Total Distance: 8932 km
Distance covered today: 264 km
Start: Moses Camp, Sipi Falls, Mbale
Finish: Naiberi Overland Camp, Eldoret, Kenya
It is best to take one's photos of the falls in the afternoon as the sun rises behind them so we did not spend a lot of time in the morning and continued our road down again to Mbale. The road 5km north of Mbale and some 30km south of Mbale heading back to the main Kampala - Kenya road is certainly one of those funny African tar roads. There are more potholes than tar which makes it much worse than bad gravel roads because the tar's sharp edges play havoc with the vehicle's tyres. The funniest thing I have seen today though was a speed bump which is built right through the potholes! Now, one is already crawling at snail's pace through the potholes and then to come across a speed bump inside the pothole is just what makes Africa so special. I have seen potholes inside speed bumps before but never vice-versa.
All along the roads people were slaughtering cattle in preparation for Christmas and they kill, skin and divide the animal right there next to the road. It is actually no problem to buy this kind of meat and here in Uganda we often purchased barbecued meat which is skewered on a long stick and the sellers run around at certain intersections with a whole fistful of skewers. We had some tender ones and ones we are still chewing on but overall a great flavour.
We got to the main road and although we were dreading this road which is notorious full with trucks and other suicidal traffic, it was smooth sailing to the border. The Uganda side as quick as ever and while I was busy with Customs and Immigration, a young boy of no more than 12 years was talking to Arina while she waited at the vehicle. He asked all sorts of rather mature questions like: where are you coming from, how long did it take you, how long will it take to get to Cairo etc etc. All in all, the people from Uganda have welcomed us everywhere with great hospitality. Communication in English is really good and I will say that the people are trying hard to improve their lives. The old problem with corruption is off course still rife and unless Africa's leaders are not kept accountable for their actions, the continent will never be able to uplift itself. The country is very green all over and quite a variety of landscapes - from flat plains of Queen Elizabeth Park to the rolling hills of the north and south. Still would love to see the north eastern part of the country where it is a lot more arid. Next time…
At the Kenyan side, I was immediately approached by an 'assistant' to help with formalities. Normally I shy away from these guys but he seems really genuine and I could immediately see with the way the officials treated him, that he was respected and trustworthy. We sailed through Immigration (thanks to our assistant no Entry Cards were needed while the whole queue which he jumped had to fill one in) and only US$40 for a month's Road Tax. If one stays 7 days or less it would be for free but we know we will be here for more than that. Just over an hour later and we were through. The queues of trucks on both sides are just staggering and sometimes they wait at the border for up to 5 days to get clearance.
Soon we were met by the second funniest road of the day. A normal tarmac road with very high ridges in the middle between the two rows of wheels. Sometimes this 'middelmannetjie' ridge is so high I was frightened it will knock the diffs. The axle load on the trucks are off course way overloaded thus literally sinking into the tar and creating these ridges. Passing a slow vehicle is quite hilarious as going out of the troughs over the ridges, into the other lanes' troughs and back the same way.
Got to the town of Eldoret. Not a small town and not a big town - just in between. And we got stuck. The traffic was incredible. 3 blocks by 3 blocks of the main town and every man and his car decided to drive there. Thousands of people all over doing last minute shopping and I am sure that Adderley or Oxford street will look deserted compared to this. We purchased cell phone cards which allowed us to make cheaper calls home and we still wanted to purchase the famous Eldoret Cheese (more than 20 types are produced here), but the traffic forced us to leave earlier than later.
Our camp is only 15km outside town and the owner Raj, welcomed us as if we are long lost family. We felt straight away at home and each camp site has a little banda (a little round hut with no walls and a roof) which has a nice concrete floor, braai area, water and table. The showers are by far the best we have had on the entire tour. Super hot water and a jet stream of water. Sometimes at other camps one has to run around in the shower to get wet from the few drops splashing around from the nozzle. You can visit their web site on www.naiberi.com/
Truth be told - we are not cheap skates either because we are staying where Bill Gates stayed last year! No joke. He stayed at the same place and if it is good enough for him, it is good enough for us.
It was a lovely spot to spend Christmas and we were told some 200 people will come from town to enjoy Christmas lunch here. The camp itself was empty except for a Swiss couple who has been travelling for 3.5 years already down the west coast of Africa and now up again on the east coast in a MAN truck with every gadget inside that will make MacGuiver go green with envy. I heard they even have a printer inside.
25 December 2010
Naiberi Overland Camp
It is Christmas and we are far away from family and friends but thanks to telephone calls and messages on the blog and small gifts from friends and family we stowed away, we felt close enough. We went down to the pool and got ourselves a cosy lounge bed each next to the massive pool. It was really hot and every now and then had to cool down in the icy waters of the pool. We watch all the locals enjoying themselves around the pool eating and drinking and all in a very pleasant manner.
Had an interesting chat with a lady on the next lounger who is a nurse in the local hospital. She told me about the issues of AIDS in the rural area and some other issues they are facing. She had two lovely little daughters who like all children could not get enough of the swimming pool even though is quite cold.
Late in the afternoon we got a serious thunderstorm with pea-size hail even. We could only imagine it was snow for a true white Christmas. Due to the fact it was so cold we went down to the restaurant and had another restaurant meal. The portions are enormous and no one could finish their food.
26 December 2010
Naiberi Overland Camp
Another relaxing day and all we did was to clean the vehicle and enjoy the little luxuries of the camp. We went for a walk through the local villages trying to get rid of all the food of yesterday and to get some much needed exercise. Off course being the only Mzungu (white man) around, we had a whole fellowship of kids just walking along chatting in their language oblivious to the fact that we can't understand them. The countryside is no different to SA and it could be anywhere in the Bredasdorp area with lots of cultivated fields and many blue gum trees all over.
Had brunch with eggs and bacon and a new bottle of fig jam. Life can't get any better.
Tomorrow we are heading to Lake Baringo to a camp site called Roberts Camp and you can look at it on www.robertscamp.com
We will stay there as well for 2 nights, so our pace is slowing down a bit before we are hitting the deserts of Northern Kenya which we know will tap into our energy resources.