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.
As termite nests go, this one is pretty big
Thorstan nearly runs over a chameleon cycling the half finished highway on the Ethiopian side
Then it tries to climb into my bag..
Goat curry and flat bread. Yummy.
Immigration office in Omorate, the last town in Ethiopia where we pick up our Ethiopian departure stamp. Its a long hot desert ride
A cultural exchange, in this case it means being asked for money.
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..
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.
This is the road to the Ethiopia / Kenya border post. It’s nice and wide without any traffic!
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..
Todonyang on the Kenyan side. After the special forces checkpoint is this army checkpoint. They point us towards the police station.
Dusk arrival at Kenyan the police station.
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.
Sheep and Kalashnikov. Cattle rustling is a way of life in some parts and people get shot quite often.
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.
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.
First signs of life and the first recognisable village. We attract attention on the way in..
And on the way out..
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
Simple dwellings. Constructed not to trap the heat.
Next to church run school is the church.. One of the most beautiful I have seen in Africa.
On the road to Lodwar where sand reigns supreme.
And another short stretch in a 4×4 to Lodwar town, the provincial capital of Turkarna
Overnight at John’s, who we met through another cyclist passing in the opposite direction. Had a much deserved day off