Firstly, Kenya in 3 minutes:) Enjoy video:)
That was probably the quietest border ever. Due to the fact that we already got our visas, we just needed stamps on them. We got our visas in Addis Ababa. It cost us 50 USD each and they were issued for next day. Nevertheless, most of the nations can get visas at the border – we just didn’t know that so we applied in advance in Ethiopia. In term of carnet the passage – the custom officer just saw the paper, stamped and he even didn’t check our car. The whole border crossing procedure took us probably less than half an hour.
Moyale – Isiolo
The road from Moyale to Isiolo (town in Kenya) is the most horrible road ever…It was even difficult to call it a road! Everybody knows that song “Highway to hell” by ACDC; to us this road was rather like: “hell to (get) highway”…That part of Africa is also one of the most dangerous places on the whole continent due to the conflict and warrior traditions of northern Kenya’s nomadic people. Because of a massive influx of cheap guns from many conflict zones outside Kenya in the 1990s, that part of the country have had major security issues. Minor problems stemming from grazing rights and cattle rustling quickly escalated into ongoing gun battles. Abundance of guns led to increase in banditry which posed a significant risk to anyone moving through the region. Moreover , due to quarrel between Ethiopian government and Oromo Liberation Front, landmines have been reported, therefore it is better to stick well-marked paths outside the town.
We were driving for two day through that horrible road. It was only 500 km, but driven in fear of being attacked and through the sand, volcanic rocks, fesh-fesh, dust. Average speed: 25km/hour. It was so scary – such a long distance and we didn’t see any women ad almost no kids. We saw only one child who was running towards us with plastic bottles asking for some water. We saw some men grazing their herds of cows/sheeps or camels. We got stopped by one group of few men,who they wanted to scare us and actually they did. They were messing with us, pretending that they would break our windscreen by a massive stone…Tears in the eyes…but Charlie somehow noticed that they were only joking and at the end we gave them a bottle of drinking water and we drove away. Nevertheless, there is some good news – the proper, tarred road has being built…We saw some machines/big vehicles working on it and Chinese people controlling the progress of work
After many hours spent on driving through the taugh road we reached Marsabit Town. When we get there it was already dark. We decided to camp at the JEY JEY Centre (a nice hotel with restaurant) and we finally had a proper HOT shower. In the morning we fuel up from our containers and we started cleaning our Rusty(Photos show you why)
Before we left Marsabit, we had spent around an hour in Marsabit National Reserve (in this free of charge part) as we didn’t see much the previous evening after sunset. We were very impressed of the size of craters! They were massive. Unfortunately, to see the most beautiful craters/ crater lakes you need to pay lots of money, therefore we gave up that time.
Second day on the horrible road was hard as well. There was more fesh-fesh and dust, however we saw some wild animals (mostly antelopes), more villages and people (women and kids).
Just before Isiolo we couldn’t believe our eyes! Finally tarmac road! Fresh and smooth without potholes! We probably behaved like little kids after trying the best ever ice-cream! That road was also such a relief for Rusty – no more noisy sounds and stones hitting the suspension.
This time we didn’t look for camping as we found a really nice spot in the bush, not that far away from the main road. We ate our late dinner watching sunset and hoping to see some elephants as when we were driving we noticed some road signs informing about those animals, but unfortunately we weren’t lucky that time…:(
After a nice and quite night in the bush we drove further – towards the Equator. It was really exciting to watch on GPS that one of the most significant to us milestone was being reached. During our way from North to South in Kenya, we noticed that Southern part of the country is more populated, and of course more touristy. Between towns and cities we saw plenty of markets and small shops, which reminded us a little bit of Wild West…(small colourful building, kiosks covered by self made ads).
We also got a little bit lucky as we were able to see from the distance at least a little bit of Mount Kenya:)
Around the town called Nanyuki we found first proper and amazing super Market called NAKUMATT (Kenyan Supermarket chain) The symbol of Nakumatt store is a massive sculpture of elephant standing in front of every store…” Freda the Elephant stands as the symbol of every Nakumatt store, but existed in real life, an extraordinary elephant who lead a generation in Amboseli and inspired a new understanding of the park`s elephant population”.
In that supermarket we spend roughly 2 hours, spending over 100 USD on food, some cosmetics and cleaning supplies. We were also a little bit surprised as in front of the shop there was lots of security…not only security gates, but also armed in guns and truncheons people, searching every single customer. In that moment we realised that Kenya is not the safest country ever. We took some photos inside the store as we found some interesting things.
After „a wee” shopping, we drove further and we finally ended up on the Equator, having a nice photo session:P (We were really proud of ourselves and our Rusty)
We didn’t really have a plan what to visit in Kenya, therefore after having a look in our guide we decided to follow more or less „the Rift Valley route”. So first stop – Nyahururu, a town famous for Thomson Falls one of the most impressive waterfalls in Kenya. Due to the fact that the road was winding, we crossed the Equator once more and we were in Northern Hemisphere again. A little advise to all travellers: Always check with your GPS if you are on the Equator as we saw plenty of fake signs…Those signs are usually put next to souvenirs shops. So when you stop nearby fake Equator sign, you will be definitely crowded by local people, who will try to convince you that their stands are unique with extraordinary items.
When we arrived to Nyahururu, it was getting dark. We found a nice place to camp (Parking place of Waterfalls Resort – Nyama Choma Heaven) for little money and Charlie finally had opportunity to eat some proper meat:P (Freshly cooked on his eyes)
In the morning we decided to go for a walk to spot some hippos as in the previous evening we were told that Nyahururu is one of the best place see these magnificent animals. We got very lucky that day – a walk around the local swamps was worth as we saw plenty hippos’ heads emerging from the water. We also noticed that this place is very popular among locals. People coming back from the church, instead of going home, they were sitting down on the grass, relaxing and spotting hippos. It looked like they were also enchanted by the view of those animals, just like us. We also were told that hippos during the day don’t usually leave the pond, however in our case patience got awarded. Some of the hippos decided to come out of the water and warm up on the sun. Everyone was really surprised, even grazing cows found lying hippos on the grass very interesting. Nyahururu is a really great place to visit and the most important thing about it – these swamps are free of charge, so you can come here whenever you want to enjoy the company of these beautiful wild creatures.
After „hippo adventure” we visited Thompson Falls (74m of scenic waterfall – as a curiosity: Joseph Thomson – Scottish geologist and naturalist reached Thomson Falls as a first European person in 1883, and named them for his father). The entrance fee was 200 Ksh per non-resident person, however we paid 200 Ksh for both of us. Charlie had a very friendly talk with the guy at the gate, who decided to give us a 50% discount. We were there on Sunday and the place was a little busy with Kenyan Families on outings, but it still wasn’t really crowded. We didn’t attempt to get closer to the Falls as the rocks were slippery and muddy. At Thomson Falls we had this opportunity to see up-close and hold Chameleons. They are such amazing little creatures! When I was taking photo of Charlie holding chameleons, bunch of guys costumed in traditional for the region cloths joined him. They started posing for a pics and then later singing famous Kenyan song: „Jumbo Bwana” (See short video from Kenya). Obviously the show wasn’t for free…Nevertheless we told them that we never agreed the price in advanced and we were not happy to pay, but they so sad, that we decided to give them some little money.
After Nyahururu we drove drive South again to visit some Kenyan National Parks. Unfortunately, Kenyan Wildlife was a way expensive to us, and we only could afford to visit Hell’s Gate National Park. Driving South again meant another Equator crossing. The Equator sign wasn’t crowded by many stands and additionally those sellers were very nice and not pushy. We were very impressed of some art stuff of the older gentleman. He was doing sculptures from the stones and later he was decorating them by paints. We couldn’t resist and we bought two pieces of his work for only 500 Ksh. (The pieces of rock we bought present our globe with very impressive details!) Moreover, our lovely seller did for us The famous Equator – stick show, without asking for a fee. The Equator – Stick trick seriously works! It is actually really awesome! See video!
After nice experience on the Equator we hit the road again. We were on the main, busy road leading to Nairobi, while suddenly we noticed something weird! Grazing zebras and impalas just nearby the main road! We pulled over and started taking photos as they were first zebras seen up close during our trip. People watching us from their cars probably had lots of fun and laugh seeing us so excited about zebras :)To them that view was something normal like in Europe grazing horses and cows on green fields seen from the road!
Hell’s Gate National Park is one of those places which are worth a visit! This NP is truly unique – it is not only about visiting, but also experiencing it as people are allowed to walk or cycle unguided across its breadth. Generally walking among grazing zebras and towering giraffes is amazing adventure. Moreover scenery of the park is dramatic – lots of ochre soil and savannah grasses squeezed between looming cliffs of rusty columnar basalt. As a curiosity: Hell’s Gate National Park’s striking scenery has played a role in some movies; the most famous is “Lara Croft Tomb Rider: The Cradle of Life“. We paid $25 per person for a day visit and 500 Kenian Shilings (around $5) Due to the fact that camping inside was nearly as expensive as entrance fee, we decided to find a nice and cheaper place for the night. (I am not quite sure of the name of the camping we stayed, but we both had YMCA name in our heads. That place was inexpensive and not crowded as we were the only people, who were camping there that time).
Next day we were at 6 am at the gate of Hell’s Gate NP. I guess we were the first visitors of the day:) We got surprised by stunning sunrise and we had seen so much game including first giraffes on our way. We were exploring that magnificent place by driving and walking. We also found a perfect spot for lunch with beautiful views. It was supposed to be such an amazing day…
After lunch (around 11 am) we decided to visit more distant areas of the park. We went to sort of remote place, while suddenly Rusty started giving weird noises, which were coming from the bonnet. Charlie stopped as he thought that some long grass or a wee branch got into it, but unfortunately it wasn’t the problem…It was something worse… to be continued