An Epic African Road Trip: Zambia to Uganda and Back in Classic Cars
Hi everyone! I’m so excited about this post. I was born and raised in Africa (Zimbabwe, to be exact), and moved to Canada in 1998. A few friends and family still live there and one of them, another Jane, and a group of fellow travelers, recently completed a road trip from Zambia’s capital city, Lusaka, to Kampala in Uganda! And back. Approximately 6,500 kilometers. The group all met in Lusaka and drove to Kampala in vintage cars – 25 years or older! Even for me, this would be the trip of a lifetime.
Some of the paragraphs didn’t turn out the way I spaced them – it may have something to do with the photos.
With her permission, here’s Jane’s account of the trip from her daily FaceBook posts.
Our First night on the road! First stop Mpika, Zambia at the Fresh Air Lodge and surprisingly comfortable! Our drive up here from Lusaka (670 km) was without a hitch. All the cars performed above expectation, with the little Renault 4 surprising us all 😎. About to leave for Mbeya, Tanzania. It’s 7.30 am and no sign of breakfast…. nothing happens fast in Africa!!!!
The journey up to Tunduma border between Zambia and Tanzania
… we have arrived at the border and we wait…
The Bug attracts a lot of attention. .. they got shy when I got out the camera
We are on our way – just 100 km more to travel today can’t wait for that ice cold glass of wine…. and a shower 😆
Breakfast at Utengule Coffee Lodge in Tanzania …. getting ready for day three! Dodoma here we come
The first Breakdown. Fortunately not a major one – just a loose wire on the distributor! I did tell them but they didn’t really hear me 😂 they had to find the other end to confirm
Just love the audience ❤️
After an extremely long day yesterday, we are up and ready to do the next leg – day four to Mwanza. All cars performing up to Top Gear standards.
The New Dodoma Hotel
Apparently, you cannot take photos of official places or thereabouts. Nearly got arrested by a heavily armed security guard and he wanted to confiscate my phone for taking this picture of Ty outside a bank.
Second breakdown … this time, blocked fuel jet. By the time we get back she would have had a complete overhaul!
Well we didn’t make Mwanza due to an unforeseen delay . The highway is actually a highway under construction!!! And the roads we had to use are not for the faint-hearted! Hence, we lost 4 hours and instead, we are spending the night in a town called Igunga. Tomorrow we will leave at 5 am to make up the time!
This little bridge was the start of the 4 hours of almost impassable roads! I can’t believe that they are building this massive highway through these peaceful villages, literally dividing them in half.
Our en suite bathroom in Masala Lodge in Igunga … it’s hidden somewhere in the township!
Our bed. You even have to make your own � but at least it’s a bed
Crammed in the back of the cruiser going for a drink and some food
We had to find a local to buy our own beer
An early start to make up for the 4 hours lost taking the ‘highway.’ Smooth sailing until after we crossed Lake Victoria by ferry at Mwanza, and then the fun started …
After a couple of fuel-related breakdowns (dirt in the carburetor and overheating!), we thought it best to tow the little bug to save time… except Dennis thought I was supposed to fly over gravel and dirt! First the bumper was ripped off, then I realized I had no brakes so we resorted to using a tow bar attached to the bumper bracket. When Dennis braked for a pothole, I was literally flung into the air past the cruiser and then rudely swung back, almost side swiping it. I decided to take my chances in the dark with a car that kept cutting out on low revs and no brakes – at least my life was in my own hands! I can honestly say that I’m now pretty adept in the ‘one-foot accelerator and brake pedal, and the one-hand clutch and handbrake manouvers! 😝 We finally arrived at our destination, Bukoba, at midnight! Fun and games … Hakuna matata!
We have 300 or so km to go to Kampala, but are sadly leaving the Beetle here in Bukoba for some repairs. The harsh terrain has taken its toll on her. She has quite a bad oil leak and has lost her bumper😲 amongst other minor things – but she’s still smiling and we will be back to pick her up on Tuesday for our homeward journey … hopefully avoiding the roadworks!!! But all is good … HAKUNA MATATA.
GOOD FRIDAY. The drive from Kampala to Fort Portal and then onto our Lodges for the weekend. What an awesome place to be spending the weekend. We have left the classic cars, except the cruiser, in Kampala for a much needed rest!!
Chimpanzee tracking at Kibale National Park was absolutely awesome!!
Mr. Toti – the president of the Kibale community
Our last morning and packing up for the drive home. We have had an awesome stay at one of the most beautiful spots in Africa. The people are very friendly and everything is green energy. The fruits are organic, plentiful and delicious. Banana trees everywhere … Uganda is definitely a place worth visiting from the busy city of Kampala and the boda bodas, to the peaceful surrounds of Ndali Kasenda Crater Area. Stunning lakes and the privilege of seeing chimpanzees in a protected sanctuary, the Kibale Forest. Will keep you posted on the next six days as we travel back down to Zimbabwe on the second part of the Classics …
THE RETURN TRIP
A quick stop for fuel and Ugandan beer at Mbarara on our first day of the return trip.
Our destination for today is Bukoba in Tanzanzia to collect the ‘bug’! 🚕 We will spend the day there tomorrow and get to see a little more of Lake Victoria while we wait for the other 3 cars to arrive from Kampala and have much needed oil changes, service and necessary repairs.
We have crossed the Ugandan border into Tanzania and having a well deserved drink on the terrace at Kolping Hotel, Bukoba.
Took a hair raising road with muddy potholes … thank God we were in the cruiser and didn’t stall or just slide into the mud…
A ride through Bukoba with Abdul on his tuc tuc … won’t catch me on a boda boda!!! It cost us 6,000 shillings ($3) up to our hotel and back 😎
A morning in Bukoba waiting for the beetle to be ready for the road …. everything in one street!
Heading to the Courthouse for an affidavit for me to drive my car
The Internet Cafe and Bureau de Exchange
…and lunch of vimpy and samoosa just across the way from the garage
The garage Naushad Toyota
My baby is up and running. Still with an oil leak, but we are keeping an eye on it!! Total cost of repairs $40… 😎 No breakdowns, just oil checks
Overlooking Lake Victoria – in Biharamulo, Kagera, Tanzania
Our room for the night in Biharamulo, Kagera, Tanzania
At least it’s a normal toilet!
A long 12 hours to Singida, Tanzania, but it makes a huge difference having a good road! The only hitch was that we all got caught speeding! 53 km in a 50 km zone, I tried to negotiate down, but all the guy could repeat was ‘not enough! We ended up paying the equivalent of $60 for all 5 cars 😎 . But on the absolute up side, I am so happy that the bug is going well and to be staying in a decent hotel with a normal toilet! All those squats have paid off – have the accuracy spot on!! 😂
We have arrived at an awesome little farm lodge just 50 km after Iringa, Tanzania, called Kisolanza Farm. Such a stunning drive through Tanzania from banana plantations to sunflowers, but not without being fined for speeding yet again.. and before 7.30am!! So we changed the front driver to the Mercedes, as the R4 has a faulty speedometer … figure that 🙂 … the bug has survived another day.
Posing for photos … my little bug has been the most photographed car. Everyone wants one and with me on it!!! … too funny.
Sunrise over Lake Singidani
Oh and last but not least the exhaust thingy finally fell off!!
we have arrived in Zambia. It’s been a long hard day…. bad roads and a long time at the border. We had to negotiate some pretty hectic potholes in the dark to get to Prosper Inn Lodge where we are stopping for the night and, Murphy’s Law, I ran out of fuel on our last 2 km and had to be towed in!
The highway under construction
So much excitement to see my little car… everyone wants a photo
Tuc tucs and some interesting cargo �
Miles and miles of road
Prosper Inn – 7.45 pm local time (8.45 Tanzanian time), which means we’ve been on the road 15 hours.
Early morning set off and final day to Lusaka … plus or minus 1,000 km
LAST LEG – DAY SIX!!
If we thought yesterday was long try 18 hours! We set off from Isoka to drive to Lusaka – roughly 1000 km – at 6 am. Potholes for the first 200 km or so and stopping every so often to top up the oil in my little bug. This made the journey longer than we anticipated and when it got down to stopping every 15 minutes the boys were doubtful the beetle would make it!! However against all odds and with some positive determination and a fair amount of luck we made it to Lusaka at midnight to attend the Netherlands Kings Day Ball! Shattered but triumphant!
The bug and all her oil containers!!
The ‘silver horn’ award … well deserved to Hans Sportel
Makes you want to go on a road trip, yes?
Well done to all concerned. You made it look so easy, but I know it wasn’t!!
Until next time … safe travels.
An Epic African Road Trip: Zambia to Uganda and Back in Classic Cars