07-Aug-2004 -- The Baja Boys are a group of South African engineers involved in the rehabilitation of the Kagera sugar estate in NW Tanzania. Since discovering the Degree Confluence Project on the net, we've decided to visit the 4 Confluences in the Kagera province. Fortunately, the nearest one (1S 31E) is within 60 km of the Kagera estate, so on 7 August we decided to make our maiden trip.
The Honda XLR 250 Baja is a great bike for this type of trip. They are single-cylinder, four-stroke, air-cooled, enduro machines. Being simple, robust and light, they perform well off the road and are reasonably comfortable to ride on the road. There are now 4 of these on the Kagera estate, three of which set off carrying Ivan Voigt, Grant Atkins and Dave Robinson. (Unfortunately, Mike Udal, co-founder member, was in SA at the time, but will hopefully join us for our next trip. Sorry Mike!)
Since Dave hadn't been on a bike since 20 years ago, we set off at a more sedate pace than our usual recreational rides. (To his credit, on the return trip Babu Dave led the chase for home, covering the others in dust and gravel). The road from Kagera heads west, following the Kagera River, and then forks to the north in the direction of Bugango. Along the way, Dave twice ended up riding in the road-side ditch after losing control, but Irish luck got him out unscathed both times. Just before the fork in the road, we came across an abandoned army tank, presumably from the war with Uganda in the late 70's, and being engineers we felt duty-bound to have a closer look. It seems that the tank had hit a land-mine, which had destroyed the right side track. A nice photo opportunity.
We reached the village of Bugango, and a round of cold beer at the Half London Hotel. The barman told us that we were in Uganda, which meant that we had crossed the border somewhere. No-one seemed too bothered, which was OK with us. Luckily, the village was almost at the co-ordinates that we were aiming for. After thrashing around in a banana plantation for 10 minutes we finally reached it, roughly 500 metres off the road. Not too much to see there, except banana trees and some very friendly children.
That's it then, mission accomplished. We doubt that any of the other 3 Confluences in Kagera province will be as conveniently located close to a road or a hotel with cold beer. Which means that the Bajas will need to work a little harder in the future.
We can't wait.