Road Trip from Johannesburg, RSA to Nairobi, Kenya (5 nights)

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  1. #1
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    May 2013
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    Default Road Trip from Johannesburg, RSA to Nairobi, Kenya (5 nights)

    Road Trip from Johannesburg, RSA to Nairobi, Kenya (5 nights)
    (From 06:30 on 28/12 to 11:00 on 2/1/2014) Total distance covered - 4340 km
    I started a two year secondment on 1/10/2013 in Nairobi and my first two months was a blur as I tried to find my feet in a new country and a new job. I did not have the luxury of a vehicle but relied on a bunch of drivers to get me from the apartment to work and back every day. Travelling with these guys gave me a good introduction to the Kenyan way of life and how the pulse works in this world. There is a saying that means a lot for me in trying to understand the rhythm of East Africa and that is “nothing is what it seems”.
    I am not a mall rat but I love the outdoors and golf gives me access and an opportunity to see places that I would not normally be exposed to. The trees and the greenery in Nairobi is something special and the temperature is very even. There are beautiful sunrises and sunsets. Unfortunately my wife did not come at first and will join me later during 2014 (she has since joined me). This gave me an opportunity to improve my cooking skills and to do some creative chicken, meat and vegetable dishes. One of my favourite meals has been a roast chicken and I am getting better at it!!!! Now and again even rice crackers with peanut butter and honey taste amazingly good – washed down with a smooth whiskey!!!!
    Leading up to the secondment the embryo of an idea started. I did a lot of research and reading and used the 4X4 Community website extensively to convince myself that with the right vehicle a good challenge will be to drive from SA to Kenya. If fact one of my work colleagues completed the trip previously and he gave me a lot of good advice. We had numerous conversations and his knowledge and experience was invaluable!!!! My family thought I was nuts and when it transpired that I will travel alone they thought I had lost my marbles – not the first time nor the last time that they have gone through that thinking.
    Choice of vehicle:
    My research through Google and various websites including the best resource (the 4X4 community website) started off with the following thinking – I wanted reliability, reasonable comfort, safety, light on fuel, older vehicle, looked after and good service record. I was also not sure of diesel or a petrol engine but decided that petrol was the way to go. My thinking at first was on Suzuki Grand Vitara but over time I became more convinced that it has to be a Toyota in Africa. I looked at the Fortuner, double cabs and last on the list was a Prado. As luck would have it an old Prado was advertised on the 4X4 community website about a week before I returned to SA for a December holiday. I waited for 2 days and then contacted the seller and everything worked out very quickly and I was soon the proud owner of a 2004 Toyota Prado. Over 3 weeks in December we did a fair amount of travelling in SA and the vehicle worked out perfectly. This once again confirmed my decision as the right one for my circumstances.
    Once again the information gathering process helped me to get a Carnet (very useful in Africa), reflective stickers for the vehicle, reflective jacket, fire extinguisher, maps, food, 190,000 km service, packaging of boxes and suitcases. I was fortunate to get a Garmin with Tracks4Africa maps (a gift from my son-in-law and daughter). This tool was very useful in getting me from Johannesburg, through to Botswana, Zambia and Tanzania and into Kenya (Nairobi).
    Actual trip
    I left at 06:30 on 28/12/2013 from Johannesburg – great day for travelling as it was overcast.
    After the Kranskop Toll Plaza I saw a chameleon trying to get across the highway – I am sure he made it with his deliberate movements. This was a further inspiration for my trip as I knew that if he could do it so could I!!!!
    At the SA/Botswana border I got through without much of a hitch. It went smoothly and I spent 30 minutes in total getting sorted out. Botswana is fascinating - many cops, cattle, donkeys, goats etc. I was stopped by a cop for speeding but he let me through when I respectfully apologized. I helped a family with a diesel Prado where it seemed that something had blown – lots of white smoke. I was frequently stopped or slowed down by policemen, road works, thunder storms and big farming areas. I completed about 900 km and slept at Northgate Lodge in Nata. I left at 5:30 on 29th and did a further 920km. Botswana is a beautiful country and I saw a couple of elephant and a pair of foxes and then an impala running past in front of the vehicle. The border with Zambia (Kazungula) was little more challenging and I finally paid about $170 down from $250 after quite a bit of negotiation. Lots of trucks!!! Maybe because it was Sunday I saw no cops in Zambia on the 29th and at first very quiet but closer to Lusaka hundreds of trucks. Amazing scenery and many little towns across Zambia. The country side was very green and there were patches of rain and thunder clouds all over. I saw vast areas where the cultivation of sugar and maze was taking place. Found a place to stay on the way to Mkushi – very reasonable. On the 30th I crossed the Zambian Border into Tanzania at Tunduma. Travelled to Chimala in Tanzania and I could see the Muslim influence growing – clean accommodation place in the middle of the small town. From there (on the 31st) I travelled through to Chalinze where the turn off is away from the road to Dar up to Arusha. I spent a great evening reading with a bottle of SA pot still brandy, rice crackers and walnuts – good enough to remember the last day of the year!!!! Tanzania is full of natural beauty and there are many forests that lead to dry areas and then suddenly into valleys full of baobab trees – amazing. On 1 January 2014 I travelled up to Arusha and across the border into Namanga (Kenya) where I slept over in a small lodge. Kilimanjaro was not fully visible but I got a sense of scale. I arrived in Nairobi with a good sense of pride and joy on 2 January 2014 having spent just over 5 days on the road!!!!


    All the countries had a uniqueness about them and I will do it again as long as I can avoid the about 1000km from before Lusaka to the middle of Tanzania as the trucks and busses did make it very tough!!!


    10000+ insects killed (including many white butterflies), 20 big beetles smashed on the windscreen, 5 bird strikes, speed bumps into every little village which can be annoying but does force one to slow down and really becomes more noticeable through Zambia, Tanzania and Kenya.
    Botswana - beautiful, great roads and many cops active managing the traffic (many traps and they pick up your speed through mobile speed guns)
    Zambia - less cultivated and more rural, many people walking, many cyclists, many mud huts
    Tanzania - great countryside and more advanced, many brick houses with tin roofs, plenty motorbikes and seems like there is money being turned around and early prosperity
    Kenya – things on the go all the time and many more multi-storey buildings

    Border crossings

    Choose one person to help you and preferably the person with a collar and not the T – shirt guys. Get him to agree a price and then negotiate from there on. Keep your documents with you and do not let anything go out of your view!!!!!
    Everybody is wheeling and dealing and try and connect with the border officials by name and refer to them if you need anything ratified – did save me at least $100

    Lessons confirmed:

    On a long trip many thoughts go through your mind and in no particular order the following helped me on the journey:
    ·Be patient, be patient, be patient
    ·Start every day with a daily km goal but be flexible enough not to chase the goal at all costs
    ·Break the day into bite size bits and ensure that you travel within your expectations/limitations
    ·Never travel any of these roads by night – people, animals, trucks, busses, potholes are a constant danger
    ·Have enough water and refreshments to keep going and eat something small every now and then
    ·Quick leg brakes and stops on a regular basis (I did not do enough)
    ·Concentrate to the power of 10
    ·The music of the 60s, 70s and 80s kept me very alive – nothing like Led Zeppelin, The Doors, Deep Purple, The Beatles, Rolling Stones, classical music etc.
    ·Silence at times, the hum of the engine and your own thoughts
    ·Say your thanks and prayers out load as well and thanks the car and whoever else for bringing you this far!!!
    ·Anything is possible - Further stories on my wife’s blog:

    Some photographs from SA, Botswana (notice elephant next to the road), Zambia, Tanzania (Kili in the background) and 5th night bedroom in Namanga (Kenya)
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    Last edited by pgrobler; 2014/06/12 at 01:52 PM. Reason: including photos

  2. The Following User Says Thank You to pgrobler For This Useful Post:

  3. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
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    Wow. Well done.
    Very few people have balls that size.
    Look forward to your pics.
    Hilux DC 3.0D4D 4x4 Auto
    Snorkel, Duel Batt, Bumper,Coil spacers, rock sliders, Winch, Draw system, Spots, BFG AT, LR Tank, Takla Seat and floor covers
    Conqueror Companion 2014

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Thanked: 0


    pgrobler, awesome trip, long kilo's and tiring, great choice in music i.e. Led Zepplin etc. Liked the idea of spending the last night of the year with "a bottle of SA pot" 8).
    Look forward to the photos, otherwise no one will believe it happened
    Buy Oriental and support the destruction of Whales, Dolphins & Rhinos

    Defender TD5

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