Savannah Grace

EXPLORATION – Uganda By Motorcycle

LAST WEEK on Twitter we explored the topic of EXPLORATION on “The Road Less Travelled” (#TRLT).

I spent four years, between 2005-2009 with a 40lb backpack strapped to me, travelling The World via buses, trains, tuk-tuks, camels, horses, hitchhiking and even “highjacking” a Dutchman in his self-built overland truck. All transportation types considered, nothing tops riding behind the Dutchman on his 550 cc XT Yamaha dirt bike. When I first saw it it was attached to the back of his dirty, yellow MAN truck begging to be released, begging to explore.

It was a bolus of freedom, screaming around the curves and tearing down the straight sections atop his portable, maneuverable metal animal. Exploring, we left big African cities like Dar Es Salaam, Yaounde, Windhoek, Libreville in our dust. Zipping between chaotic, polluted streets dodging moving objects, avoiding potholes and oblivious animals on roads lit only by buses with piercing high beams. More often than not, cars with only one headlight (which were mistaken for other motorcycles until the last moment) and motorcycles with such dimly lit headlights they shed barely enough light to expose themselves. Climbing up and over the mountainous roads in South Africa I gasped as we reached the top and first set eyes on Cape Town. Going from unlit country road to the shock of millions of twinkling lights set anticipations tingling in my blood as we began the descent into the city. 

A “never going to forget moment” during our explorations of Africa was arriving by truck at a camp spot in Uganda and mounting the motorcycle to explore the individual villages hidden in the backcountry, waiting just for us. The green flew by, and knowing that in these same wild hills silverback gorillas frolicked and lounged in their jungle playground nearby, only enhanced the wonder and the exhilaration of it. The paved road quickly disappeared and we twisted between the fields speckled with waving children shouting and jumping as we zoomed past.


Stoping on the side of the road in Uganda, a group of children instantly forms around us

Venturing deeper into the vegetation and mountains, all-knowing kids signalled us not to go further. Ignorantly we continued on and realized that the track had narrowed to nothing but a steep, rocky path, only navigable on foot. Jumping off the bike, as the children caught up to us laughing like hyenas, I watched as my strong Dutchman hoisted the weight of the motorcycle up and manually turned it around.

The kids living in the ten-hut village clad in torn shirts, smudged faces and big grins playfully chased after us on their thickly callused feet.


Village children chasing after us as we take off down the hill

Thinking back, I realize that this experience was one of the rich ones. I got to claim a moment of the more intimate side of Africa. The manoeuvrability, the raw guts and the power of a motorcycle delivered that to me. Without it, our explorations would’ve been limited, holding us back from driving further, unable to reach the back hills, and never meeting those who are limited to foot transportation.

I had a true human experience devoid of what the modern world considers minimum; cars, boats, electronics and hotels. A motorcycle gets you out there. It extends your reach, extends your body and extends the experience filling you with satisfaction in the knowledge that you have met the road, conquered the country and bonded with the people. 

My name is Savannah and I am Africa.

Join us TODAY at 1pmNYC/6pmUK on “The Road Less Travelled” Twitter LIVE chat for a chat about DIVERSITY. Search the hashtag #TRLT to find us and be sure to include the hashtag in your tweets to us when you participate with your fellow travelers. When you’re inspired, I’m inspired. I am here each week hosting the live chat with fellow travellers Shane Dallas (public speaker, visited 100+ countries), Jessica Lipowski (accomplished author and “foodie”) and Anton Magnin (specialist in family travel). 

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