We’ve been a bit behind with our updates. Sorry for that. We just did too much every day and hardly find time to write the blog entries.
From Marsabit in northern Kenia we still had a lot of gravel to go. We spent the night in a very small place along the road by the name of Laisamis. A very hot place with our first (warm) kenian beer.
We left early the next day heading towards Nairobi. The tarmac was supposed to start some 20 km after the town. The gravel roads here can be quite tricky. If you stay in the line where the cars drive you’ll find relative solid gravel. OK to drive on. Between those tracks the gravel is forming small hills and is very loose. Getting into that leads to terrible swimming of the front wheel. To get out you must not get slower but get the weight into the back of the bike and accelerate. 3 km out of town Daniel got in the loose gravel and even with trying these tricks couldn’t get out anymore. I drove behind him and saw him wobbling badly until he crashed. Luckily he wasn’t hurt, even though we were doing around 50-60 km/h. The bike though took some beating since it landed on the left and flipped to the right. The right mirror was broken off, the break leaver badly bended, the wind shield and plastic body cracked in some parts and the luggage rack broken again. So another welding it will be… Daniel took it quit alright and I think seeing this happening left me more shocked than him. After this we continued at a slower pace until the perfect tarmac started.
Every day we like Kenia more and more. We stopped at the first gas stations asking if they might have petrol, still working in the Ethiopia mind set. They just look at us as if we are idiots and said “of course we have petrol, this is a gas station.” Great! Also you don’t get very often forengi or muzungo prices, as white people are called here. And if they ask for too much we were told that these prices are “very open to negotiation”, which is definitely the case.
On the way to Nairobi we passed the 5200 m high Mount Kenia and crossed the equator for the first time during this trip. We decided to take a detour on the way south around Lake Victoria, thus crossing Uganda and Rwanda, where we will cross the equator several more times.
We also decided to allow us more time. I will meet with my parents and Vanessa in Windhoek on the 11th of December and we will spent Christmas and New Years in Africa. Daniel right now plans to be back shortly before Christmas but this still can change.
Due to the events in the morning and the decision not to enter African capital cities at night anymore (remember Addis?) we stopped for the night before reaching Nairobi at a small hotel along the road. They served great mbuzi (goat) and we celebrated the equator crossing with some good Tusker Lager, this time even cold! Here you have to specifically order a cold beer, I guess that’s one of the negative aspects of the British colonization.
The next morning I found my front wheel flat. We took it apart and checked for a hole in the tube but couldn’t find any. So we put it back on and were off to Nairobi.
With reaching the outskirts of this massive city the traffic got really bad. Especially the bus and mini bus drivers here are totally insane. They overtake everywhere, but especially love overtaking before corners and hills. When they see traffic coming ahead they don’t attempt to get back into their line. We often have to break until stop and get the bikes to the side of the road in order to not get hit. There are times were we just want to pull these guys out of there busses and teach them some manners.
We reached the famous overlander camp Jungle Junction in Nairobi in the afternoon. A great place to camp with a proper garage. Chris, the owner of this place is a motorbike mechanic and one of the few people along the trans Africa track who has suitable tires in stock, which were badly needed by David. We also met other motorbike travelers for the first time since leaving Khartoum. They were a bit stranded here since it apparently got very difficult to get Ethiopia and especially Sudan visa out of the home countries. Good thing we left those countries already behind us. One couple was waiting already for a month to get their Ethiopia visa sorted out.
The next days we had to do a lot on the bikes. My front wheel was flat again and this time I found the hole and could fix it. My left pannier was still badly bended by the crash I had with the tree stump along the Moyale road. Using highly sophisticated technics involving the biggest hammer Chris has in his workshop I could get it back to almost its original shape. Good enough to get me to Cape Town. Daniel worked all day on his bike and did a magnificent job getting it back into shape! Unfortunately his carburetor was leaking petrol and the gas pump stopped working, so we had to take pretty much everything apart but now the bike runs like clockwork again.
Nairobi has a lot to offer. This might sound strange to you at home but we were stunned by the shopping malls. You can buy everything! We forgot about this during our time in Sudan and Ethiopia.
We took an idle day and visited the David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage in Nairobi. Jung elephants who lose their mother before the age of three are doomed to die out in the bush. Many lose their mothers due to ivory poachers, who sadly still have a marked to sell the ivory the other common reason are so called “human animal conflicts” which basically means villagers killing the elephants when they get too close to their settlement. If the calves are lucky they get rescued by the orphanage and brought to Nairobi where they are hand fed every day until the age of three before they slowly get reintegrated into wild elephant herds.
After some good days at the Jungle Junction we were anxious to get back on the bikes and see more of Kenia. The plan was to leave almost all of our luggage at Chris place and do a two day trip to the Amboseli National Park in Southern Kenia facing the Kilimanjaro. We wanted to do some offroad driving but weren’t certain about the rout and where to stay at the park. The normal Safari Lodges are with 300 USD per night (not including park entrance fees) slightly over our usual price range. As so often the best things in live just happen. I went to the neighbor table at the Jungle Junction and asked the guys if they have experience with the Amboseli Park. One replied “Sure, I own a lodge there”. Axel, also a German, offered us to pitch our tents for free at his lodge and showed us a good way through the Masai land where are almost no roads are and it’s supposed to be like Kenia a 100 years ago! Perfect! So we left towards the Tawi Lodge the next day. We could only leave at 1 pm since Davids tire still wasn’t there and needed to be mounted.
After some hours in the bush it became clear that we won’t make it to the lodge in one day and we had to look for a bush camp. We found a Masai farm and asked the guys if we could build our tents on their land. They were extremely friendly and hospitable and we had some protection from the hyenas. Like many Masai they are cattle farmers. The one guy asked me if I could help them getting a pregnant cow out of the bush which was too tired to get up again. This promised to be interesting. So I went with them, we found the cow, the one guy put the tail of the cow in my hand and said “pull”. I remarked that I have no particular experience in pulling up pregnant cows on the tail but that was regarded as insignificant. So we pulled the cow up. As soon as she stood she could walk, just getting up was impossible to her. Leaving her out in the bush would render her an easy prey for the hyenas and leopards. They asked me how it was and my response “not much different from lifting the fully loaded motorbike” was well received.
The next morning we left early and the road got from bad to total nightmare. Remember the liquid dust in Ethiopia? It’s called “fech fech” and we had plenty of it. In addition the road was extremely bumpy under the fech fech, not making the ride any easier. Thus started the 3 hours of the first gear where we only covered 20 km. The road just never got better. David had a wobble, put his food down and got stuck between a rock and his left pannier. His food was bended and hurt. Luckily nothing seemed to be broken, still he had a limp for a few days and a good brusing.
At some point we were really fed up and saw a good gravel road pointing south. The direction we needed to go. It wasn’t on either our GPS or paper maps but definitely preferable to the fech fech. So we made our way south along the magnificent kenian country side. We climbed a hill and after that lay the Amboseli plain with the gigantic snow topped Kilimanjaro!
We continued south, knowing that we can’t enter the park with the motorbikes. We were looking for the entrance gate or signs. Worst case would be that we have to turn back. Approaching the park the wildlife got pretty impressive. Plenty of Zebras, Gazelle, Gnus, Giraffes and Elephants were to be seen along the road. We had a brilliant time and joked “who would pay the 80 USD entrance fee when you can see all the wildlife outside the park for free?” Well, this is where we’ve been wrong. Soon after we were flacked down by the armed parked rangers who very polite and explained to us that we are infect in the park, illegal trespassed, went their against the law on motorbikes and didn’t pay the entrance fee. Ups… But he added, “no big problem ,you might have to go to court and might go to jail, but no big problem” I guess it was no big problem to him…
We were escorted to the ranger HQ with a certain “shit hit the fan” feeling. There our luggage was searched for illegal things, I don’t know if they thought we are poachers. Our passports were collected and the penalty discussed by the bosses. Luckily Axel gave us his mobile number back in Nairobi and we called him for help. He immediately pulled some strings and we got off with paying the entrance fee and around 3 € fee for using a private vehicle in the park 😀 Many thanks Axel!!! The entrance ticket was valid for 24 h so we decided to do a real guided safari the next day with the Tawi guys. We went to the lodge and can’t explain the greatness of this place. Honestly, if you want to go to Amboseli visit this lodge. You don’t even have to enter the park since all the animals just show up at the lodge waterhole!
Axel also runs a lodge in the Masai Mara, guess our next destination
The safaris we did in Amboseli and Masai Mara will come in a different post mostly consisting of photos and videos. We saw A LOT of great wildlife. Just fantastic. Kenia is amazing!