Our route to Kenya is a bit problematical.
Option 1 The main road, the A2 – all we can find out about this road is, it is boring, tyre wrecking, suspension busting and the worst road in Africa. Also there is a risk of bandits.
Option 2 The Turkana route – this is hard, remote and we are told there is no fuel for one thousand kilometres. The maximum amount of fuel we can carry, on a good road, will get us 710k.
Option 3 West of Lake Turkana is the easiest route and the quickest way to tarmac, but there is some tribal conflict going on, and now the natives are no longer armed with spears but have progressed to AK47s, also it is $250 to get the ferry across the fifty metre wide Omo river.
That leaves us with option two, the route with no roads and no fuel.
Kenya has just had a general election, as to yet we have no idea what has happened. But on the last general election 130 people were killed and thirty five thousand people were displaced. So we would like to delay our arrival for as late as possible after these elections.
Our proposed route has numerous river crossings, I am hoping that most or all of them are dry at the moment, but the rainy season is due to start any day now, so we have to go as soon as possible.
For this leg we are accompanied by Marc, a Spanish motorcyclist, although he does not at the moment actually have a motorcycle, he and his mate started on this route some two weeks ago, but just short of the Kenyan border his friend fell off his bike and broke his leg, with little or no help from the insurance company Marc got his friend got back to Barcelona in four days, luckily after two operations and some new steelware he is now on the mend. Both of the bikes are in Omorate where Marc and we need to go.
On our six day journey South we are dropping out of the mountains and it is getting a lot hotter and a lot more remote, along the way we managed to burst a tyre, I was a bit upset as there was still a lot of tread on it, but we blew out the sidewall.
As we progress South into the Omo region it becomes very tribal with up to eight different tribes, there is also a lot less in the way of roads, a lot less in the way of traffic, and quite a bit less in the way of clothes.
At Omorate Marc can collect his bike and we can continue to Kenya. We did all the exit formalities in one place, large office, one desk with a load of clutter on it, and an immigration officer from Monty Python, when we had finished filling in forms, he could not find his desk keys or his ink pad, and this is not the busiest office in the world, once all these were found it was all systems go. Up until he could not find his rubber stamp, twenty minutes later and several test stamps on some blank paper we get our passports done and we are off.
About fifty miles (80k) down the road at some unknown, unmarked place we leave the country and enter Kenya. But, Ethiopia what a FANTASTIC country.
In eight or nine days we will be able to our entry formalities to Kenya sorted out.
Now we have to drive on the other side of the road, but as we are following one pair of wheel tracks it is a bit difficult.
In our first four days in Kenya we came across one other vehicle, and just as well we did, we had come to a road junction, I think I may have to qualify this the term, road is any tracks that go somewhere, they may be well defined as a road or just faint wheel marks through the sand or grass, so there we were at this junction of wheel ruts and with the use of two maps and a GPS we opted for the left hand turning, two hundred metres down the road met a lorry coming the other way, we asked the way to where we wanted. We had to follow him for about four miles (6.5k) down the other road to where he showed us the right, left hand turning.
On one stretch we aimed to go down to the lake and camp but the road was really rough, and Marc fell over, I do not think that these Spanish motorcyclists are up too much. At least he did not break his leg, but he has got one large and very colourful foot.
The driving is awful here the whole area is part of the Great Rift Valley and sometime before I was born volcanos had spewed vast amounts of lava over an enormous area, and over the millennia, time and weather have broken the lava flows into rocks, boulders and tricky driving situations.
At Loyangalani an absolute Eden in this wilderness we had a day off to recover and do some minor repairs to the car and bike. We also found out that the general elections were peaceful, so no problem there. We should have stayed another day but the call of the punishing track was just a touch too strong.
A couple of days later just South of Baragoi we say goodbye to Marc, as he heads West to Uganda and we go South East to Nairobi.
Archers Post and tarmac. After seven days of hard driving we have covered 494 miles, (800k). Bits have broken or fallen off the car, some of the bits are what I made, I did not ever realise how much shaking, bumping and jarring there would be, the other bits are what Mr. Toyota fitted and he appears to know about as much as me. The tyres on the drive wheels are well chewed, (I have knocked about 6000 miles off their lifespan) and the fuel consumption has gone through the roof. But we did it, and it saved us going the easy way.
Prior to arriving in Kenya we had five days on dirt/gravel roads, and two of those were hard, in total twelve days without tarmac. And as I had anticipated the claim of 1000k with no fuel was a load of tosh. Admittedly if you have the tanks it is cheaper to fill up for the whole journey, but there are a lot of places that have motorbikes, generators, etc. and there are people with sheds full of fuel. I was also right about the rivers, we crossed a lot of them, they were all dry, even so some of them were tricky, with soft sand or rocky bottom, with water in them and not being able to see the bottom I would imagine it would be harder still.
Water was also a bit of a problem as we spent a lot of time bush camping. And the dust, you have never seen dust like it, the car is always full of it, closed boxes are full of it and closed bags are full of it.
From here on in we hope it will all be a lot cleaner.
What a drive, Marc and I really enjoyed it, but once again my navigator was not as enthused.
Further South just passed the town of Meru we crossed the equator. At last we are in Nairobi, the last 150miles/240k have been tarmac,……………God I love tarmac, we now have been in Kenya for eleven days tomorrow we must go to immigration and customs to get us and the car stamped in.
More photos on: http://picasaweb.google.com/mickhelen99