Jinja – Iganga – Malaba Border Post (Uganda/Kenya) – Webuye – Saboti village – Mt Elgon Lodge.
Distance and time taken.
275km, 7hr 30min.
Route detail and breakdown.
Jinja – Malaba Border Post. 155km, 3hr15min. Good tar road, some, but not too many trucks perhaps because Saturday.
Border – Webuye. 57km, 1hr 10min. Bumpy detour for 11km, the road east from the Kenyan border is being totally revamped. Tar to Webuye excellent.
Webuye – Mt Elgon Lodge (and nearby Chorlim Gate Mt Elgon NP). 63km, 1hr 50min. This dirt road is stoney and a little bumpy, improving as one nears the park.
• Directions for the dirt road after Webuye. T4A was dead accurate, In Webuye turn left onto tar for 14km, then dirt. Turnoff signposted Mt Elgon NP and Saiwa Swamp.
• In village of Saboti, after 10km on dirt, reach crossroads, continue straight. Travel comfortably at 30 – 40km/hr.
• After a further 8km turn left, small wooden signpost, Mt Elgon NP.
• Further 15km cross roads again, turn left signposted Mt Elgon NP, Chorlim Gate 7km. Here you drive past Delta Crescent Wildife Sanctuary, alternative camping outside park.
• After 6km arrive at Mt Elgon Lodge on right. This road continues to the Chorlim Gate, 1km down the road.
The big debate here is which border post to use. There is no consensus and the overlander truck drivers at Red Chili argued the odds when I asked a group of them. We decided on Mulaba rather than Busia. If you are going to south-western Kenya then the more southerly placed Busia is better. If heading more north as we were, then go for Malaba. Busia has less trucks but more private motor vehicles and was traditionally favoured for this reason. Mabala has new modern immigration and customs offices on both sides which has speeded it up a lot. When the new revamped road on the first 10km of the Kenyan side is complete then Malaba probably would be easier and quicker than Busia.
Procedure on Ugandan side.
1. Firstly fill your fuel tanks just before the border (Shell), as fuel is cheaper in Uganda and also to get rid of some of your Ugandan Shillings.
2. Exchange your Ugandan currency for Kenyan, there are many touts but they are not to troublesome, bargain and ask around for the best rate, we got 1Kenyan Shilling for 13 Ugandan.
3. Here we were joined by a guy on a bicycle, offering to help us through both sides free of charge provided we purchased third party insurance from the company he was spotting for. He received a commission from them hence the no payment required from us to him. Ask other spotters the going insurance rate and compare, you can bargain. Most of you will have Comesa so this will not apply. Nonetheless I would suggest using a fixer you like the look of, for an agreed upon fee. With the construction work especially on the Kenyan side it can be difficult to know where to next.
4. Drive past all the parked trucks, they go later into a separate section.
5. Go through customs and Immigration. Make sure your Carnet second section for Uganda is torn out and that you retain a correctly filled in stub in the book. I also persuaded customs to stamp my pre-typed list with serial numbers of my declarable items, as explained in previous posts. Immigration is a simple matter of being stamped out in your passport.
Procedure Kenyan side.
1. The fixer cycles ahead of you between the 2 closely placed sets of offices. Scan with temperature probe for Ebola.
2. Stamped in at Immigration. I was most relieved that there were no complications with our East African Visa, as Kenya had again invoked new visa regulations as from Sept 1.
3. Customs, carnet completed and pre-typed form stamped, no attempt to inspect these declared items. Now, this is very important, only commercial vehicles are liable for the US$50 road or toll tax. Luckily I had been warned about this as the customs official demanded this, but after a dirty look backed down when I pointed out that mine was a private and not a commercial vehicle. Many, I think, are caught with this scam.
4. Then down the road about 200m to the shops and here insurance purchased from one of a few rival firm offices. We bargained hard as the price (commission) is negotiable. We will be coming back through Kenya after some months, not sure exactly when, so bought third party for 1 year for US$90, they had quoted 40 for 1 and 70 for 3 months.
(In reterospect they in fact issued us with an insurance disc for a commercial vehicle. Please be careful about this and make sure this does not happen to you. The regulations for commercial vehicles are far more stringent than for private ones. This error (or scam) nearly landed us in trouble later).