7000km and country number 7 (Kenya)

With our quads still feeling the deep burn from our Kilimanjaro hike, we  crossing into Kenya back on the road and climbing into Kenya.  Lodging close to the border at what we thought was affordable accommodation we realised the next day it was probably for good times :)                                     

                                               Border crossing into Kenya

Border crossing into Kenya was a breeze with friendly officials and a 1 month free visa on arrival, however this was the first time each of us had to open one bag – it was more of a formality, likely to be induced by Jitens dreadlocks

                                                View of Killi from Kenya
Entering the country from Oloitokitok the road is bordered on the east by Tsavo and on the west by Ambosili national parks, no wonder the locals warned us to be careful of wild animals as fences are unheard of
We spent our first night camping in a vegetable garden belonging to a Masaai youth – Kivo, who shared stories of animal encounters and cultural traditions with us.  I take my helmet off to these pastoral herders who look after their cattle in the midst of big 5 – they have balls of steel.  

Vegetable garden and Kilimanjaro in background                Sunset at the garden
We were awoken the next morning by the frantic barking of dogs at 5am, but it was only a passing giraffe.  It is not uncommon for elephant and lion to come drink from the farms water source.

At Emali we joined the notoriously busy Nairobi – Mombasa highway and cycled towards Nairobi via Sultan Hamoud and Athi River; staying over on route this time with a Samburu man – Ebrahim, who treated us to dinner and kindly gave us a sheltered porch to sleep in as it was pouring with rain.
Here we had our first and last taste of Miraa – a bitter leafy twig chewed by locals to pass time and contemplate life.
Arriving in Nairobi we were met by a family friend of Jiten – Adash from Statpack who kindly gave us a much anticipated, hearty home cooked meal and a place to stay.

Nairobi is a bustling city – by far the largest we have passed so far, with traffic worse than Dar Es Salaam, multiple tourist attractions, a thriving Indian community (spicy food), fancy malls comparable to S. Africa where you can find anything besides bicycle spares!!
Our anticipated 3 day rest turned into 7 as we searched for spares and waited for our bikes to be serviced.  Ria and I put on a new rear rim and Jiten changed his bottom bracket and crank.
Making the most of our extended stay we explored the city and visited the ever popular Carnivore.

                                               Carnivore Grrrrr

 As planned we met Daniel (managing director) from ANAW (Africa Network For Animal Welfare) with whom we had organised our veterinary volunteer work with.  The ANAW charity has an impressive set up with an efficient and organised team co-ordinating multiple projects relating to animal welfare.  Check out their website at www.anaw.org
We were hoping to go out with armed rangers on a de snaring and rescue project but ironically needed more time.
On 21st September we went to Dagorette district where we were welcomed by the councillor and chief, followed by our vaccination and treatment campaign organised by ANAW.  A very productive day as we treated 206 animals in need!

Vaccination campaign                                                   ANAW field team
Before leaving Nairobi we were fortunate to get an interview with Raabia from East FM, and also get into the local paper and TV news – all in an effort of increasing publicity and driving donations.

On route to lake Naivasha the views of the Rift Valley is breathtaking, we cycled along the escarpment with the Rift dropping hundreds of metres below, across which Savannah grasslands reach out beyond the horizon.
At the lake we feasted on a Goat leg that we grilled to perfection – a great improvement from our previous, failed attempt at braaing a Catfish..

                                               Rift Valley

Sunday 25th September our plan was to cycle through Hells Gate National Park, before heading further North, but things did not pan out this way......just before departure I noticed Jiten had a Mavic rim on his rear wheel, and this was not previously the case?  The bike shop in Nairobi had stuffed up and put Ria's cracked Mavic rim on Jiten's bicycle!!
While Jiten tried to contact the shop and sort things out I decided to tighten the screws on my bike rack and ended up breaking the head of a screw adding to the drama! Thank god for cable ties from Asmals hardware that is now keeping my front rack in place.
Jiten managed to get his wheel to Nairobi, fixed and couriered back to the lake.  In this extra day he hired a bicycle and we did finally get to cycle through Hells Gate, where we saw lots of wildlife including buffalo.  Your senses are always on high alert while being back in the food chain as the National Park is teeming with wild animals.  Massive geothermal power plants in valley of Rift pushing out clouds of steam.

Hells Gate National Park                                                 Geothermal power plant
Next stop lake Elementeita – tranquil / calm uninhabited setting around this soda lake scattered with flamingos and other bird-life.  We cycled around a portion of the lake and one would swear  you in a dream or a character in a computer game!
This alkaline lake which is warm in parts provides the perfect environment for growth of blue-green algae which feeds lesser flamingos and crustaceans, the latter serve as a source of food for the greater flamingos.

Lake Elementeita

Back on the road all jolly, crossing the equator was a real highlight where we took multiple pictures and defied the Coriolis effect.
Goodbye southern hemisphere or so we thought:  with our budget tight and the road seeming pretty straightforward we decided not to get a map while passing Nairobi!  We regretted this decision on 29th September when we cycled 70 km in the wrong direction and back into the Southern hemisphere! To save time we then took a dirt road for 20km that was a short cut to Naro Moru.
While on the gravel it started to rain lightly, turning the road into a clay like mud that began to cake up on Jitens tyres, locking the wheel against the mudguard – it was impossible to even push the bike – it was a sore sight yet somewhat hilarious :) He was eventually forced to catch a lift on a passing army Land Rover for the last few kilometres.


 From Naro Moru we had a 145km cycle past Nanyuki and Isiolo to Archers Post, on route cycling past the western slopes of snow capped Mount Kenya.
At the top of the pass (2600m) exhausted from the relentless climb, all it took was vinegar chips to make my day.

                                               Mount Kenya

Isiolo is a true frontier town, a place on the edge, torn between the cool, verdant highlands just to the South and the scorching badlands, home of nomads and bandits to the North
Passing Isiolo we spoke to the commanding police officer to seek advice on the current security situation as Northern Kenya is notorious for highway muggings and violent inter-tribal conflict.  Although the situation has improved vehicles still drive in convoy and always with armed soldiers.

From Archers post the next 100km, up until Merille is on brand new road tarred by the Chinese.
As smooth and flat as the road was the toasty 47 degrees made cycling somewhat uncomfortable.  As much as we perspired, we were always dry.  By the evening your brain is fried and your world slips in and out of focus, we looked at each other laughing, powdered with dust like ghosts!
From Merille the worst possible corrugated road starts that shook our guts!
We spent the next 2 days cycling 9.5hrs a day to Marsabit, braving the appalling roads, searing heat, clouds of dust, relentless wind and armed shiftas.  To top things of, the large armoured biting flies are determined to accompany you for the entire day.
On the upside we got to see a elephant browsing some 30m from the road;  heart stopping moments as the majestic beast turned towards us and lifted his trunk to smell – I lifted the front and spun the rear of my bicycle taking of in a cloud of dust!

                                               Road on route to Marsabit

 The luxury here in Marsabit (electricity and cold drinks) has prompted a rest day.
As this journey enters its 3rd trimester we find ourselves complaining less and now starting to appreciate the little things we previously took for granted!

Today (18 October) we in Addis Ababa, attempting mission impossible - getting a Sudanese visa!