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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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Old 13 Jun 2006
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Lokichokio, Kenya - THE place to stopover...

Hello all:

This might sound a little funny, but I promise you, it is absolutely true.

There is a small village in the far north-west corner of Kenya (N4 11 18.7 E34 20 55.5), just where the borders of Kenya, Uganda, and Sudan meet called Lokichokio (sometimes spelled Lokichoggio). Up until about 1980, it was a one-horse town - and that was during the busy season.

Beginning in the early 1980s, all the major humanitarian relief organizations (UN, UNHCR, WFP, ICRC, and God only knows how many missionaries) began using Loki as a logistical base for relief efforts in Southern Sudan. By the mid 1990s, the town was hopping - the runway had been paved, the main street had been paved, and every organization had set up pretty large scale camps for the expat population. During the peak of activities (1995 - 2005), there were probably 1,500 expats living in camps in Loki at any given time. Think of the Klondike during 1898, or California during the gold rush of '49, and you'll have the right idea.

Now that the conflict in South Sudan has diminished, many of these organizations are packing up and moving operations to Juba or Rumbek, in South Sudan. However - the massive infrastructure that built up over the years to serve this community still remains. Most of the camps are operated by private Kenyan companies - many by Kenyan aviation companies who also base aircraft in Loki. There are a lot of empty rooms available now in that town, and they are fully serviced rooms: Running water, showers, mosquito nets, very tight security, satellite internet access, and bars and cafeterias serving the expat population everywhere.

In the past, itinerant travellers might have found it hard (or darned expensive) to overnight in Loki, but now there is space available, and a certain amount of competition for overnight guests. So, if your travels will take you to that corner of the world, Loki is probably the best spot you will ever find for a 2 or 3 day layover to rest, recharge, and live decently. If your bike needs service, you won't have any difficulty finding all the tools and workshops you need to get the job done, although you will need to make some friends with the aircraft mechanics or some of the aid workers - there are no 'repair businesses' per se there.

Loki is not a destination unto itself - it's not quite the asshole of the world, but you can see it from there. However, if you are passing through that region, it is an oasis. Whatever you need, you can probably find it there - and that even extends to air freight services for you and your moto into South Sudan, Somalai, up to Khartoum, wherever.

Hope this information is useful to some of you.
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