October 31st – November 7th 2013: Nairobi, Kenya
Driven distance on October 31st – November 7th 2013: 210km (130 miles)
Driven distance total: 78’980km (49’080 miles)
Our schedule in Nairobi was mainly to visit embassies. We got against our fears the Ethiopian visa without any problems. According to different rumors did the former ambassador keep some money for himself when issuing visas and therefor he was not anymore allowed to issue them :-). But now there is another ambassador present and we received our visa one day later. Somewhat more complicated was the Sudanese visa. For this we needed a letter of recommendation from the Swiss embassy. This is in general no problem, but the Swiss embassy is located at the other end of the city and since the traffic in Nairobi is just terrible it was rather an annoying and nerve wrecking job. The first attempt was on Friday afternoon, but unfortunately there was nobody present besides the security guards... What behavior for a Swiss embassy ;-). We changed for the weekend (and after) to another, very beautiful and quiet campground outside of town, where we also met the Austrian couple Susanne and Karl as well as the British couple Sophie and Richard (see “more Overlanders”). Both couples are as well on their way back to Europe in their own vehicles! We could also witness very unexpectedly a sun eclipse! Unfortunately the weather wasn’t perfect, but at least we could see some part of it nicely. We started our second attempt on Monday to visit the Swiss embassy. We received the letter of recommendation without a problem against a fee of 40$. We even made it before office closing time (noon) to the Sudanese embassy and could submit our visa applications. Also this visa we received within one day. After those hard working-days ;-) we needed some rest at our quiet camp to finally write reports, cleaning the car and so on… We also visited two big shopping malls in the city. The security was quite tight because of the terrorist attacks to another mall in the city a few weeks ago. They opened the trunk at every car entering the parking lot and looked underneath it with a mirror. Also our two roof boxes looked suspicious and we had to open them! When we entered the building they also checked our bags and ourselves on weapons and so on.
November 8th 2013: Nairobi – Lake Naivasha, Kenya
Driven distance on November 8th 2013: 120km (70 miles)
Driven distance total: 79’100km (49’150 miles)
Finally we left Nairobi. We drove towards the north through green hilly landscapes until we reached the lake Naivasha. Our campsite was laying directly at the lake and we could enjoy the different bird species. For us were mainly the 100 pelicans special that swam in front of us through the water :-).
November 9th 2013: Lake Naivasha, Kenya
Driven distance on November 9th 2013: 70km (40 miles)
Driven distance total: 79’170km (49’190 miles)
We spotted three beautiful „Black and White Colobus“ monkeys high up in the trees during our breakfast. They are quite rare seen since they are seldom leaving the trees and are sitting high up towards the top of the trees. We spent the day in the nearby Hell’s Gate National Park. The tall rusty colored cliffs of the Hell’s Gate Gorge are very impressive and in the valley in between you can see nicely how the zebras, antelopes and warthogs are strolling around. The entrance to the valley is marked by the 25m (82 feet) tall volcanic „Fischer’s Tower“, which is named after the German discoverer Gustav Fischer. That guy crossed here in the year 1882 but was then stopped by the Maasai and they slaughtered most of his expedition troop... We made a short hike through a gorgeous, narrow sandstone gorge at the southern and of the valley. At the end of our day-trip we went to the small neighboring Oloiden Lake. We could see countless flamingos there and we found a nice campground directly at the like with a good view at those rose birds :-).
November 10th 2013: Lake Naivasha – Nakuru, Kenya
Driven distance on November 10th 2013: 100km (60 miles)
Driven distance total: 79’270km (49’250 miles)
Our original plan was to leave the lake in the morning and drive to Nakuru. But then, our camping neighbors from South Africa suggested to us, that we could join them on a boat ride across the lake since they charted a small one anyways. Luckily we agreed to it and just after the breakfast we started the one-hour boat trip. We definitely would have missed something if we hadn’t been gone. There weren’t just tons of flamingos around, but also pelicans, zebras, warthogs, giraffes and many hippos. It was just a perfect picture – in the background some giraffes and in the front in the water were the hippos and the rose flamingos :-).
After the wonderful boat trip we ended up at a “road” that was really bad and annoying! Grave rocky paths were frequently altered with corrugation or pot hole drive! We chose this route since it was shorter and that we didn’t have to drive the same way back as we came. But finally we made it back to the main road.
Our lunch afterwards was a leg of a goat! No joke! At the main road towards north is a famous resting place were they are barbequing at every corner. The small sample of the meat that we could try was that good, that they persuaded us to by a whole leg (Was only sold as such). In addition we ordered rice, fries and some tomato-onion salad. Of course we knew that it was too much meat for us, but the rest was wrapped in aluminum for take-away. We had some of it for dinner and the next day was like winning the jackpot for the campground dog, that could chew on the big bone :-).
With filled bellies we could continue our journey until Nakuru. We finally cancelled our plan to visit the Nakuru National Park! We quickly went to the entrance gate of the park to get the necessary information. Disturbing was the water level from the lake of the park. The main building was barely on dry land, but another building and of course many of the parks roads were half under water. Also the lake where we were in the morning was way above it’s normal level and many trees were under water. Nobody knew exactly why, mysterious! We asked as well some other guests how many animals they have seen inside the park. The decision was made when their answer wasn’t really positive. We didn’t intended to pay 80$ each to see some giraffes, zebras and warthogs :-).
November 11th 2013: Nakuru – Nyahururu, Kenya
Driven distance on November 11th 2013: 60km (40 miles)
Driven distance total: 79’330km (49’290 miles)
We went a bit higher in altitude to a town calles Nyahururu along a pothole-covered road. Besides some tea plantations is as well quite some agriculture present. For the first time in our live we crossed the equator, and of course we had to stop to take a picture. There were of course some souvenir shops and we received a demonstration of the coriolis force. In a small bowl was water, in the middle a small hole and a piece of grass in the water. In the northern hemisphere the grass moved clockwise and in the southern hemisphere counter clockwise. And directly at the equator the piece of grass didn’t rotate! After we arrived in Nyahururu at an altitude of 2360m (7760 feet), we went to visit the Thompsons Waterfalls, which were located directly besides our campground. The 72m (237 feet) falls were quite nice since there was quite some rainfall lately.
November 12th 2013: Nyahururu - Nanyuki, Kenya
Driven distance on November 12th 2013: 180km (110 miles)
Driven distance total: 79’510km (49’410 miles)
How nice is this, for once we had a day where we had only good roads :-). What makes us a bit unhappy at the moment is the weather, since it is raining a bit every day and since the temperatures are not too warm anymore.
November 13th 2013: Nanyuki, Kenya
Driven distance on November 13th 2013: 160km (100 miles)
Driven distance total: 79’670km (49’510 miles)
We took off early in the morning to visit the privately run Ol Pejeta nature reserve. A bit furious we paid the steep entrance price of 85 US$ per person! During our trip across the park we encountered the following animals: Elephants, buffalos, different antelopes, numerous warthogs and zebras, different bird species, monkeys, giraffes and jackals. We also could see some of the endangered „grevys zebras“. They have smaller stripes and a white belly. A special experience and the highlight of the day was, when we could spot a herd of 15 young rare painted dogs (some kind of wild dogs) including 4 grown ups directly along the road! The just had their daily play time and the puppies jumped and hopped around :-). A fantastic animal experience! During our trip back out of the park, we encountered suddenly 4 rhinos. It seemed that they are held in very spacious fence, most probably to protect them against poachers. Outside of the fenced area, just a few hundred meters further, we saw another rhino. Unfortunately it was just getting dark, and therefor wasn’t the right time to observe the animals and take pictures of them L. The National Park offers as well 2 rather unusual things. One of them was the blind rhino Baraka, which lost his eyesight during a fight with another rhino. Since then it is living in a fenced area. A ranger went to get the rhino directly to the fence. We could feed the animal with sugarcane and the rhino even liked it when we rubbed it behind the ears :-). The other curiosity was the chimpanzee orphanage, where mistreated and homeless chimps from all over Africa were taken care of. The apes were usually kept as pets or display objects in small cages, were completely left alone and usually suffered from hunger. At this place they are bringing them back in better shape and let them go in a huge fenced area. We started to look for them with a ranger and a few fruits in our pockets. After a while some of them started to show up. With pleasure they enjoyed the fruits and we had to chance to watch those fascinating animals from closest distance. What was really exciting was to see how similar they are to us humans! According to different studies, they share between 95% und 99% of the human genetics. The natural habitats of the chimps are in central and west Africa. Unfortunately are the apes in danger of extinction due to forestry of the rainforest and also because the meat of chimps is a delicacy for example in Congo L!
On the way back to town we found by coincident the „Lily Pond Irish Pub“. We enjoyed a yummy dinner and could even see a movie on the big screen since it was the weekly movie night. The friendly Irish owner of the place, Gerry, let us stay overnight at the parking area!
November 14th 2013: Nanyuki – Isiolo, Kenya
Driven distance on November 14th 2013: 90km (60 miles)
Driven distance total: 79’760km (49’560 miles)
And again we are somewhat closer to Switzerland ;-). We arrived in Isiolo around lunch time and we could enjoy free Wi-Fi at the campground :-). We granted us a couple of could beers since it was my (Stefan) birthday :-).
November 15th 2013: Isiolo, Kenya
Driven distance on November 15th 2013: 0km (0 miles)
Driven distance total: 79’760km (49’560 miles)
Relaxing day :-) !
November 16th 2013: Isiolo – Archers Post, Kenya
Driven distance on November 16th 2013: 50km (30 miles)
Driven distance total: 79’810km (49’590 miles)
We took off after a breakfast with healthy camel milk (one has to try everything :-) )! Soon we arrived in the village of Archers Post, near the entrance to the Samburu National Parks.
Local women who decided to leave their husbands because of bad treatment founded the campground of the village. Like this they were able to maintain their own existence and have now most certainly a better life. Such a plan is very courageous in Africa. The place lies fantastically at a river with a great view.
November 17th 2013: Archers Post, Kenya
Driven distance on November 17th 2013: 110km (70 miles)
Driven distance total: 79’920km (49’660 miles)
Today we visited, probably for the last time on this trip, a National Park. We got unfortunately a bit disappointed by the Samburu National Park. We did see some animals like elephants, giraffes, zebras, antelopes or birds, but compared to other parks in much smaller quantities. Unfortunately we didn’t see any big cats L. Something new were the Gerenuk antelopes, which have a giraffe-like long neck :-). Additionally there were many tiny deer, which had the size of smaller to medium dogs. They were usually spotted in groups of two. A substitute for the missing animals was the amazing landscape around us. Everything was green, with trees and special palm trees along the Ewaso Ngiro River. The river was surrounded by open savanna and in the background were green hills.
November 18th 2013: Archers Post – Marsabit, Kenya
Driven distance on November 18th 2013: 230km (140 miles)
Driven distance total: 80’150km (49’800 miles)
This trip is the first part of the notorious, nearly 500km long (300 miles) road to Ethiopia. Marsabit is the routine stop in the middle on the way to Ethiopia where you have to spend the night. The first 100km (60 miles) is a brand new tarred road. At the further 130km (80 miles) we reached an average speed of 20km/h (12 mph)!!! We are just a couple of years too early, otherwise the whole road would be tarred! The Turkish are executing the construction of the new road and the project is co-financed by the European Union! The final 130km (80 miles) were partially extremely corrugated and we drove sometimes with a speed of 10km/h (6mph) or less! We went sometimes off the regular road since there were here and there some softer, better side tracks parallel to the road. Landy had to proof why he is called the best 4x4xfar since it was raining some time ago :-). At once we underestimates the mud and it got worse and worse. Of course we suddenly didn’t have the option anymore of stopping, since otherwise we’d get completely stuck. So we pushed the pedal to the metal and wrestled full power through the mud! Since I was so concentrated with the mud fight, Maryse had to operate the wipers because we didn’t see anything anymore :-)!!! So we skipped from now on the sideways and stayed on the rocky crappy roads. Otherwise the trip was really scenic. Several mountains and cliffs were raising from the otherwise flat area. Since we were in the middle of the Samburu tribal area, we also encountered several beautiful examples of this tribe. 3 men were waiving at us and we decided for once to stop. They asked us for some water, so we gave them some and asked them in return if it is OK to take some pictures of them. For some little money they agreed and enjoyed it really much to check out the pictures afterwards. During the whole trip we encountered almost only tribal people and just in the towns along the way you can find “normally” dressed people. Also the wildlife has changed a bit. For the first time in Africa we have seen some smaller herds of camels that are used as farmers animals.
Shortly before Marsabit we encountered something that we heard from many other travellers. Some children were begging at the side of the road for sweets or money. If you didn’t stop they grabbed a stone and threw them after you!! The strange part about it is, that it happens already now. We only heard this from Ethiopia! 3 times a child picked up a stone and threw it towards us, and once they stroke the car! Where this aggression is coming from and why it seems to happen only at one area in whole Africa will probably remain a secret! It is simply stupid and brainless!
In Marsabit, a town in the middle of the tribal region, we stayed at a campground which is led by a Swiss guy, unbelievable!
November 19th – 20th 2013: Marsabit, Kenya
Driven distance on November 19th – 20th 2013: 0km (0 miles)
Driven distance total: 80’150km (49’800 miles)
We needed a relaxing day at the campground after the long driving day from yesterday. The second day we walked one hour into town. At the dusty marketplace were many women of the Samburu tribe. They are mainly eye-catching because of their immense neck and head decoration.
November 21st 2013: Marsabit, Kenya – Moyale, Ethiopia
Driven distance on November 21st 2013: 260km (160 miles)
Driven distance total: 80’410km (49’960 miles)
Now the time has arrived and we had to start the journey along a notoriously very bad road. The first 50km (30 miles) were perfect tar road and for the next 190km (120 miles) we needed 10 hours!! Luckily it didn’t rain for some days before, so we didn’t have to crawl through heavy mud as well! By the way there is to mention that this isn’t some crappy side road. This is the main connecting road between Kenya and Ethiopia! At 5AM we started to drive! The area between Marsabit and the boarder is somewhat instable and dodgy. 2 different tribes are occasionally fighting and the army is as well sometimes involved in the trouble. We got stopped after the first 20 minutes from a military check point and they asked us why we didn’t have an armed escort in the car?! After some discussion he figured that it shouldn’t be too bad and he was wishing us lot’s of luck :-)! There is also quite a few security personnel along the way since there is road construction going on along the entire trip. In addition we took our breaks always near construction sights or villages and not in the middle of nowhere.
The trip itself was with its hilly areas actually very nice! Along the way we could see how terrible the road must be when it’s raining and why occasionally the 4x4 cars get stuck!!
We acted as a taxi once again since there is very little traffic on this road. This time we had 3 older tribal people in the car, 2 women and one man were sitting in the back of the Landrover :-). We got step by step closer to the boarder, passing smaller herds of camels and ball shaped huts. Somewhat irritating were two villages just before the border town of Moyale that were completely uninhabited! No animals, no people! Later on we figured out, that they fled or were pushed out because of the “tribal wars”. We were able to cross the border and spend the first night in Ethiopia since we arrived already at 4PM at the border. The border crossing went without any problems. The only annoying part were once again the money changing guys! The first thing we had to do after the border crossing was to change the side of the road! After 1 ½ years on the “wrong” side of the road, it felt first a bit strange to drive on the “correct” right side of the road :-). At a hotel we were allowed to camp and we got something delicious to eat. Since we weren’t yet used to Ethiopian food we overfilled our bellies quite a lot :-).