A road less traveled
It was great meeting other travelers and exchanging stories and info, but after having spent almost two weeks at the overlanders hang-out Jungle Junction in Nairobi we were anxious to hit the road again. After all we finally got our Ethiopian and Sudanese visa and all the letters and stamps we needed.
While waiting for our Ethiopian visa at JJ’s we had some time to decide which route we wanted to take up north. We could either travel the Moyale road; 500km’s of very, very bad corrugation which probably would shake the Landrover to pieces (plus the chance to get robbed or attacked which had happened to a French couple just a few days before) or take the more scenic, remote Lake Turkana route. We decided to wait for Karen & William, a South-African couple we met at JJ’s, who were keen on driving the Lake Turkana route as well.
While Karen & William were still arranging their Ethiopian visa we decided to wait for them outside of Nairobi. Chris, the owner of Jungle Junction, recommended us to stay at Carnellys Campsite at Lake Navaisha. We were told that hippos might come and pay us a visit at night so we brought our camera into our rooftop tent. But even before Jenn climbed in, she spotted a hippo wandering near the lake and even later that night another hippo was grazing only 5 meters in front of our car! Jenn spent most of the night with her head sticking out of the tent, while Don was so tired that he didn’t even bother about the hippo ;-)
The next morning we saw some beautiful Colobus Monkeys and 10 minutes later a different kind of monkeys raided the campsite, steeling food out of the bins. We closed the tent jut to be sure. Wow, what a great campsite. We decided to stay another night.
From Navaisha we went towards Nakuru where we stayed at Kembu Campsite (farm stay) and from there we went to Lake Baringo where we stayed at Robert’s Camp where we met up with Karen & William.
From where we left the tarmac road ends and a 5 days drive to Ethiopia begun. We hooked up our 2-way radio’s (great fun and really easy) and arrived at Yare Camel Camp in Maralal on the first day. Here we could fuel up for the last time and do some more groceries. The second day we drove a very rocky road and did some bush camping just before South Horr. It took us 7 hours and our maximum speed was only 25 km/hr. The next day it was mostly a sandy track and arrived at Loiyangalani around lunchtime. After a goat-stew and (not so cold) drinks at ‘Cold Drinks Hotel’ we set up our camp at Palm Shades, a very nice campsite with showers and clean toilets! What do we want more?
At Palm Shades we met Ambros, a very nice teacher who invited us to his school the day after. The following morning at 08.00 the class was about Tourism. What a coincidence! It was really interesting since they were discussing ‘How does tourism contributes to Kenya’ and also about ‘ the challenges Kenya is facing, because of tourism’, things we talked about to Ambros earlier.
After class we went off to Sibiloi National Park, where we did some bush camping. The (warm) wind at night was so strong that we couldn’t really sleep. That we were actually not supposed to camp in the National Park didn’t help either…
The road in the National Park was quite good, if you know which road to take. Before we knew it we were in Illeret. Here we registered at the police station and decided to push it a little and continued to Ethiopia. From here it was only 15 km to the border. Because of the sand and the less traveled ‘road’ it was sometimes hard to find the right tracks. Most of the time we followed the GPS and sometimes we had to backtrack a little. Before we knew it we crossed the border. (There’s no official border here, that’s why we got our exit stamps in Nairobi).
The first thing we did was going to the immigration office in Omorate to get our passports stamped. Luckily it was very easy and they were really friendly. From here we went to Turmi, where we stayed at Mango/Keske Camp near the river. This area is the home to the Hamer Tribe.
The following morning we arrived at the river. A lot of trucks were waiting for the water to go down, but after a quick inspection we decided it was probably ok to cross. We deflated our tires to be on the safe side and off we went.
The drive was not too bad and all of a sudden we hit tarmac. We went to Arba Minch to change some money and get some supplies and made our way up the hill to Dorze, a small village with a great view. The following day we cleaned the cars (never had so much dust inside) and went to pay a visit to the local market where Jenn even made our own ‘Injerra’ and where we had to take shelter (and a local booze) in the local pub because of the heavy rain.
After Lake Langano Wim’s Holland House was our next stop. During our trip through we were already fantasizing about ‘bitterballen’, a local Dutch treat (William turns out to be really good in this food ‘masturbation’ by the way).
Unfortunately we had to say goodbye to William and Karen a.k.a. White Rhino in Addis. We had a great time together and we hope to meet again soon. OVER.
If you want to read the other side of the story, please visit Williams and Karen blog at http://www.travelpod.com/travel-blog-entries/tothereandback/1/1307984539/tpod.html