Kenya to Uganda - Overland


Crossing the Ugandan border on a "boda boda" motorcycle.As you approach the Ugandan border near Malaba, there are trucks backed up for about 5 miles waiting to clear customs and continue on. I'm told that it can take up to a week. So the drivers just sit around and wait. You can imagine what kind of businesses flourish in towns like this! Perhaps it's not a place you want to linger. As a simple tourist, you just continue on past them. I was dropped off at the border. I was scheduled to meet our Uganda coordinator on the Ugandan side. The problem at these border areas is that there is a sprawling no-man's land along them. It's not just a gate you pass through and presto you're in Uganda. So I wandered around this no man's land looking for Michael for about an hour, all the while trying to figure out what I'd do if he wasn't there. You see, no public transport is allowed near the border on the Ugandan side. The first place you can jump on a matatu (minivan) is in Tororo, 10 km away. Of course, the Kenyan-Ugandan border is where the term boda boda originated. This is the term commonly used throughout Kenya for bicycle "taxis", the most common means of traveling short distances. You hop on the back of a bicycle and pay to be taken around town. But here at the border, the boda boda (border border) is the only way besides walking to get to the matatu stand in Tororo. Fortunately, motorcycles are also available nowadays, both in towns, and at the border.

Well Michael, our coordinator and friend, finally found me. He'd been there for a few hours already, so you see just how crazy this border area is. He talked to some of the motorcycle taxis and arranged our transport, and off we went to Tororo, and then on to Iganga, ELI's base, leaving behind those poor truck drivers and the Kafkaesque world of the Ugandan border.

Have a look at the Google satellite view. Zoom in and you'll see trucks. Then scroll accross to the right and follow the Eldoret-Malabla road. You'll see the line of trucks. Google satellite view 

Click for information on volunteering in Kenya or Uganda.

By Kevin O'Neill


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