31 – December 2019

“We are in Kigoma, it stormed all night and we woke up to rain and a wet sleeping bag because I was a bit of an idiot. But anyway, so now we are going to head to the Burundi border. The problem is that we heard from other overlanders that you have to get a visa prior to arrival and they don’t issue them at the border anymore. A Burundian in the camp last night also informed us that they changed the ruling in 2015 from issuing visas on arrival. Unfortunately we were advised by a travel crowd in Durban that we could get them at the border.  So we are going to try charm, and charisma! IF not, we have to come back another 74km’s and then take the other road that skirts Burundi. In hindsight although border crossings have been an absolute breeze, I think now that we should have got all visa’s before. The problem with back tracking is that there are guys working on the road and it is… atrocious. Massive potholes, trucks everywhere because they have had excessive rain. “

November normally brings the short rains to East Africa which taper off in early December. What was not expected is that the short rains were late in coming this year and brought above-average rainfall triggering flooding across eastern Africa.  Rain fell at around 50mm per 24 hours for several days causing wash aways and flooding in places. Not surprisingly, our intrepid bikers were riding in it, which in normal circumstances would have been manageable – had Morgan not lost rain gear. Although we never got the low down the next message read, “Stormy rainy day lost my wet weather gear yesterday on the road. I’m already wet and haven’t started riding, Africa is not for Sissies!”

Watching the tracker carefully we were surprised to see them drive to the border and cross into Burundi quite quickly. No backtracking. Charm and charisma seem to have paid off.

However, fearing the possibility of backtracking, Morgan and Glenn had found a Burundi consular in Kigoma. “At first he refused to issue a visa….but eventually relented. He even sent a driver with us to take photos and also had a stop for a snack! And away we went with visas in hand.

Their route took them along the incredible shores of Lake Tangayika, through Rumonge and on through Bujumbura which had its roots as a military post in German East Africa in 1889.  Since Burundi gained independence in 1962 Bujumbura has been the scene of frequent fighting between the country’s two main ethnic groups, the Hutu and the Tutsi-dominated Burundi army. The worst was in 2015 and the last major unrest was in 2017.

It was here, having lunch that they met with a chap called Joseph, a humanitarian from Central Africa. “He met with us and insisted on paying for our lunch!”

New years day…”Hi all you followers, we are finally on line again. The no signal issue has been frustrating. A big happy new year! We spent the old years eve, just the two of us, very romantic, and then proceeded to be kept awake the whole night with loud music right through till 08h00 this morning!

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Blog by Debra Bouwer


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