Kenya to South Africa
... So, after virtually 4 weeks in Mombasa and starting to feel like
we were in the film Groundhog Day the real travelling could start. They
day we left we met a Dutch couple who'd travelled from South Africa on
a Honda XL600 with no real difficulty. They were able to reassure us about
our choice of bike although they did say the road out of Mombasa was practically
non-existent for the first 40kms.
This was indeed true but at least it was dry despite a fair amount
of recent rain. That stretch was slow going and on one occasion the bike
grounded but it only hit the centre stand and no damage was done. After
that until we reached Tsavo National Park the road was reasonable although
potholed and we could make reasonable progress. Through the park the road
was brand new and I could relax a bit. There were no animals other than
baboons and vervet monkeys to be seen but as the land 10m either side
of the road appeared to have been churned up by road construction activity
this wasn't surprising.
We spent that night in Voi at the Wakesho Guest House which I highly
recommend for its setting and food. The services are good too. It's about
1km up a dirt road from the road leading into town. The junction is by
the cemetery and is signposted. We camped and were the only people there
Continuing to Nairobi the road deteriorated again after Mito Andei.
The potholes had largely been repaired but the road surface was so uneven
speeds had to be kept down to 60kph in order to maintain some comfort.
People using trail bikes will of course have no trouble at all with that
bit of road and it did improve considerably 100kms from Nairobi. Traffic
of course didn't but it was no great problem.
It's amazing how used you get to facing oncoming cars on your side of
the road when they have committed themselves to overtaking someone at
a stupid moment. In town traffic may have been chaotic but it was generally
slow enough to take evasive action. These general conditions continued
right the way through to Zimbabwe when speeds increase with the improved
condition of the roads and, to my mind, riding becomes far more dangerous.
Unfortunately, due to the amount of time spent waiting for the bike
we didn't feel able to linger in Kenya so after a trip to Lake Naivasha
and spending time to get the necessary temporary road tax from Nyayo House
in central Nairobi, we moved on to Tanzania. As for a place to stay in
Nairobi, The Upper Hill Campsite near Kenyetta Hospital is a good secure
place where most overlanders, backpackers etc seem to end up.
We took the main road to Arusha, crossing the border to Tanzania very
easily at Namanga. The surface was good tarmac with few potholes and this
was to be the case most of the way through Tanzania. Arusha is a mad place
for safari touts worse than Nairobi and although it was less frenetic
we didn't hang around any longer than necessary to sort out a safari.
We stayed at the Michele Guesthouse ask any safari tout
where for about US$4 per night we had a basic room with shared toilets
and cold showers. There is plenty of space to securely keep a bike and
although it is a typical Tanzanian place it strangely seems to be full
of western backpackers. We were not worried about leaving the bike there
while going off for a six day safari but in the end didn't need to as
one of the directors of the safari company we used offered to keep it
for us in a locked garage at her place.
The safari was amazing. We used a company called Safari Makers
again, ask any tout and had a great time with a great couple from
the Netherlands. The safari was supposed to be for 5 days but was extended
for a day as our Landrover broke down on day two at Karatu, the last town
before Ngorongoro Crater. It is a dry dusty place with a very nice campsite
and we were fortunate enough to meet a man at a roadside stall who invited
all of us to his place for a few hours. As he was related to the local
MP it was very nice indeed and quite innovative using gas from cow waste
for cooking. Not at all the common shack we'd expected. Aside from the
layover at Karatu, our safari took us to Tarangire and Serengeti National
Parks and Ngorongoro Crater and when it came to animal viewing we were
probably the luckiest people around getting to see just about all there
is several times. It was over all too quickly. I just wish the road from
Tarangire through to Serengeti was tarmac rather than painful, dusty dirt
that goes on for hours'... Still, it was a great time.