Wednesday, 6 April 2022

Travelling in Rural Africa

One of the many adventures of living in a remote place is travelling. Since I've been in this line of work, I have appreciated the ease with which I could travel in normal times. Getting from point A to B now takes a lot of planning and consideration. To get out of Uvira, the town I am currently in, I have to travel for 3 hours to another town called Kamanyola, then cross the border to Rwanda to a town called Kamembe.    

Kamembe is a small town that has a national forest of 1020km2. There are two exit/entry points from the Democratic Republic of Congo into South Kivu : 1) Kamanyola, which is around 46km and around 1hour and 15 minutes from Kamembe airport and 2) Bukavu which is 20km from the Kamembe airport and about a 40 minute drive. Typically, I would spend the night in Kamembe then fly to Kigali the following morning. It is a 40 minute flight, but a 5 hour drive to Kigali where I can fly from. This option is more practical for me than going to the capital (Kinshasa) to access the international airport. It is equally a two day trip.

See my previous post about some of my first impressions of the DRC.


On my last trip, I was heading to Senegal. So I left Uvira by road to Kamanyola, then crossed over to Kamembe. This took a little over 3 hours and probably half an hour for border formalities. Then off I went to the bank to pay for my covid test, that took another 30 minutes as there was a queue then I headed to the hospital for the test. I finally got to my hotel close to 4pm . I spent the night, then continued the next morning to Kigali, pick up was at 7am as the flight was at 8:30am. It is a 40 minute flight from Kamembe to Kigali, but would take 6 hours by road I hear. I spent the day working in Kigali then caught my night flight out to Dakar, I travelled for a whole day through Addis! You will agree with me that unlike life in a city with an airport, this is some kind of gymnastics.

Crossing the border into Rwanda from DRC is always such a delight, for the order and tarred roads, hahahaha. Kigali is laid back, roads are narrow and people are courteous. You'll hardly find the impatience that many drivers in other places have there, besides, people are law abiding to the T. You won't find motor bike riders without helmets, they know not having one could attract a fine. The country of a thousand hills is definitely not flat, the ride is usually hilly with sharp turns, but the landscape is green and lush. People on bicycles and motorbikes always hold onto trucks and lorries to pull them up hills, the fear I feel never gets old, it always comes back as I watch them. I ask myself what might happen if the truck were to come to an abrupt halt. I wrote about Rwanda sometime ago here.

Streets of Kigali

Rwanda is big on tourism and there are options of things to do. The country is clean and people know not to litter which is quite impressive. Plastic bags are not in use, paper bags are instead. What better way to promote a green environment! You'll find soldiers on the streets in Kigali, but less so as you leave the capital city.

Arriving Senegal, one of the things you'll quickly notice in Dakar is the traffic! Getting around could take from a few minutes to a few hours, depending on how lucky you are and what time of day you find yourself on the road. But, it is indeed a beautiful country.

A bit of the traffic in Dakar

From the number of cars to the impatience you notice with drivers, accidents and oh the heat. It can be quite interesting in traffic if people watching is something you enjoy. However, something that can keep your mind off traffic is street art; painting, drawings and graffiti line the street walls as you drive by. 

The road network is good so driving around is not something to worry about. I went out of Dakar to Thies, Mbour, Fatick and Sine Saloum regions.

After two weeks away from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), returning can sometimes be a rude shock. Once you get past the border, it is striking how the tarred roads disappear. The other side once you cross to South Kivu in DRC is all dirt roads.

Travelling on these roads is a perpetual dance, it takes its toll on the body. The only comfort is the landscape which is similar to that of Rwanda. When you drive through this mountainous terrain on these awful roads, just prepare yourself mentally and do not eat if you have a sensitive stomach as you'll be sure to empty your bowels. Should you plan to visit the DRC, South Kivu to be specific, be sure to keep this in mind.

6 comments:

  1. Thank you for letting us see Africa through your eyes. Sometimes we forget that there's more to this beautiful continent than the part we inhabit.

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    1. I know! It's easy to put things in a box. Thank you for reading.

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  2. We need more post please, our children are still being told over here that Africa is a jungle and they do not look forward to visiting. That doesn't apply toy child anyway, you must visit home our beloved Africa ❤

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    1. There will be more posts, keep coming back :-)

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