We were on our way, from Nairobi (Jungle Junction) to Tumi (South Ethiopia) via Lake Turkana. One Toyota Land Cruiser HJ61, 27 years old, two people with plenty of food, water (70 liter) and diesel (full tank 75 liter plus 60 liter in three jerry cans). Further, we read several blogs on this route, and asked Chris (owner of Jungle Junction, Nairobi) on the road condition, all fine: a bit rocky, sandy not too dangerous in other words doable. Right…
Day 1: From Jungle Junction to Roberts Camp, Lake Bargingo, 290 km
All the way tar road, only the last 20km a lot of pit holes. As of January next, the Kenya government will start with building a new tar road…so the locals say, Insha Allah! Roberts Camp is a nice place to camp, right at the lake, nice to stay for a day and walk around, the crater walls are massive and impressive. Naturally I had my fun with the local bird life, especially the Hornbills, they like to look into my windscreen, and then become aggressive because another Hornbill looks at him so close….
Typical…the lady looks at herself…
And the male…likes to pose for my camera
Our guide, at the back the crater wall
Day 2: From Roberts Camp to Malsasso Community Rest Camp (20 km north of Maralal), 190km.
From Roberts camp all the way to Malsasso Community Rest Camp the road is really rocky and some steep parts. Beautiful view though along the way, yet it is a long drive with a road like this. The community camp has a panoramic view on the Rift Valley, stunning! Yet that night, it was very windy so not much sleep as I was holding my roof top tent throughout the night!
Day 3: From Malsasso Community Rest Camp to Palm Shade Camp (Loiyangalani) at Lake Turkana, 218 km.
Wow the road is terrible (!) and yet really beautiful.
Again very rocky, especially at Lake Turkana, volcano stones on the road, bumpy and again some steep parts. But we made it, yet my roof rack was getting loose so it needed a small repair. Loiyangalani has a Missionary post, where we asked them to fix our roof rack…sure no problem. Once this was done (easy welding job) I noticed my diesel tank was leaking. Since it became dark we decided to have a look at it the next day…(s)!
Day 4, 5 and 6….
That tank became our nightmare. It must have been a combination of age (27 years old) and rocky, volcano roads but after three days spending time with the bush mechanics at this Missionary post we would finally leave for Sibiloi National Park. Luckily for us we met John, who is actually a good mechanic and works full-time for the Italian Sisters (next to the Missionary post). And the reason why the sisters have a full-time mechanic…..because of the roads. Yet they drive the fancy new Landcruisers. John helped us BIG TIME, because the bush mechanics from the Missionary post were really unqualified….yet were desperate and needed to move on into Ethiopia. Well, as said, after three days work on the car, we paid 160 USD to the priest (rip off!!!) and bought additional fuel (diesel price 160 Kenya Shilling per liter vs. 100 in Nairobi….another rip off) to top off our tank. During the reparation work we ‘lost’ 40 liters of diesel! Of course the bush mechanics spilled a bit (let’s say 5 liters) but the rest? Well you can do the math, yet we could not proof anything! So we felt relieved to leave this place after three days.
In the evening we “celebrated” our leave the next day with John and his friend…
John overlooked the bush mechanics, while they clean the tank
Yet after just 40 km the tank was leaking again. No other choice but to return to the Missionary post and have another look. We called John ahead because we did not want the bush mechanic to touch my car again. John did the best he could but this time we really lost confidence in the tank, the work done so far and in general in the car. Examine the route further north to Ethiopia, and how remote this part of Africa is, we decided to go back to Jungle Junction and have the professional mechanics a look at our tank. So after the leakage was ‘stopped’ we drove off towards Maralal. We made it that first stop, albeit loosing diesel along the way. We stayed at Yare Camel Club campsite, 237 km on again a terrible road.
Day 7 From Maralal (Yare Camel Club campsite) to Nairobi (Jungle Junction), 357 km.
We felt positive the next morning, we made the right decision to go back. We had no confidence in the tank and the work done by those bush mechanics. But then, after 157km our car stopped, yet enough diesel in the tank, so it must have been a leak in the tank/tubes so instead of sucking diesel it sucked air (afterwards this theory turned out to be true). Luckily a police car (a new modern Land Cruiser) pulled over and towed us all the way to Nyahururu, approx. 60 km… and again the road was terrible: really rocky. As much as we appreciated the towing, it could have been smoother, we even managed to snap the towing cable (which is good for towing 15 tons…, my car is just 3 tons). My car suffered a lot and I lost a shock absorber along the way, the exhaust pipe became loose, as well as the side bars, bushes (in the leave springs) and the roof rack (not welded well at the Missionary post) plus couple of other small things… All in all, my car was in terrible condition once we arrived in Nyahururu. In thin town we arranged a lorry to bring us back, so my car went on top of the lorry, and drove us in 5 hours (just 200 km) to Jungle Junction. Luckily for us we met with the policemen, they told us that 30 policemen were killed by local tribesmen with M16’s….the day before….oeps! As he explained: if you want to marry a daughter of let’s say a local chief or rich person, you have to come up with a big dowry (something like 100 cows, 50 goats, plus 500.000 shilling…ridiculous, a lot even for their standards….). So in order to obtain such a dowry, they steel livestock. Naturally the locals arm themselves against thieves, one gets killed, so reprisal follow….The police is brought into the area yet they do not have the manpower nor proper armory. The locals do not take the police seriously (a lot of corruption) so they do not hesitate to kill a policeman. Anyway in Nyahururu (were our car was put on the lorry) the police stayed for our security as they did not trust the locals….nice!
The lorry was older, less powerful and even in a worser shape then my car…yet we had a good driver (safe)!
The locals asked if my car is a Land Rover…. figures!
After so much shit (bush mechanics, priest that ripped us off) car trouble and facing really bad roads, we were very pleased to be back again at Jungle Junction. Still I need to go to Addis Ababa, but this time I will take the tar road all the way to the boarder of Ethiopia (Moyale).
Later that week Marijke flew out of Nairobi and my mother flew in. Unfortunately, we are now more than a week at Jungle Junction and the car is still not ready….Hopefully Friday we finally can leave.
To be continued…