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Old 03-27-2012, 09:12 AM   #76
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The going was awfully slow as the roads were extra busy and road works plentiful. We were diverted onto a detour which was about 30 km of bone-jarring, ungraded shale. The scenery was once again crisp green and well manicured tea estates and in the late afternoon sun it looked most impressive. It was just too risky to stop and take pictures.






Eventually we got back onto our original road. Yay...now we could increase our speed and make up some time.......not a chance!!! There were more road works and pothole upon pothole. Soon the shadows were stretching out far in front of us and as the sun sunk lower everything suddenly became a crazy rush. We were now heading in a northerly direction towards the main A104. Cars were dodging in and out of oncoming traffic, overtaking on the right and wrong sides, there was an increase in speed and we were trapped in this hectic buzz of frantic drivers. We couldn’t lose concentration for 1 second and at one stage our rain gear fell off Kingsley’s bike and I stopped to pick it up but was unable to make a U-turn coz of the crazy traffic. Kingsley saw I was no longer behind him and came to look for me. I managed to indicated that he had dropped something and must go back to pick it up. While I waited a vehicle pulled up alongside me and the driver yelled for me to keep riding as it was too dangerous and busy to stop. The same driver also had a go at Kingsley further back. In a bit of a panic we again joined the mass of deranged drivers, couldn’t help but feel that we were part of some low budget Mad Max movie.

By the time we reached the A104 the sun had finally set and it was a relief to be out of that mess and mingling with normal traffic again. We rode in the dark for about another 40 km before turning right. We had broken our own rule about driving too far and into the night. It was pitch black on this quiet road with only the odd light flickering in the distance. By now we were exhausted, hungry and stressed out. I started doubting the GPS as we rode and rode through the darkness totally oblivious as to where we were heading – relying only on a piece of equipment. After what seemed like ages we eventually had to do a U-turn and soon found our turnoff, but........the gate was locked.....my heart sunk as we were now in the middle of nowhere. Eventually a guy with a torch arrived and opened up for us and directed us up a long driveway. With great relief we finally arrived at Kembu Camp.

After pitching our tents in the dark, with the help of our headlights, we shuffled off for a cold shower. We were soon warmed up with delicious homemade soup, fresh baked bread, wonderful company and a lovely fire.




Oops......forgot to mention the beer !!


Andrew, the owner of this campsite, dairy and stud farm, joined us for a chat and he suggested that we don’t try to reach the border tomorrow but rather spend another night in Kenya - but closer to the border. He recommended “Whistling Thorns”. We discussed the Carnet and he suggested it would be a better idea to bribe a ‘runner’ to help us get a TIP – so much for not needing a ‘runner’?!

It was late evening when we finally collapsed into bed with a full tummy and a plan that we hoped would work.
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Old 03-27-2012, 09:24 AM   #77
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KEMBU CAMP to WHISTLING THORNS

DAY 21: 30 December 2011
Distance: 225 km
Time: 9.00 am – 2.30 pm



OUR ROUTE FOR THE DAY

Enjoyed a leisurely morning at Kembu Camp as we thought we were in for a nice casual ride and would get to our destination in no time at all as it was all tar and mostly main road.


AN EARLY MORNING KENYAN SUNRISE


ALL PACKED AND READY TO DEPART






DEPARTING KEMBU CAMP

Well........by now we have discovered that Africa can toss you many curved balls. Never ever under estimate Africa!!

If the going is good, it’s only for a few minutes, then you have to deal with potholes. As you get over this stretch and you accelerate....WHAM.... you hit a speed bump. Every village has its speed bumps coming into and heading out of it and one village runs into another. OK speed bumps over – hectically slow traffic and then some road works tossed in just to aggravate the rider some more. Just to make it more exciting there would be a bottleneck for vehicles in both directions with each driver taking traffic control into their own hands...........as a result, cars, bikes and lorries bouncing over the edges of the road, everyone doing their best to avoid each other. It’s emotionally, mentally and physically exhausting.

We arrived at Nakuru, which was a big friendly town, and found an ATM. While I went and drew
some cash Kingsley entertained a few vendors, some selling stickers and others scarves and curios. They were all very friendly but curious about these two ‘Mzungus’ travelling on motorbikes. We also exchanged some money for their local currency. This we did often and it was always a fair and honest exchange.


MARKET IN NAKURU



On leaving Nakuru we attempted to head south through the Nakuru National Park but sadly we were turned away as motorbikes were not allowed access.






We were soon back on the A104. Once we passed Gilgil I was very surprised to see a herd of zebra grazing alongside the main road, quite happy and oblivious to the passing traffic. I think this was some sort of reserve but there were houses and other buildings around and it didn’t look like as if it was a protected area.



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Old 03-27-2012, 09:37 AM   #78
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The vegetation started to change to low bush and thorn trees. As we passed The Great Rift Valley Golf Course we rode through a lovely area of fever trees (acacia) and soon after this the road was lined with vendors selling fresh produce.



TAKE NOTE OF HOW CAREFULLY AND NEATLY THE FRESH PRODUCE IS STACKED


After passing Lake Naivasha on the right we started to climb the Rift Valley escarpment and we stopped at a little curio stall. The views from here were spectacular. Unfortunately it was a bit hazy in the distance so photos are not very clear. We looked across the Rift Valley floor to Mount Longonot which has an elevation of 2776m. The name comes from a Maasai word meaning ‘mountain of many spurs’. It’s a stratovolcano that last erupted in the 1860’s and as a result it contains a large 8x12 km caldera. This mountain has become a popular hiking area as it is home to several species of wildlife. I wish we had stuck to our original plan which would have enabled us to get closer to this mountain. We have since heard that the roads down in that area are in good condition. Damn!


THE ESCARPMENT






VIEW OF MT. LONGONOT AND LAKE NAIVASHA ON THE RIGHT

MT. LONGONOT WITH ITS CRATER




A LOCAL RIDING A DONKEY CART


ANOTHER VIEW POINT

We continued towards Nairobi and the closer we got the busier the roads became. Fortunately we turned off on the C58 and headed south towards Ngong Hills passed the Nairobi National Park.




After 22 km we turned left onto a quieter but badly maintained road. Now we started to feel that we were out in the country and the vegetation changed to thorn trees. It was a lot drier here but nice to be ‘far from the madding crowd’.



Whistling Thorns was a nice little getaway about only about 130 km away from the Namanga Border post. After pitching our tent and washing our clothes we headed for the pool and enjoyed a meal. We spent the rest of the afternoon trying to relax while dealing with the anxiety of trying to get back into Tanzania the following day, without a Carnet.










TAKING YOU BACK INTO TANZANIA SOON.
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Old 03-27-2012, 04:56 PM   #79
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Excellent Report and Pictures

A quick note to let you know I'm really enjoying your report.

I'm always fascinated by the challenges people face crossing borders with vehicles as it's something most of us in North America have never encountered. I can travel for thousands of kilometers from home without this being an issue. Anytime I've left the continent, I've flown so I haven't taken a vehicle with me. It certainly seems to require some planning.

I appreciate these types of details and I'm looking forward to the next installment.

Wayne
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Old 03-28-2012, 10:47 AM   #80
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Originally Posted by BCBackRoads View Post
A quick note to let you know I'm really enjoying your report.

I'm always fascinated by the challenges people face crossing borders with vehicles as it's something most of us in North America have never encountered. I can travel for thousands of kilometers from home without this being an issue. Anytime I've left the continent, I've flown so I haven't taken a vehicle with me. It certainly seems to require some planning.

I appreciate these types of details and I'm looking forward to the next installment.

Wayne

Hi Wayne. Thanks for your interest. You're lucky to not have the stress of dealing with borger post officials.
Some border crossings can be so simple and others a challenge but in the end it all helps to add to the adventure. You just need to have your ducks in row with regards to paperwork and yes.... it does take a lot of planning. Glad you're enjoy the report.
Take care and safe riding.
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Old 04-08-2012, 08:18 AM   #81
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I think this is a great report. Thanks for taking the time to record this, and post it.
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Old 04-13-2012, 11:14 AM   #82
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Originally Posted by Digger Deep View Post
I think this is a great report. Thanks for taking the time to record this, and post it.
Glad you're enjoying the report. Sorry about the delay but have been away for a while.. I'll get busy with more posting tonight. hope you enjoy the rest.
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Old 04-13-2012, 11:37 AM   #83
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TANZANIA

WHISTLING THORNS to MARANGU (TANZANIA)

Day22: 31 December 2011
Distance: 372 km
Time: 6.30 am – 4.00 pm





MAP OF ROUTE FOR THE NEXT 3 DAYS

We departed early in the morning and travelled on the edges of a very bad potholed road but the beautiful country side made up for this. Along this 25 km stretch of road we passed few other vehicles and there were no villages or people cluttering the side of the road.






Turning right onto the A104 introduced us to a beautiful Chinese highway with very little traffic to interrupt the good speed we were maintaining. We were soon at the Namanga Border Post and feeling a bit apprehensive. We expected it to be a very busy place but were pleasantly surprised at how quiet it was and were only hassled a bit by the Maasai ladies selling beads, but nothing unpleasant. Within a short time we exited Kenya and nervously approached the Tanzanian side expecting a rush of ‘runners’ ........which for once we were hoping for .......but.......there were no offers of help. The only people around were those tourists passing through. We hung around for a while......waiting but still no one approached us.

We decided to clear Immigration and purchase our visas which cost us USD 30 each as we managed to convince them that we only needed a transit visa ( a holiday visa costs USD 50 each). It was here that we noticed all the posters on the walls warning tourists against bribing officials!!!! Offenders would be locked up!!! OK...... now we understood why everything appeared to be so quiet, calm and orderly. There were signs all over the place letting tourists know exactly where to queue for visas, immigrations, payments, customs etc. This was one organised and non-corrupt border post. Just what we didn’t need with our Carnet problems.

Nervously we dragged ourselves over to the Customs office and were greeted by a pleasant gentleman. We casually informed him that we require a Temporary Import Permit for two motor bikes. He instructed us to take a seat and handed us forms to complete and asked for duplicate copies of our passports and logbooks.....it was as simple as that!!
Fortunately I had the foresight to make these copies in the little town called Karen where we refuelled en route to Whispering Thorns the previous day. Karen is actually a suburb of Nairobi that borders the Ngong Road Forest and lies some distance south-west of the city centre. It is generally believed that this little suburb was named after Karen Blixen, the author of “Out of Africa”. A pity we didn’t spend any time here as they have a sanctuary for young orphaned elephants, a Giraffe Centre and the Karen Blixen Museum. Sorry ........ got a little side tracked!

Anyway........ in no time at all we had everything stamped and without having to pay another cent we hopped on our bikes and without further adieu we entered Tanzania once again breathing a great sigh of relief.




Leaving the border post and entering Tanzania.





As you arrive in Tanzania you will see Longido Mountain – 2629m



The countryside started to change to thorn bush and shrubs and became dusty, dry and rocky. There is a strong presence of Maasai in this area. Most of them wrapped in their traditional red, purple and orange cloths and herding goats or sheep and cattle alongside the road. Some were collecting firewood while others were cycling or just sitting on the side of the road. This really gave me a feeling of being far away from home. It was difficult getting pictures of them as they would get terribly upset. I finally managed to pay a couple of elderly ladies selling firewood to get their picture.







A MAASAI CHILD SELLING WOOD.


MORE MAASAI FOLK GETTING A LIFT ON A TRUCK.


A SHEPARD HERDING GOATS.




A TYPICAL MAASAI HOME.

For a long distance we had Mount Meru ( 4566 m ) in our sights as we travelled south towards Arusha. Unfortunately it was topped with a bit of cloud cover.








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Old 04-13-2012, 11:55 AM   #84
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We were meant to take a left turn before the mountain and skirt the back of it and travel between Mount Meru and Kilimanjaro, avoiding Arusha, but due to the roadworks we actually missed the turnoff and continued towards Lake Duluti just east of Arusha on the Moshi road. The camp sites looked a bit run down and unappealing so we head off towards Marangu. It was a long ride and already late afternoon but it was a good decision. En route we could see the long sloping sides of Kilimanjaro reaching up into the clouds and it gave us some indication of how impressive this mountain could be on a clear day.
We arrived at the Marangu Hotel which was just south of the Kilimanjaro National Park and set up camp just before an overlander pulled in and took over.






Being New Years Eve we thought that a good dinner would be nice but at USD 40 ( R320 ) we decided against it and created something from our own supply which we enhanced with a moon light trip into the hotels unguarded veggie patch. Later that evening we headed off to the pub. We were too tired to see the New Year in but lay in our little tent at the foothills of Kilimanjaro, listening to all the festivities around us. This last night of 2011 we went to bed well aware of how fortunate we were to have got this far with our personal African adventure. A great way to end a year!



REST DAY ~ MARUNGA HOTEL

Day 23: Sunday 1 January 2012



Awoke early enough to get a lovely clear view of the top of Kilimanjaro which was enhanced by the glow of the early morning sun. This is the highest mountain in Africa rising 5895m and is also one of the most famous landmarks in Africa. We were very fortunate to experience these clear skies as we were only here for a short time and were well aware of how seldom one gets a clear view of the mountain.










THIS PHOTO WAS ACTUALLY TAKEN EARLIER THE FOLLOWING MORNING.

As you will notice from the above pictures there is only one small ice cap left on the Kibo peak ( the highest of the 3 volcanic cones which make up Kilimanjaro). It is both sad and disturbing to think that over the years it is getting smaller due to global warming. According to a professor of geological sciences from Ohio State University this glacier will be gone within 20 years. About one third of Kilimanjaro’s ice field has disappeared in just 12 years and 82% of it vanished since it was first mapped in 1912. A snowless Kilimanjaro could have economic effects on Tanzania as it is a major tourist attraction and generates crucial revenue for one of the poorest countries in Africa.

After enjoying some breakfast back at the camp we walked around and took some more photos of the place and came across three groups of tourists who had gathered around and were preparing to depart for their hike up Kilimanjaro. Each group is made up of 11 hikers and about 30 porters. It takes 3 days of hiking to reach the summit and 2 days to return. It was all very exciting and I so wished that I could have joined them. As much as I admired the well equipped hikers I couldn’t help but compare them to the ill equipped and overloaded porters ......one has to give these porters a lot of credit and one hopes they get a good tip at the end.


OUR CAMPSITE.




A FEW PHOTOS OF THE HOTEL






THE HIKERS AND PORTERS GETTING READY TO DEPART.



We decided to take a ride to look for a market so we could buy some veggies for supper and went in the direction of Tarakea. There is so much poverty out there and they are all trying to make a few pennies. We found the odd little place open and bought our goodies ( I don’t think I need to mention what we bought). The photos below show a few dwellings we saw on our ride.














We chatted to a lovely Australian lady, who was the matriarch of the overlanders, and she entertained us with all her travel stories. For the rest of the day we relaxed around the camp and enjoyed an afternoon nap in the shade.



Kingsley kept himself out of mischief by cooking up a delicious meal of...............yup, you guessed it........sweet potatoes, tomatoes and onion. This time there was a guard appointed to the veggie patch!!







Tried to contact our daughter who was‘...spending time in Mozambique, where the sunny skies are aqua blue....’ (Bob Dylan) but were unsuccessful, however, managed to chat to our son who was recovering from a good New Year back in KZN.


Really starting to feel the effects of being away from my family.

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Old 04-13-2012, 12:11 PM   #85
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MARANGU HOTEL to LAKE MANYARA


Day 24: Monday 2 January 2012
Distance: 241 km
Time: 7.00 am – 12.00 pm


“Get your motor running,
Head out on the highway,
Looking for adventure and whatever comes our way.”

Steppenwolf

Awoke early to the familiar sound of a little ‘Piet-my-vrou’ ( red chested cuckoo) competing with all the other cheerful bird song. We needed to get moving as soon as possible as the early morning light would be ideal for capturing some more photos of Kili as we were spoilt with another day of clear skies.
En route to Arusha we stopped several times to try and capture the perfect picture of this famous mountain but we had left it too late and the sun was already too high in the sky so we had to be satisfied with the ones below.... which are not too bad.















THIS PHOTO WAS TAKEN WHILE WE WERE REFUELLING



We worked our way through the bustling town of Arusha to withdraw some cash and I couldn’t resist taking a peek at the Tanzanites on offer at a small jewellers, just opposite Tanzanite Experience, but they were too expensive.....USD 500 for a tiny cut stone. The best place to buy would probably have been on the black market. There was a lady hassling us outside wanting to take us elsewhere out of town but we were a bit reluctant to follow her and were too keen to move on out of this busy area.
On leaving Ausha the country side became very dry and dusty and we had a bit of wind pushing us around.



A MAASAI MARKET DAY.


MAASAI TAKING THEIR CATTLE TO THE MARKET


It wasn’t long before we moved into a greener area. It was so beautiful and so typical of Africa......with the thorn trees, goats and huts and a mountain range forming a backdrop.


Monduli Mountains









It was along this good tarred road that we encountered so many tour safari vehicles moving in both directions transporting tourists to and from the Ngorongoro Crater, the Serengeti, Lake Manyara and the Tarangire National Parks. This is really a lovely part of Tanzania, as far as scenery is concerned.
Last night we spoke about passing Lake Manyara in order to gain a few more kilometres but once we arrived at the turn off to Mto wa Mbu and had something cold to drink we decided to stick to our original plan.





STOPPING FOR A REST AND A COLD DRINK IN MAKUYUNI
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Old 04-13-2012, 12:23 PM   #86
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Thank goodness we trusted our planning because after we turned off and travelled west along the lovely 32 km tarred road we caught glimpses of Lake Manyara on our left and the Rift Valley Escarpment appeared in front of us and in no time at all we were in Mto wa Mbu ( I can’t quite get my tongue around the pronunciation of this name ). It was a neat little village sporting several curio stalls and turn offs to various resorts. If one continued on this road it would take you to the Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti –unfortunately, being on motorbikes meant that we would not be able to access these areas.
With help from the locals we eventually found our turn off to MIGUNGA FOREST CAMP which led us along a narrow track passing through a small residential area. After a short distance a brightly coloured curio stall marked the entrance to a breathtakingly beautiful yellow fever forest........it was spectacular. In initial planning, my enthusiasm to spend time here was because they offered game viewing bicycle rides around the lake area in the afternoons ..........well, having a swollen and painful ankle put paid to that!!!


LOVELY COLOURFUL MAASAI WRAPS.




THE ENTRANCE


We pitched our tent in amongst these tall, majestic trees. It was so quiet and peaceful – except for the bird song. There were various forms of accommodation available offering smart tented camps around the perimeter of the resort as well as some scruffy looking thatched tents, however, there was something special about pitching a tent in this magical place.....one couldn’t help but keep on looking upwards at the treetops in wonder. The ablutions were rather shabby but this couldn’t dampen our spirits.










WE WERE ENTERTAINED BY THIS LITTLE KINGFISHER CATCHING HIS GRUB.

After a meal of crackers and tuna we headed off ( with me riding pillion) down the road through the thorn trees towards the northern lakeshore of Lake Manyara. This soon becomes a cycle track as the trees open up into a magnificent plain. It was quite breathtaking .I was overcome by the same feelings when I was in Botswana riding onto the Makgadigadi pans a few years back. It was a vast open vlei consisting of short light green grass bordered by a range of mountains on the east side and the Rift Valley Escarpment on the West side and in front was the shimmering mirage–like Lake Manyara. We tried to follow the cycle track but couldn’t resist the temptation to wander off in another direction towards what we thought looked like animals.
We could soon make out some wildebeest and Egyptian geese gathered around a puddle of water. We were so engrossed in our surroundings that we realised too late that the ground surface had changed and we were soon trying to get ourselves out of slimy mud.





THE EASTERN MOUNTAIN RANGE


THE EGYPTIAN GEESE


WILDEBEEST


THIS WILDEBEEST GOT SPOOKED BY THE MOTORBIKE NOISE


RIFT VALLEY ESCARPMENT IN THE BACKGROUND


STUCK IN THE MUD


Lake Manyara is a shallow lake on the East African Rift and only has a maximum depth of 3,7 m and a surface area of 231 km squared. It was described by Ernest Hemingway “.....to be the loveliest lake in Africa”. We spent a bit more time enjoying ourselves on the edges of Lake Manyara , avoiding the brighter green patches, but the heat on this exposed flat terrain soon drove us back to camp.
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Old 04-13-2012, 12:24 PM   #87
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Amazing trip! I hope to have such an opportunity myself someday. Great report, subscribed. And love that Neil Young song as well
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Old 04-13-2012, 12:25 PM   #88
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That evening we went to bed feeling satisfied from a filling buffet and from another exciting day in Africa.
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Old 04-13-2012, 01:40 PM   #89
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Old 04-17-2012, 09:28 AM   #90
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Thanks for sharing this excellent report! Loving it!

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