Kenya – Uganda – Rwanda – Burundi Odyssey Part 1

My friend LG and I just came from a totally random two week trip which ended with me having visited three countries; Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi


Funny thing how I got myself on this trip. It was a dull Wednesday afternoon, I had had a rough couple of weeks and badly needed a distraction. I get on Instagram and see my pal having the time of her life enjoying her birthday in Lamu. What I would do to be in her shoes! I comment on one of her photos and jokingly tell her to carry me on her next trip because I already have my bags packed. Minutes later she sends me a poster on Whatsapp and tells me she is going to Kampala for the weekend.

The poster read 30-hour party in the forest. I’d never been to Uganda nor had partied in the forest; I’d be hitting two birds with one stone. I immediately responded I was game, and so began the adventure.

Day 1

I was too excited I even packed my bags the night before. I decide to get to CBD early because keeping time has never been my strongest suite. I get there at lunch time and seeing that I have a couple of hours to kill, I go and hangout with another pal of mine as we catch up.

I arrive at Modern Coast’s bus pick- up point in good time. Giving me enough time to even settle in and get comfortable, ready for the 12-hour journey. This never happens; normally I’d be rushing through the streets like a mad woman trying to get into the bus before it departs, not today! LG arrives and the bus departs immediately at 6.00 pm

Modern Coast Tembea na Mo
Tom and Jerry is such a timeless entertainment

We get to the Busia border at around 2.00 am. The one stop office makes crossing the border easier and faster, five minutes and I’m done. As I’m exiting the office I hear Jose Chameleon playing at the security guard’s office. What a way to be welcomed to Uganda, by the king of Ugandan music himselfu! It starts to rain as we go back to the bus. I pass out and wake up just as we are getting to Kampala.

Day 2

We alight the bus at a few minutes past 8 and are immediately picked by our host, Pablo. He was so excited to have us visit that he’d stayed up the whole night waiting for us. We grab some coffee and a rolex and head over to his place. As we are settling in, Pablo goes to take a nap. Poor guy had not slept the whole night. We still have a couple of hours before the party, so we take advantage of that time and go to explore Kampala. Our boda-boda ride leads us to Kasubi Tombs, but sadly we couldn’t visit any other place because we have to head back and get ready for the party.

Pablo is awake, showered and ready to go when we get back. His cousin and friends are also here to accompany us to the party. As we leave, Pablo’s leg snaps and he dislocates his knee. He is in so much pain that we rush him to a clinic to have a doctor check him out. After the doctor snaps back his knee, he feels better. He can walk but only with the help of a walking stick, but that doesn’t kill his spirit so we hit the road and head to Mabira forest.

On the way, we stop for chicken on a stick. It’s fascinating to see so many vendors race to our car just as we are stopping. Reminds me of the yogurt vendors at Gilgil. We buy some chicken, brochettes, and water and have them for lunch before we progress to the forest.

frosty forest party  mabira tembea na mo
Frosty forest party, Mabira

As we arrive, the stage is set, the crowd is already charged and so the party begins. We begin by pitching our camping tent and then head over to the dance area. Djs come and go, each playing different songs in their set but local music remains the constant. Its admirable how much local content they play and the crowd seems to love it because everyone is on their feet, dancing and singing along. By midnight, I could hardly stay awake. Don’t get me wrong, the djs were good but guess the language barrier got the best of me, I could hardly keep up with the music and my energy had gone really down. So I called it a night and went to our tent.

In the morning we just hang out and ate more chicken on a stick. It was so funny seeing the locals sleepwalking, still high and energetic. Ugandans do really know how to have a good time. Midday comes and someone brings a local brew that kinda looks like Uganda’s version of busaa.

malwa tembea na mo

I later learn the drink is called malwa also known as millet beer. They gather around each holding a pipe and drink from one common pot. A lady would occasionally come and top the liquid up with hot water and a guiness-looking foam would form.  We leave the locals to their ways and head back to Kampala. After we freshen up, LG and I go out to have a few drinks while sampling the city’s nightlife.

On our way, LG mentions Lake Bunyonyi and after seeing how beautiful it is on the internet, we decided to go check it out after we explore Kampala.

Day 3

This was a busy day as we spent the whole day exploring the city on a motorbike. I’ve never seen so many motorbikes in one place like I did that day. I was glad we were able to do and visit all the places we had planned to.

Gadaffi National Mosque

It rained in the afternoon which somewhat slowed us and robbed us time, but we eventually we were happy with what we covered. We decide to head out explore Lake Bunyonyi the following day and as we are booking a bus, we ask if we can get a bus to Kigali.

We had heard that the border to Rwanda was closed; a silent dispute was brewing between Rwanda and Uganda. We figured since Bunyonyi was so close to the border, we could as well head over to Kigali and visit our friend Lotte. But first, we had to confirm if we could actually cross the border. Happy to hear that is was possible to go to Kigali, we booked our bus to Kabale(nearest town to Lake Bunyonyi) and went home.

Read Part 2 here


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