Well well! Kenya at last! 😀
Mostly I think Ethiopia was just too long this year. A whole month there… in comparison, we’ve blown through Kenya in under two weeks, and it’s so much better!
The first few days were supposed to be the roughest days of the tour, Moyale to Marsabit. All lava rock roads, sometimes no roads at all, if you fall it’s falling onto lava rock and you’re cutting yourself like a cheese grater. This is a phrase we heard often, cheese grater. In reality, it was not bad at all! The vast majority of the road, probably 80-90 percent was either paved or very soon to be paved and in different levels of awesomeness for us to ride on. Sometimes it was just hardpacked and level and that was enough, sometimes it was fully paved and tarred and dried, sometimes it was a temporary side road that was shitty but nothing resembling the cheese grater fall roads we were told about. It was 3 days that was supposed to be hell, but next year it could easily be done in two, I’m sure almost all of it, if not the entire thing, will be paved by then. It’s odd though, cycling the 20-25k long paved sections with just one or two cars being seen over a period of hours.. Also there was a surprising amount of roadkill (even a Hyena), given how much traffic there was… Odd!
Camp at Sololo on day 1 was pretty nice, and the ride there had a tailwind most of the way to it, I think, and so even though it was rough road the whole time it was a lot of fun! Leah and I cycled a lot together, lots of good convo, and then a little bit of funny since we were talking about falling and then BOOM she falls to the ground. Quite a bit of scrapes on her from it, but she was a trooper and went on for the day! She loves her bike. Lots of other accidents too, which was weird, it wasn’t nearly as hard as a lot of days in Ethiopia. Michael and Kam both had some pretty big accidents… There’s a pic here at Claudia’s blog. It’s in German, but the picture is crazy. I have a pic of Mike below but I missed a chance to get a pic of Kam.
The next day was a slog. Lots of unpaved, a fair bit of up, and I just was over the offroad. If you’re thinking of doing TDA in the future, ignore two things they recommend everywhere: no suspension, and steel bike. Get an aluminum hardtail mountain bike. There’s just way too much offroad. We had bucket showers that night at the windiest camp ever… I just rinsed my feet, legs, arms, etc. Not much. Kam walked a lot this day because of his accident the day before, and he wanted exercise… He planned to just walk a bit, but Erwin was missed at lunch check-in (he was fine, they just didn’t see him come through), so the trucks were searching for him instead of picking up Kam and I think he walked through the desert for 24k alone and with limited water. No pavement! Then he got picked up.
There was a TT on the third day, 45k from camp to lunch, and it was all headwind. I went for it a bit anyways, just to see what I could do… I felt I was pretty competitive, given how casual I take most days… I was only 6 minutes behind Ina (2:16 to my 2:22) and I finished ahead of Young David and Sandro… Wee! Maybe that’s my additional rest, but it was still just nice to see that I could push it. I didn’t want an official time, so I took the lunch truck so I’d get 12h anyways…
We drove ahead to Marsabit where we camped at a convent, and had a rest day there as well… The convent was a nice place, really. They had slow wired internet which I magic’d into a wifi hotspot using Jennilea’s laptop and it was awesome, so many people were on it, it was great. Otherwise there wouldn’t have been internet there! The town was a bit sketchy at night… The best bar and restaurant was also a brothel, we didn’t spend much time there… I did find a beef dish and some chips though! Also some ice cream, chips, etc! Amazing bits!
Next day had a lot of hot in the forecast and all offroad again, so I took the camp truck and told them to drop me off 15k before camp so I could run it in. I got dropped off, but it turned out to be 5k not 15k. Oh well, it was still an ok run, and it was soooo hot, so maybe it was better I didn’t run 15.
The 2nd day past Marsabit was our transit-past-the-bandits day… And was supposed to be a sleep-in day. There was a very crystal clear rule about being quiet until 7am. The bus wasn’t leaving until 9am, breakfast wasn’t until 8am, and it was stated ridiculously clearly that taking down your tent at 6-something would make you very unpopular. Two people had their tents down by 6:15. I was awake randomly and chatting on my phone, but others got woken up by this, and I just think it’s crazy bullshit that people couldn’t obey this one simple rule. 6:15 is 1:45 before breakfast, maybe just WAIT A GODDAMN MINUTE. haha.. Birgit actually got woken up on purpose at 7:13 because someone thought she was oversleeping… Despite me being awake like 10 feet away from her and both of us were visible since neither had our rainflies on. WHY?! Her alarm was set for 7:15 anyways, but it’s just… I don’t get it. Let people sleep! We didn’t leave our tents until 7:30 and still were completely packed up and ready by 7:54, 6 minutes before breakfast was served. Everyone was sitting around impatiently despite the clear timing instructions!
Anyways, the bus trip was fun, we saw a Waller’s Gazelle / Gerenuk, which I think some people mistook for a Giraffe. There was also apparently Zebra that I missed… Mostly it was a nap.
We pulled into Isiolo at the Rangeland Campground pretty early where everyone enjoyed some Nyama Choma and wifi. It was another pretty nice camp with good showers. Birgit and I taxi’d over to Isiolo and found some ice cream, chips, and picture opportunities.
Next up was an amazing ride up and over the edge of Mount Kenya, the second biggest Volcano and Mountain in Africa. Nice views all day and two people even saw a big bull elephant! Agh, can’t believe I missed it. It was 35k of climbing followed by 35k of downhill. For 10k of the downhill I averaged over 50 km/h. I hardly even stopped for lunch, just two pieces of watermelon… Then into Nanyuki for chips and meat! Stocked up on meat for the next day when we were going to have a big BBQ! Delicious excitement!
Nanyuki’s hotel was Sportsman’s Arms… It was pretty nice and the Equator party we had (one night before crossing the equator) was amazing! We all went swimming really late at night (all meaning the coolest people – ;))… Sandro paid hard for it in the morning, maintaining his EFI with a massive hangover. Alex had to scout the route alone in Nairobi too, again with a killer hangover. I was fine, raced 2k to the equator and then trucked into camp at Savage Wilderness Camp, where there was supposed to be rafting, but the water levels were crazy low and the guide told us basically that it wouldn’t be fun right now (thanks for his honesty! Saved us a lot of money!) so we didn’t do it. I had my best IT fix here too, where I fixed the visa machine at the campground… I’d never even used one of these back home but it was clear to me what the problem was… Fun!
From there we biked to Nairobi! 115k overall or something, with a convoy for the last 20ish km. Birgit had a flat tire of course! So she got picked up quick by the Land Cruiser and the rest of us continued on, got stuck in taxi-strike related traffic jams, and eventually made it here to Indaba Campground, where both 3G and wifi are amazing! Wifi needed some setting changes for most people because they tried to limit us to 10 users at a time… And it wasn’t working for most! Other than that, it’s been great. Hamburger and Chips for a quick lunch yesterday… Then at night we all went out for many birthdays and going-aways to Carnivore, an amazing local restaurant that’s Brazilian BBQ style, all you can eat meat deliciousness. I tried Ostrich and Crocodile. Croc was better, kind of like a gamey chicken. The mall near the campground had a great supermarket too, and a Froyo store! Nairobi is so western! It’s such a huge huge shift from northern Kenya! Still no Kindle or Kobo or other eReader on sale though. I’m so sad mine broke. I did find a new book though, Cloud Atlas, a few days ago.
Today we went to an Elephant Orphanage and it was amazing… Amazing! Such good pictures and cute little elephants! Check out the pics below!
Tomorrow we cycle on to the border, then Arusha the next day. Apparently (details are lacking) I’m signed up for a 3 day Safari at this point with about 8 others, it’ll be super fun! Then maybe (almost definitely) 7 days in Zanzibar scuba diving and swimming instead of biking 7 days through more offroad in mainland Tanzania! SO EXCITED. Sigrid and some of her friends are also going I found out, so I’m even more interested in going!
That’s that! 🙂 All caught up! Stay tuned! Hopefully updates are more common now! Sorry for the lack, lately, friends!
MISS YOU ALL!!!
Picture time! 98 of them!
2 thoughts on “Kenya! Desert to Western Life… The Extreme Transition from Northern Kenya to Nairobi”
You saw real live baby elephants! You can’t imagine how insanely jealous I am right now. Elephants are my favorite animal. And these babies are so cute! If I were you I’d forget about the rest of the tour and just hang out with the elephants for the next two months.
Thanks for all the photos!! We look forward to you blogs. Thanks for taking the time for Michael, we enjoy seeing his photos too.