Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Nairobi to Arusha, Tanzania.

So we arrived at Jungle Junction in Nairobi, a renowned over Landers stop. This place is an overlanding Mecca with many 4wds, motorcycles and trucks parked in front of a large communal house. A great place to catch up on internet, and suck up information from other travellers. We were also reunited with Max and Jacob, a couple of German guys who we met earlier during the trip. Just down the road, a very modern shopping center, and a large supermarket. We spent a few days here resting, before Craig and I rode north to lake Naivasha, lake Begoria and also lake Baringo where we camped for the night. During the night we had Hippos grazing next to our tent. Perfectly safe we were told, as there was a guard who would shimmy them off if they got too close.

So back to Nairobi where we had left Neil to sort out his clutch cable. Another night at Jungle Junction and we headed for the coast, firstly stopping in Mombassa for some brief sightseeing, then onto Tiwi beach. We were greeted with gorgeous white sand and clear blue water. That afternoon we lit a camp fire and cooked fresh fish. Bloody Beauty mate.

From Tiwi it was into Tanzania. We decided to take the more direct route to the border, which included about 170km of pot holed tarmac and gravel, with the later being easier. We stamped out of Kenya and had to travel down a very poorly maintained road to the Tanzanian immigration. This road really was ‘no mans land’ with some of the slipperiest mud we had encountered on the trip. I dropped my bike four times over a distance of about five hundred meters, discovering that my front guard was choked with mud, and the front wheel was hardly turning. Also our boots had smooth soles making it very difficult to hold the bikes up. Neil crashed when a local guy on a 125 scooter ploughed into him. The stuff of real adventures can be found just between the border posts it seems. Crazy.

With the Carnet stamped, visas paid for, and my front mud guard cleaned out, we headed towards Moshi for the night. On the way we got a glimpse of mount Kilimanjaro, with its snowy peak just portruding out of the clouds. Quite lucky at this time of year. That night we chatted with a Japanese traveller who gave us good info on how to organise a budget Safari to the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater. So off to Arusha the next morning and onto a Safari we went the next day. Beginning at Lake Manyara national park we watched Elephants, Monkeys, Giraffe and Hippos among other things. The next Day we drove out to the Serengeti, a huge expansive plain of wilderness. There we sighted a Cheetah, Leopard eating its kill, more giraffe, a family of Lions playing and countless Zebra and Wilderbeast. The last day we entered the Ngorongoro crater, an giant extinct volcano renowned for a high concentration of wildlife gathered in one place. We weren’t disappointed when we were greeted by lion sitting at the edge of the road devouring their kill.

So tomorrow its down to business again. We have another 4000 miles to put in before reaching Cape town. Next country is Malawi, followed by Zambia, Botwana and Namibia where we meet Craig girlfriend Eve. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Addis Abeba to Isiolo, Kenya

From Addis we have been moving fairly swiftly south, making up for lost time. We spent the first night in just out of Shashemene close to some nice hot springs. Shashemene is apparently famous for its Rasta image, and the locals told us there were definitely ties to Jamaica. Interesting.

One more night spent wild camping and we arrived in the border town of Moyale. From Moyale south the road has a reputation for being the worst in East Africa. Large rocks and very rutted gravel. Historically it is also the most risky due to its close proximity to Somalia. The road has been dubbed the “Bandit Highway”. Fortunately for us the Kenyans have discovered oil not far from Marsabit, and hence the security has now improved and the Bandits are no longer. The road still proved rough and very slow going. It took us nine hours to travel 150 miles to Marsabit, arriving in the dark. My bike shaking its way along the rutted surface.

Day two of the Bandit highway proved more of the same, but for a much shorter distance of 90 miles till the new tarmac road. In Marsabit we awoke to our first African rain, making the first section of road quite muddy and slippery. It was short lived as soon we were back into dessert. We had a few kids throw rocks at us, with Craig landing one right in the chest. The locals are poor, and are shouting, or have their hands out for money at every other twist in the road.

So now as I am writing we are staying in the small town of Isiolo. We are yet to see Mount Kenya, which is still shrouded in the mist, hopefully we’ll get a glimpse as we head towards Nairobi today.

Khartoum to Addis Abeba

So we emerged from what seemed like endless dry dessert into the very green and mountainous Ethiopia. Quite a relief as we climbed higher into highlands and we felt the temperature falling from the forties to a much more bearable mid twenties, even requiring an extra layer in the evening. After another difficult border crossing we spent our first night camping at the side of the road, after Ed hit a giant rock, pinching his rear tube. Ethiopia is a country of 80 million people, making wild camping less than ideal. We were greeted in the morning by the local village kids who informed us that our tent had squashed a tiny piece of crop. One US dollar and they seemed happy.

So onto Gondor the next morning after a great roadside breakfast tasting our first Ethiopian coffee. Good atmosphere in the town, and the gateway for a side trip to the Simian mountains national park. We climbed to above 3000 meters, camping inside the National park for two nights. Some good fun gravel riding, even though my bike was struggling to breathe in the thin mountain air. Spectacular scenery all around. The nights were very cold, with frost in the morning.

We said our farewells to Matt, Kim, Ed, Dave and Steph back in Gondor. We had been travelling with them since Egypt. Craig and I needing make fairly swift progress from this point on, as we were held up in Egypt for three weeks with visa/ferry issues. Neil has decided he will travel with us for the time being. The ride south was an easy one through very nice Ethiopian rolling green countryside on decently sealed roads. My bike was still lacking power due to altitude which slowed the progress at times. We took three days to ride down to Addis Abeba where we were hosted by a very helpful Finnish family. They gave us a room to bunk down in, took us out to a German restaurant (Plenty of international influence in Addis) and even cooked us a proper breakfast. A slice of western comfort for three weary travellers. Thanks to Paivi and yuha for the great hospitality.