Uganda/Rwanda

2013 Bamboo Bicycle Tour Information

The 2012 Bamboosero Bamboo Bike tour has been postponed.  Two major reasons for this are:

  1. There has been a fair amount of military clashes between the government forces and M23 rebel group in the Rwanda/DRCongo border areas where we were planning to go.  This has created uncertainty as well as a lot of refugee movement in the area.
  2. There has been an outbreak of the deadly Marburg fever in the area of Uganda we wanted to tour in.  Uganda has done well with containing outbreaks like this in recent years and all accounts show that this will be no different.
So we are postponing it until May, 2013.  If the situation doesn’t improve, we will change the tour routes to areas that have lower risk.  Here is the plan for the tour:

The tour is being conducted through Worldbike.  It is a fundraiser (as are all of the Bamboosero Tours) but this one will be especially interesting:

  • It will take place in Rwanda and southern Uganda – some of the most beautiful terrain, people and attractions found in Africa.
  • We’ll be riding the new, locally made AfricaBikes on the Ugandan portion. These are specially designed for off road touring – yet are suitable for renting to locals during the off-season.
  • The tour will also be a brainstorming session with Bamboosero founder, Craig Calfee, Tom Ritchey of Ritchey Design, Ross Evans (founder of XtraCycle and Worldbike) and other bicycle industry people that have an interest in helping African development with bicycle related solutions.
  • The tour will be run by veteran African bicycle tour specialist, David Mozer of Ibike.
  • We’ll ride some of the Rwandan portion with Team Rwanda, the pride of Rwandan cycling!

Dates:  TBD but Early May 2013 is most likely.

Cost: direct cost estimated at $2,500 (not including airfare) depending on your choice of accommodations.  We’ll ask for a donation (tax deductable) at the end of the tour.

A Picasa photo album of Craig’s visit scouting this tour can be found here: https://picasaweb.google.com/113806427300452708580/UgandaBikeTour?authkey=Gv1sRgCLjJ3LaLqIDInQE

For more information about this tour, contact Craig by email: craig@bamboosero.com or continue reading the synopsis of the itinerary below:

Worldbike Tour Itinerary Synopsis:

Led by Tom Ritchey and Craig Calfee, with bikes supplied by Team Rwanda and Bamboosero, this tour starts in Rwanda with a visit to two beautiful towns on Lake Kivu where we will see the Project Rwanda coffee bikes in action. Then a challenging ride north to Team Rwanda headquarters in the northern part of the country. There we’ll switch to specially designed, locally made bamboo “AfricaBikes”. Across the border to Uganda, through the largest bamboo forest in East Africa, to Lake Bunyonyi. The lake is incredibly scenic and peaceful with plenty of off road riding, canoeing and wildlife viewing. First class accommodations are available and a visit to one of the Bamboosero workshops is on the agenda. Then an epic day’s ride on local dirt roads over to the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest where we can prepare for a Mountain Gorilla tracking hike. Rainforest rides on amazing trails are next, with experienced tour guides from Ride 4 a Woman leading the way. Visits with a variety of towns and villages, including the Batwa forest people make the tour especially unique. Riding in on locally made bamboo bikes brings the tourist into the local scene more effectively and helps to reduce cultural barriers.

Fully supported bicycle tour on paved and dirt roads. Moderate physical conditioning and experience in developing countries recommended. Vaccines and malaria preventative medicine required.

Weather Conditions: Highs in the 80′sF (27C), lows in the 40′sF (4C), chance of rain.

Day 01 Wed  KIGALI (elev. 1300-1600m).

Arrive. Settle in. Many flights arrive late so there are no formal activities.

Day 02 Thu To KIBUYE on Lake Kivu (elev. 1470) (125km)

Travel by van and visit coffee processing facilities where Project Rwanda Coffee bikes are being used. Get fitted to Team Rwanda rental bikes

Day 03 Fri To GISENYI on northern end of Lake Kivu(elev. 1480) (85km)

Travel by bike and van on incredibly scenic dirt road. Visit bicycle eco-tourism center.

Day 04 Sat To RUHENGERI (elev. 1850) (55km)

Travel by bike on paved roads with members of Team Rwanda. Return Team Rwanda bikes, set-up AfricaBikes.

Day 05 Sun To LAKE BUNYONYI (elev 1950) (100km)

Travel by bike on mostly paved road with dirt at the end.

Day 06 Mon LAKE BUNYONYI (elev 1950) (various)

Day ride to explore paradise-like Lake Bunyonyi. Visit Bamboosero group. Bike design jam session.

Day 07 Tue To BWINDI-RUSHAGA (elev 1950) (55km)

Ride towards the Impenetrable Forest on dirt roads, visiting villages along the way.

Day 08 Wed To BWINDI-BUHOMA (elev 1490) (60km)

Ride through the Impenetrable Forest on groomed trails or on dirt road, depending on conditions. Possible encounters with Mountain Gorillas and other wildlife.

Day 09 Thu BUHOMA (elev 1490) (various)

Ride/hike Impenetrable Forest, visit Ride for a Woman, possible time for reserved Mountain Gorilla tracking (+$500 if available) Bike design jam session.

Day 10 Fri To KIGALI (elev. 1300-1600m) (220km) (option to extend trip to Queen Elizabeth National Park for big game wildlife viewing)

Van transport back to Kigali via Kabale

Optional Tour Extension:

We end the tour at a location that is convenient to the Queen Elizabeth National Park where one can enjoy big game wildlife viewing.  Have a look at this link if you are interested: Maamajombo Tour Extension.

Flights and travel planning:

Plan to arrive in Kigali, Rwanda (KGL).  If choosing the Tour Extension, it will be more convenient to depart from Entebbe, Uganda (EBB).  Most European flights to Kigali pass through Entebbe anyway, so it’s easy to book on the same airline.

Uganda

Uganda is no ordinary safari destination. Ecologically, Uganda is where the East African savannah meets the West African jungle. Where else but in this impossibly lush country can one observe lions prowling the open plains in the morning and track chimpanzees through the rainforest undergrowth the same afternoon, then the next day navigate tropical channels teeming with hippo and crocs before setting off into the misty mountains to stare deep into the eyes of a mountain gorilla? Certainly, Uganda is the only safari destination whose range of forest primates is as impressive as its selection of plains antelope. And this verdant biodiversity is further attested to by Uganda’s status as by far the smallest of the four African countries whose bird checklist tops the 1,000 mark.

The Nile is the setting for some of the world’s most thrilling commercial white-water rafting. There are the snow-capped peaks of the Rwenzori, which provide a tantalising challenge to dedicated mountaineers, as well as the Virunga Volcanoes and , both of which offer highly rewarding hiking opportunities through scintillating highland scenery. More sedately, the myriad islands of Lake Victoria and Bunyonyi are idyllic venues, as are the myriad forest-fringed crater lakes that stud the rift valley floor and escarpment around. Whether you’re a first time safari-goer or a seasoned African traveller, Uganda – with its unique blend of savannah and forest creatures, its rare wealth of montane and lake habitats – is simply dazzling.

Uganda’s tradition of hospitality is common to its culturally diverse populace partly from the remarkably low level of crime and hassle directed at tourists. But this amiable quality extends beyond the easygoing people. Uganda’s eco-friendliness is attested to by the creation of six new national parks under the present administration, as well as a recent mushrooming of community-based eco-tourism projects at the grassroots level, while the mood of social enlightenment is characterised by the progressive and much lauded policies towards curbing the spread of HIV/AIDS and promoting women’s rights. The climate, too, is highly agreeable, reflecting the combination of an equatorial location and medium to high altitudes, while amenities such as hotels and game lodges now rank with the very best has to offer.