A couple hours cycling along rolling hills brought me to a junction with a major road. There were a few more vehicles, but a lot less foot/cycle traffic. Most importantly to me, perfectly smooth tarmac replaced chipseal.
The road led through a national park, with signs warning of chimps. Unfortunately the only primates I saw were baboons and humans.
I took a detour along some small dirt roads. This area seemed to mostly produce bananas, judging by a market I passed.
The descent down to the main road was quite a bumpy road, and there were lots of people begging. On a probably not unrelated note, I saw my first white person in a while! There are some picturesque lakes around and resorts catering to foreigners.
Back on the main road, I continued riding along, somewhat faster on the better road. To the west I could see the Rwenzori mountains, home to Mt Stanley which apparently has Africa’s last remaining glacier.
I rode on to Kasese, and set about searching for a hotel. The first was 58 USD! Many people stay here before going on expensive tours into the mountains. Obviously, I did not stay there. The next place I tried was a more reasonable 30,000 UGS (about 8 USD). They were sure I’d rather somewhere nicer, and were surprised when I was fine with the room I was shown, but had no problem with me staying. The room had electricity, a mosquito net, running water, a western toilet and even a (cold) shower. I don’t see what the problem was!
In the morning I rode out of Kasese and after an hour or so I reached a milestone (again) – the equator! Back to the southern hemisphere, my third crossing of this line in about two weeks.
Another hour or so on tarmac saw me riding into the Queen Elizabeth National Park. I saw two warthogs in the grass on my right.
I then turned off onto a dirt road through the park. There were a few people there but after a couple kilometres it was very quiet.
For about 20 kilometres the dirt was smooth, and then there was about 10 kilometres of mud. That in turn was followed, surprisingly, by a couple kilometres of tarmac for the relatively steep descent down to Lake Edward.
Back to dirt for the next 60 kilometres on even quieter roads, I passed far more baboons than people. One group must have had over a hundred – when I first saw them in the distance I wondered if there were somehow farm animals in the park, as they are usually the only ones with herds that size. When I got closer, I saw that they were indeed baboons.
Initially I spent a lot of time looking around but after several hours inevitably one becomes lost in one’s thoughts, focusing mostly on the road. It was quite a shock when I looked up and saw, perhaps 10 metres to my right, an elephant! It disappeared into a bush. I rode on a short distance, and waited. It emerged and crossed the road.
I rode on, passing many more baboons, sometimes with mongeese clustered around them. At one point, I saw an animal crossing the road in the distance ahead of me. A motorcycle overtook me and the animal went into the grass. As I passed, I saw a cat’s face looking back – a lion!
I cycled on a little, then stopped,looked back and saw a landcruiser coming. I’m not saying this was my wisest decision, but I decided that gave me enough protection to return for another look. The lion (lioness in fact) was still there, about 2 metres away from me. We looked at each other as I fumbled for my phone. She roared and then disappeared into the grass. A roaring lion 2 metres away from me gave me some serious chills! Unfortunately I didn’t manage to get a picture.
Early in the afternoon thunder started, then light rain. As the rain turned torrential I was just a few kilometres away from a town, and there were some abandoned buildings around. I sheltered by one with an overhanging roof and avoided the worst of that downpour. As I cycled on, the rain increased gradually again. I checked into a hotel just as it started getting really heavy.
Nov 25: 145 km
Nov 26: 132 km