15.07.2011 - 23.07.2011 33 °C
Crossing the equator again, back in Kenya. We’ve crossed it properly at least seven times on the trip, but at one point the road ran along it for an hour or so, so we probably crossed it many more times without realising. It’s strange not knowing which hemisphere you’re in. Gary sometimes used his GPS to see exactly where the line was.
We stayed at a campsite on a dairy farm near Nakuru. The green grass and rolling hills looked much like Worcestershire. Not a scene I thought I’d see in Africa.
In the morning we all got up very early and drove to Lake Nakuru National Park for a game drive.
Baboons are cute when they’re babies
Marabou stork. These things are huge and very prehistoric-looking. When they fly, they look like pterodactyls.
The lake is swarming with birdlife. There are thousands of flamingos, looking like a pink carpet on the surface of the water.
We saw black and white rhinos.
We call these ‘push-up lizards.’ They lie on a rock doing push-ups, presumably to help them see further.
This male lion was by himself, resting. As we were watching him, another one showed up and they lay down together, snuggled up. This, apparently, is unusual behaviour for mature male lions.
After lunch we drove to Lake Naivasha.
High tea at Elsemere, home of Joy Adamson, from ‘Born Free.’ Her house has been left largely untouched; the garden goes down to the lake and is often visited by colobus monkeys.
One of which jumped onto our table and stole a piece of cake.
Baby in the tree.
George Adamson’s Land Rover, in which he was shot dead by bandits.
When marabou storks attack.
The next leg of our journey was going to be possibly the toughest. The road north from Nairobi to Moyale, on the Ethiopian border, is one of the worst in Africa. There’s currently a draught in this part of the Horn of Africa, so we had to be very careful with conserving water. We would be bush camping for five nights straight, driving through the sparsely populated northern provinces of Kenya. Bandit country too – Shifta, a group of Somalian bandits occasionally make raids along the (only) road, and the area is so remote, it’s effectively lawless.
So, armed to the teeth with bows and arrows, machetes, hunting knives and a crossbow (Michael’s invention), we set off.
The gang. Changing clothes would have been really pointless; with the amount of dust pouring into the truck, and the ban on washing with jerry can water (need it all for drinking/cooking etc.), every item of clothing would’ve been filthy in hours. Thus, in true adventurer style, we all agreed not to change any clothes until we got to Ethiopia. Dirty dirty.
Camels here were huge. And everywhere!
Twister at lunch. Dan ran into the middle of it, and turned brown.
The road was very good to begin with.
Tribal villages. Only two or three overland trucks pass through here every year. These people see very few foreigners. This is the real deal, they’re not dressing up for tourists, it’s how they live. We got a glimpse of their lives, albeit a very small one, but it was incredible.
First bush camp.
When the tarmac ended, the road got very bad.
The road is never graded, so the corrugation caused by trucks driving on it gets worse and worse. We were averaging about 15kph, with bumps so big they threw us out of our seats about a foot into the air and slammed us back down. Standing up at the back, it was like we were jumping, our heads almost reaching the ceiling. I have some hilarious videos of the chaos and carnage.
Although we all got pretty sore, it was such fun – some of the best driving days we’ve had. And because we were going so slowly, you could really appreciate the landscape.
Unfortunately, Gary became a casualty of the road. He smashed his head on a metal edge and cut it badly. Blood everywhere, he took it pretty well. Though I can’t imagine the constant bumping would have been much fun with a banging headache.
Looks like a war vet, just come back from 'Nam.
About halfway through, we stopped in a little town for lunch. The place was so remote; two days’ drive from anywhere, and we attracted a fair amount of curiosity. But because the people there don’t have any contact with tourists, people weren’t hassling us, trying to sell us stuff, which was refreshing. Kenya is such a touristed country, however the north is like being on a totally different planet. Goat and camel herding nomads, and hundreds of kilometres of dry, dusty nothingness.
A delicious meal in a little café. Albeit a huge carbohydrate overdose!
Everyone we saw was chewing on a leaf called chat, so we thought it fitting to get some too. A very mild narcotic, we hoped it’d make the bumpy road more comfortable. After chewing wads of the stuff for two hours however, we agreed it wasn’t really worth the effort.
Lee – could’ve passed for Shifta, I recon. It was the only way of reducing the amount of dust you breathed in. With the truck’s open sides, every square millimetre of everything ended up coated in it.
A very dusty Mike.
Zoe and Jen.
Murph and Gary.
The only road workers we saw.
We all ended up looking like coalminer Matt.
We thought this might’ve been a meteor crater.
Another bush camp. Absolutely nothing on the horizon; remote is a huge understatement! That day we saw no vegetation whatsoever. It was like being on the surface of Mars. A few of us slept outside, without even a mosquito net, every night for these few days. This particular night, Andi said she saw a camel spider scurrying around... Thankfully, we didn't know this - ignorance is bliss!
Nomads moving on, their houses all packed up.
Extreme bocce (like boules) – our last bush camp in Kenya. This was awesome terrain for it - gullies, holes, bushes, speed-killing sand... I managed to get my ball lodged inside a hollow log. Reaching in to retrieve it, I was conscious of the deadly snake which may have called this log home. Thankfully, not.