I travelled this route with Nolan Gallagher and Stephen Brown from the states. I met them in Nairobi at Jungle Junction and we made plans to travel in convoy and also so that I could carry fuel for them.
Lots of thought went into which route should be taken to Ethiopia from Kenya. You have two options, the first being a boring highway from Nairobi to a town called Marsabit. However once you reach there it is chaos and everyone gets stuck and can be stuck in mud for days. The second route to Ethiopia is via Lake Tukana, this route is a 10 day long route on practically no roads, bush slashing and landscapes one only dreams of. So you guessed it I went with option two.
I have absolutely no regrets about taking this route and will probably be the best memories of Africa so far. I know I’m crazy at times but travelling on this route alone was not an option. The Americans, Stephen and Nolan were on 400cc Honda scrambler motorbikes and needed me to carry fuel for them and all their gear so that they could cross muddy patches as well as deep rivers.
So off we went for our first day of our journey on a beautiful windy road to Lake Baringo. We had been informed that Lake Baringo is the place to go and is secluded from the hustle and bustle of Africa. Maggie doesn’t like corners so I drove really slowly and we ended up arriving in the dark. Poor Nolan didn’t have working headlights so he had to stay in front of me to get my spotlights. The road was bad and there were huge ditches that Maggie scraped her bum on a few times. But we made it.
The security guard showed us to the campsite and as he was beginning to warn us about Hippos one was behind us and we all jumped. He said they will not hurt us; I on the other hand was not quite convinced. I had witnessed a Hippo stomping over a tent in Zimbabwe many years back and killed a girl. I told the boys to sleep up in my tent and I would sleep inside Maggie. I felt more at ease rather than them putting their tent up on the floor. We had a good first evening on our wild adventure and kept spotlighting the Hippos to make sure they were at a distance.
First goal was to reach Maralal, this would be the last place to stock up on water and a few goods. We had to take a small dirt track to the main dirt track that continues to Maralal. At one point I was convinced we must have missed a turning as there was hardly any sign of a road at all. We eventually met up with the main road. On the way to Maralal we passed numerous tribes, some looking like Masaai but with feathers in their hats, was quite strange looking but fascinating. We drove through areas of not seeing a single sole that is until you stop to take a picture or to have a toilet break. Then you hear giggling or rustling in the bushes and there are people, hidden away.
Around 10km before Maralal there was quite a crazy mud pit where everyone was getting stuck. I too of course slid off the road and into the ditch on the side. The locals were all screaming commands on how to get out, put in low range they kept saying- I started getting irritated because of course I was in low range. A friendly guy came to my rescue and got his men to push Maggie and slowly but surely with Maggie’s revs as high as ever I got out. The boys of course where nowhere in sight and had their own mud issues further back. So unfortunately they missed the show I put on in the mud.
Now we had been warned that if it is raining in Maralal it will be almost impossible to continue on the road north and ironically as we pulled into Maralal it started pouring down with rain. We felt doomed so booked into the only lodge in town and prayed the rain would stop. In the morning we were blessed with blue skies and sunshine, so we quickly got our last supplies from civilization and headed further north. This part of the trip was the most amazing, with clear skies and landscapes that pictures wouldn’t give any justice too. The beauty of wild Africa brought tears to my eyes, no one in sight and complete calmness came over me.
After driving for 6 hours on a road with golf ball like boulders we found a tiny track to a lake, this is where we wild camped for the night. It was a full moon which glistened on the lakes waters and the sounds of Hyena’s could be heard in the distance. It was a perfect night to end a perfect day in Africa.
Our next stop would be Loiyangalani which is a very poor town on the shores of Lake Turkana. Luckily there is a camp in this town called Palm Shade. This is was an oasis in the middle of the semi arid town with the friendliest and funniest locals. We stayed up drinking beer and listening to the all the history and tales from the wiser local men.
Finally the last leg of the trip was falling upon us and we needed to go through Sibiloi National Park, there are no roads to this park and it can be reached by serious four wheel driving or else a boat across the lake. Thank goodness for me the park had a workshop and could fix three of my punctured tires. It was becoming a bit ridiculous at the amount of flat tires I experienced so far. A grand total of 8 flats by the end of the 10 day journey, this however is not common, needless to say I needed to purchase new tires.
The rest of the days were filled with harsh driving conditions through muddy patches, deep sand and high flowing rivers. A few mishaps along the way but nothing that you can’t dig or slash bushes down to get yourself out. It was 10 days of absolute adventure that I would do again any day.