Kenya

Kenya: To the Tanzania border

I have already cycled Nairobi to Naivasha and the golden rule is you never go back the way you came. Taking a minibus to western outskirts of Nairobi solves this problem.  Once over the Ngong hills the route south is easy and quiet for the 200km to the Tanzania border.

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The first funfair I have seen in Africa. After chatting with the owner he even started the ferris wheel for me. I described the popularity of theme parks in the UK and how such funfairs are a permanent feature of some seaside towns.

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Cheap accommodation is often linked to pubs. Handy for meeting up with locals at the end of a day. This time 3 students who are teaching at the local school to fund their higher education. Maurice, to my right is one year away from being an insurance actuary.

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Countryside on the road to the Tanzania border

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This is the first and only view of Mt. Kilimanjaro 5895m. Taken at a distance 80km it seems to sit under its own weather system so I never got to see the peak.

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Mt. Namanga 2548m

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One of the many localised rain storms that chase me. No hanging around when one of these is on your tail..

I have fond memories of chips, sweet milky tea, ugali and people that allow you to join in the daily street scene, rather than being the focus of a street scene.

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Kenya: Goal achieved. Nairobi to Naivasha

The ride into Nairobi is easier than expected. First goal, get our Kenya entry stamp for our passports. (a little late I know.. )

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Cycling along the main highway approaching Nairobi from the east. If you stop here you get pounced on by the fruit sellers (on the left) balancing bananas and all sorts on your handlebars..

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Campsite in Nairobi, tiered camping!! It poured with rain turning the bottom into a mud bath.. (my tents on top)

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Making friends at the Giraffe centre..

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The slums of Nairobi. A no go area after dark. Stark contrast to the modern steel and glass city centre.

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Nairobi museum. Looks real.. But it’s a bronze copy of a famous elephant I’d never heard of. It’s was a good place to escape the rain.
Railway Museum

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I just love railway museums for their quirkiness and this was no exception..

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From this carriage the man who tasked himself to rid the area of Man eating lions that were eating railway workers and employees was himself dragged of and eaten by a lion from this very carriage. He fell asleep with the door open. Twit.
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Familiar names and places..

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Decaying grandeur

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Rift Valley on the road from Nairobi to Naivasha

Mission Accomplished

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Institute director, Simon (left) and headmaster, Joseph (right)

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Computer labs where I did some tutoring

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The hardest job they have is teaching a class of 30 all with different levels and abilities

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Anita and Margaret, now top class Web developers..

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Nice comfortable little cottage on the grounds where I stayed

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Attached to the institute is the Sunshine Rehabilitation Centre who support street children. I was invited along for a visit by its founder members. They are doing something right as the children are polite, grown up and very well behaved

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Followed by a meal at their hotel. Martin, on my left and Anne (seated near Martin) Fun time for all..

Hells Gate National park in Naivasha
One of the few parks that let you walk or cycle. It not only has animals, there are also views of mountains, steam vents,  hot springs and a spectacular gorge.
Taking advantage of one of the few dry days I packed a day bag and set off..

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Fortunate to arrive at the same time as Gennys from Italy, we explored the park together.. She was much better at spotting the wildlife than I was, without her I would have have missed loads.

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Not sure what these are called.. Lion food maybe??

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Zebras love sniffing each other’s bums

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Buffalo, giraffe and zebra all playing nicely together

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Spotted

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Giraffes run in slow motion, it peculiar to watch

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Apparently more people are killed by buffalo than any other creature in Africa. If looks could kill..

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The gorge

Around Naivasha

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Famous for its lake and hippos. The hotels on the waterside have to have electric fences.

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Naivasha railways station on the Mombasa to Uganda railway. Sadly recently no longer running. It’s much faster by road now. The trains in the railway museum had seats on the front of the engine so the passenger’s could sit and watch the wildlife – and take pot shots at it.

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Kenya: Dry North gives way to a tropical climate

For the last 400km we fail to realise you drive on the left because there are no roads and no traffic.

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A bus just drives on sand tracks next to the actual road

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Tarmac!!! Just.. Which explains why the traffic prefers going off piste

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Usual 1pm break in the shade to wait for the hottest part of the day to pass. The solar panel I carry manages to charge everything in this sun!

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Desert. Although there’s a huge lake, it’s salt water so can’t be used for irrigation. Even the ground water is salty. There’s no soil, only sand. All in all there is not much that can be done with this land

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Very unpleasant surface for cycling. The road network in this part is like bad acne of the face of Kenya. This is what links a provincial capital to the rest of the country?!?!

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Soon some altitude lowers the heat and mountains generate some rainfall. We have left the desert behind. No more nights trying to sleep dripping in sweat –  it’s just really itchy

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There’s gold in the water..

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In a moment of traffic chaos Aurelien must fight for his space on the road

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What look like main roads on the map turn out to be not so main

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The most common breakfast is chapati.

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Vervet monkeys. They stole one of my mangos.

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Aureliens fan club. It’s made up from the entire contents of a school that spotted him and poured out to greet him, very vocally. It’s the teachers I feel sorry for!!

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Alleluia says my derriere.. A real Road at last after 800km of sand / gravel / potholes / rocks / clay..

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Intex, the Indian construction company responsible for the road. The project manager on my right, Jagdish, flags us down and invites us to the construction compound for the night. On arrival we are given quarters and share curry and conversation with the other Indian engineers. A memorable evening.

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Lake Baringo

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Wild Ostrich, shutting around like it owned the place.. The are really big!

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Road rescue.. In the wrong place at the right time.. (what you don’t see is the BBQ we built just outside this picture)

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First crossing of the famous line..

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This is what it looks like on GPS

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What it is and why they grow it.. We never found out. Answers on a postcard..

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What Kenya is also famous for… Tea. The sudden green comes with a gain in  altitude and proximity to Mt Kenya. We cycle past the mountain but can’t see anything due to the rain and cloud

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It’s the Tina Turner bird!! Also known as the ‘East African Crowned Crane’

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How do I know this???  They have trained the same specimen to stand very still in the Nairobi museum..

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Clay roads are a pleasure to cycle on… Until that is, it starts to rain. Then it’s a pain in the arse.

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Countryside on the outskirts of Nairobi

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Weavers tending their nests

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Kenya: Turkana, and a very remote border crossing

While there is significant investment on the Ethiopian side with new roads, schools, hospitals and electricity projects the same can’t be said about Turkarna on the Kenyan side. It is completely cut off. It was explained to me as a byproduct of people voting along tribal lines. The majority Kikuyu tribe dominated government pouring money into an area inhabited by the Pokot tribe isn’t going to win it any votes from either side, so they don’t bother. All services are provided by the Catholic Church. They run the hospitals, schools, dispensaries, clinics. Nobody looks after the roads or electricity network. Ethiopia are currently building a highway to the border but there is little sign of anything on the Kenyan side. Ethiopia encourage people to visit this remote area, explore the villages and support locals who setup cooperatives while visits to Turkarna are positively discouraged.

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As termite nests go, this one is pretty big

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Thorstan nearly runs over a chameleon cycling the half finished highway on the Ethiopian side

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Then it tries to climb into my bag..

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Goat curry and flat bread. Yummy.

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Immigration office in Omorate, the last town in Ethiopia where we pick up our Ethiopian departure stamp. Its a long hot desert ride

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A cultural exchange, in this case it means being asked for money.
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Cross the river.. Being a tourist means the river crossing price is inflated by a factor of 100 and that’s with some hard bargaining. Bikes, travelling Africa for months, no money, not in 4×4 tour group, sob, sob..

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The stretch after crossing the river is very dusty. It looks like sand but it’s more like flour. You feet sink into it and when the wind blows it turns you brown.

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This is the road to the Ethiopia / Kenya border post. It’s nice and wide without any traffic!

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Thorston pushes through the dust to the last Ethiopian military checkpoint . Our GPS indicated it’s in South Sudan, so we are a bit apprehensive approaching. In the end it transpires that there’s a dispute between Kenya and South Sudan over this chunk of desert and it’s firmly controlled by Kenyan troops. Just who they expect to collect taxes from is anybody guess.. A jeep filled with men and machine guns drove out the base to meet us and soon put our minds to rest.  It’s the last military checkpoint on the Ethiopia side. They ask if we need help, maybe we do..
A bunch of blokes in the middle of nowhere with not much to do, our arrival makes the highlight of their day (or month!) We chat, they feed us and make sure we have enough water or the next leg of the journey. Very kind.
We push on..

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Todonyang on the Kenyan side. After the special forces checkpoint is this army checkpoint. They point us towards the police station.

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Dusk arrival at Kenyan the police station.

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Police station where we camp for the night. They even share their food with us. A warm welcome to Kenya. It has a Siberian outpost feel to the place, except much hotter. 
Next day they inspect visas but no entry stamp because there is no immigration.

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Sheep and Kalashnikov. Cattle rustling is a way of life in some parts and people get shot quite often.

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The road turned into a 20KM sandpit and my bike sunk. Pushing it in the searing heat started to bring on heat stroke, so I flagged down a passing 4×4.

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It took me to the Catholic mission in Lowarengak, a huge compound covering a few square Kms with their own airstrip, biplane, living quarters, guest buildings, power generator, lakes and of course, a cathedral like church. On the 4×4 were volunteer doctors from Malaysia providing medical care and drugs to this remote forgotten corner of Kenya.
Later that evening Thorston and Aurelien caught up and joined me for supper with the volunteers.

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First signs of life and the first recognisable village. We attract attention on the way in..

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And on the way out..

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Rest at another Catholic mission. 3 hours after sunset, everything is hot to the touch, meaning it’s over 38degrees. The afternoon I’m sure it’s pushed beyond 45

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Simple dwellings. Constructed not to trap the heat.

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Next to church run school is the church.. One of the most beautiful I have seen in Africa.

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On the road to Lodwar where sand reigns supreme.

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And another short stretch in a 4×4 to Lodwar town, the provincial capital of Turkarna

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Overnight at John’s, who we met through another cyclist passing in the opposite direction. Had a much deserved day off

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