Monday, 24 November 2008

3rd November 08

Date: 3rd November 08
Location: Marsabit, Kenya
Weather: Heavy rain overnight, then sunny with scattered showers in the afternoon, 32°c
Status: Delighted to have made it through the day!

I awoke to the sound of heavy continual rain and driving wind hitting the outside of the tent which kept Bre and I in there for a good hour longer than we should have done, but by the time we clambered down the ladder the sun had just about shown its face enough to venture out. It was one of those mornings in which you had around 15 minutes to do everything you could before running for cover again as the next wall of rain hit you….the tent suffice to say was packed away wet, but the inside remained beautifully dry as ever!

Henry’s Place where we’d stayed was sited right next to the bakery and although we were too early to get fresh bread the group of funny ladies there did sell me some fresh muffins which were just as good! The torrential downpours overnight has caused the red mud to turn into a slippery quagmire and Kees had a few problems reversing out of the camp site, worse was to follow however as when we drove out to the main road for some reason he took the right hand turn rather than the left and ended up stuck fast trying to get up the slope to the main road. To make matters worse the 4WD system isn’t working properly and the once-superb-tyres are now much less so and offered very little grip.

Great, the first 2kms of the day and the tortoise gets stuck! After a session moving some large volcanic rocks from its path, Kees managed to reverse the truck all the way back down to the junction and take the correct turn so we could start on the second half, a reputedly the worse half according to our fellow German campers, of the road of hell!

We fuelled up and hit the road which instantly was hard and rocky causing our speed to drop significantly as care had to be taken to protect the vehicles if they were to make it to the end of the day….let alone back to Europe! We dropped down in altitude again until we were passing through a really vast dry desert, well its called a desert but there are numerous trees everywhere and the rain had evidently fallen very recently leaving us with thousands of puddles and lakes to blast our way through as we tried to keep the vehicles speed up in order not to get stuck!

There was very little sign of life out here apart from the group of tribesman herders walking their camels, goats and cattle through the arid landscape and the mind boggles as to how on earth they can exist out here in this extremely difficult environment. We stopped for lunch by a water hole with the temperature hitting the 37°c mark, fed and watered and started on the remaining 160kms which would take most of the day.

As we neared the end of the straight desert road a mountain range came into view, the Mega Escarpment in Ethiopia, green and lush in the distance with heavy dark rain clouds dropping their load over the area, the roads in front of us showing what had been happening less than an hour ago with evidence of a downpour which had filled the drainage channels next to the road and was sending torrents of racing chocolate brown water foaming through the undergrowth and across the road in places giving us huge splash-throughs for the trucks! Kees bore the brunt of the spray as I was leading and he was somewhere in the mess behind according to my mirrors!

The last 80kms from Sofolo to the border town of Moyale is a well known danger spot and as we exited the town came to the usual police stop where they asked us if we would be using a military escort for safety, we declined as hopefully the two trucks now offered a degree more protection than just the one….and also as we liked the feeling of adventure in this dangerous part of Africa. Stupid maybe but out judgement of such situations is so much better than it was six months ago, so we just decided to go ahead alone, fingers crossed all round!

As the sun dropped out of the sky it became increasingly difficult to see the wildlife darting across the track at the last minute, little Dik-Diks, Kudu and local livestock all making the drive that much more exciting as we so so almost hit things on occasion, racing through the African bush!

We finally rolled into Moyale around an hour after sunset, drove to the Kenya Wildlife Services campsite along another terrible road and setup for the night, tired, sore in the back but happy to have made it along one of the most renowned roads in east Africa. We are now officially entering North Africa for the first time since back in February, bring on tomorrow and the delights of stone throwing children and apparently antisocial miserable people!

Ethiopia now is the time to prove yourself otherwise…..

Movie and then bed.

End of day location: Moyale, Kenya
Distance covered: 250kms

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