Uganda and Zanzibar 2018

This stage of our 8 week adventure started with a flight from Windhoek in Namibia, down to Johannesburg and then finally flying into Entebbe in Uganda. Not much to do in Entebbe but overnighted at the charming Karibu Guest House which was a nice place to relax and explore their Botanic Gardens.

We then flew for an hour out of Entebbe to Mweya and stayed one night at Mweya Safari Lodge. Our main activity was a sunset cruise on the Kazinga Channel in the Queen Elizabeth National Park which is home to crocs, hippos and birdlife. The lodge had a comfy bar with a 70kg pair of tusks from a bygone era.

  • The following day was an interesting drive to Ishasha Bush Camp which involved some pretty rough and slow going 4wd roads. First stop along the way was chimpanzee trekking in the very pretty and forested Chamburu Gorge which is about 16km long and home to about 30 chimpanzee. This was 50/50 whether we would find them. The walk was very pleasant roaming around tracks and coming very close to pods of hippo in the river which was good viewing in pursuit of the chimps. After about 2 hours walking our guide found 3 on a track which allowed us to follow by foot. They move fast so we were scrambling along the trails behind them. Soon they had connected with about 12 more. Great experience given how hard it is to find them. Then on to Ishasha Bush Camp which is an upscale tented camp with a great African feel on a fast flowing Ntungwe river. Spent 2 nights here and a full day of game viewing in Queen Elizabeth National Park. Pretty park and the highlight was spotting 2 cheetah and the commotion it caused so many animals all warning each other they were on the move.
  • Leaving Ishasha behind we headed to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest for a 3 night stay at Buhoma Lodge. Wonderful treetop lodge with a great feel and staff. Went on a community walk which included coffee grinding demonstration and banana gin making process with an old local Henry. Then up the hill to visit a pygmy village which is where some got relocated from the forest. Pretty miserable existence but they seemed happy.
  • Day 2 of our stay was the gorilla trek which involved a very scenic but steep 90 minute climb up one of the hills. Fortunately they were easily found in the forest once at the top so had a great experience viewing them eating and moving about. Joy’s trip highlight.
  • Our final day was a 3hr trek to the waterfall which was a very pretty walk thru rainforest to a decent set of falls. Huge thunder and lightening storm mid afternoon which was refreshing. A great location for a few days, excellent lodge, some good people to chat to around a coals fire in the evening and of course the gorillas.
  • Arrival into Zanzibar was shitful when we missed a connection and spent 8 hours in Nairobi airport between midnight and 7.30am. Finally arrived to a very quaint arabic influenced Stone Town. Staying at Mizingani Seafront Hotel which is very attractive and historic in its design. Stone Town is a bit rundown but that is part of the charm of the myriad of narrow alleyways busy with a mix of tourist and normal daily living. Great to walk around. Waterfront has been rebuilt and very vibrant at night with eating markets making a good cheap choice to enjoy the sunset and all the activity of locals diving into the ocean.
  • The first of our two fulldays was spent exploring the alleyways finding two good coffee shops in Puzzleword and Zanzibar Coffee House. The second was has great staff and pick of the bunch. Visited the slavery exhibit which was hugely interesting to understand the brutal past and also strolled past Freddie Mercuries house where he spent his first 8 years.
  • Our final day here was spent further wandering the streets, visited the local food and market, some more historic buildings and then had my 60th birthday dinner at the new Hyatt hotel.

The last few days of the trip were spent on Kendwa Beach on the north east coast of Zanzibar. Great water and the whitest of sand. 

NZ Bikepacking: Queenstown to Christchurch

Day 1 Arriving Queenstown

After settling in to the bustling adventure destination of Queenstown we headed out for a days exploring before heading off on the bike packing epic adventure. Stunning scenery wherever we looked which raised expectations big time of what might be ahead.

The route for our day of Queenstown exploring

Day 2 Leaving Queenstown for Wanaka 77km @ 1062m

Our first stage took us through Arrowtown which is a great old mining town and a logical spot for the first coffee break before you head up and over The Crown Range. Quite a European climb with great views across the valley toward Arrowtown and beyond. Then a wonderful descent off the range and definitely stop for lunch at the Cardrona Hotel which has an historic bar and outstanding beer garden.

Mistake for the day was we did not realise there was a gravel track to Arrowtown.

Queenstown to Wanaka Route

Day 3 Wanaka to Haast 142km @ 1220m

After a great dinner in Wanaka with Romans’ friends we set out on our Queens stage which turned out to be the prettiest riding imaginable. 18km’s after leaving Wanaka we had a 35km section that first hugged lake Hawea and then after crossing The Neck we tracked Lake Wanaka and then refuelled at Makaroa. (this is the only spot with food so you must stop!!). Met a wonderful couple of bike packing brits who shared information on there NZ journey which was stored for another day. After refuelling it was a gentle and steady climb up and over Haast Pass cycling through beautiful rainforest, stopping at a couple of waterfalls and cruising with a light rain falling. A brilliant day and then stayed in Haast enjoying our first NZ pub meal.

Wanaka to Haast Route

Day 4 Haast to Fox Glacier 124km @ 994m

Once again, a very pretty start to the ride for the first half of the ride with snow capped peaks all to our right, had a quick stop at Lake Paringa and then salmon chowder at the salmon farm cafe at the 60km mark. Stop here for lunch before pushing on to the very pretty Fox Glacier.

Haast to Fox Glacier Route

Day 5 Fox Glacier to Ross 140km @ 1430m

Another very stunning day leaving Fox Glacier for Franz Josef Glacier. Coffee stop at Franz Glacier and a little gravel track to base of the glacier. very green undulating ride with a sensational lunch stop at first cafe as you come into Hari Hari. Terrific owner with delicious food. From here rolled into the old mining town of Ross with its water filled mine opposite one of the oldest pubs in NZ.

Route map to Ross

Day 6 Ross to Kumara 103km @ 770m

This stage was about 85% gravel on the West Coast Wilderness Trail. Super pretty trail using old rail lines and tracing water races created during the gold mining days 100 years ago. Stopped for water at Cowboy Paradise and chatted to the owner who is developing a stop for cyclists. There is accomodation here if an alternative stop to Kumara is preferred. Awesome views from his new balcony. For us it was off to Kumara for another great pub meal.

Route Map to Kumara

Day 7 Kumara to Bealey 83km @ 1230m

Today was the day we headed east toward Christchurch over Arthurs Pass. After leaving the Otira Stagecoach Hotel which is a simple lunch stop with a pretty fascinating hotel with all sorts of collectibles and historic photos. Definitely stop here before taking on Arthurs Pass with its challenging kilometre or so of plus 20% pinches in it. After cresting the top we spent the night at the Bealey Hotel. Stop for a night here as it is remote and gorgeous.

Route map Kumara to Bealey

Day 8 Bealey to Christchurch 135km @ 996m

Our final day leaving Bealey started in rain. This hotel is a must as the location and views are stunning, meals are sensational with their own Aussie pastry chef. Burger is brilliant as is the apple strudel. Leaving Bealey we had a tail wind all the way to Christchurch which was a welcome assist on ur final day of this awesome NZ route.

Route map Bealey to Christchurch