Total KMS travelled so far: 20,675
After dodging more than a few trucks on the road to Eldoret and passing through countryside gradually changing from Uganda type tropical to subtropical as we climbed higher and higher to 2400M, the first night in Kenya was spent at a very good campsite 18kms outside Eldoret called Naiberi River Campsite GPS . A favourite with overlander trucks apparently but there was only one there with us (and they were quiet)! Amazingly we met two South African couples that we had last seen in Lusaka Zambia! It’s surprising how one tends to meet up on the road again and again with people seen weeks ago, but more or less heading in the same direction as you are. However, Kenya was their turnaround point and they were slowly heading back to South Africa after this.
We didn’t quite compute the altitude (2300 – 2600M) that most of west central Kenya is at and how cool it can be, especially at night. It also rained heavily at Naiberi and there was mud everywhere. Camping is always not as much fun in the rain and cold! But there was as “banda” to shelter under.
Next morning, through heavy mist and fog, we crossed the mountains of the Western Rift Valley on a very potholed but beautifully scenic road secondary road to Lake Nakuru rather than take the main Eldoret/Nakuru highway with its trucks and buses. The scenery was not our preconceived mental image of Kenya at all. More like Europe?
The only hold up on an otherwise pleasant drive was a one hour hold up 10kms from Nakuru whilst the local University ran a marathon along the road. The impatience of some of the “Matatu” drivers and others as we waited in an increasingly huge jam created by them trying to drive up to the roadblock on the left and the right was something to behold?
On reaching Nakuru, we headed to a new campsite 10kms East of town recommended to us by the overland truck drivers called Punda Milia and owned by a Frenchman Alex. GPS It was new and OK with hot showers and bandas and we stayed two nights as we planned to visit the nearby Lake Nakuru National Park for a day trip next day, but we were a bit disappointed the 2nd night (a Sunday) that it was full of overland trucks and some local campers who listened to football and music until late that night.
Lake Nakuru NP cost USD$80 each for the day plus $10 for the car (and $5 for a map) to get in= $175 plus a further $50 if we wanted to camp there. Kenya’s parks are nearly as expensive as Tanzania’s! But it was worth it as Lake Nakuru NP is very green and beautiful and the birdlife (including flamingos in the distance) was incredible!
We saw 5 rhinos for the first time also- now completing our “Big 5”!
The Monday morning we cruised the 135km to Nairobi and rolled into “Jungle Junction” midday and met the illustrious Chris who owns and runs it. Jungle Junction is a cool and casual place and an incredible meeting point for all us overlanders heading either North or South. Everybody very friendly despite being rather cramped and on top of each other on a plot of land full of vehicles being stored for owners gone home for a while, motor bikes and vehicles being repaired and serviced in Chris’ quite extensive workshop with two mechanics with a good knowledge of every type of 4 x4 and motor bike likely to be travelling Africa. We found Chris and all his staff very accommodating and helpful.
Tin Can had a major service with all oils and filters changed at Jungle Junction and a loose prop shaft uni tightened up. Our only other problem is the fact that our airconditioning stopped working weeks ago and we had to take it to specialists Relac Aircon Ltd the other side of Nairobi. They diagnosed an electrical problem caused by wiring insulation rubbing off. A* t least its working again $ later!
We spent 4 days at Jungle Junction basically racing around under some stress trying to get:
• A necessary letter of introduction and recommendation off the Australian High Commission to the Embassies of Ethiopia and Sudan to grant us visas. (The Australian Vice Consul was very accommodating, unbelievably quick for Africa! , and issued the required letter for free in 15 minutes).
• Enduring an interview with a rather rude Ethiopian official, producing copies of every paper imaginable from passports, drivers licences, credit cards, marriage certificate and Carnet, but thankfully our visas for Ethiopia was granted without the feared need “to go home to your home country or send your passport to get it” as others before us have experienced until recently. It would seem the Ethiopians have come to some common sense? We picked up our passports and visas the next day after paying $20 each into an account at the Commercial Bank of Africa.
• Sudanese visas were relatively easy (although once again the Letter of Introduction and copies of just about everything were required plus the need to fill in a rather complex application with Arabic script). We applied at 11.00am and picked up our visas at 3.00pm after paying the KSH5,000 (USD$60) each.
• New tyres for Tin Can. We were after BF Goodrich AT but could not get any anywhere in Nairobi in our size as the “container carrying a new shipment from USA had got lost – and Kenya’s tyres had ended up in Dar es Salaam last week”! So we had to settle for Goodyear Wrangler AT/ST at the heavy price of USD$1,600. (Tyres in Kenya are surprisingly more expensive than Australia or Europe)?
• Shopping for supplies at a huge Nakumatt Junction Mall that Marianne said “great – looks just like home”! But all the imported goodies were expensive.
• Getting the aircon fixed – and dealing with the fact that whilst backing Tin Can in an incredibly confined lane I backed into a pick-up’s rear tail light cracking the lens and causing a huge commotion with arms waving everywhere! The episode cost me KSH 300 ($4) for a brand new lens, but more in stress.
• Doing without some electrical connectors and a replacement for a broken LCD screen for our fault code reader which I had hoped to get our son, Gavin to send from Australia via DHL. He told me that it would cost $300 to send the small 500g parcel to Kenya with DHL! So we said “forget it, we will do without”.
We met a lovely young Swiss/German couple at Jungle Junction called Fabio and Anne travelling in a well equipped Toyota Landcruiser who themselves had amazingly the week before met up with Swedes Chris and Mia (whom we had met at Fat Monkeys in Malawi months ago and have been keeping in contact with) – with the outcome that we have all agreed to travel together with the 3 vehicles on the dreaded, bandit prone road to Marsabit and Moyale (far too close to Somalia and Al Shabab who are causing a lot of trouble in Kenya at the moment – including bombings in Mombasa and Garissa) – and at least as far a Ethiopia. We are also formulating a plan with Fabio and Anne to possibly ship the vehicles from Port Sudan to Mersin in Turkey in order to miss all the hassles that seem to emanate in Egypt – from ferry delays at Wadi Halfa to graft, corruption and paying unfriendly Egyptians for things you don’t even know what you are having to pay for? (The reputation is not good from travellers through Egypt at the moment)? The four of us would then fly from Sudan to Turkey and wait on Turkey’s Mediterranean beaches for the vehicles to arrive. We will see how it works out – and costs will have to be considered?
All in all, we enjoyed our stay in Nairobi – Kenya is somewhat more civilised and developed than any country since South Africa and certainly easier to drive around in (despite huge traffic jams at times) particularly with the help of Ms Garmin and Tracks for Africa GPS to guide one around. The weather was cooler than anticipated and pretty cloudy most days. not what one would think on the Equator in Kenya, but Nairobi does sit at 2500M altitude?! Security was pretty tight we noticed – thanks to the current issues with Al Shabab after Kenya has invaded Somalia to sort them out.
Friday 6th we set off for to meet up again with Fabio, Anne, Chris & Mia at Isiola – and then northwards on to Marsabit and Moyale in Ethiopia. We will update more blog posts about Kenya later when we are able……..
More photos in the Gallery “Kenya” at: https://picasaweb.google.com/110392977689469430264/Kenya