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GEEKS: Rwanda. Chez Lando Hotel, Kigale. Saturday 25 July. Week 13, day 104.

ROUTE.

Mwanza – Usagara – Ferry from Kokongo (as spelt in T4A) {Kikongo} to Busisi – Serengema – Geita – Bwanga – took shortcut to Diobahika – Nyakanazi – Kafua – Rusumu Falls Border Post.

RWANDA: Rusumu Border Post – Kirehe – Kabarondo – Kayonza – Rwamagana – Kigali.

Details, distances and times.

There is a new, large shopping mall on the road between Tunza and Mwanza, which I am sure will be suitable for reprovisioning. Co-ordinates S02 30,093 E32 54,145.

There was some sort of parade/ceremony planned right in the center of Mwanza and the resultant detours and gridlocks stole about an hour of our time, so take this sort of thing into all your calculations. It thus took us about an hour and a half to cover the short distance from Tunza to Usagara.

• Usagara - Kikongo and ferry, 11km and 30min.

Kikongo to Busisi Ferry across Mwanza Gulf Lake Victoria. I was quite worried about this ferry but it was absolutely straight forward. Be careful as initially I was a little confused with a ferry from Busisi to Bukoba, this is not the one you want. The ferry dock is very easy to find at the end of the road (from either side, Kikongo/Busisi). The ferry fees are TSh 6,500 (R60) for the vehicle, no fee for the driver and TSh 400 for each passenger, very cheap. The tickets for the vehicle and the passenger are bought from the same office just to the left as the vehicles queue for the ferry. The passenger and the driver can remain in the vehicle for the drive-on and the ferry trip. Heavy vehicles are in a separate queue to the right and for each ferry trip they seem to load a mix of about 6 trucks and 9 passenger vehicles and countless numbers of foot passengers. There were 2 ferries operating. We were unlucky as we were the last not to get onto the first ferry and had to wait about 20min. The 3km crossing took only 25min. Altogether we spent 1hr 45min with the ferry but it would often be almost half that time.

• Busisi – Geita, 78km and 1hr 15min.

• Geita – Bwanga, 62km and 1hr 15min.

Short cut Bwanga to Diobahika. We decided not to head for our planned destination at Biharamulo as it was only 14H00 and took this shortcut directly to the B3 to the Rusumu Border Post. This cut out the loop up to Biharamulo and shortened the route by almost 80km. If not staying at the Old German Fort this shortcut is worth it. It seems as if a new tar road is/was being built along this route. There is no work being carried out on this project at present. Half way along the partly tarred road one drives off the detour road onto the wide and partially prepped new road and can make good time. The sign to the right as you strike the B3 states Rusumu, Rwanda amongst other things. Well worth taking!

• The B3 was very disappointing and slow with many severely potholed sections made worse by many heavy trucks taking these sections very slowly. This 150km took us 3hr.

RUSUMU BORDER POST. This border works very well on both sides. It took us 1hr 15min to cross, not bad considering the formalities including an East African Visa.

On the Tanzanian side first to Immigration to get your passport stamped out. Then to the customs window, same building just around the corner. Here REMEMBER TO HAVE YOUR CARNET completed. The vehicle must be checked out of Tanzania and make sure the uppermost stub is retained in the book and completed by customs. Once again I persuaded the official to stamp out my typewritten list of declarable items.

The Rwanda side is housed in a single large new hall-like building with multiple windows. This is about 2km down the road, remember to drive on the right and set your time back by 1hr. You cross the Akagera River and the fairly impressive Rusumu Waterfall. Here an official rather informally scanned us for fever as an Ebola check. The border operating times are from 06H00 to 22H00 Rwanda time. First we bought an East African Visa from the Customs window, this costs US$100 pp and is a multi-entry visa of 90 days duration. Payment for this is done at the Kigali Bank window easily visible in the same hall and they give you a receipt. It covers Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya, but not inexplicably Tanzania. This visa solved my concerns about a Kenyan visa as Kenya had been making it more difficult for South Africans to get visas at the point of entry. This was done in some sort of retaliation for changes in the process Kenyans had to go through for SA visas, but later was dropped completely.  Before leaving customs we had the carnet completed and the declarable goods typewritten list completed after a perfunctory inspection. Next to Immigration at a window labelled Passport Control. Here they stamp your passport and paste the East African visa into your passport. There are very few touts at this post and the money changers do not hassle you. The surprising thing is that we were not searched for plastic shopping packets which are illegal in Rwanda to control littering. I guess this would normally take place at the final exit gate manned by the military.

• Rusumu Border Post – hotel in Kigali, 170km and 3hr.

We arrived at Hotel Chez Lando at 22H45 Rwanda time.

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