How to Ride a Piki Piki

Actually I like the use of the word boda boda better. It’s the name we give to motorbikes that are used in the same manner as a taxi.

Boda boda originated at the border (hence shortened to boda) of Kenya and Uganda. With the drop in the price of the Chinese made motorbikes, there are plenty available.

I catch bikes every now and then and love it. Most expats freak out at the thought of catching a motorbike in Africa. Liz catches one to work each day. They are so cheap to go on you just can’t say no. For only $1 you can go a few kilometres which is about a quarter of the price of a car.

I was watching a Kenyan doco and the presenter said “Anybody who rides a piki piki takes their life into their own hands.  And they are correct!

Our boda drivers in Uganda

Our boda drivers in Uganda

Thanks to our generous friends we bought our own motorbike but we made sure that we also bought high vis gear (think bright orange council jackets). Drivers are shockers here. Today I was walking on the footpath and the next minute a large bus decided it wanted to share it with me.  While we are waiting to buy a car, I catch a piki piki when Pete has the car. This year I aim to get my motorbike license.

On our last trip to Uganda Pete and I went on bodas (they shorten it in Uganda) everywhere. One of our longest trips was about 30 minutes. Kampala traffic is twice as congested as Nairobi, hard to believe but true.

There are some tricks to catching a piki piki though:

  1. Always negotiate a price beforehand.
  2. Have cash in your pocket. Getting your wallet out is a bad idea and too tempting for the price to be raised.
  3. Ask for a helmet. You can’t grow another head (although I must confess that I am bad at insisting on this).
  4. Give instructions as you go along with your hands. There seems to be more ‘lefts’ than you think.
  5. Always be on the lookout for a jump off spot. You just never know when you might need it.
  6. Get off the bike before you pay the driver.
This is illegal, but it still happens

This is illegal, but it still happens




1 thought on “How to Ride a Piki Piki

  1. Haha, love that picture at the end. Love the blog and keep up the great work.

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