Week 15: Kenya: From Nakuru to Nairobi to…ASIA 😊
This blog marks the end of the first leg of our East African / Cape to Cairo trip…we decided to take a bit of a break (from our African break, as well as the heavy summer rains!), placed Aardvark into storage in Nairobi, and flew to South East Asia for a couple of weeks of getting fit on beaches, swap African food for Asian food, and hopefully the chance to learn how to surf for my 40th! But we'll be back beginning February to resume our African Adventure...Africa is after all in our blood!
Our final stats for the first leg of our trip:
· Total days travelled: 103
· Total distance travelled from Cape Town: 15,174km
o Total petrol consumed: 2,653l
· Total borders crossed: 9
And then the Aardvark stats for Week 15:
· Best drink: Red wine straight from the Rift Valley! We heard a rumour about the Rift Valley Red, and just had to hunt it down…Emma, the winemaker at Leleshwa, gifted us with a bottle of Shiraz and Cab Sav. And even though the wines were still a young 2019 vintage, it was RED WINE that didn’t come out of a box…lovely!!
· Best food: We were cleaning out our fridge (and were on “end-of-the-month-salticrack” type fare for the last couple of days…so the pizza at Camp Carnelly tasted amazing! It was quite incidentally the first time we had pizza on this entire trip…and it was good 😊
· Best view: The scenery in Hell’s Gate National Park, aka the Lion King’s valley!
We started day 101 with a long slow breakfast at Camp Kembu, working our way through our final provisions whilst booking our flight tickets from Nairobi to Bangkok in 3 days time…what is a mind if you cant change it, and a plan if it cant be altered 😊
All booked and committed to our altered plan, we made our way past Lake Elementation to Camp Carnelly - we unfortunately didn’t spot any flamingoes, so they will have to wait for the next part of our journey! We did however manage to find some Leleshwa wines at the Morendat Farm just outside Naivasha – and we were very proud of “discovering” Leleshwa as it is the only commercial winery in Kenya…trust the Capetonians to finds a wine farm in the middle of Africa 😊 Stocked with two bottles of red wine, we set up camp next to Lake Naivasha in one of the most beautiful campsites we’ve been at in a while. Imagine massive trees, green green grass, the lake in front of you, sounds of hippos frolicking around (but kept out of the campsite by an electric fence from 6pm-6am every day), fish eagles calling out to each other, and warm clean showers…what more could one ask for? And they had some amazing pizza as well! Even though we were yet again the only campers in the massive campsite, we were savoring the experience of sleeping in Aardvark, knowing that in 3days we will have to say goodbye for a while ☹
The second last day (#102) of the first leg of our African adventure started with a cycle through the Hell’s Gate National Park. There was a bit of fake news that did the rounds, crediting Hell’s Gate to be the inspiration behind the Lion King’s scenery, and specifically Pride Rock. And whilst it is apparently not true, one could still almost hear the Lion King’s music reverberating through the plains…especially because we were crossing it on bicycles! The previous evening we were told that it is no longer safe to cycle without a guide through the park, as there were some lions spotted in the past two months, and we had to take a guide with…yet another bit of fake news! The rangers at the gate told us that it was not true, and just a way for some of the locals to ensure that you use their “guiding” services! So after we sorted out all the admin, we jumped on our fairly heavy rented mountainbikes, immediately wished we had our “nappies” on, and hit the corrugated road through the park. It was an amazing experience cycling past zebras, warthogs, giraffes, various bucks, secretary birds, etc…all lazily grazing away and virtually ignoring us as we made our way deeper into the rift valley and its gorges. Unfortunately, the main gorge was closed (due to an incident involving tourists and flashfloods in the rainy season that killed 8 people the previous months), and we were unable to explore it in detail – maybe a good reason to go back one day! After having a quick look at the geothermal works marring the western side of the national park (but providing much needed clean electricity), we made our way to Nairobi on the “main highway” linking Uganda and Nairobi…(the word highway is used a bit in jest, as there were more road diversions and potholes than highway 😊).
Anyway, we made it safely to Jungle Junction, yet another overlander institution based on the outskirts of Nairobi. And for the first time in a long while we were not the only people in the campsite, but were actually joined by two more couples! Chris, the owner of Jungle Junction, has been running it for the past 19 years, and according to him the amount of overlanders is down by almost 70% over the past couple of years – which explains the empty campsites all around. Whether it is due to increased cost of overlanding through Africa, the focus on guided tourism / safari packages, the continuous instability and political upheaval plaguing the continent, Ebola and other health scares, or purely just because it is no longer seen as really truly exploring roads less travelled (as the majority of the roads is now tarred and can be driven in a small vehicle whilst only sleeping in lodges 😊), is an open question. What we did realise though is that we (as overlanders through East Africa) are a bit of a dying breed, and I’m extremely happy that we decided to do now rather than waited till retirement one day 😊
Chris is a treasure trove of information, and after consulting with him (and seeing the safe and secure storage environment at Jungle Junction, as well as the 30 odd overlanding vehicles already parked and awaiting their owners’ return), we were happy to leave Aardvark in his safe hands whilst we go on our Asian “detour”. So our last day in Kenya was spent cleaning Aardvark inside and out – to the point that Aardvark was left in a cleaner state than before we began the journey 103 days ago!
I’m writing this blog overlooking Kata Beach in Phuket, Thailand – and even though I’m already missing Aardvark, the open spaces and the simplicity of our African adventure, I’m so grateful for the opportunity that we have to add this bit of a “detour” to our schedule…to adventure, exploring, and mostly to celebrating LIFE, and living it to the fullest!
Cheers for a while…we are planning to resume our African adventure on the 6th February 2020!