bike taxi) for the right way.   Hoima seems a bit scruffy and hectic, but most people who do this journey stop here overnight.  We however carried on down the road.

The total length of this journey is about 350km, and we drove for over ten hours- which gives a very low average speed. Even so the driving is great fun if you don't mind being rattled around a bit.

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