Great Lakes & Rift Valley Ride
16-day Motorcycle Adventure
Malawi to Rwanda via Africa's great plains, lakes and Rift Valley
Join us for this East African motorcycling adventure exploring Lake Malawi, southern Tanzania, Ngorongoro crater & Serengeti, Kenya & Lake Naivasha, Lake Victoria, Uganda's volcanoes and lakes, the Ruwenzori mountains, the gorillas at Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Kigali, Rwanda
Lake Malawi– Southern Tanzania – Ngorongoro Crater - Lake Naivasha - Lake Victoria - Kibale National Park - Rwenzori Mountains - Bwindi Impenetrable Forest - Kigali
Total Distance: 3900 km
Riding Days: 13
Rest Days: 3
Average distance: 300 km per day
Riding Time per day: 4-6 hours
Level of Difficulty: Easy to Intermediate
(good tar roads with some good gravel roads)
Too long, too short, or not quite the right route?
We'd be happy to build a custom route for you.
Dates and Itinerary
2023 Trip Dates
6 - 21 June
26 June - 11 July
Click the text to reveal details for each day
We begin our ride to Rwanda heading north out of Lilongwe and onto a good, tar road that takes us through busy local villages with a wide variety of streetside markets. About half way along we enter a scenic mountainous section with some great riding and stunning views. We end the day with a winding descent down the escarpment to Nkhata Bay on the shore of Lake Malawi.
Today we'll spend the morning exploring the lake, including an optional boat ride around the local shoreline with the chance for some snorkelling to view the life below the waves. We'll then set out for a short ride back up the escarpment and through more twisting mountain roads back to the lakeshore, and then back up the mountains to a lodge that has some fantastic views of the Rift Valley and the lake.
Today's ride is long but another beautiful one. We begin by riding along the shore of the lake, past rice paddies and locals drying their rice in the sun by the side of the road. After crossing the border into Tanzania we ascend along a lovely winding road through lush forest and banana and tea plantations. Just south of Mbeya we turn east along the main road to our overnight stop in some comfortable chalets on a working farm
Today we ride north through central Tanzania on another scenic tarred road. We pass through a dramatic mountain range on a long, winding tarred road before crossing over the wall of the Mtera reservoir. From there we continue on good roads north-west to our overnight stop at Dodoma
We continue through central Tanzania today as we ride towards the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater. We'll stay for the next two nights in the town of Karatu and enjoy a day exploring the crater. You have the option here of booking a longer safari experience into the Serengeti - just let us know and we'll accommodate that for you.
The Ngorongoro Crater is located south-east of the great Serengeti plains and is a Unesco World Heritage site. On a day trip here you'll be able to experience the rich wildlife, birds and the beauty of the crater itself. We'll book a day-safari into the crater with a local tour operator. More information here
Our ride north continues as we rejoin the main route to Arusha before turning left towards the Kenya border. On the way we will be treated to great views of the local volcanic mountains, Mount Meru and further off, Mount Kilimanjaro. We spend the night at the famous overlander base of Jungle Junction in Nairobi
Today's ride is a short but exciting one as we head north from Nairobi. Along the way we'll get a dramatic view of the Great Rift Valley before descending into it and riding to the southern shore of Lake Naivasha. In the afternoon we'll have the option of exploring the lake, relaxing in the famous restaurant or heading off to explore the nearby Hell's Gate National Park.
Today is a rest day before we begin the leg to Lake Victoria and Western Uganda. There is a variety of activity options including a boat ride on the lake to view the abundant local birdlife, including Fish Eagles, and Hippos. You could also spend more time exploring Hell's Gate on a mountain bike riding past herds of Zebra, Giraffe and even Buffalo, and a walking tour of a local canyon.
After resting up we begin a three-day leg to the western side of Uganda. Today we'll ride north-east into a mountainous region, past vast tea plantations towards the shore of Lake Victoria. After crossing the border into Uganda we'll cut back to the lake to our overnight stop at a local lodge, right on the shores of the lake.
Our ride today takes us west through the city of Jinja, where we'll cross over the White Nile as it exits Lake Victoria. We'll skirt past the northern edge of Kampala before riding through marshy plains on a good tar road to our overnight base at Masaka.
Today we head north-west on a scenic ride to Kibale National Park. This is a beautiful part of Uganda dotted with crater lakes and Kibale Forest which is home to the highest number and diversity of primates in East Africa, including Colobus Monkeys and Chimpanzees, and over 300 species of birds
Today we'll have the morning to explore the area. Activities include a guided forest hike, tracking the chimpanzees, a guided birding nature walk or a visit to one of the crater lakes. In the afternoon we'll ride the short, 100km leg to Kasese, gateway to the Rwenzori mountains.
If you would like to explore spending an entire day here, let us know.
We have the whole day today to explore the famous Rwenzori mountains. Activity options include a guided day-walk along one of the trekking routes where you'll enjoy some awe-inspiring mountain scenery, a view of one of the many peaks if it's clear, and the jungle vegetation with its rich bird and mammal life.
Our ride today takes us from the Rwenzori into Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. We have two route options, a relatively straightforward tar road into the park or an adventurous ride through Queen Elizabeth National Park. Here we could encounter the famous tree-lions, elephants and a range of antelope. We'll ascend into Bwindi on winding gravel roads to our base at Ruhija.
It's our last day of the ride but before we set out for Kigali you have the option of a morning trek to visit one of the local gorilla families that inhabit Bwindi. This is often one of the highlights of the tour and a memorable experience. After the walk we'll set out on the short ride out of the forest, across the Rwanda border to our final destination in Kigali. If you have enough time you also have the option of leaving the ride to Kigali till the next day.
Cost and Includes
Honda CRF1000: ZAR 124000 (min 4 riders)
1) Prices in South African Rand. Click here to convert to your currency.
2) Prices are for minimum of four riders for the full tour. Please contact us for rates for smaller groups.
Included in the price:
Honda Africa Twin CRF1000L
Fuel & Oil
B&B Accommodation in 3-star lodges
Comprehensive Motorcycle Insurance
Motorcycle border fees
Emergency evacuation to local medical center
Excess luggage storage
Accommodation at origin and destination outside of tour dates
Lunches, drinks and dinners
Reserve and sightseeing entry fees
Personal Insurance (Accident/Medical)
Bikes, Accommodation and Emergency Info
Ride one of our Honda Africa Twin CRF1000 motorcycles.
The Honda Africa Twin CRF1000 is an excellent all-round motorcycle that can handle anything that Africa presents us. Strong, reliable and fun to ride, our bikes are fully owned and expertly maintained. Read more about our fleet here
The Honda Africa Twins were everything a person could need to travel the rugged terrain. I own a BMW F800gs, and was still blown away by the maneuverability of the AT and it’s ability to tackle a variety of conditions. Andrew’s knowledge of the mechanical aspect of the bike and riding expertise provided a completely worry free traveling experience."
Ryan - Kelowna, Canada
Accommodation includes comfortable 3-star lodges (usually twin rooms). For those who prefer lodge accommodation or single rooms we will happily upgrade these for you. Contact us for details.
Medical & Emergency
In the event of a medical emergency our tours are supported by:
1. A level 3 first aider on tour
2. An on-call doctor provided by SATIB
3. SPOT satellite emergency evacuation
4. If required we can arrange to have a medic on tour
Your Tour Guide
All our rides are led by our lead guide and company owner Andrew Vaughan. Andrew is a qualified adventure tour guide licensed in South Africa and has about 105000 km (65000 miles) of motorcycle guiding experience over the last 12 years. Andrew is a qualified mechanical and materials engineer and has been riding adventure motorcycles since 2007 when he and friend rebuilt two Kawasaki KLR650's and then rode them from Vancouver to Cape Town via Siberia, the Middle East and Africa.
Andrew and Greg aren't just great guides, they're also just really great people
-- a joy to ride with and also a joy to hang out with. They ran my tour without a hitch and made sure we stopped at all the best secret spots. When I booked this motorcycle trip I wanted the trip of a lifetime. I got it and then some. Wow. What an experience!
Will Elliot // San Francisco
A motorbike tour in Southern Africa wasn't on my list of priorities...
... but when invited by a friend to join him on a Cape to Kalahari tour I decided to give it a go. It turned out to be a very memorable experience, which has left me with the burning desire to see more of Africa. If you want adventure, mateship and a real sense of achievement; just do it! The bikes are classics, strong, and well maintained. The food is sensational, whether it be at restaurants or by the campfire. Andrew is the perfect tour leader, cool, calm and very knowledgeable about the country and things in general. Thanks Andrew, Drew and the team, looking forward to doing it again..
Owen Holcombe // Cambodia
Andrew is the lead guide and owner at Ride Down South. You can reach him by phone, Whatsapp, email or Skype
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