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  1. #21
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    Default Re: Kenya 2023: Mountains, plains, valleys, lakes and forests

    You do write a good trip report! We shall be shamelessly following in your footsteps for a lot of this route. If it’s not broken…..
    loving it

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  3. #22
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    Default Re: Kenya 2023: Mountains, plains, valleys, lakes and forests

    Great reports, brings back many memories of extraordinary places in Kenya - sounds as through I need to do an update visit to Baringo!
    Tony Weaver
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  5. #23
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    Default Re: Kenya 2023: Mountains, plains, valleys, lakes and forests

    Kakamega Forest
    5 February

    We were up with the larks and set off at dawn with Smith. We walked across the tea field right outside the guesthouse. This “nyayo tea” was planted all over highland Kenya to delineate forest reserves from community areas and to stop encroachment on to the protected forests. Forest birds are best seen from the forest edge and we spent ages skulking along spotting many species. Then we went into the forest itself, the vast trees – most with buttress roots – soared overhead. It was cool and enchanting in the forest. We saw a troop of Blue Monkeys high in the canopy. Smith identified all the trees from Elgon Teak to figs, Crotons and the Forest Sandpaper tree. We saw the vast Mama Mutere tree (Maesopsis eminii) which fell in 2014: it had been 40 metres high. On we went through this beautiful forest until we came to a big glade in the forest: this was known as Zimmerman’s glade after the famous ornithologist. This is a natural feature in the forest and from here we could see the Nandi Escarpment. We wandered on to the Forest Service HQ where we paid our fees for our day in the forest. Nearby is the Kakamega Forest Guesthouse, but it is now closed and there is no water attached to the tanks.

    After breakfast back at camp, we drove to Rondo Retreat to have coffee in their beautiful gardens. It is as nice as ever and beautifully maintained. It is a Baptist retreat, but there is no hard sell and it is a lovely place to stay in their gorgeous cottages. We were warmly welcomed and served coffee in the shade. We had hoped to see a Great Blue Turaco as we have seen them there in the past, but no such luck. However, we did see a troop of Black-and-white Colobus.

    In the late afternoon, we went for another birding walk with Smith. We kept to the forest edges for most of the time spotting many species of birds. We also saw more Colobus and blue monkeys. We wandered back to camp as dusk was falling. We had had a great day - 41 species identified with a few “lifers”.

    Back at camp, we paid Smith for the camping and the bird walks, and sat down and had a chat with him. He was very interesting. We were so pleased we had supported him. He did not know his guesthouse was marked on ioverlander and was intrigued by the app. The bird photographers were having their meals cooked for them in the guesthouse, but they were equally taciturn to us. We had another great evening and night. We like Kakamega Forest.

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  7. #24
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    Default Re: Kenya 2023: Mountains, plains, valleys, lakes and forests

    Quote Originally Posted by Tony Weaver View Post
    Great reports, brings back many memories of extraordinary places in Kenya - sounds as through I need to do an update visit to Baringo!
    Karibuni Kenya, Tony! I think it is a very long time since you were last in Kenya. Rudi tena.

  8. #25
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    Default Re: Kenya 2023: Mountains, plains, valleys, lakes and forests

    Hi WW, Isecheno Blue Shouldered Guesthouse/Campsite looks like an answer to our proposed visit to Kakamega Forest later this year, if you recall you suggested we travel there when we first spoke of Kenya in 2020. We had examined using the Baptist retreat but were horrified to discover that it would cost USD700 for a 2-night stay there, we would far rather use these funds for activities on our trip and are perfectly comfortable in our RTT. Your report continues to provide great reading (and knowledge). From Kakamega we move onto Baringo so doing the trip in the opposite direction to you. Thanks John
    John 2021 Prado GXL 2.8 (Australia) & 2017 Land Cruiser 79 D/Cab + Alucab Ossewa "Hagrid" (Africa)
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  9. #26
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    Default Re: Kenya 2023: Mountains, plains, valleys, lakes and forests

    Quote Originally Posted by Tedx2 View Post
    Hi WW, Isecheno Blue Shouldered Guesthouse/Campsite looks like an answer to our proposed visit to Kakamega Forest later this year, if you recall you suggested we travel there when we first spoke of Kenya in 2020. We had examined using the Baptist retreat but were horrified to discover that it would cost USD700 for a 2-night stay there, we would far rather use these funds for activities on our trip and are perfectly comfortable in our RTT. Your report continues to provide great reading (and knowledge). From Kakamega we move onto Baringo so doing the trip in the opposite direction to you. Thanks John
    Thanks, John. I’m glad you are continuing with the route plan we came up with in 2020 and are visiting Kakamega. If USD700 is for both of you for two nights full board, then I’m afraid to say that is cheap for Kenya!

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  11. #27
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    Default Re: Kenya 2023: Mountains, plains, valleys, lakes and forests

    Quote Originally Posted by Wazungu Wawili View Post
    Thanks, John. I’m glad you are continuing with the route plan we came up with in 2020 and are visiting Kakamega. If USD700 is for both of you for two nights full board, then I’m afraid to say that is cheap for Kenya!
    Hi WW, thanks, just confirmed, the price was actually AUD763 for Linda and I for 2 nights, B&B, my sincere apologies, I've just confirmed the price was AUD, not USD, therefore USD523. We are perfectly happy to stay in a campsite in our RTT and Hagrid, it removes the need to unpack the car and is quick and easy. We will follow your lead and visit them for a cup of coffee. Blue Shouldered Campsite, with Smith in attendance ticks all our boxes.
    Last edited by Tedx2; 2023/02/23 at 10:24 AM. Reason: Error in prior post
    John 2021 Prado GXL 2.8 (Australia) & 2017 Land Cruiser 79 D/Cab + Alucab Ossewa "Hagrid" (Africa)
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    Kgalagadi 2019 Namibia 2019 Gonarezhou 2019 Mana/Tafika 2018 Kgalagadi 2017 Lion, Hippo, Eland Leguaan, Python

  12. #28
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    Default Re: Kenya 2023: Mountains, plains, valleys, lakes and forests

    Kakamega Forest to our friends’ farm in the Nyanza Basin
    6 February

    We did not have to rush in the morning as we had a shortish drive, but we were still up early, had breakfast and struck camp. We bade farewell to Samuel and tipped him. Then it was back through the forest on the dirt road where we turned left and back through Kapsabet.

    At Kapsabet, we turned south for the town of Nandi Hills. We were now driving through large and luscious tea estates. We did a partial resupply in Nandi Hills; buying gin proved a bit difficult – Hugh had to go to a bar and liquor store. Well, we had the gin, but we were short on the tonic. But no worries, our friends would have tonic. We did a quick detour to the private members only Nandi Bears Club which we know of old. Slightly naughtily, we talked our way in, name-dropping, so as to use the loo. The golf course was very dry for Nandi - it is a lovely place.

    Then we wound our way down the Nandi Escarpment to the sugarcane fields and an hour or so later we arrived at our friends’ farm. This is a little piece of paradise nestled between the Kericho escarpment and Tinderet. We had asked if we could take their original farmhouse – which was sent out from Harrods in London as a flat pack in 1911 - so as to be able to do a huge post-safari clean without being in our friends’ hair. We were booked for four nights. We arrived at the farm just before lunch and it was so nice to see everyone again.

    The old house is a beautiful wooden building overlooking the farm, with lovely gardens, a swimming pool and two staff. On a clear day, Lake Victoria is visible from the house. Sadly, the dry season haze meant that the lake was not visible, but it did make for sensational sunsets.

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  14. #29
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    Default Re: Kenya 2023: Mountains, plains, valleys, lakes and forests

    Quote Originally Posted by Tedx2 View Post
    Hi WW, thanks, just confirmed, the price was actually AUD763 for Linda and I for 2 nights, B&B, my sincere apologies, I've just confirmed the price was AUD, not USD, therefore USD523. We are perfectly happy to stay in a campsite in our RTT and Hagrid, it removes the need to unpack the car and is quick and easy. We will follow your lead and visit them for a cup of coffee. Blue Shouldered Campsite, with Smith in attendance ticks all our boxes.
    I agree that Isecheno Blue Shouldered Guesthouse and campsite ticks all the boxes and Smith deserves to be supported. But USD523 for two people for two nights at Rondo Retreat is very reasonable by any country’s standards for such a lovely place. If you feel in need of a night of luxury - or if it’s raining - Rondo Retreat will give you a break. Smith also guides guests at Rondo Retreat.

  15. #30
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    Default Re: Kenya 2023: Mountains, plains, valleys, lakes and forests

    At our friends’ farm
    6 – 10 February

    The following morning, we took everything out of the Land Rover and cleaned, and had cleaned for us, every single thing. The lovely house staff did a mound of laundry including our sheets, towels and the seat covers – all by hand. The garden staff were fantastic in helping clean the Land Rover in and out of the mounds of fine volcanic dust.

    For the next few days, we had a lovely time going on birdwatching walks on the farm and a walk to a waterfall. We also had a very social time with our friends and other members of their family. It was so good to be back in our favourite place in Kenya. We love being verandah farmers.

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  17. #31
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    Default Re: Kenya 2023: Mountains, plains, valleys, lakes and forests

    Our friends’ farm to Nairobi
    10 February

    Reluctantly, we dragged ourselves away and set off on the long drive back to Nairobi. I hate driving the busy main Uganda to Nairobi main road so, once again, we decided to do the slightly more circuitous route round the Mau and via Narok. The first climb was up the Kericho escarpment back into tea country. Ordinarily, when going via Narok, we wouldn’t have had to go into the town of Kericho, but we had an unrepairable slow puncture and wanted to buy Tyre Milk. After visiting a few auto shops in downtown Kericho and not finding this gel, we decided to buy two new tyres at Kingsway Tyres in Kericho. They had BF Goodrich to match our current tyres. After all, we were going to buy new tyres at Kingsway on our return to Nairobi anyway. So, up the Land Rover went on the lift and an hour later we had two new tyres on the front and the front tyres put on the back.

    With our wallets somewhat lighter, we headed off west towards Litien. Here we turned south and wound our way round the Mau down to Bomet. Then we turned east towards Narok where we stopped for a quick cup of coffee. On and in we went into the Rift Valley, with Mt Longonot and Mt Suswa in front of us and the Rift Valley escarpment ahead.

    We were intending to take the Suswa-Ngong road to check out this formerly remote and beautiful dirt road (which avoids the main escarpment climb). The Chinese, after all, had bored a big tunnel for Stage 2 of the Chinese railway just west of the Ngong hills and the railway was complete up to near Suswa. There is a sign saying “Ngong 65 kms” at the village of Suswa and this is what we used to take in the past. However, Google Maps had a detour marked and we, stupidly, decided to trust Mr Google. Big mistake. The formerly open plains and ranch land after the village of Suswa were now fenced and we couldn’t turn off. How vexing. We contemplated turning round and going back to the Ngong sign, but decided to soldier on. [Post note: we were subsequently told that the road from Ngong to Suswa has been tarred except for about 5 kms.]

    So, on we went to Maai Mahiu. From there, we could see the traffic jams up the old escarpment road. This road up the escarpment was built by the Italian Prisoners of War in the Second World War and is where all the trucks have to go up and down. The 21 kms up the escarpment was very slow and tortuous as we ground our way up behind huge lorries – it took us an hour to do the climb behind all the lorries - we spent much of that time in first gear with many stops and hillstarts. The realities of modern day Kenya. This is why we try and avoid main roads and take the roads less travelled. Once at the top, the road flattens out a bit and we were able to do some overtaking. Shortly before the road joins the A104, we turned right on to a pleasant, quiet road which winds its way through Thigio and other small settlements before popping out on the Southern By-pass just south of Kikuyu.

    After a nine hour journey (including getting the new tyres), we arrived safely back in Karen. Another great trip around the glories of Kenya. 1,727 miles (2,779 kms) driven.

    Nairobi
    11 - 15/16 February

    The next five days were spent in Nairobi packing our camping kit back in my brother’s store and having a lovely time with the family.

    We also spent most of a day in Nairobi National Park and had a great time. I have been going to “the game park” since I was a child – it is a very special place. I was concerned that I would hate seeing the new Chinese railway cutting right across the park, but although it is a blight, and things “ain’t what they used to be”, I somehow accepted it. We had the surreal sight of a rhino sleeping under a bush with the elevated railway behind and the skyscrapers of Nairobi in the distance. Most of the roads are in very good shape and there was a lot of game. We saw three lions and five rhinos plus the “usual suspects”. There are, apparently, 90 rhinos in Nairobi park.

    Everything had gone swimmingly until our BA flight out of Nairobi had a safety issue and we were delayed by 28 hours whilst a new part was flown in from London and fitted to the plane. It was an exhausting two nights with little or no sleep.

    We had had another excellent trip to my homeland. Asante sana, Kenya.
    Last edited by Wazungu Wawili; 2023/02/23 at 08:50 PM.

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  19. #32
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    Default Re: Kenya 2023: Mountains, plains, valleys, lakes and forests

    Tsavo West National Park

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    Lunch stop at the Shetani lava flow

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    Mzima Springs

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    Mzima Springs

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    Kilimanjaro in the hazy distance

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    Borassus palms near the Tsavo River
    Last edited by Wazungu Wawili; 2023/02/24 at 06:39 PM.

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  21. #33
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    Default Re: Kenya 2023: Mountains, plains, valleys, lakes and forests

    Tsavo West National Park

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    The drought-stricken plains from Poachers’ Lookout

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    Ngulia mountain, Tsavo West

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    Klipspringer on a lava flow with the Chyulu Hills behind

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    Kilimanjaro

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    The beautiful view from the verandah at Kilaguni

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    Kilimanjaro behind the Chyulu Hills from outside the park
    Last edited by Wazungu Wawili; 2023/02/25 at 12:53 AM.

  22. #34
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    Default Re: Kenya 2023: Mountains, plains, valleys, lakes and forests

    I’m struggling to upload photos…

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  24. #35
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    Default Re: Kenya 2023: Mountains, plains, valleys, lakes and forests

    Amboseli National Park

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    Good morning, Kilimanjaro

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    The swamp at Amboseli with Kilimanjaro behind

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    Cheetah mother with one of her four cubs

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    Would we have spotted them without Tom’s help?

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    Wonderful bands of colour with the swamp and the dry plains

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    Flamingoes in the open water

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    Last edited by Wazungu Wawili; 2023/02/24 at 07:32 PM.

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  26. #36
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    Default Re: Kenya 2023: Mountains, plains, valleys, lakes and forests

    Amboseli

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    The view from our room at Tawi Lodge

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    The lovely Tawi Lodge

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  28. #37
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    Default Re: Kenya 2023: Mountains, plains, valleys, lakes and forests

    Wow! Everytime you write a TR I add a trip to my itinerary! I'll be looking forward to try the route to baringo from laikipia.!

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  30. #38
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    Default Re: Kenya 2023: Mountains, plains, valleys, lakes and forests

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    Kilimanjaro from near Kimana

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    Kibo peak

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    Mawenzi

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    Kilimanjaro from near the Tsavo River, Tsavo West NP

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    Sunset over the waterhole at Hildana Lodge

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    The Taita Hills from Hildana Lodge

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    A huge herd of buffalo drinking at the waterhole at Hildana Lodge

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    Early morning walk from Hildana Lodge

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    The Taita Hills

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    Sunset with Kilimanjaro and Mt Meru visible

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  32. #39
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    Default Re: Kenya 2023: Mountains, plains, valleys, lakes and forests

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    Camping on the Tiva River, Tsavo East National Park

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    Heading North to Ithumba, Tsavo East National Park

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    Mt Kenya from the eastern side between Embu and Meru town

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    The views north from the road just outside Meru town

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    Elephants crossing the road between Nanyuki and Rumuruti

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    The Aberdares from the Laikipia

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    Down we go on the newly tarred road with Lake Baringo in the distance

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    And down…

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    The second less steep descent with Lake Baringo in the distance

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    Camping at Bushbaby Campsite, Lake Baringo
    Last edited by Wazungu Wawili; 2023/02/25 at 02:12 PM.

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  34. #40
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    Default Re: Kenya 2023: Mountains, plains, valleys, lakes and forests

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    Dawn over Lake Baringo

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    Blue-cheeked bee-eaters and Pied Kingfisher

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    Carmine bee-eater

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    Lake Baringo from Tumbili Cliff Lodge

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    Winding our way down into the Kerio Valley from the Tugen Hills with the Elgeyo Escarpment ahead

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    The Elgeyo Escarpment

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