9th February 2014 Crossed into Kenya yesterday with, again, a minimum of fuss. Both Ugandan and Kenyan officials most friendly. Visas cost USD$50 each and a road tax of USD$40.
I described the road into Dar as the Highway to Hell. Well the one into Nairobi is Beyond Deathwish. Same deadly driving but when visibility decreased to about 20 metres due to rain fog and hail their driving techniques were not changed one iota. Same high speed and overtaking on blind bends and crests.
Recrossed the equator and arrived at the Wildebeest Eco camp where it is 15C. (Is this Africa?). This place is owned by an Aussie couple, Alan and Lynita, and is a green oasis. One of the best so far, with excellent facilities, Wi-Fi and restaurant all at a reasonable price.
13th February 2014 Arranging visas for Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt.
Letters of introduction from the Australian High Commission and other information was provided quickly and at no cost, just make sure you get there early as these services close at midday. Same for the Ethiopian embassy.
The Ethiopian embassy had some beaurocracy but not too bad. We had to undergo an interview, which was not unpleasant, as we had heard. The Ethiopian diplomat who interviewed us actually apologised for making us wait five minutes.
Cost USD$20 each for a two month visa.
At the Egyptian embassy we were told to apply for the Egyptian visa at Khartoum.
AUD$64 each for a one month visa for Sudan.
All of the above has gone smoothly as we were prepared with copies of all of our documents, passports, carnet, birth and marriage certificates, passport photos etc., were not cheeky with them and waited patiently. All in all the waiting was not too bad.
Having completed these formalities we have a wait of two or three days for the visas to be issued.
We experienced a similar “sheep following” ritual to the one in Dubai. We had gone to a local upmarket shopping centre, which is surrounded by new road works, nothing like what you have seen in Sydney. As we left I took the obvious dirt road back to camp. About half a kilometre on I came to a mountain of roadwork blocking the road ahead. WRONG WAY, but there were twenty cars behind, following me.
16th February 2014 Yesterday we went to the giraffe park, which is just a few kilometres away from our camping. Here you could hand feed them. They have long ( about 30cm ), blue, rough tongues and form them into a scoop shape just as you place the pellet onto them. They will also try to lick your face.
Today we went to the Kenya Wildlife National Park, which is also but a few minutes from our camping. It is quite a large park with a backdrop of Nairobi skyscrapers, so get the right angle and you can get a picture of some wild animals against a city skyline.
We, again, saw many animals, antelope, rhinoceros, hippo, giraffe, zebra but no cats or elephants. It was still worth the US$50 each for entry.
17th February 2014 I had the best haircut that I can remember today. It included a facial massage with balms applied, neck also, pressure points, beard trim with hot towels and some mild Chiropractic techniques. Judy was not quite as happy with hers as they were a little too timid with her hair.
After lunch we drove into Nairobi city to pick up our new Garman GPS. Nairobi is a very busy city but with quite a western feel to it. After negotiating the tortuous one-way streets and bypasses we finally approached our destination where I had several meetings with the city police. The first was when I made a right hand turn and, apparently, went against a red light. Two woman police officers pulled me over and explained to me the meaning of a red light. Again I apologised and pleaded ignorance I’m an Australian, whilst Judy did some quick talking and changed the subject. After talking for a bit the officer said you should buy some land here (I don’t know either), asked us for our phone number and said we should all go out together sometime soon. The next was when I parked illegally while Judy went in to get the parcel. There were other cars parked there also so I thought I was safe. Some “Clamping Inspectors” even walked past without comment. Hello, another policewoman. She informed me that she would have to impound my car and that it would cost me 6000 shillings to release it (about AUD$80). What are we going to do about this? She said, (you get my drift?) She then suggested that if I paid an instant fine of 3000 shillings all would be well. Luckily my wallet was a bit bare and she accepted 10 dollars of various currencies. As she walked off she told me that I was now allowed to park there. Not five minutes later two male police approached and with a big smile told me that they were going to arrest me and take me away. I told them that I had immunity because of the previous encounter. They were very interested in this information and went off in search of the officer allowing me to escape. I think they were joking with me. I might add that this city is known amongst travellers as I-rob-ya.
On the way home we called in at the Sudanese embassy, slightly late, and collected our passports and visas just as they had instructed.
I have a wallet with old credit cards and a small amount of money in it in case of robbery but I think that this is the wallet I will pull out whenever I speak to the police. See the connection?
At the Wildebeest camp we have met several other overlanders, a Czech couple Petra and
Pavel, a South African couple Jean and Rui, and a German, Jürgen. We all got on well and socialised in the evenings to become what I like to call the “Wildebeest Club”. Unfortunately we are all going in different directions but we may catch up with some of them later in Europe.
19th February 2014 We left Nairobi and headed north about 160k to the town of Nyeri where Baden Powell, creator of the Boy Scout Movement for you young’un’s, lived and died. He is buried here and we will visit his grave tomorrow, I as an old Boy Scout and Judy a Brownie.
Crossed the Equator again, 26c.
Big problems with Tracks4Africa see “Tips” section.
Camped now at Sandai camp and guesthouse looking toward a snow-capped Mount Kenya. This place is at the end of a ten kilometre black dirt road and the rain is just starting. Guess I’ll be testing by new rubber boots tomorrow. In the morning we had coffee with the owner, a German lady who was very welcoming and we would have liked to have stayed longer but the road is calling.
Really pouring now with hail. Cosy in our cubby. With a fire waiting to be lit in the shed, next to us.
Too miserable to light the fire, it is ready for the next man.
20th February 2014 didn’t have to dust off the Wellies but I did do a 360 doughnut in the mud, totally out of control but came to no grief. We did pay our respects to Baden Powell. There is quite a complex there, a museum, an indoor camping area his and his wife’s gravesite. We met the Head Guide who told us that she had recently met and shook the hand of Kenya’s President, Uhuru Kenyatta. So I shook the hand that shook the hand.
We then motored north to Umoj Waso Women’s Group Camp, which is a community project to protect abuse amongst the local women. There is no shower here and you have to pay corkage for any food or drink that you
consume that you do not buy at the restaurant. We are camped in a semi arid area next to a muddy river. The cook came up to me and asked if I needed some security and upon further quizzing told me that although there was no problem here, as we were travelling to Ethiopia ,we may need to enquire at the local police station as to the availability of security i.e. a man with a gun to accompany us north.
21st February 2014 The first 80k was a perfect tar road with little traffic and picture perfect countryside. The last 120k was a really bad dirt road and we have decided to stop early today at Henry’s camp, Marsabit before attempting the last 200k of bad dirt in Kenya.
Henry’s camp has a good hot shower, flushing toilet and a small open common room with some beer in the fridge. It is cool and very windy here at the moment (high altitude). Henry himself is a Swiss man who was stranded here thirty seven years ago and decided to stay. We have also ascertained that the road ahead is clear of bandits.
22nd February 2014 Encountered no bandits and the road was a little better that expected ie. Some tarmac, some good dirt and no rain. Plenty of interesting arid landscape, donkeys and camels and nomads in bright clothes. I tell you most of the good stuff is just driving along the road.
Entry into Ethiopia was easy until we reached customs. CLOSED, because the man went home early but operators in the area could ring him and get him back. (Remember Zambia). We kicked up a stink and sure enough we got through. We are learning.