March 20, 2010 GMT
South From Addis Ababa

We obtained Kenyan visas in Addis, the three-month variety, so that will be helpful.

We also have three-month visas for here in Ethiopia. But at the border we could only get one-month customs permits for our bikes so we have to move on.
And there are reports of rain further south.

Just before we left, a British rider, Ron, on an elderly BMW heading north gave us some very useful information on places to stay, and some encouraging advice on the dreaded Moyale-Isiolo road.
"It's not that bad," he said. "Take it easy and you'll be fine. And sometimes there are some smooth bits you can ride on with a bike if you look for them."
But he was delayed in Marsabit, about halfway along the road, for two days because of rain.
"Even that has it's advantages - once the rain stops and drains away and dries a bit, bikes can get going before the big trucks, so you don't have them to contend with!"
So we continue hopefully (But check the weather here in Awasa - below).

Ron had some entertaining stories about his round-the-world trip - Europe, Russia, the 'Stans', China, S.E. Asia, Australia, and now Cape Town to England. But he had taken only eight months for that, against our six months for London to Addis.
"I need to be home in two months," he said. "Have a living to earn!"
"And wait a minute!" he exclaimed. "The Chinese have started tarmacking that road from Isiolo. If you continue at your present speed it'll all be done (300km) by the time you get there!"
We'd heard about the rate of roads being covered with tarmac by the Chinese throughout East Africa, and seen some of it across the Sudanese deserts. So we'll see.

The owner of the campsite in Addis, Wim, is Dutch and knows a Dutch flower-grower with extensive grounds in Koka, about two hours south.
"Anyone who stays here is welcome to stay there for free!" Wim tells us. So as we still had things to do on our departure day and didn't leave until about 3:00pm that was useful. The owner of the farm was away at the time but his manager looked after us very well, with beers and teas all round.
We departed for lake Langano the following day.

Campsite at Lake Langano.

Local fishermen in a little canoe catch a lot of Tilapia here, so we bought a kilo for 50p which went down well. About half an hour from lake to plate!

We continued yesterday and arrived here in Awasa in a spectacular thunder storm late in the afternoon.
And that seems to be the pattern now.
We were rained on a little leaving Addis in the afternoon, somewhat more so yesterday, and the black clouds are gathering now at 6:00pm.

Between Addis and here we have dropped about 3000ft, so the weather is much warmer and pretty humid. But the bikes run much better.
There is also a considerable change in the landscape. Imagine the Wolds of Lincolnshire with a little help from some tropical weather. Regular visitors to Cadwell Park might get the idea. Not quite so green, but lush vegetation on the rolling hills everywhere. And where there are gaps in the trees, animals also everywhere.
Donkeys, chickens, goats, sheep, cattle, oxen pulling ploughs, camels (some even kept as pets!), horses, all crossing the road whenever the fancy takes. No fences. Anywhere.

To complete the picture, there are the extensive flower-growing farms scattered all around the town of Koka.

But outside of the many towns, not so many people!
Or so it seems, until you look closely into the shadows beneath the trees.
Which here have dense leafy branches in a flat horizontal canopy spreading out maybe twenty feet creating a large circle of dark shade below.
That's where the people are! Resting and socialising and taking not much notice of us. Except the children who run quickly up to the road, so the waving continues.

The plan now is to continue tomorrow to Yabello and do an oil change. Then to Moyale the next day, crossing into Kenya the day after.
The standard advice then is to do just 80km of 'the dreaded road' as practice, stopping the night at a popular campsite, in preparation for the long haul to Marsabit the next day. We have been, off and on, in the company of three groups of travellers in 4X4s, and met one of them in the supermarket this morning. In fact, Caroline has off-loaded some of her luggage ('the library') onto a large ex-military truck carrying a couple of German charity workers that we first met in Luxor (I think). And we are all juggling timetables to maybe traverse 'the road' together, or as together as possible.
We'll see.

(Footnote - have just found the 'Notification button' - well, the internet is soooo slow here! Will try to remember to press it now and again. But maybe not till Nairobi now).

Posted by Ken Thomas at March 20, 2010 03:23 PM GMT

Renedian Adventures

HU DVD Summer Special!

Now that summer is here, get On the Road! Take 30% off the Achievable Dream - On the Road! 2-DVD set until August 31 only. Get On the Road! Learn the tips to staying healthy, happy and secure on your motorcycle adventure!

Our veteran travellers share their tips (and great stories) for staying healthy, happy and secure on your motorcycle adventure.

"A fantastic, informative and inspirational DVD."

"It's brilliant - thank you very much!"

Check it out at the HU Store! Remember to use Coupon Code 'ONTHEROAD' on your order when you checkout.

What others say about HU...

"I just wanted to say thanks for doing this and sharing so much with the rest of us." Dave, USA

"Your website is a mecca of valuable information and the DVD series is informative, entertaining, and inspiring! The new look of the website is very impressive, updated and catchy. Thank you so very much!" Jennifer, Canada

"...Great site. Keep up the good work." Murray and Carmen, Australia

"We just finished a 7 month 22,000+ mile scouting trip from Alaska to the bottom of Chile and I can't tell you how many times we referred to your site for help. From how to adjust your valves, to where to stay in the back country of Peru. Horizons Unlimited was a key player in our success. Motorcycle enthusiasts from around the world are in debt to your services." Alaska Riders

contest pic

10th Annual HU Travellers Photo Contest is on now! This is an opportunity for YOU to show us your best photos and win prizes!

NEW! HU 2014 Adventure Travel T-shirts! are now available in several colors! Be the first kid on your block to have them! New lower prices on synths!

HU 2014 T-shirts now in!

Check out the new Gildan Performance cotton-feel t-shirt - 100% poly, feels like soft cotton!

What turns you on to motorcycle travel?

Global Rescue, WORLDwide evacuation services for EVERYONE

Global Rescue is the premier provider of medical, security and evacuation services worldwide and is the only company that will come to you, wherever you are, and evacuate you to your home hospital of choice. Additionally, Global Rescue places no restrictions on country of citizenship - all nationalities are eligible to sign-up!

New to Horizons Unlimited?

New to motorcycle travelling? New to the HU site? Confused? Too many options? It's really very simple - just 4 easy steps!

Horizons Unlimited was founded in 1997 by Grant and Susan Johnson following their journey around the world on a BMW R80 G/S motorcycle.

Susan and Grant Johnson Read more about Grant & Susan's story

Membership - help keep us going!

Horizons Unlimited is not a big multi-national company, just two people who love motorcycle travel and have grown what started as a hobby in 1997 into a full time job (usually 8-10 hours per day and 7 days a week) and a labour of love. To keep it going and a roof over our heads, we run events (22 this year!); we sell inspirational and informative DVDs; we have a few selected advertisers; and we make a small amount from memberships.

You don't have to be a Member to come to an HU meeting, access the website, the HUBB or to receive the e-zine. What you get for your membership contribution is our sincere gratitude, good karma and knowing that you're helping to keep the motorcycle travel dream alive. Contributing Members and Gold Members do get additional features on the HUBB. Here's a list of all the Member benefits on the HUBB.

Books & DVDs


All the best travel books and videos listed and often reviewed on HU's famous Books page. Check it out and get great travel books from all over the world.

Motorcycle Express for shipping and insurance!

Motorcycle Express

MC Air Shipping, (uncrated) USA / Canada / Europe and other areas. Be sure to say "Horizons Unlimited" to get your $25 discount on Shipping!
Insurance - see: For foreigners traveling in US and Canada and for Americans and Canadians traveling in other countries, then mail it to MC Express and get your HU $15 discount!

Story and photos copyright ©

Sorry, you need a Javascript enabled browser to get the email address and dates. You can contact Horizons Unlimited at the link below. Please be sure to tell us WHICH blog writer you wish to contact.

All Rights Reserved.

Contact the author:

Editors note: We accept no responsibility for any of the above information in any way whatsoever. You are reminded to do your own research. Any commentary is strictly a personal opinion of the person supplying the information and is not to be construed as an endorsement of any kind.

Hosted by: Horizons Unlimited, the motorcycle travellers' website!
You can have your story here too - click for details!