In Nairobi we had to do some servicing on the car and effect a few minor repairs, unfortunately with all the crawling around under and over the car I found some more fairly major work that needs doing urgently, hopefully it will wait until I find somebody competent and cheap enough to carry out the work.
First, a long-time dream of mine, we are going to the Masai Mara, but gone are the days when thirteen year old boys were sent out to kill a lion, armed only with a spear, and bare breasted women wandered the Mara. Now the bosoms are on strictly on a pay to view basis, (you have to pay an entrance fee to the village) and the thirteen year old boys have to find something else to do to prove their manhood.
The lions are preserved for bait for a much bigger game, the tourist, particularly those with a fat wallet, that lets me out, I do not need guides, trinkets, help or any other thing that separates me from my dosh,………………..but when I get to the park entrance and find out the price – yesterday was a hard day’s drive diabolical roads, rain (sometimes I could barely see beyond the bonnet of the car) thunder, lightning, and floods, some parts I thought were a bit worrying, but my navigator was in a state of panic for quite a while during and after this,….we could not just turn round and go back, and it is somewhere I really want to be. So I have to put on a brave face and pay up.
Our first day was fantastic, herds of all sorts of antelope, hippos, giraffes a lot of birds and our first ever cheetah, we had two good sightings of it during the day, amazing.
Day two was good as well, as we also saw a big herd of elephants, no lions, all this way and no lions. I think the boys have stopped doing whatever it is to prove their manhood and have gone out chasing lions away. The savannah of the Masai Mara was all I had hoped for. Fantastic.
We popped down to the coast so Helen could get some time on a palm tree lined sandy beach and a swim in the Indian Ocean.
Real overlanders debate the pros and cons of coil springs or leaf springs as the best method of suspension in this rugged terrain, I have always been a fan of the coil spring, but as Helen is laying on the beach sunning herself and I am laying under the car surveying my broken rear coil spring suspension my fanship is waning. Recently I have noticed my rear end drooping a bit, but I put that down to being overloaded with Helen’s, clothes now I can see it has nothing to do with Helen at all. I know we have been in some places that have tested man and machine, but I did not expect to break the machine.
Before we left home I put some spring assisters in to …er, assist the springs, these are moulded rubber thingies that fit in amongst the coils, they looked good in England but now they look like tatty bits of rag/rubber hanging on a broken spring. I have just had somebody weld a large lump of steel plate on to my rusted chassis, and now this.
We head up the coast, taking in a few ruins of ancient Arab slave trading centres, until we get to Malindi, we were lucky to find a place to camp, but unlucky as the owners son was getting married, in our campsite if you please, and we were invited, I am not a big fan of weddings, and in this case we do not know anybody and they are Islamic so the strongest drink flowing will be Fanta.
One of the guests knows where we can get our spring done, but after several hours chasing about that hope fizzled.
On our way up a rough road to Tsavo national park we came across two Dutch guys in a Land Rover in some trouble (not that we knew they were Dutch at this stage) Prior to us getting there they managed to turn the Land Rover onto it’s roof (I said it was a rough road) some passing lorry towed them the right way up, but it seems that the engine was not too keen on being upside down for a while, and refused to start, then we happened along and were able to tow them twenty kilometres to a place with a mechanic. And me with a broken suspension.
Eventually we got to our park, and we saw elephants, we had several hours of looking around and we always live in hope, once again the big cats failed us. But there were a lot of antelope, giraffes, a great variety of birds and upwards of three hundred elephants, there were groups of them everywhere.
We are now back in Nairobi, previously we had been here for over a week, but after we got some five hundred kilometres away Helen said she would like to go the former home of the late Karen Blixen of “Out of Africa” fame, so here we are on the outskirts of Nairobi again.
I thought as we are here we may as well do a bit of a detour and go to Lake Magadi. The Great Rift Valley is littered with lakes, and as it is also volcanic a lot of the lakes are soda lakes, there are also hot springs and geysers. Magadi is the biggest soda producer in the world.
Prior to our visit there had been a lot of rain in the Ngong hills, and in several places the water from this rain was using our road for it’s own convenience, that made our driving a bit more interesting.
On to the beautiful Lake Naivasha, (freshwater) and Elsamere, the former home of the late Joy Adamson of “Born Free” fame. Back across the equator, into the Northern hemisphere. Then Lake Borogoria (soda) Lake Balingo (freshwater) here after we got our tent up we found we were camping about 15m/16yds away from a couple of crocs, I hope they don’t eat campers. At night we get hippos wandering around the tent grazing. There is also an incredible amount of birdlife in the area.
Also a couple of swamps, this is probably our last trip to the African Rift so we thought we would try and make the most out of it. The valley itself carries on down through Tanzania, Malawi, Zimbabwe and Mozambique. We are taking a more westerly course.
We stopped in Eldoret to get a couple of jobs done on the car, a bit of a dump of a town so we did not stop long.
And we have new springs at last, I have always been suspicious of the rear springs ever since I have had the car, but as it was not too bad ignoring the problem is always the easiest way out. They have got worse since we have been on the road, and worse still when one broke. But now we are bouncing all over the place, and just in time as well, I am of the opinion that the roads are poor in Kenya, and I think they are not as good in Uganda. Being as buoyant as we are now is going to take some getting used to.
Again a fantastic country,
Photos on http://picasaweb.google.com/mickhelen99