Notes from a recent trip through Kenya

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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2017
    Cape Town
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    Default Notes from a recent trip through Kenya

    Logistic notes from a recent trip.

    This leg was really about admin in Nairobi and transit to Uganda to get that done before the heavy October rains in the south west of Uganda (which in the end came in September this year). Plan is to spend more time in southern Kenya in October so stay tuned for that installment.

    Tanzania/Kenya border at Namanga: one stop border where you can clear out of Tanzania and into Kenya. All well organised, clear and sufficient efficient officials. Ignore the touts hawking Kenyan shillings (there's a bank inside where you can buy shillings to pay the road tax of Ksh4200), third party insurance, visa application forms and other scams. You really don't need these pests. You need to be pretty brutally firm (without being rude). They will keep at it. If in doubt ask a uniformed official and/or one of the safari guides passing through. Visas available at the border: 30 days and no cost to South Africans. Made no sense therefore to get the East African visa.

    Namanga to Nairobi: tarmac, some not too treacherous looking potholes, increasingly busy as you approach Nairobi. Timed thing's to arrive before the evening rush hour (4:30 onwards). Was quite manageable in terms of traffic. Switched from T4A to Google to navigate around (needed to take care of replacing shocks etc), which worked well: Google obviously had a much richer data set in this situation.

    Jungle Junction: exactly as well documented already. Secure, spacious, convenient location, workshop, meals, laundry, WiFi, Cadac gas refill. Camping Ksh850 pppn. Large Carrefour supermarket and plenty of other shops, restaurants and other mall things at "The Hubb" mall nearby.

    Nairobi to Eldoret (Naiberi resort and camp). Took the A104 as far as far as Nakuru then north via the back roads and goat tracks. A104 very busy with heavy trucks and lunatic shuttle bus (matatu) and other drivers. Don't think I've ever seen such recklessness on the roads. Overtaking in both the left and right (it's a single carriageway not a three lane highway), on blind corners simply applying the rule that if you are bigger and/or braver oncoming traffic will give way (ie forced of the road.) From Nakuru you leave all that behind but somehow I managed to choose a road through Eldama Rivine/Tugen Hills into the Kerio Valley that had been heavily damaged by recent rains the days before, and eventually petered into a small steep track that required plenty of low range rock crawling to avoid sliding down the very steep sides. Eventually came out of the Rift Valley through the Fluorspar mining area near Kimwarer, ending up in the top of the hugely impressive Elgeyo Escarpment at Nyaru village (on a decent dirt road with endless switchbacks which was very impressive and provided awesome views up the escarpment and back down the valley), from which it is an easy 20 mins on tarmac to Naiberi camp, which wad a very welcome sight after a long day, much longer than planned.

    Naiberi camp. Location per T4A BUT unless you want the challenging drive I did (very pretty, no trucks, no matatu's, no motor bikes; in in fact no other vehicles at all....), you might prefer to ignore T4A and take the B53 from Nakuru through Eldama Ravine - apparently tarmac all the way and also a pretty drive without all the heavy trucks on the A104, which is one of the main trunk roads from Mombassa into Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Congo, etc ie seriously busy). Very comfortable and secure camp/resort at an altitude of about 2300m just outside Eldoret. You can camp at Ksh 700pppn, kids a bit less (good cooking and abolitions) or check in to one of their clean, comfortable en suite rooms. Large restaurant (serving good food with an Indian twist) and swimming pool and bar. Also frequented by overland groups, through I stayed 4 nights (due to a serious mechanical issue) and I encountered none. I understand a rival camp nearby is aggressively marketing the larger overland vehicles. This is good news for self-drivers and would certainly recommend supporting Naiberi. The owner Raj and his team took extremely good care of me. Raj is very well connected in Eldoret, gave me some good advice, put me in touch with the right people to help me sort out my vehicle, drove me around Eldoret and showed me all I needed. Plus much more. If you need anything out of the ordinary done in the area I suggest speaking to Raj first. Without him I was in serious trouble. In the end it just took a little time and patience.

    Krimir Crafts, Eldoret 0.52438 N 35.26309 E (#+254 734 662 133‬). If you need some serious good quality welding get in touch with Karsen or Kanty, the two brothers who run this workshop, which does a number of things including steel fabrication. Here's a bit of colour to help put this recommendation into context: Between me, the two brothers and their team of men (we had fifteen helping lift at some point: no fancy lifts or cranes available, just the African way), over two days we dismantled the entire rear end of my rig, welded and reinforced the six supporting brackets of the aftermarket gull wing canopy conversion which had all sheared off: it proved in the end under-engineered for the roads in Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Tanzania, Kenya), and rebuilt the vehicle. This was much more than just a welding repair job and Karsen (something of a self-taught engineer: a very calm, thoughtful man who has apparently even built and reconditioned his own saw mills himself from scratch) and team were determined to not only fix the problem but re-engineer it so that this wouldn't happen again "not even in the Congo" and take care of me at the same time. Without Raj and Karsen, Kanty & co I'd have probably landed up with one of the bush welders on the side of the road and there's no way things would have worked out as well. I've helped a few people along the way and was very grateful for the favor to be returned from a different direction. Fingers crossed I never have this problem again.

    Rupa Mall, Eldoret. Easy to find on the north side of the main road at the east end of town. New mall with secure parking and good supermarket with a very full range, albeit probably expensive compared to others in town. Plus most other things you expect at a mall.

    Eldoret to Kenya/Uganda border at Malaba: reckon on about 3 hours of slow going on very busy and rather boring road.

    Malaba border: remember to simply drive past the long rows of trucks waiting for customs, park at the guarded parking lot and take care of your business: check vehicle out of Kenya. Then drive over the short chaotic stretch of no mans land dodging trucks (there's a road to the left for private vehicles you need to look out for). Again stop at the immigration building where there is a one stop shop for Kenya and Uganda immigration. Next door you find the Uganda customs office for your vehicle. That's it. Ignore the touts. You can get done in under an hour.

    More on the Uganda section.

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Thanked: 1040

    Default Re: Notes from a recent trip through Kenya

    Asante sana, Golf Charlie.

    I am intrigued as to how you found yourself down at Kimwarer when going from Eldama Ravine to Eldoret! It must have been quite an adventure! The tarmac road between Eldama Ravine and Eldoret is often used as an alternative to the main road and is particularly scenic. Well done you for going to the seldom visited western Kenya.

    Now you can plan another trip to the Cherangani Hills, Mt Elgon, Kitale, and the Uasin Gichu plateau. But if you want to take another route from Nakuru, take the road to Lake Baringo and at Marigat turn west through Kabarnet, Tambach and up the Rift Valley escarpment to Iten (where our great Kenyan Olympic athletes train), and then on to Eldoret. The road between Marigat and Iten is a good enough tarmac road and it is really beautiful. This route is definitely on T4A as we put it on T4A.

    The paper maps I recommend for Kenya are the Nelles map or the World Mapping Project (Reise Know How) map. One of those combined with your GPS map set as map display will get you round Kenya (albeit it with some “white space”) with hakuna matata. Then you can send your tracks to T4A to help with their Kenyan database.

    Safari njema!
    Last edited by Wazungu Wawili; 2018/10/16 at 10:30 AM.

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