The following morning after arriving at the Karkaro Lodge on Lake Langano we discovered, while feasting on a full Karkaro special of American pancakes, sausages and eggs, that we had been incredibly fortunate to have made it from Addis to the lodge without stumbling into any trouble. Unto our knowledge a number of people had died a few days earlier at a protest that turned bad, and 5 days of rage was called by a number of people from parties opposing the Ethiopian government. As such informal roadblocks had been erected along the main road we had travelled and a number of cars and lorries had been stoned and burnt to a cinder. As a result we heeded advice from the owners of the lodge to keep off the roads for a few days, so we relaxed by the picturesque shores of Lake Languano for 4 nights, recharging our batteries after storming down through Northern Africa.
Due to our holdup, Bertie decided to delay his flight to Nairobi by a week so to allow us time for any more unforeseen delays. After leaving Lake Languano we headed south west towards Arba Minch, at the top of the Omo Valley, where we spent two nights exploring the Nechasar National Park – a park that certainly wetted our appetite for off-road driving! In the park we saw loads of Zebra, Hippo, Crocodile and Monkeys.
We then set off towards the Kenyan Border at Moyale, which involved 110km of the most monotonous gravel road towards Yabello at just 20km/h. Once at Yabello we flew down the new highway to within 30 minutes of the border where we wild camped before crossing into Kenya first thing the following morning.
Arriving in Moyale at 7am we met up with a group of 3 cars from Oman at the customs office who were also driving to Tanzania. Crossing the border on both sides was very swift with the newly built Kenyan side very much resembling a British border post! Fortunately we were able to get an East African Tourist Visa at the border for USD 100 pp that covers Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda for multiple entries.
From the border we decided to convoy with the Omani’s down to near Buffolo Springs where we wild camped together and feasted on half a BBQ’d goat they had bought in the previous town! We found that a lovely highway had replaced the notorious road from Moyale to Archers Post making for a smooth drive.
The following day we pressed on towards Mount Kenya, stopping briefly in Nanyuki for some supplies. It seemed you could purchase anything from 2ft long machetes to tazers from the side of the road! Once at Mount Kenya we broke off from the convoy as they wished to spend the night inside the park – at 80 USD pp for the park entry and camping it did seemed a tad steep for one night – so we pressed on to Nairobi, arriving at the Jungle Juntion Campsite in Karen just after dark.
The campsite is a definite overland hub with more than 20 overland vehicles and rigs stored on the premises. We had 2 days before Bertie landed so I decided to give Melvin his first service in front of Chris’s (the owners) workshop changing the oil, replacing the oil, air and fuel filters and tightening the hub socket’s. It was my first attempt at servicing a vehicle and typically beginners luck was not on my side as I managed to not reattached the new oil filter securely! After a couple of hours and the odd expletive, Melvin was fully serviced and ready for more miles.
After picking up Bertie we spent one more night in Nairobi before heading North West to Camp Carnelly’s at Naivaisha Lake, where we enjoyed a day relaxing, watching a hippo wallow in the nearby reeds. The food at the camp was also phenomenal – with the Nachos and Pizza both highly recommended! The owner was also very useful in offering us advice on places to visit, both in Kenya and beyond – one of which was the Aberdares National Park, visible on the horizon to the north from where we were camping.
The following day we set off for the Aberdare’s with all but 50 Kenyan shillings to our name, planning to change some more dollars in Naivasha – but lo and behold it was a public holiday and all banks were shut. Armed with only dollars (stashed in various crevasses in the car) we decided to push on to the Aberdares park gate high rising high into the mountains that overlook Naivashia.
The park was described by the owner of Camp Carnelly’s as being like Scotland, and after visiting 3 wonderful waterfalls we woke up from our wild camp in pea-soup fog, with temperatures having dipped below freezing in the night! The following day we did a game drive and saw a leopard, buffalo, gazelle, zebra, monkeys and wildebeest. However, despite seeing signs of the rich elephant population everywhere we didn’t catch glimpse of a elephant the whole day!
From the Aberdares we retraced our steps north to meet Martin a friend who farms just north of Mount Kenya…