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Karamajong around my scooter

East Africa on a scooter | Part 16 | Kotido – Moroto (110 km)

Who dares to drive more than 3.000 kilometers on a scooter through East Africa? Visiting mountain gorillas? Scooter safaris (does this word exist?) in five National parks† To admire lions, buffaloes, hippos and elephants up close, among other things. My name is Eric and I like to travel around on a scooter. Read here part 16 of the unique report of an amazing scooter adventure Uganda, Rwanda en Kenya† In this part I travel further in the wonderful land of the Karamojong and teach a local to ride a scooter.

A trip for your bucket list
Tour Uganda | Discover the pearl of Africa

Uganda has stolen our hearts more than once and as far as we are concerned it is a travel destination that belongs on the bucket list of every world traveler. Find out why Uganda is called the pearl of Africa.

A trip through Uganda will be one you will never forget. Spot the tree-climbing lions, meet thousands of elephants, come face to face with Mountain Gorillas in the jungle and get to know the beautiful culture.

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A tour of Kotido

It really takes some getting used to when I walk around the sandy paths in the center of Kotido. You immediately wonder how a city with more than 20.000 inhabitants does not have a decent asphalt road. You'll get the answer right if you look around.

Roundabout in Kotido
Roundabout in the center of Kotido

There are jute bags filled with charcoal along the road. A few men walk with handcarts with yellow jerry cans. 'Those jerry cans are filled with water,' I hear from a transporter. Most houses here do not have running water or a water tank.

Transport of jerry cans with water in Kotido
Transport of jerry cans with water in Kotido

I don't like it all. As nice as the photos with donkeys and women with woods on their heads look at first glance. On reflection, it's just bitter poverty if you have to walk for miles on your bare feet with a few pounds of wood on your head.

Transport of firewood to Kotido
A barefoot woman with firewood on her way to Kotido

The receptionist at the Kotido Resort Hotel reassures me when I inquire about the road condition to Moroto. 'Do not worry. The road to Moroto is not asphalt, but it is a well-maintained Murram road. I drive the 110 km to Moroto in less than an hour and a half by car.'

Special encounters in the savannah landscape with Karamojong shepherds

In barely five minutes I left the built-up area of ​​Kotido behind me. The landscape is quite different from the route I took in the past few days in the north of Karamoja. Here it is much drier and there are no rocks. There is little or no car traffic. Only one minibus passes in an hour.

On the way home from Kotido
Going home with a ton on Kotido's head

The number of pedestrians on and around the road is quite large. They often walk barefoot and are dressed in traditional clothing. They are always equally surprised to see a 'mzungu' on a scooter.

Mother and daughter Karamajong admire my scooter near Amgamwa
Mother and daughter Karamojong admire my scooter near Amgamwa

A group of shepherds sits on the side of the road. They are completely decked out in the typical Karamoja style. Sometimes with a funny hat and always wearing a colorful dress. In addition to the walking stick, they also have a wooden support in their hand. This support is multifunctional. It is a headrest and a seat in one.

Karamajong shepherds in traditional outfit posing
Karamojong shepherds in traditional dress posing

I now find myself between two nature reserves, namely: Matheniko Game Reserve and Bokora Wildlife Reserve. A number of species of antelope live in the parks, such as oryx, kob and hartebeest. Their natural enemies here are spotted hyenas and leopards.

I don't see the wildlife. I do see many shepherds going out with their flocks. The Karamojong herders are used to being away from home for days. Often out of dire necessity, because there is nothing to graze for the livestock due to long droughts.

Landscape in Matheniko Game Reserve
Landscape in Matheniko Game Reserve

Very sporadically I come across Karamojong settlements. Bags of firewood along the road are a sign that such a settlement is nearby. 'That's for the minibuses and cars that pass by. Our firewood is of high quality,' said one saleswoman.

Firewood for sale along the road in Karamoja
Firewood for sale along the road in Karamoja

The Karamojong herders continue to intrigue me. Sometimes they are still children, but they always walk in those colorful blankets. And those feathered hats. wow.

A young shepherd in Matheniko Game Reserve
A young shepherd in Matheniko Game Reserve
Shepherds in Matheniko Game Reserve
Shepherds on the road in Matheniko Game Reserve

When I see another chipped sign of yet another aid organization, I realize that I am driving through a very vulnerable area. How beautiful the nature is and how friendly and colorful the many Karamojong herders are. I often wonder what became of all those projects.

Peeling Oxfam sign in Lokitela
Peeling Oxfam sign in Lokitela

Traffic congestion and local help with a treacherous water feature

And then there is traffic jam on a pretty difficult stretch of dirt road. A few shepherds herd their goats to the roadside and greet them kindly. One points me to a place in the distance. “Watch out, you'll get stuck there if you don't watch out. It rained heavily here for a few days.'

Goats block the way in Karamoja
Goats block the way in Karamoja

The warning is not for nothing. I arrive at a huge pool of water. I have no idea how deep it is and if I can go through it with my scooter without sinking into it. Fortunately I see a group of Karamojong standing on the other side and walk towards them through the water. I manage to do that, but every now and then I sink into the sludge. That certainly won't work on a scooter.

The men appear to be standing guard here all day. "We're pushing all the minibuses and cars through the mud, mzungu." I negotiate with them and get out quickly. For 10.000 Ugandan shillings (converted 2,5 euros) they lift my scooter across the pond. In the meantime I stretch my legs and make a movie of the toiling Karamojong.

Karamojong lift scooter over water feature near Lopei
Karamojong lift scooter over water feature near Lopei

A test ride on the scooter in Lopei

Around half past three I decide to take a break in the village of Lopen. I buy a bottle of water at a kiosk and there is almost immediately a lot of attention at my scooter. A Karamojong asks me if he can take a ride on that funny piki piki. I doubt at first, because I don't know if he can ride a scooter.

I give him a crash course in scooter riding and tell him where the gas and brake are. 'Don't use this brake! That's the front wheel brake. If you use it, you'll slip. Only use the other one and don't drive too fast.'

Ready for a test ride on my scooter in Lopei
Ready for a test ride on my scooter in Lopei

The bystanders cheer on their fellow villager as he slowly drives away. Then he gives quite a bit of gas and disappears from view. Hope it turns out fine. A few minutes later, he reappears on the horizon and I record his test drive.

wow. The cheers do not go unnoticed when the hero arrives again. He enjoyed it very much and immediately asks if he can buy the scooter.

Karamajong woman buys flour in shop in Lopei | Karamoja | Wereldreizigers.nl
A Karamojong woman with facial tattoos in Walk

At the kiosk I buy a few bottles of water and a few sandwiches. Next to me is a Karamojong woman who at first glance has bumps in her face. On closer inspection, it turns out that these are traditional tattoos.

Arrival in Moroto with scooter breakdown

My timely arrival in Moroto does not go as expected. In Moroto I notice that my scooter is no longer able to take a slight climb. The engine starts sputtering and stalls. It is now a matter of pushing until the road is level again. That's how I get to the reception of the Mount Moroto Hotel. After I've checked in there, I get the address of a repairman.

Another 10 kilometers to Moroto
Another 10 kilometers to Moroto

I drive back the same way and manage to find the workshop. The scooter was dismantled around seven o'clock. The repair is in full swing and will continue the following morning due to the onset of darkness. I get a lift to my hotel and enjoy a delicious dinner.

The repair of my scooter is in full swing in Moroto
The repair of my scooter is in full swing in Moroto
A trip for your bucket list
Tour Uganda | Discover the pearl of Africa

Uganda has stolen our hearts more than once and as far as we are concerned it is a travel destination that belongs on the bucket list of every world traveler. Find out why Uganda is called the pearl of Africa.

A trip through Uganda will be one you will never forget. Spot the tree-climbing lions, meet thousands of elephants, come face to face with Mountain Gorillas in the jungle and get to know the beautiful culture.

View individual trips View group trips
Want to support us? We earn a small commission if you make a purchase via our link(s), at no additional cost to you. Win win!

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Eric

What is it like to drive more than 10.000 kilometers in Madagascar on a locally bought scooter? Or on a pikipiki (scooter in Swahili) through East Africa? In more than 20 years I have visited more than 100 countries. This has resulted in a lot of priceless travel experiences, which I would like to share with you.

ERIC – OVER 100 COUNTRIES
– Likes to travel on scooters
– Share unique travel experiences.
– Favorite destinations: Madagascar, Uganda, Japan, India and Colombia.

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