Wild ostriches on the famous road from Moyale to Marsabit, Kenya
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Kenya Trip Journal from December 12 to 21, 2007

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Country: Kenya
Duration: Dec. 12 to 21, 2007
Distance Traveled in the Country: Approx. 1400km on the motorcycles.
Most Memorable Impressions:
One can still find the real Africa in the northern parts of Kenya, not spoilt by tourism yet.  We had the chance to met locals doing there day to day chores in traditional dress unaware of the modern world closing in fast.  Unfortunately we were unable to visit the Kenyans national parks, as motorcycles are not allowed to enter.  For that reason we decided to visit other parks in neighboring countries for wildlife viewing. One has to mention Nairobi, a shook to the system after not seeing any modern amenities like malls and shopping centers since Italy.  Northern Kenya and Nairobi, two regions of the country that are separated by only 400km., but are worlds apart.    
Our Favourite:
- Camping at Jungle Junction in Nairobi
Fuel Cost: 84 KS ($1.40CDN/litre) for Unleaded Fuel.
Accommodations: Camped seven (7) nights for 400 to 1000KS/night ($6.60 to 16.60CDN/night).  Two (2) nights in Hotel. Basic Hotel for 200 KS/night ($3.30CDN/night) and Nice Hotel for 2100/night ($35.00CDN/ngiht).
Exchange Rate: 60 Kenyan Shilling (KS) = $1.00CDN
Border Formality Costs: Visa = $50.00US/person;
Motorcycle Customs = Free with Carnet de Passage

Dec. 12, 2007.  Moyale is part Ethiopian and part Kenyan.  We enter the Kenyan side of Moyale on the left road side (most of southern Africa is left side driving) and proceed to the immigration office to get our Kenyan Visa.  Issued on the spot for $50US/person, taking up another page of our passport, fast and efficient.  The Carnet de Passage is stamped in 5 minutes, The fasted entry into a country on our travels.  We register with the police and are officially in Kenya, all under half an hour. The only option recommended for accommodation is the Kenya Wildlife Centre Camp in Moyale for 800 KS/night ($13.20/night).  This campground was nothing to write home about and way overpriced.  We were the only occupants of the place.  The showers didn't have any water and the toilets had seen better days, but it was a place to rest for the journey ahead of the famous Moyale to Isiolo hell road.

Dec. 13, 2007.  We were ready to go at sun rise, but the gate was locked, even through we specifically told them that we wanted to leave at 6am.  Finally at 6:40am someone opened the gate.  The guide book and the immigration office specified police escort to Isiolo.  We decided to avoid the hassle of police escort, which leaves normally at 8am.  The first police check stop is located at the outskirts of Moyale and we run through it, as the officer was slow to react.  The 450km road ahead has a reputation of being one of the worst or maybe the worst.  Therefore we were surprised that the first 120km were actually pretty good.  But we soon realized that everything anyone ever said about the road is true.  After the police check stop at approx. km 120 the road turned into large rocks, very bumpy and sections of deep gravel.  The landscape looked like the surface of the moon.  Flat and fields of large rocks as far as one can see.  Sometimes it was hard to distinguish what was the road and what was the rock field. The only exciting part, besides almost crashing a few times, was seeing a herd of wild ostriches crossing in front of us. After nine (9) hours and 250km of straight riding we reached Marsabit, exhausted both physically and mentally.  The road is not technical, but very tiring on the body and the motorcycle. The last 20km before Marsabit is smooth dirt road in good condition, unless of course it would rain.   After fueling up, we check into Jay Jay Centre for 200 KS/night ($3.30CDN/night), unfortunately it did not have any running water, but the owner supplied one (1) bucket of cold water with a scoop for us to shower.

Dec. 14, 2007.  We rise and shine with the sun and head out of town past the Marsabit National Park and Reserve.  A huge storm moves in, and the sky is dark.  The wind picks up and we pray that it does not rain.  We are spared riding in the rain.  The road became more sandy and washboardy.  There was no letting up on the washboard conditions.  It was brutal.  At least the scenery was more enjoyable on the second day. We had some encounters with the locals on the way.  The women are very colorfully dressed in Kenya.  The men still are armed with a spear and some small piece of clothing to cover their central part.  Through we did see some naked men and topless females.  At one point we stopped to give water to some women, as they were carrying a large amount of fire wood on their backs in the middle of nowhere and no supply of water. The hell road stops no earlier then 2km from Isiolo.  It was funny to see the Chinese surveying the road 5km north of Isiolo.  All we know is that it will take a long time until the road to Moyale will see tarmac.  The second day of riding seemed worse, maybe because we were tired of the washboard.  There was a lot of swearing going on in the helmet by both of us to let out some of the frustration of the never ending washboard.  The poor motorcycles and the Wilbers Shocks held up amazingly.  But we also took it easy, as we did not want a break down out here.  We arrived in Isiolo after another full day of 9hr riding and 225km.  We were so happy to see smooth pavement.  We stopped in the center of town and I walked off in search of an ATM or bank, while Mike was engulfed by the local people.  The banks of course were closed (open only from 9am to 3pm, is that were the expression “Banking Hours” originated?).  In the chaos of people closing in on Mike, his sun glasses were stolen.  Our first real theft (okay the BMW logo was also stolen off Mike's motorcycle in Ethiopia) on our travels.  From this point forward we were super careful in regards to the security of our stuff. We spoiled ourselves by staying in a nice hotel for 2100KS/night ($35.00CDN/night) including breakfast.  It was called the Bomen Hotel.  Beautiful hot shower, nice bed and good food. We deserved it.

Dec. 15, 2007. Finally tarmac and a nice road ahead. We hit the road after breakfast and took the scenic route to Nairobi.  Passing by Mt. Kenya, we stop for a picture and continued on.  It was an easy 220km of riding, not counting the maniac drivers we had to avoid.  We also were getting used to the increase in traffic and driving on the wrong side of the road.  Entering Nairobi from the north we were stuck in a huge traffic jam due to a bad accident.  We are able to weasel our way through most of the non moving traffic.  Hot and sweaty we arrive at the Jungle Junction Campground.  Jungle Junction Campground is located in a nice part of Nairobi.  It was recommended by numerous other travelers we had met on the road and we had the GPS coordinates.  I do not know how anyone would find the place without GPS coordinates.  Christof, originally German, runs the campground and shop.  Camping is 1000KS/night ($16.60CDN/night).  It is located close to two (2) nice shopping centers.  The grassed and treed area is gated, comes with a kitchen, living room, and warm showers.  Best of all Christof is a motorcycle mechanic and has a shop on the premises, which everyone can use.

Dec. 16, 2007.  It is time to get the essentials restocked and with an actual washing machine on premises we were able to get our laundry done sparkling clean for 700KS. The near by shopping centre was overwhelming, we were like kids in a toy store, buying a whole bunch of groceries that we had not seen since Germany/Italy.  The ATM machine worked without a hitch and we were able to restock on our US Dollars.  It is weird that the US Dollar is still the main trading currency, through it is falling against almost every currency out there. Most activities and the Visa's are quoted in US Dollars, and as most countries are slow to react to the falling US Dollar it is actually cheaper for us to pay.  Christof closes his shop on Sunday.  We take the opportunity to hang out with other travelers at the Campground.  We met up again with Carmen (German on a BMW 650) and Peter (German on a Yamaha 600), who we had originally met in Bahar Dar, Ethiopia.  Nick & Gwen (New Zealander & American doubling up on a BMW 650) had spent the last six month traveling southern Africa to Ethiopia and were flying out to Cameroon to continue there journey north to Europe.  Salva, from Spain had been on the road for 19 months on his bicycle.  He went down the west side of Africa and will be continuing to Ethiopia into Yemen. One night we all got together and watched a DVD from Salva on the lap top of his travels.  It was great, everyone was glued to the computer and it showed some interesting places to visit.

Dec. 17, 2007.  Christof lets us move my motorcycle into the shop first thing in the morning.  We removed the right cylinder cover to replace the bolts and seals.  Even though Christof has been living for a long time in Kenya, his German heritage still shows.  The shop was very clean and organized.  Before starting to work on the motorcycle he cleans off the part with solvent and anything that is repaired is done properly.  Reminding us of my Dad.  The sheared off bolt in the crashbar was replaced, the air filter was cleaned and the whole in the rear tire fixed.  This took most of the morning, but we were set to go again. In the afternoon we visited the Internet café and posted Egypt. In the evening Jeanette and Jean (South African & Namibian) arrived at the campsite.  It was great to see them again, prior to our leaving in the morning.  They had some great stories about the border crossing from Ethiopia to Kenya in the Omo Valley.

Dec. 18, 2007.  As we knew we had a short riding day ahead of only a 100km, we returned to the internet café at Ya-Ya Centre, and updated/posted Sudan.  All packed up we left the haven of Jungle Junction, everyone gathered around us to wave us off.  It seemed weird like leaving the family behind.  As Jungle Junction is located on the west side of Nairobi it was easy to find our way out of town and on the road to Naivasha Lake. With the GPS coordinates of the Fisherman's Camp approx. 20km along the southern shore lines of the lake we were set up again in no time. The best view of the lake is as we descended from the high plateau into Naivasha.  Once on the road that follows the lake shore the brush and bush is too lush to see the actual lake.  The Fisherman's Campsite is huge and is located right at the shore (800KS/night or $13.20/night).  With the haze it is hard to see the actual size.  An electric fence surrounds the campsite, which is actuated at 6:30pm until sun rise to keep out the hippopotamus. Hippopotamus are the number one killer of humans in Africa and they can outrun you even though they way up to 3000kg in size.  They only attack when separated from there young or when threatened.  The restaurant/bar on premises was nice and served good food.  Too tired to stay up any later then 8pm, we gave the hippo's a miss.  They normally come out of the water to graze at the lake shore two (2) hours after sun set.

Dec. 19, 2007. The entrance to Hell's Gate National Park is only 5km from the Campsite.  The Lonely Planet indicated that walking, bicycling, and driving through the park without a guide was allowed. We take the motorcycles to the Park Gate and are denied entrance.  All other vehicles are allowed except motorcycles.  We could return to the campsite and rent a couple of mountain bikes and ride the 28km on the dirt road.  Maybe if we had not been so tired we would have considered that option, but 28km of rough road on a bicycle and vehicles dusting us out every few minutes did not seem very appealing.  We decided to give it a miss and hang out at the lake. We walked along the shore line, saw a hippo skeleton and area's were hippos enter the land.

Dec. 20, 2007.  We got up at 3am to see if we could spot the hippo's grazing at the lake shore.  No such luck.  By 8am we are all packed and continue along the lake shore of Lake Naivasha.  The paved road stops soon after the Fisherman's camp and turns into a dirt track.  We pass directly through a wildlife reserve, no fence and Giraffes and Zebras are grazing on both sides of the road.  Signage indicates to watch out for Giraffe crossings.  It is our first real close encounter of wildlife outside the Zoo.  It is exciting.  The dirt road joins the main paved highway again before Gilgil.  We stay on the main road until Nakuru and then headed north to Marigat, crossing the Equator the second time in Kenya.  This time we took a picture.  Christof from Jungle Junction had recommended the route from Marigat to Eldoret, indicating that it is one of those roads that after you have completed it you want to do it again.  And his suggestion did not disappoint.  The paved road winds its way through a mountain range.  Approx. 20km before Kabarnet we descended from the high plateau into a gorge (Rift Valley) and then up the other side.  An incredible view from both sides.  Late afternoon we arrive in Eldoret. We had received the GPS coordinates for a campground 16km east of Eldoret from a couple of people.  Were we ever glad we decided to check out this Campground.  The Naiberi Campground is the best campground in Kenya or best campground since Cappodocia in Turkey. Swimming pool, great facilities, hot showers with lots of pressure and water. The restaurant/bar has been designed beautifully.  It is a hidden gem in Kenya and only was 800KS/night ($13.20CDN/night). A perfect place to relax for a couple of days, but unfortunately we had to try keeping to our schedule. There are so many places that we will have to return to one day. 

Dec. 21, 2007.  From the Campground at Eldoret to the Ugandan Border is only a couple of hours.  The border crossing was a bit of a surprise to us, as it was total chaos and very busy.  We had gotten used to the “middle of no-where” border crossings.  Trucks carrying goods were lined up for a kilometer prior to the border crossing, we passed them all and parked the motorcycles in front of the customs and immigration building.  Instantly there are people trying to help you (for a fee) and people asking if you want to change money.  I stayed with the motorcycles to ensure that all our gear was not disappearing, while Mike went to get the Kenya exit stamp in the passports and carnets.  Prior to crossing into Uganda we had to show insurance on the Kenyan side.  The Comesa Yellow Card insurance was sufficient and we continued to the Ugandan border.

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