Day 20 – 21 June
Rest day, or so we think. After service of the vehicle Paul, luckily for us, finds that the mechanic has clamped an electric wire into the air filter. Today is general clean up with cleaning of the van, washing of clothes and making lists for shopping. Back to the Sudanese Embassy for visas. Only Paul’s and Willy’s visas ready. All the South Africans have to first get a letter from the SA Embassy, which we were not told about the previous day. So off we go to the SA Embassy only to find that they only work from 9.00am to 12.30 pm!
Bikers Rudi and Adri arrive.
The rest of the day is spent fighting traffic (luckily in a taxi) and shopping. Nairobi is very modern in certain ways with lovely clean shopping centres. A good hot shower and clean clothes when we get back to camp as we are guests of Dale, a friend of Charl this evening. On route to Dale’s house we stop in at the country club for a sundowner. The club is situated next to Karin Blixen’s house.
Dale and his wife are the perfect hosts and put on a fantastic spread for us. We also meet Craig, an ex East Londoner who has strong ties to EL and is presently building a house at Kidds Beach. Craig, a director of a local business, organizes for a windscreen replacement for us to fitted the next morning. Amazing how easy things can happen with the right connections.
Day 21 – 22 June
Early in morning we are off to the SA Embassy. Everything goes smoothly and armed with our letter we are off to the Sudanese Embassy again expecting to get our visas immediately. No such luck and another trip has to made in the afternoon. Paul in the meantime has had the windscreen replaced. What a relief not to have the crack.
The rest of the bikers and support vehicle arrive and the evening is spent catching up on all the news.
Teams Icevan, Bulldog and Lipstick are now rearing to hit the road again. Team Tomcat has decided to join up with the rest of the bikers again.
Day 22 – 23 June
Left at 5.40am hoping to miss the traffic. An absolute nightmare in the dark with people walking on the road and trucks and busses driving as if there was no other traffic on the road. The road out is tar but the heavy vehicles have caused deep ruts in the road with a huge “middle mannetjie” which makes driving nerve wracking. We suddenly realize that Bulldog is no longer behind us. We have to turn back and find Bulldog replacing a back tyre. A long piece of steel has made a hole in his tyre and ripped the tube.
Mike has set the GPS for Lake Turkana which unfortunately takes us out on the wrong road. After about 40km we stop and ask a well informed local the way to get back on the right road. He gives us directions to a flyover. The road turns out to be potholed and we wonder if should not have gone back to town and turned onto the right road. We, however, persevere and the road leads us through beautiful nature reserves, forests and tea plantations making the detour really worthwhile.
We eventually meet up with the main road to Mt Kenya and going through Thika we stop at a garage to fill up with fuel and repair the puncture. There is also a roadside restaurant that has breakfast for only R25.00!
Back on the road again we are all hoping to see Mt Kenya but the cloud is to the bottom of the mountain. Mt Neru is also covered in cloud so our luck is really out.
We stop at a restaurant which is built in a huge tree and have fresh trout for lunch. The restaurant normally serve beers which is chilled in the water below and pulled up by rope. After a very satisfying meal we are on our way to the equator which has now become a tourist trap with vendors and locals trying everything for a quick dollar. We arrive at the escarpment into the Rift Valley where suddenly we have a magnificent valley opening out in front of us. Going into the Valley the vegetation changes with all sorts of crops growing. By this time it is late afternoon and time to find someplace to stay. The town ahead is Isiolo and the debate is whether to carry on to Archers Post or go to Hotel Gaddisa in Isiolo. Unfortunately the wrong decision is made and we push on to Archers Post which turns out to have no lodgings or fuel. So back to Isiolo. Luckily it is a only about 35 km back. We find the hotel which is run by a couple, Vera, who is Danish and Joby, a local man. We are the only guests and while teams Bulldog and Lipstick decide to stay in the rooms we pop up the top and decide sleep in the van.
The hotel is very clean and Vera and Joby are very good Hosts.
The evening over supper, a braai, is spent deciding which route to take. The road from straight up to Moyale is shorter but we have been advised by lots of travellers that the road is shocking with rocks and corrugations and will take us at least two days to reach Moyale. Added to the road is the fact that there are bandits on the road who have recently fired on travellers.
The other option is to turn off and go to Lake Turkana as originally planned. All information that we have gathered so far is that the road is a lot longer but the surface is much better.
Day 23 – 24 June
Left Isiolo at 5.00am. Lipstick went into town to get some drinking water before setting out.On the way out they are stopped by the police who wont let them carry on until 6.00am because of the danger of driving in the dark. After much talking they are eventually allowed to go to be able to catch up with us.
We are driving a fantastic new tar road and cannot believe that the road up ahead is supposedly so bad.
Lipstick in the meantime catches up to us. The tar finally ends and we are the notorious corrugated road which turns out to be worse than ever imagined. We travel constantly changing from side to side. The section that we do is fairly short but seems to take forever. On the up we see gerenook, a buck with a very long neck, grey duiker and camels. Our turn off is onto a narrow track but quickly opens onto a very drivable sandy road (track) with lots of dry river crossings. The landscape and road reminds us of driving in Namibia and Botswana with vast open plains and huge mountains with a peak of over 2700m. Met 2 British army vehicles and soldiers who evidently lost. The road led us through lots of small villages. The features of the local people are completely different to other Africans that we have seen. They have more of an Arabic look. The women and girls are dressed in very bright coloured clothes and beads around their necks. Some of the older boys are dressed in what one can only describe as some sort of ceremonial dress with feathered headdress.
We pass a mountain which looks like a closed fist with knuckles showing and the map tells us that the name is Devils Hand. The approach to Lake Turkana is in total contrast to the landscape that we just travelled through. It looks as if the heavens have opened up and rained big black rocks. One can only describe the area as a lunar landscape, totally barren and reaching down to the water’s edge. The lake is spectacular sudden appearing in this barren wasteland. The lake is huge and we cant see the other side.
The camp, Palm Shade Camp is unfortunately dirty and badly run. This does not deter us and soon we have set up camp. Some of us go down to the lakeside to at least put our feet in, while Mark, Rene and Andre try their luck at fishing. Three little fish are caught and the guys are chuffed at having fished in the lake.Decision time again. Do we go straight up into Omo Valley or go to Moyale. One of the campers has just come down through the Omo Valley which took him three days. On one of our maps we see another crossing into Ethiopia at Forole and decide on this route for tomorrow.
Day 24 – 25 June
Left at 6.40am onto a very stoney road for about two hours. We were wondering if we had made the right decision when suddenly the road opened up to the flat expanse of the Chalbi desert. The road became sandy (very deep in some places)with hundreds of camels . The desert had a beauty of its own and we stopped have breakfast and to enjoy the solitude and vastness. The drive became quite taxing as we travelled through soft sand, very stoney se3ctions and fine powdery dust. We arrived at Forole and were met by the police and officials who were very friendly who advise us rather to travel along the border to Moyale as Forole was not an official border post and that we might pick up problems in Ethiopia.
Sound advise as we were learn later. The police told us that Moyale was only 110km away. Almost four hours later and 210km we eventually arrive at Moyale. By this time we had been on the road for 12 hours, of which the last section of road was back on the corrugated section from Isiolo.
Camped at Kenyan Wildlife Camp on the Kenyan side of the border.
Day 25 – 26 June
Easy start as we knew the border only opened at 6.30am. Still at the border at 8.30 as the official had to be called stamp our documents. On the Ethiopian side we were in for an even longer wair as the border post only, supposedly opened at 9.00am. They passport control arrived at about 9.30. We were then told as it was Sunday the customs would not be open. Other travelers were also arriving and somehow the official was contacted and much thanks to him we managed to get everything in place by 10,30.
We were then off to see Omar, the local mechanic as Bulldog had developed a leaking front seal again. Luckily, although Omar was not there Mark managed to get the “ mechanics” to stip the seal and replace with the spare seal. Had some of the local coffee while we were waiting which was very and strong. Driving in Ethiopia Is on the wrong side of the road which is an absolutely weird feeling. Strange to trucks loaded with camels with their long necks sticking out instead of sheep or cattle. As were not going to reach our planned destination of Awassa we kept on looking out for a place to stay. We were stopped 3 times by customs on the road. Luckily the good advice from some travellers coming from the north and the police at Forole we had obtained all the necessary papers.
Passed a huge convoy of trucks carrying all sorts of machinery and vehicles. Looks as if for a mining project and we assume supplied and sponsored by some overseas country.
Camels, camels, camels – we just cant get used to seeing so many camels!
The saying that every hill has its truck was certainly true fir us today, except that the trucks were busses.
The countryside has now changed from sand, bushes and semi desert to lush, green grass and huge trees. We cant believe that this can all be the same country.
Late afternoon saw at Marami. The hotels along the road are terrible. We pull into the Hagereman hotel where they only have 2 double and one single rooms available. The rooms are so smelly and there is no water. Although we have asked reception to another bed into the single room (which never materialized) I decide to sleep in Icevan while Paul takes the single room. They turn the water on so we are able to shower. A good evening was had with all the teams trying to become cardinals.
Day 26 – 27 June
6.00am and no water. On the road again and after about half an hour we stop to do ablutions. The road to Addis Abiba is long with lots of tuk-tuks. We see 4 accidents along the road and arrive at Addis at about 2.30 in the afternoon. Our first real rain on the trip. The traffic is unbelievable with hundreds of trucks and every driver is trying to force his way in front of everybody else. We take about 2,5 hours to get into town and our destination, the Belair hotel. We are in for a shock as the hotel is a total dump. We then decide to go onto Holland house instead. No luck as our GPS takes us all round town and we still don’t find Holland house. Eventually everybody is so frustrated and annoyed that a decision is made to go to a hotel. What a relief it is when we find the Ghion hotel just around the corner from where we are. We book in and have a wonderful shower and a good supper.