Jungle Junction, Nairobi. Probably one of the most famous (hence popular, hence overcrowded) overland stop-overs in Africa. That’s where we are now. Nairobi is the last stop before the trek north where we can give Itchy a good ‘going over’. It’s also where we will have to obtain our visas for Ethiopia & Sudan, so we will be here for a while. No rush eh?
Before I go into all that I have to finish off beautiful Uganda.
After leaving the comfort of Trrienke’s lovely house in Mbarara we set off towards Entebbe to camp for the last time by Lake Victoria. 10 minutes after leaving Mbarara the rains started… and continued… and continued. So the decision was made not to take the dirt (& by now VERY muddy) road to Entebbe, but to continue straight to Kampala & Red Chillies Hideaway. I was feeling a bit shit too, as the night before I had been awake half the night with a temperature of just under 39˚. Malaria? Thankfully a couple of Paracetamol had brought my temperature down to normal by the morning & I just felt a bit drained from a shitty night’s sleep. The fever didn’t return, so thankfully not Malaria… just some 8hr bug I guess. In Kampala we had the world’s worst pizza, a good night’s sleep & came across 2 other British-ish overlanding couples, Ben&Jen & YouMe&Chuck … all of us with cars prepared by the same company, Footloose 4×4. The photo we took is now on their web site.
After Kampala (utter chaos, where a 100m diversion ended up with it taking over an hour just to drive back round the block!) we went to the source of the Nile – Jinja. Jinja is a hugely popular stop-over for the big overland trucks, so we were not really looking forward to it. However the town of Jinja itself is surprisingly chilled with some great eateries. Nile Explorers, up by Bujagali Falls (which no longer exist due to the Nile being dammed just upriver) is quite a nice place to stop… as long as you are fortunate to be there when there are no overland tucks about. There is a theme here… we have encountered more big overland trucks in East Africa than anywhere else – Nairobi is a popular starting point for these organised trips. Some can be OK, if they are well led (Oasis Overland are a good example), but sadly most are full of selfish, thoughtless morons who don’t give a shit about anyone else… as long as they are having fun (which usually means partying loudly until the early hours & parking inconsiderately so they take up every available inch of space) then that’s OK. Grrrrr.. hate em!
We actually stayed at Nile Explorers for a few nights, enjoying the beautiful view over the Nile & swapping stories & with Ben&Jen who are on their way south & had some good tips for the Lake Turkana route in northern Kenya.
The border crossing from Uganda to Kenya was slow, but pretty easy & the next couple of days were spent meandering down to Lake Naivasha. The route through the Kenyan highlands was stunning – but COLD! At over 2500m (that’s over 8000’ in old money for you Gran) it was damp & misty, with the poor locals wrapped in bundles of blankets for warmth. Not quite what we had expected of Kenya. Lake Naivasha, surrounded by acres and acres of greenhouses growing roses, was beautiful with great water birds & some extremely bold superb starlings very kindly posing for several close up photos. The one close-up we didn’t particularly enjoy, however, was the paralytic camp-site owner who decided he wanted the pleasure of our company. As you can expect Clive’s patience didn’t last long – remarkably he got the hint & left before he was forcibly ejected from our personal space!!
So, now Nairobi for car maintenance, visas & a catch up with our old friends Will & Mell. We last stayed with Will & Mell in Ghana in 2009. Soon after Will was to be posted to Kenya, so we promised to see them here the following year. We’re only 2 years late then!
We will stay in Nairobi for another week. Most of the work on Itchy has been done over the last few days – 4 new tyres, 4 new sets of brake pads, a newly mended passenger floor plan, new clutch master & slave cylinders. The budget is silently weeping. All we have left to do now is get our visas for Sudan & Ethiopia and stamp out of the country – there is no border post where we intend to leave Kenya, so it all has to be done before leaving Nairobi. Not as straightforward as it may seem as the visas involve getting letters of introduction from the British Consulate (at an extortionate cost of £50 each), producing multiple copies of every piece of paperwork that has ever been produced in our names & groveling on hands & knees to be reluctantly granted an audience with the all-powerful embassy visa sections…all in the sweltering heat of the city centre. So – a lovely week ahead!!
Tomorrow we are fortunate enough to be able to move out of a packed Jungle Junction, away from the hoards of other overlanders, and into the peace & quiet of Karen where we will once again be treated to Will & Mell’s hospitality. How lucky we are! Most of the other overlanders we have met have been delightful to be fair – but you just get a little bored swapping the same stories over & over again. Having said that we are delighted to have met up again with Bram & Lore, a Belgium couple that we first met in Malawi & definitely share our outlook on traveling. We have agreed to do the Lake Turkana route together, as it’s pretty remote & they’re one of the few people we have met that we would be happy to travel with. Clive & Bram have been helping each other out with all the work on the two Land Rovers over the past couple of days. Also we met the lovely couple, Dale & Laura who delighted us by saying that we were the inspiration for their trip – Dale even had Itchy as a screen saver on his computer for a year – how cool is that!! Sadly they have had had a couple of problems recently with Jack (their Itchy), but hopefully that’s all behind them as they head south now towards Cape Town.
We plan to leave Nairobi on 28th Jan to start heading north to Ethiopia via Mt Kenya & Lake Turkana.
Kenyan elections take place on 4th March. Election fever has already started with scarily loud campaigning taking place – cars & trucks trundle slowly along the roads plastered with posters & with generators & giant speakers precariously strapped to their roofs, blaring out music & election campaign speeches. After the violence following the last elections in 2007 we plan to be well away from here by March….