Just before the (almost) daily Kapchorwa rain shower of 4pm, Guillaume and Thierry arrive on their motor bikes. They have just travelled the Kitale – Suam – Kapchorwa road. On the magnificent, green slopes of Mount Elgon. ‘The best off-road experience ever!’, according to our Canadian friends. In this blog the highlights of this trip.
Slow start with a flat tire
The journey starts with a setback on Thursday morning: Thierry gets a flat tire when the two bike riders are to depart from Kitale. What follows is a search of three hours for a good garage. From a local garage (where the bicycle pump does not have enough pressure for a motor bike tire), to a Shell, to a Total, to another local garage without a name, they finally arrive at a Kobil garage with helpful staff. Besides the two garage staff, one boda driver and a random guy quickly fix the problem. Guillaume and Thierry start their trip up to the border with Uganda, in Suam.
Horrible and funny border cross in Suam
How was your border cross in Suam?
‘It was horrible’, says Guillaume. ‘The first step, the passport and fingerprints, went fast.’ But the guy dealing with the clearance of the motor bikes (on the Kenyan side) is clearly not fit for the job. ‘His hands were shaking while his glasses almost fell off his forehead’, according to Thierry. After waiting for 25 minutes, Guillaume proposes to type the information in the computer himself. In the meanwhile a colleague of the officer is playing candy crush on her phone. When the guy also doesn’t know how to print the papers, Guillaume and Thierry have to laugh a little about the situation. Entering Uganda goes faster, though our visitors need to leave a bribe of 10USD behind.
NB: One of our Kapchorwa guides Solomon explains Guillaume and Thierry later that he knows a ‘short-cut smoggling route over a tree trunk whereby you pay less’.
What do you love most about the sceneries and landscapes?
The landscapes change so quickly. First, local ‘tipi’ huts are found everywhere. Then a valley with big African trees. Red soils change into brown and grey. A pine forest in Kween District. Every half hour it changes. In the meanwhile round and steep hills and a big mountain appear on the horizon, a gorgeous scenery. Guillaume and Thierry also pass the ‘elephants bone area’, a place where, according to the local villagers, elephants have tumbled done the mountain from a higher located savanna area. Guillaume confirms that the scary and exciting part of this area is to stand on a motor bike and to look deep down in the valley.
Interaction with the locals
How did the local people react on two Mzungus passing by on strange motorbikes?
‘Most of the people were happy to see us’, says Guillaume. The guys stop one time to fuel petrol (in a Coca Cola bottle) and whole family gathers around the bikes. ‘We did not know about the currency here, so we gave around 200 Kenyan Shillings (= 2 dollars)’. The family is happy and shouts ‘it’s Christmas, it’s Christmas’. Kids were running after us shouting ‘Mzungu Mzungu’.
Construction of tarmacked road
What do you think of the Chinese who have come of recent to tarmack the road from Suam to Kapchorwa?
Thierry: ‘We were lucky to have passed before the start of the road construction. For an off road bike it is interesting to ride it like this, though it could have been more complicated if we would not have had a decent bike or when it would have rained. The tarmacked road will probably bring more tourists. There are too many attractions to be discovered along this road: caves, hikes and waterfalls.’
Arrival at Home of Friends
How did you experience your arrival at Home of Friends Guesthouse?
Thierry explains: ‘We arrived just before the rain. It was nice because when we arrived in Kapchorwa Town we could see people and bikes everywhere. Regarding the Guesthouse, with the fence closed we did not see what was behind. Though the moment the gate opened, we found a nice place to chill outside the confusion of the city. We got our quick beer and tasty late lunch’.
Do you want to see more of this incredible mountain bike adventure? Check out the after movie with Go Pro footage from Guillaume’s and Thierry’s full trip through Kenya and Uganda.