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sub-Saharan Africa Topics specific to sub-Saharan Africa. (Includes all countries South of 17 degrees latitude)
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  • 4 Post By Wazungu
  • 1 Post By Mousse83
  • 1 Post By Sirakor

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  #1  
Old 27 Nov 2013
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Anyone want to convoy with us Ethiopia to Kenya via Lake Turkana east side Dec 2013

Does anyone want to convoy with us (Land Rover Defender) down the Omo Valley/Lake Turkana east side route? We are currently in Lalibela and will be in Addis on 30 November 2013. We would want to start down from Omorate on or about the 10th December 2013.

I have seen the thread about unrest at Lorogon, but that is well west of Lake Turkana.
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  #2  
Old 27 Nov 2013
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Hello Wazangu,

We're planning to take this route next year so we can not join you. But we are looking forward to your report and experiences on this route. Do you have a website?

Kind regards,

Berry van Welzen
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  #3  
Old 30 Nov 2013
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Hi,
We are in Konso now. We are with 2 belgian people who unfortunately has car problems (broken gearbox). We planned to drive the Turkana route together with them, but that is not possible anymore. The plan is that we pull them to Moyale and from there they put their car on a Isuzu truck and get to Nairobi where they get a new gearbox.
At this moment our plan is to drive the Moyale route. But it seems that the last days are a bit dangerous because of the end of the Safari Rally.
Anyway, we can drive back to Omo valley (omorate) after we pulled the Belgians to Moyale.
We need to be in Kampala the on 17th of December. Do you have interest to be a few days earlier in Omorate?
You can text or call us on our Ethiopian phonenumber: 00251936744397

Regards,
Hans en Dorien (Hans en Dorien | Op weg naar Kaapstad)
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  #4  
Old 2 Dec 2013
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Sorry, we are already in Kenia.
Tommorow we go to Sumburu nat park.

Hope you find someone for the Turkana route

safe travels!

Hans en Dorien
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  #5  
Old 13 Dec 2013
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I am currently in Khartoum, and would like to team up with someone to drive the Turkana route in late Dec 13 / early January 14. I will probably be in Addis around Dec 25-28, give me a shout if anyone is interested.
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  #6  
Old 15 Dec 2013
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Planning to drive up north beginning/mid January, hope to see you in Nairobi/surroundings to hear about your experiences!
Good luck & safe travels!
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  #7  
Old 26 Dec 2013
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Lake Turkana East side route

We have just come down the eastern Lake Turkana route - two people in a Land Rover Defender. We had no problems, but make sure you are mechanically sound and are fully fuelled and with enough fresh water. The Ethiopian authorities at Omorate are friendly and helpful and the whole exit process from Ethiopia took half an hour. We wild camped in Sibiloi, and then camped at Koobi Fora (limited fresh water available). First fuel (from a barrel) is at Loiyengalani, but don't bank on there being fuel there - we had sufficient to get from last available fuel at Arba Minch in Ethiopia to Maralal/Isiolo in Kenya. We camped in Loiyengalani at Palm Shade, and then at "Samburu Sports Club" in South Horr. There was unseasonal rain here in the north, so we stuck to the main track from South Horr to Maralal via Baragoi. However, at Baragoi we picked up two armed policemen as there have been a few incidents in the stretch between Baragoi and Maralal. We are not sure this is wholly necessary. However, the police station at Baragoi were very helpful and we only gave a tip to the policemen (equivalent to a day's pay - approx 1000KSH each).

We called in at the police post at Ileret - the first settlement in Kenya - and ensured they recorded our arrival in the Incident Book. This was not for any safety reasons, but because there are no border controls on the Kenya side. This avoids any arguments with immigration officers in Nairobi (or police en route) - you can ask them to check with the police station at Ileret if they wish to argue about when you entered. Once we arrived in Nairobi, we went to Immigration (Nyayo House) and obtained our visas and were logged into the country. We then went to Customs (Times Tower) and did all the formalities involved in getting the vehicle into Kenya - Carnet and a "Foreign Vehicle disk". The whole process in Nairobi only took a morning.

This route down the Omo Delta and Lake Turkana is absolutely incredible and to be recommended, but you do need to be totally self-sufficient. We didn't see another car for 2.5 days, and did 616 miles without touching tarmac. The National Museums of Kenya staff at Koobi Fora are very helpful, as are the Kenya Wildlife Services rangers and wardens in Sibiloi National Park, but they are not there to rescue lost or broken down overlanders (although they would help in an emergency, I'm sure). It would be a long walk, however to either the Park HQ or Koobi Fora. We do recommend that you just swallow the cost and go through the Park. We also recommend the Tracks 4 Africa mapping. It is sound for the area, and includes many/most of the minor tracks.
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  #8  
Old 29 Dec 2013
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Hi,
Thanks for sharing! Planning to go in about 2 weeks. Are you still in Nairobi? We'll arrive there tomorrow and would love to catch up and hear more about your recent experience!

Regards,
Marloes
marloes_ark@yahoo.com
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  #9  
Old 10 Jan 2014
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Just got back to Nairobi and happy to meet if you are still here, although I suspect you have gone.
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  #10  
Old 15 Jan 2014
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I just arrived in Isiolo after taking the Turkana route, and should be in Nairobi in two days or so. I will post more info later, but in case you are still in Kenia and want to meet, give me a shout. I am on a green KTM.
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  #11  
Old 18 Jan 2014
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Hereby an update from Arba Minch, Ethiopia!

At the end, we did both Lake Turkana AND Marsabit – Moyale. We didn't feel comfortable with the whole week off-road (Turkana) after all and were also advised by a security expert that the border region Ethiopia-Kenya was currently instable. Besides, the security and conditions of the Marsabit-Moyale should be allright when we took off (and they were indeed!!).
We are really satisfied with the choices we made, although we met quite some people coming from Ethiopia into Kenya who found the Turkana route to be perfectly fine.
So, what exactly did we do?
We decided to visit Lake Turkana via a loop (cause we heard great stories about the lake) from Laisamis to Marsabit. Really stunning to see the lake and also impressive to see the tribal people and their way of life.The roads were mostly good sandy tracks and nice driving, apart from quite some (dry) riverbed crossings between Laisamis and South Horr and a tough vulcanic rocks-track the last 50km before Marsabit. NB: This loop seems to be only possible in the dry season!!
The route we took:
Day 1: Nairobi – Nanyuki (private camp)
Day 2: Nanyuki - Laisamis (camped at the Catholic Mission of Father Isaiah)
Day 3: Laisamis – South Horr (camped at the Samburu camp)
Day 4: South Horr - Loyangalani (Palm Shades camp)
Day 5: Loyangalani – Chalbi desert track – Marsabit (Henry’s Camp)
Day 6: Marsabit – Moyale (Koket on Ethiopian side), it took us 7,5 hours.
We found all the camps mentioned really nice.

If any additional info needed, feel free to ask /send me a PM!

Sirakor, I think we already met each other on the road between Loyangalani and South Horr! We were the Dutchies in the beige Landcruiser
Wazungu, too bad... not in Nairobi anymore. Enjoy the rest of our trip!
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  #12  
Old 1 Feb 2014
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Indeed, we already met on the road :-)

As promised, some more information below. You will also find some pics on twitter @TLyagushka

Maps: I have not come across any paper map that is even remotely useful. The large scale Michelin has no detail, Reiseknowhow Kenya is rubbish in the area, and two other brands I looked at in Nairobi were also completely wrong. If you are going North, JJs has a relatively accurate map with comments on the living room wall. T4A is mostly spot on though, and I would highly recommend it. Only between Park HQ and Loyangalani the last 35km before Loyangalani I didnt match what I saw.

Fuel: last fuel pumps with 95% chance of finding fuel are Arba Minch and Jinka, although both were out of fuel when I was there. In Kenya reliable fuel is available in Maralal. In between there may well be black market fuel, amongst others in Konso, Weyto, Turmi, Iliret and Loyangalani, but I wouldn't bank on it. If you want to make life easier for yourself, try to be in Arba Minch Fri/Sat when many Tour Landcruisers start heading for Turmi/bulljumping. If you are lucky you can find a group that will also visit Omorate, and may take some fuel along for you. I did exactly that and could start in Omorate with 60L total. Try to avoid the black market fuel in Ethiopia if you can, its between 1.5-3x regular prices and has even more gunk in it than the fuel at the pumps. 60L were too much, and I jettisoned some fuel along the way. PM me if you are taking this route, there may be 7.5L available in Sibiloi (but don't bank on it).

Water: available everywhere where you might get fuel, plus at Hado (and several villages north of Banya from pumps), Koobi Fora, Sibiloi HQ. Don't underestimate water consumption, with the wind and heat it can be well north of 8L a day. Plus you need spare in case you get into trouble, enough for 1day wait + to potentially walk out. I'd recommend taking rehydration salts, made a big difference for me at close to 50C.

Road conditions: likely to change daily, and rain will change everything, so take the below only as an indication. Also bear in mind that I am on a 148kg bike with minimal luggage and good suspension. Expect everything from soft sands, gravel, lava fields to large rocks on slopes. All easily doable on a dirt bike with your mates if you have offroad experience (not just green lanes or pistes!). But luggage, heat etc it could turn into a nightmare. Most memorable bits for me were the famous rocky hill some 20km north of Koobi Fora, ridiculously deep sand around Koobi Fora, and strong gales on rocky slopes south of Loyangalani.

Route options: I hear different opinions whether the route through the park or the one around is better. I took the route through the park, with Koobi Fora as a rest place. 22km south of Park HQ is a junction, I took the western route along the lake, which is very likely in much worse condition than the eastern route via North Horr. In particular, on the western route, the last 35km into Loyangalani were very sandy, and this is also were the track disappeared and T4A failed me. I went along the lake shore all the way in the end. Beautiful, but harder than the other option.

Riding times: take only as indication. I was going relatively slow, as I was solo and didnt want to risk broken limbs or smashed engine cases on the rocks. Changing tracks, rain and your bike/ability also factor in this of course. Also I generally started at dawn and called it quits by noon at the latest to avoid the heat.
Omorate - Iliret approx 2.5h (Day 1)
Iliret - Koobi Fora approx 3h (Day 1)
Koobi Fora - Park HQ aporox 3.5h (Day 2)
Park Hq - Loyangalani approx 7h (Day 3)
If you are an experienced offroad racer *and* have a recovery vehicle you could probably half the above times, if you are new to the game and have a heavy bike, you'll probably be looking at double. Time is critical in so far as water = time, and concentration will deteriorate in the heat ...

Accomodation: camping, rooms, showers etc are available at Koobi Fora, so long as its not the archeologists convention the day you go. If coming south, I would strongly recommend not camping at park HQ as $15 for zero facilities is ridiculous. Loot cold drinks at their canteen, and then set up camp just outside the park. In Loyangalani, I found the Palm Shades Camp nice. Depending on your luck, Koobi Fora and park HQ may or may not have food.

Immigration: as laid out above by Wazungu, except I didn't ask for the FPV disc nor roadtax, and neither was ever asked of me. I did exit via a bush border though, it may be different at larger crossings.
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