Monday 11 February 2013
Luwero to Ziwa
We are getting used to these early starts. 5.30 alarm as usual.
Today, we are to cycle over 100 kilometres to the Ziwa Rhino sanctuary, most of it along a good tarred road, boasting an adequate cycle track along its sides. The road takes us roughly in a north north westerly direction, with an arrow straight directness, no respect paid by its engineers to the undulating countryside. The bicycle bungee is soon back in service.
Although still early, just after 7, we pass many children also using the cycle track on their way to school, as we process out of Luwero. They have their school day on their minds, but still have time to greet this strange band of foreigners. The towing arrangement is a particular source of hilarity amongst them.
After being jogged and rattled about all day yesterday on the dirt track, it is good to have the feel of a metalled road under our wheels. But the downside is that we have to compete for road space with sundry vehicles exhibiting a variety of driving styles. The message emblazoned on one coach “BELIEVE IN DIVINE INTERVENTION” was more an instruction to other road users than a call to faith.
As we leave Luwero behind us, the homesteads along the roadside begin to fade out, and the small farming plots attached to them give way to swamp and marshland, conifer forests, and open savannah. Apart from the conifer forests, a rather surprising feature, there is no sign of cultivation on any commercial scale despite the availability of good, fertile land to support it.
By lunchtime, we cover over 60 kilometres of the day’s journey in three stages.The shade of a conifer forest gives us a welcome respite from the heat of the day. In everyone’s mind is the vision of our road, stretching in a seemingly interminable line to the horizon, as it reveals itself to us over every summit we climb. But we take comfort from the knowledge that two third’s of the journey is behind us, and we are making very good time.
After the lunch stop we continue through countryside that has now become more arid, but still supports plenty of vegetation. The odd little homestead, hidden away in the bush along side the road, is the only sign of human habitation here. There is a prohibition on building within 10 metres of the road, signed by white posts marked “UNRA”, the national road authority, and the houses are mostly hidden behind brush.
The last 40 kilometres we spend on this road passes relatively quickly, the team linking up in a series of pelatons that makes the ride less daunting, psychologically and physically, for everyone. In a rather bedraggled village, we take a left turn down a dirt track and, after a brief stop, finish the day’s journey in the rhino sanctuary. We see no signs of the principal guests as we struggle along the sandy path that eventually brings us to the Lodge, and plentiful supplies of well earned liquid refreshment.
We arrive before 4.00 pm, giving us time to look around the Lodge area, where several golden crested cranes, Uganda’s national symbol, are in residence. There is even a semi tame waterbuck, and a duiker, which both seem relatively unmoved by our presence. We celebrate the day’s achievements with a braai on the terrace of the Lodge. After a warning from the Warden to look out for rhino wandering about and some instruction on what we can see in the night sky from Henk, and momentary confusion of profuse fire fly traffic with a possible meteor storm. we make our way back to our rooms for the night.
Day 3: Distance covered 106 kilometres. Total ascent 625m. Maximum temperature (in full sun) 49C.
Thanks to Glen and William for the update