Tag Archives: Kenya

Our Transafrican Adventure in numbers: four nomads, one Land Rover …. aaaand …

37,521

kilometres alltogether

This might sound a lot ... Actually the distance northern Germany - Cape Town as the crow flies is way shorter than those 37.521 kilometres. But as we zig-zagged through the Balkans and Africa according to our daily feelings and never followed a fixed route, it was of course way longer.

A bridge in the Okavango Delta in Botswana.

At Cape Agulhas in South Africa.

"There are no roads in Sudan", somebody said to us ... they were actually quite good in most places!

Above Fish River Canyon in Namibia.

34,600

kilometres in the Land Rover

And we still love driving in the Landy. From our point of view it was quite comfortable and we enjoyed driving quite a lot as we spent most of the time talking, singing, listening to audiobooks together and at the same time interesting people and landscapes passed by our windows. Sometimes the road traffic was challenging - before we started the trip we had imagined the road conditions being more challenging.

Driving a Land Rover is great fun!

And there's a lot to see next to the roads!

 
 

2,921

kilometres in rental cars

It was strange to drive a "small" rental car after having driven so many kilometres in the Land Rover. It felt like our bums were scratching on the tar actually! Still, if you ship home your Landy, you will definitely  either have to wait without a car or use a rental.

Is it a CAR?

Really!?

905

likes for our Facebook site during the trip

We have never been too much after "Likes" on Facebook but still they were a way people could tell us that they were interested in what we wrote and pictured. This made us happy, we have to admit!

384

days on the road

... and we could have gone on!

290

days spent in Africa

... were definitely NOT enough! Africa is absolutely gripping! It is like a virus you cannot be cured from!

160    

nights spent on campsites

Campsites in Africa vary a lot. You can get everything from being in the absolute wilderness (Okavango Delta) and having a private ablution block, barbeque et cetera in Namibia or South Africa. You will almost never have a German-style campsite (GOOD!). Sometimes we also camped next to restaurants, lodges, in the courtyard of hotels.

Our camp on a farm-campsite in Namibia ("Mesosaurus Camp"). A bit like in the wilderness.

But you do have campsites with your own "house" with all kinds of personal facilities ...

... like a kitchen ...

... and a veranda with a view.

 

Our camp in the Okavango Delta ... no fences and loads of animals. So, elephants, hippos, gazelle, lions and whatever else pass through the camp, mostly at night! Never go to the toilet at night! At least we didn't!

 

127

nights spent in private households (in 21 different households ranging from a 1500 year-old mountain-village-farmhouse in Ethiopia to a big house directly below Table Mountain in South Africa or a Beach House directly at the Indian Ocean)

This we had not imagined. Completely unknown people contacted us before and during the trip to invite us into their homes, just because they found our blog on the internet and somehow must have liked us or at least found us interesting enough to invite us. This actually shows the immense support, blogs and Facebook can provide for any traveller. We also feel that it was a good decision to blog in English, as that way we could reach more and international people. The friendliness and hospitality we were approached with was unimaginably touching. We wish that Europeans and Germans especially were as nice to strangers as Africans and people on the Balkans were to us.

In most cases we felt like being family members from abroad.

Especially with the van der Merwes in Namibia on their small farm "Eisgaubib".

In the Tigrinyan mountain village Zik'allay - Anouk's favorite place in Ethiopia.

In here - the kitchen - people from the same family have lived for the last 1500 years. For now, it is our bedroom.

106,36

Euros spent per day

This sounds a lot and probably it is. We had saved up for years for the trip and had 125€ per day. Still, we did not wild camp too often (as we could probably have done) ... and we have to admit that we did give us treats with good food and restaurants quite often. For sure, this sum could be way cheaper. Also, from what we have heard and read, East Africa is not the cheapest overland destination. So, also the area of the world you travel in definitely affects the daily budget a lot.

Yes, we do spend quite a lot money on good food. Here it is fresh Barracuda for Christmas in Kenya.

Lobster in Tanzania ... 8€ for 1,5 kilograms!

97,71

kilometres per day on average

Nearly one hundred kilometres per day might sound a lot on average, but it actually is not. This includes all the autobahn-kilometres and those on very good roads we easily put behind us in Europe and southern Africa ... It also includes the stretches, we just drove through non-stop (like from the Ethiopian-Kenyan border to Nairobi). We had many lazy days during our trip where we did not move a wheel at all!

94

days spent in Europe

Europe is wonderful and there is so much to discover. Period!

The old monks' rooms and monasteries in the cliffs at Meteora in Greece - an absolutely magical place!

Lake Koman ferry in Albania.

71

nights in hotels, B&Bs, hostels and holiday flats

As I said, this could easily be reduced. We just needed that every now and then to relax, recover and enjoy.

A family room at a lodge in Namibia.

And a hostel room (yes, this is no mistake ... this really is a room in a hostel) in Girokastër in Albania. The kids thought the house was haunted!

18

foreign countries visited

The original plan was to visit more countries on the way, but we did not want to "tick" countries but wanted to travel. This is where our route(s) took us.

16

nights spent wild camping

We love wild camping and we were surprised how easy and wonderful wild camping can be. Absolute highlights in this sense were Greece and Sudan. Still, there are countries, where camping in the wilderness for us was not an option, such as Ethiopia, where nearly every square meter is inhabited and we didn't like the feeling of being openly watched by tens of persons all the time.

A wildcamp in the Sahara desert in Sudan ... absolutely safe but (nice) people (and camels) will find you in the morning and try to trade with you.

Our wild camp at the (nudist) beach in Lefkhada in Greece. A wonderful place!

15,15

€ per night on average

Prices for accomodation vary considerably from country to country and region to region. The Balkans were cheap and good, whereas East Africa was quite expensive. Some campsites in southern Africa were completely for free for people driving a car licensed from overseas.

12,8

average fuel consumption in liters

Not much different compared to the consumtion we have recorded during other overland trips in Europe.

7

nights spent at family member's houses

... at the beginning and end of the trip.

6

things that broke (both water pumps, front prop shaft, central locking right rear passenger door, double shocker keep, Foxwing awning)

We had expected more things to break. And due to heat, dust and road conditions, we constantly expected more to happen. Maybe the small number of things that broke was due to using a relatively new, well maintenanced car and constant maintenance on the road (i.e. service every 5000 to 10000 km and directly before the trip). We think it is worth buying quality products intead of going for cheap options.

When the front propshaft started making funny noises, we used it for educational purposes immediately. We got it fixed within 48 hrs! In Africa!

On the way to Ol Doinyo Lengai in Kenya, the keep of the double shock absorbers broke. The village blacksmith easily fixed it at a very considerably price.

6

malaria tests

Malaria felt like a constant threat, especially thinking of the kids. We now think that we might have overrated Malaria, but are also 100% sure that being on the safe side healthwise never is a bad thing to do. Malaria tests and medication in Africa is relatively cheap (for us Europeans with hard currency at least) and doctors know more how to treat Malaria than our doctors sometimes as they are constantly exposed to the problem.

3

uncomfortable situations

Actually, two of these happened in northern Africa. Juliane had two situations where she felt uncomfortably approached by men, in Egypt and Sudan. But there is a big difference between cities like Cairo and Khartoum and small villages. We felt absolutely safe and extremely politely treated in the villages. Mischa would have had no problem of leaving Juliane and the two girls behind there for a while. The third incident was a misunderstanding with customs officials at a checkpoint in Ethiopia about 200km away from the Ethiopian-Kenyan border. We drove on without being allowed to (which we could not figure out because of unclear signs), people stopped us, came running at us in uniforms waving weapons and made us go back behind a piece of rope across the street . While reversing, Mischa bumped into a concrete pillar on the road and went mad.

 

This barber stole a kiss from Juliane while Mischa and the girls were in the same room. Juliane didn't want to tell Mischa right away as she feared he would go wild ...

 

3

times servicing the Land Rover

As we said before, service is the key to everything staying in good shape car-wise!

 

First service at "JBK" in Athens - the Greek Land Rover "horse whisperers".

 

2

speeding tickets

Mischa got his first two speeding tickets in Africa. His first two EVER! ... on two successive days. And he was speeding!

Quite beautiful actually! BUT I DON'T drive a LANDCRUISER!

1

car breakdown

Only one time our car broke down completely ... on a major crossroads in Arusha, Tanzania, when the president was visiting the city. ... 2 km away from a Land Rover garage ... It took 45 minutes from the time the Landy broke down to have the car towed to the garage. ... And the manager of the garage took us home with him for the night. The next day everything was fixed again.

1

visitor from Germany

Mischa's mother visited us in Ethiopia, which was absolutely great. It was a brave thing to do for a lady of 67 who had never been to Africa before!

Bajaj outing with Oma Babs.

And she brought Swiss cheese - a rare thing in southern Egypt, Sudan, Kenya and Ethiopia ... worth its weight in gold almost!

0

bribes

We never pay bribes as the next travellers have to pay even higher prices. Also, we never give "gifts" for services that are not special. Whenever people really do things for us, we pay a fair price, though! We don't want to support a "bribe and beg" mentality, but want to make people start their own initiatives to make a living and support their families. When people are ill and sick, we sometimes go and buy food for them or give some medication.

0

punctures

... good tyres pay off! BF Goodrich Mud Terrain KM2! Never change a winning team!

 
 

0

robberies

... even though people could have robbed us easily. Was it luck? We don't know! We nearly always felt safe!

0

abductions

... see above!

0

days in prison

... see above! Although we were absolutely happy to be out of Ethiopia, as the traffic there is an absolute mess (Mischa would love to drive again in Cairo and Khartoum, but NOT in Ethiopia) and pedestrians don't know how to cope with modern road traffic. There are hundreds of people on the road, cattle, sheep and goats everywhere ... at night, people even sleep on the road. If you injure or kill somebody in an accident, you have to expect being lynched by the mob or will be put into prison for seven years. Even the embassies advise people to leave the country immediately after a fatal accident with a local person.

...

countless

new friends, experiences, things we learned

That's why we love traveling so much! There is nothing more to say!

Our kids make friends easily everywhere. Here in Namibia with Max and Irmgard.

The Calders in South Africa.

At the friday prayer in Omdurman in Sudan.

In "Anouk's mountain village" Zik'allay in Ethiopia.

Games in Kenya ...

... and in Ethiopia.

Farm friends in Namibia.

... with their wonderful parents.

Juliane and Zeinab in Cairo.

With Sam Watson in Cairo.

With Mohammed ("Mo") of "Adam Home Overland Camp" in Aswan.

... more friends in Khartoum, Sudan.

With Tyseer on a boat trip in Khartoum.

And with Sheikh Mohammad Mubarak and Tyseer in Khartoum.

With Chief Mkwawa and his family in Iringa, Tanzania.

With Ian, the manager of the Land Rover garage in Arusha.

With our travel friends "Six en Piste" from France who are now travelling in South America.

Lars - a wonderful family father, friend and Land Rover mechanic with a most wonderful family - in Nairobi.

... and so many many more! We miss you guys! Dearly!

Back Home Again …

Until recently we still enjoyed wonderful South Africa ... having traversed Europe and Africa from North to South ... and just as if it was only a short holiday, we are suddenly back in our every day life at home. Time and space have definitely proven to be very relative during the last couple of months. The complete distance of 37.521 kilometres which we have at most times wonderfully dawdled away within 384 days, but which still was at times hard-earned, we have on our way back just flown by airplane ... from East London in South Africa via Johannesburg and Dubai to Frankfurt in only 22 hours! Unbelievable how we today are able to just "tunnel" vast distances like that and also the wonderfully colorful life down on the Earth's surface. We can literally "beam" us from A to B and thereby skip countless and wonderfully exciting parallel worlds.

Coming home after a year full of experiences, adventures and personal and deeply touching encounters with other people, after a year with a wonderful distance to our "normal" every day life at home emotionally to us seemed like a whole mountain-massif.

"How will we be able to cope with the system-constraints of our every day life after this vivid freedom which every day allowed us to do whatever we actually wanted to?"

"Will friends turn their backs on us because of envy and jealousy?"

"Will the constellations in the circle of friends of our daughters have become re-arranged completely without them with the result that they will have become outsiders and social loners?"

"Will we - after all the intense cordiality of the people we have experienced on the Balkans and in Africa - be able to cope with the German mentality again (which we actually have never really been able to cope with even before!)?"

These and other questions ran through our heads, especially so during the last two weeks in (South) Africa.

It was perfect that we had decided on a "gentle return" which enabled us as a family to relax from traveling, to talk and reflect and dream of further plans.

We spent 14 wonderful days in the beachhouse of our dear travel friends Stan and Anne Weakley (their absolutely great African travel blog is www.slowdonkey.com) who we met by chance on the road between the Simien Mountains and Axum in Ethiopia (here is our blog post from Ethiopia).

 

Juliane had just recovered from eight days of diarrhea then ...

 

We met them again by chance at Kilifi in Kenya (here is the Kilifi blogpost) and because of the intensive time we spent together they have become very close friends, for our daughters even something like "elected grandparents".

"Granddad elect" Stan ...

Baking ...

... enjoying Anne's Bobotie ...

... campfire cuisine ...

... and Braai ...

 

... and Potjie of course!

 
 

And Pete's gorgeous farewell dinner.

 

With freshly shackled Cefani rock oysters,

mussels

 

... and Stan's crayfish. Delicious! Fattening time!

 

So, we felt very much at home with them, went to the beach, went shopping, cooked and feasted extensively (thanks to Anne & Stan, Pete & Christel and Mischa), talked, talked and talked and enjoyed the time as an "African" extended family. ... Until the day came when Stan and Anne took us to the airport.

It was like saying goodbye to dear family members ... affectionate, sad ... "When will we meet again?" ...

On the flights back, the European fear of terrorism draws level with us. Because of what we had heard and watched in the news during the last twelve months we already had an uneasy feeling to fly back home to Germany, to Frankfurt, one of the hubs of air traffic in Europe which thus could be a highly endangered location for terror. And - as if we had foreseen it - somebody scribbles a security comment on our boarding passes. Somewhere a thorough security check would be waiting for us. Not for the first time, as Mischa had been suspected to be a terrorist already in 2006/07 at JFK airport when we came back from our honeymoon trip to New York and Costa Rica. This time it might be because we have been to Sudan and fly back to Germany with Emirates Airways via Dubai. America has a firm grip on worldwide air traffic and all passenger information!

What we did not know at that moment was the fact that at the same time when we left South Africa, several people were shot at a shopping centre in Munich by a man who at that time was suspected to be an ISIS-terrorist. Because of this a warning had been issued by German and international intelligence to thoroughly check all people traveling to Germany. Lucky enough, the flights were long enough so that by and by people found out more about what was really happening in Munich and the assassin turned out to be a mentally ill person. "Welcome back!" from "dangerous Africa" to "safe Europe"!

We arrived back in Europe one week earlier than originally planned due to the fact that on the trip our daughter Anouk dearly missed her 96-year-old great grandmother.

 

Good old gran with her four great-grandchildren. May she rest in peace!

 

So, we wanted to surprise both and secretly booked the flights one week earlier so that Anouk would have a full week with her great-grandmother. However, because of this plan, we found out what we were not supposed to find out: Anouk's great grandmother and "chief" of the whole family was on her deathbed. Just days before we came back to Germany she closed her wise eyes for ever. Together, we had cried and talked "at home" in Stan and Anne's beachhouse. Now, back in Germany, Mischa's complete family was waiting for us in great-grandmother's house. We spent moving days together and said farewell to a wonderfully strong woman who had seen so very much during her long life.

...

As a challenge for the new stage of life after our overland adventure and after many interesting encounters, we had decided to get an addition to the family.

 

Something had happened ... our daughters who feared dogs suddenly loved dogs!

Look at THAT!

 

At Cape Agulhas (here is the blog post), we had decided to buy a Border Collie puppie after we had discovered that our two daughters after some warming up just love dogs.

 

Border Collies are cool!

 

So, we informed ourselves about good dog breeders in northern Germany and on the way to pick up our Land Rover in Rotterdam, we managed to check one. As soon as you see those bubbly-fluffy puppies, all doubts vanish instantly. As the puppies at that time were still too young for us to directly take them with us, we had to leave "our" dog behind ... We left full of thrills of anticipation about the new family member and drove on to meet Marit and Jan, travel friends from the Netherlands, who would help us get our Landy "Nyati" out of customs in Rotterdam.

 

With Marit and Jan in the Okavango Delta

 

Well, imagine us sitting with Marit and Jan, whom we had last met in the Okavango Delta (here is the blog post) and Kruger National Park (here is the Kruger post), in a typically Dutch restaurant somewhere near Amsterdam when an email reaches us from the freight forwarders ... telling us that we can't collect our beloved Land Rover as the container it is in seems to be inhabited by a multitude of spiders.

 

At least Nyati is not alone in that container ... but SPIDERS!?

 

Thus, the whole container has to be gased to kill the animals. We can only get back our Landy after it has been gased and thoroughly aired. We react with a mixture of amusement and disappointment, but Africa has made us considerably more relaxed and what else can we do than proceed to the harbour of Neuharlingersiel in our rental car to sail back to our little North Sea sandbank called "Spiekeroog".

Having just arrived at the harbour in the "beeeautiful" rental car ...

... we are on board a sailing ship ...

 

... crazy Sóley loves it ...

 
 

... even though the weather turns bad in no time - "traditions"!

 

There, we are being picked up by Mischa's mother and her partner with their sailing boat. After a sunny cup of tea during the passage to our island, the weather veers, dark clouds appear and the sea is getting rougher and rougher ... just like on the very day when we had left home more than a year earlier.

 

That's how we had started one year earlier ... slightly younger ... but more relaxed!????

 

Christina, Sóley's beloved kindergarten teacher, gives us a surprise-welcome.

More unexpected friends ... thanks Lasse, Merle and Swaantje! Did you see the tears of happiness in our eyes?

But in spite of this "typical North Sea weather", friends who had found out about our "secret" homecoming, were waiting at the island's harbour to take over the ropes and take us in their arms again.

 

If good friends take on the ropes it might not be a bad sign at all!

 

What a warm and wonderful welcome! Just as we like it! Maybe, coming home will not be too bad after all!?

The few days we have to wait until we can move back in into our old house on the campus of our boarding school, we spend in the house of Mischa's mother to celebrate her birthday.

Our home is so unexpectedly beautiful!

Lazy Sóley!

On my first bicycle trip from the island's village to the boarding school, I amazedly observe how wonderfully colourful the blooming meadows next to the road are, the horses and birds and the evening mood. "How sad that I don't have the camera with me!", I think even though in our every day lives, we speed this way without realising its beauty focussed on the hamster wheel of work and lose the eye for this beauty.

The two weeks we have for "nest-building" go by so very quick and we take the chance to re-furnish our house even more snugly than it was before, not least because of all the "treasures" we brought home from this overland trip. Us adults finally again enjoy to have our own bath, bedroom, sofa and laundry machine and our two daughters are extremely happy to have their rooms back. Still, Sóley feels lonesome at night when she is supposed to sleep alone in her room. She says that these nights are more creepy than any night spent in Nyati's "belly" in the middle of the wilderness with lions roaring in the distance. At daytime, she is impressed by the multitude of books and toys she seems to have forgotten about. The room we had "on board" of our Land Rover for toys and everything else of course was very limited and it had become normal for the girls to play with sticks, stones, plant seeds, sea shells et cetera in the sand. Most other children they had met on the road didn't have more than that and it was a real highlight whenever Anouk pulled her "Double Dutch" out of her pocket.

Yes, very different worlds collided for us during our trip and when coming home and constantly challenge(d) us in our cultural adaptability. Really "classic" social rituals at home suddenly feel "strange".

After we had arrived just in time to witness our older daughter Anouk being officially "thrown out of kindergarten", we could now experience the school enrollment of our first child.

In my family the first day at school is a big family celebration and Anouk had sent invitations already from Africa. As it is usual for this occasion, Anouk got a multitude of large school cones full of sweets, toys and useful things for her time at school. After a relaxed weekend with the family, the first-graders were, as it is the custom here on Spiekeroog, blessed by the priest of the Protestant old island church and the school's headmistress during a powerful church service. Strangely, the religious background of the families present did not play any role in that. Here, everybody "has to be a Christian", obviously ... And maybe not a world citizen!

Our party with the "Bundu Rovers" in Kenya ... still one of our absolute highlight ...

... and extremely open and respectful regardless of different skin color, ethnic background and religion.

We remember our campfire night with the Bundu Rovers in Nairobi in the Ngong hills (remember "Once I had a farm in Africa!"), where all religions present were treated with a natural respect and everything from food to alcohol to the complete celebration was planned and put through not to offend anybody present. Is Europe as open, democratic and culturally considerate as it pretends to be?

 
 

The fire brigade gives the kids a lift and finally, after a staged odyssey, drops them off at the island school.

You ring that bell on your very first and very last day at school.

Proud parents!

After a "birthday marathon" now, our first steps into our boarding school life are there. What wears us out the most actually is the bio rhythm of our bodies ... not only have we exchanged South African winter with European summer with long days and short nights, but also on the road our complete life was more adapted to the natural cause of time, natural requirements like hunger, tiredness and safety. My watch, which broke right at the beginning of the trip, I never really missed. Here back home, it was one of the very first things I bought to be able to survive the neatly clocked everyday (work) life which is not following any natural and individual logic by a systemic order only.

 

Sailing with Stefanus.

 

A few weeks after the revival of our old work-routine, Stefanus, a friend, more like a new family member, from Namibia visits us. He traveled through Africa from England to his home in Windhoek in his brand-new Land Rover Defender together with a friend.

 

Jep, the same man! Would you have recognized him??

 

We met the mysteriously-unkempt Land Rover brother together with his so-called "sister" at "Jungle Junction" in Nairobi and later at his parents' place in Windhoek, on their family farm South West of Windhoek (here is the blog post) and later in Cape Town. Having a beer in the school's discotheque, the "Beathaus", we philosophy about our time in Africa and about the fact that sometimes the whole trip now feels like "a movie", something that tore us out of "normal life", has deeply moved and enriched, but suddenly is over and one is back in normality. But we completely agree that such a break with all its encounters, experiences, adventures and challenges, leaves deep and sustainable traces in peoples' characters. What impact these will have on the long run only time will tell!

Stefanus has brought a Zebra hide from their home-farm ... yes, all paperwork done!

And a Nguni hide as well - we will exchange that with a hide of one of our Galloway cattle.

After a wonderful late summer, the rough autumn winds not only sweep the leaves from the trees. It also takes the soothing joy of the reunion with it and leaves countless shades of grey with many people who only want to think in black and white. And there it is, "Bang!", we are again confronted with the cold, German mentality, which after having experienced the multitude of warm and welcoming encounters, cordiality and helpfulness, feels icy cold and bitter. But we already know this, have experienced that before and have expected this to happen, so that we can comment it with relaxed but maybe still sad smiles. But balancing costs an awful lot of energy!

Agulhas!

Deeply in love already!

Very helpful in that are our two daughters Sóley and Anouk who seem to take everything way easier than we do ... and of course our new Border Collie puppie "Agulhas", named after one of our favourite places in Africa, Cape Agulhas.

Yes, even though it is bad manners for Germans to say such a thing, we can be very proud of our family and of what we have managed to successfully do together! A new travel dream, idea, plan saves us from falling into a sort of limbo and motivates us to work for a wonderfully colorful future against all odds! And it is fascinating to wait what will evolve from that!

Oh, yes, and - of course - after some time and getting rid of the spider-pest, our beloved Land Rover Nyati finally arrives back home as well.

 

Yes, they tried to keep Nyati! But we stole him back from those crazy Dutch! Thanks Marit and Jan for your help and friendship!

 

Nyati is ...

... back home! Re-united!

Many thanks to everybody who have followed and supported us during the last year! All our love we send to you!

Of course, on this blog there is more to come, so "stay tuned"! Also, we look forward to launching our second blog www.Ocean-Gypsies.de . The "Ocean Gypsies" Facebook page can already be found here.

Why many people don’t go on extended travel

Why actually do so few people from the "western World" travel the world overland long term?

During a long "kitchen party" together with another German overland-family we discussed this question.

 

We love long kitchen parties ... not just before a long day of traveling!

 

Especially in industrial nations many people are extremely focused on consumerism and competition. Long term travel is nearly always connected to a long-term withdrawal from the competition with colleagues at work, which can even lead to a jobwise "powerloss". The jobwise position can most surely not be kept during a long term travel. Earning money in the "normal" way most of the times also doesn't work, so people can't consume the products advertisements make us believe we need as life-essentials.

Fearing these two aspects deeply combined with a general and all-embracing angst concerning the "dangerous world out there" is the basic reason why so many of the citizens of the so-called "Western World" do not go out to take a personal look at the rest of our globe.

But it is also the simple fear of "being singled out because of being different" that stops people from going on a long term travel, as everybody knows that every single bit of "differentness" from the "norms" can lead to social isolation - in spite of the fact that we base our governments, cultures, job-culture and circle of friends on democratic systems stating that everybody is appreciated, approved and recognized in their otherness.

By many members of the so-called "upper classes" and the "educated classes", for example, the overland traveller is being looked down upon from the safari-cars as being somewhat inferior and being some kind of "left-wing-progressive camper rucksack tourist" who is not able to afford "proper travel".

 

This is real luxury: a warm night, a blazing fire, good food and drink, nice company ... and all "homemade".

 

From the perspective of the so-called "lower classes" long term travelers are viewed as "posh tourists who can afford constant vacation" ... We have met members of all occupational groups on our travels: from bus driver to university professor and from nurse to medical doctor or teacher.

People who do long term travel have to accept that for the "system", they have now thoroughly become "strange" and even "suspicious" persons.

Fundamentalists? ...

Terrorists? ...

... or just culturally interested, aware and respectful?!

To just give one example here from entering the USA, please read the following conversation between a traveler and US-customs: "Why did you travel to the Middle East?" ... "I didn't!" ... "Your passport states that you have recently been to Egypt!" ... "Ah, but that is Africa, isn't it!?" ... For government bodies and system followers it is unimaginable that people travel to Egypt or Sudan out of pure personal cultural interest, so everybody suggests terrorist motives these days.

When in Rome do as the Romans do!

Deep in conversation without a shared language!

For families with young children the situation with long-term travel is even more difficult, because everybody assumes that because their kids have been out of the school system, they will miss out on subject matters and thus will have less good starting positions on the jobwise competition-sprint.

 

Travel school can look quite "traditional"

 

Because schools have been "invented" by countries to recruit young talents for industry and economy, caring parents assume that their offspring will become disadvantaged because of long-term travel. Educational failure as the result of long-term travel! We are clear that schools have always been and today especially are very intensively controlled by the industry and do not focus on education from and for the child - why else still subjects such as music, arts and P.E. are the "Cinderellas" of school subjects at ALL schools from state to private!? In this context it by the way is quite enthralling that the internationally famous "PISA-study", which compares different school systems in different countries, is being financed and controlled by the international industry and economy.

Alongside the educational aspect quite a few people assume that "travel-children" might become "asocial monsters" because they allegedly lack contact to peers.

There are many opportunities for social interactions when traveling!

Everybody loves playing games!

One of our former colleagues postulated before we left home that all travel-children she had met until then had social adaptive difficulties and were eventually unhappy because of that.

Additionally, parents fear illnesses and diseases and because of that don't travel. Africa in itself is life-endangering! But with the help of good means of communication when traveling, vaccinations, medication, intensive planning, good travel-insurance and consulting specialist medical doctors it is possible to reduce those risks considerably. The long-term-traveler from industrial nations is anyway privileged, as he can always "pull out the trump-card" of a hard currency in the case of any medical problem and immediately be treated in a good private hospital ... even in Africa ... and in opposition to the local population which is not able to afford any good medical care of this kind!

When hearing of our travel plans, people accused us of being egoistic because we decided on traveling long-term instead of asking our kids (which, by the way we did and thus they were the major force to change the continent we planned to travel to).

 

Our kids just love Africa ... and decided to come back here because in Germany they missed the warmth of the people!

 

Everybody reading this might be ask themselves who exactly is the most egoistic, the parent who goes to work nine to five seven days a week to earn enough money for consumerism and then when they are traveling stay at a club for two weeks and send their children to the club's child care for most of the day to be able to play tennis, go running et cetera ... or the parents who invest time in family and children and "even" do without earning a wage for a long period of time.

Time with their parents is what young kids really need!

Child labor or sharing responsibilities?!

One thing that includes all the aspects described above for parents and their children alike are the media, the true "opium of the people", which are used to create a fear that makes people seek refuge in investing and saving money, over-insurance, travel-reluctance and at the same time is soothing, tranquilizing and satisfying addictions. The media-reports are the "modern sea monsters" that once used to be painted on maps at Columbus' times to instil fear in the too adventurous and restrict trade and navigatory knowledge to a small circle of insiders. People are not supposed to go out and explore on their own because they then would start to question the reports, prejudices and news and would realize that the all-encompassing fear homespun by bestseller-negative-news, half-truths and lies is completely made-up and unnecessary. People would maybe then discover that Muslims can be quite nice or African policemen not always corrupt ... the power to control and navigate people using fear would be gone then! Fairly dangerous!

It is intended and piloted by economy, politics and media that the Germans, Europeans, "Westerners" do not travel to far away lands because of this fear and in case they travel abroad in spite of that, then at a max they should travel to "safe trade partners". The "precious Euros or Dollars" are please to be spent in the domestic economy zone and rather not travel as a form of private foreign aid to Africa! And if Africa is the destination, please only book via overpriced European travel agencies so that a substantial part of that money can be skimmed at home instead of traveling individually without any pree-bookings!

...

But what is the real situation like during a long term travel concerning the aspects and concepts above?

Traveling definitely is an absolute "eye opener"! Apart from many learning experiences on the more intellectual side the most essential new experience caused by travel is to learn how to get rid of your fears. These fears eliminate themselves in any case when people realize that the "world outside" is not as bad as the media make us think it is.

For us it was for example quite scary at the beginning to wild-camp somewhere in the Sudanese desert because due to one-sided media cover, Sudan is considered an "absolutely dangerous country".

 

A wild camp in the Sudanese Sahara ... very relaxing and deeply touching instead of being dangerous!

 

We have finally camped wild regularly in Sudan and have felt very very safe, safer actually than in other places in Africa or even Europe!

An intensive openness concerning new situations is something that "just happens anyway" when you are traveling outside of your comfort zone and cultural sphere.

At the same time one learns to restrain oneself on the bare essentials.

 

Everything has to fit into the "small" Land Rover ... bare necessities of life!

 

With that, you automatically leave the consumerist-competition and instead of consuming "things" one indulges in deep, intensive human encounters ... traveling definitely also is making a move to a more social being. Once people asked us whether it is not boring not to build, create, construct something for one complete year ... our answer was and still is, "We do exactly that: we establish new ties and relations and stabilize those within the family, with the partner and with our children.

...

But what about the problem areas concerning children and education as stated above?

While traveling we have witnessed how our children "naturally" learned a foreign language, English, without any teacher in the traditional sense and without any learning material.

Natural learning: hatching turtles (science)

... zoology ...

... geology, mineralogy ...

... and gardening.

Furthermore, our two daughters were allowed to find out about their limits, could test themselves and by that find a different "inner ease of mind". Definitely, our children have become more culturally aware and also more cosmopolitan and open minded.

 
 

Life in the open in combination with more attention by the parents (who don't have to go to work) and simply more time gives the chance to include the children in many ways in travel planning, navigation, cooking, car-maintenance et cetera.

Mechanics and car maintenance ...

... help is always needed!

The great majority of contacts kids establish to other traveling children, adults and Africans of all ages are not rational but highly flexible and creative, especially when it comes to language(s)! At the same time even very young children learn a natural media competence by communicating with family and friends at home using emails, Facebook, Skype and the such.

 

Even "old school letters" reach us sometimes!

 

Believe it or not: our kids so far have not become "asocial monsters" - quite the contrary is true!

 
 

Ill or sick our kids were probaly not more than they would have been had we stayed at home. It is only more inconvenient when you are traveling! Our two daughters had gastro-intestinal problems (Anouk once and Sóley twice), tonsillitis (Anouk once and Sóley twice) and an ear infection (Anouk once). That was "it"! Still, we nearly always had the fear for malaria at the back of our necks even though all of us were on antimalarials.

...

Still, extended travel is not a "universal remedy" just as any "prenatal musical character coining" of all children using Mozart without taking into account the mother's favourite music is! Certainly, we don't want to persuade anybody and we also don't want to be fundamentalist in this direction! Those who love traveling will love long term travel and will profit from that and will experience great benefits in their children. Even the people you meet on the road will benefit from these encounters! On the long run travel will establish more mutual understanding! In addition to that long-term travel enables you to spend relaxed and intensive, sometimes challenging time together as a family and escape the competition about power and consumerism for a while! Certainly, after such a travel one has changed many points of view in many different fields!

For sure, we don't want to give the impression here that everybody HAS TO TRAVEL! There are many ways of living and what we do is just one of them! With this blog post we try to discuss why the majority of people in "our world" might fear long term travel! ... and we want to provide "food for thought"!

 
 

So how was … East Africa?

Eine deutschsprachige Version dieses Eintrages gibt es hier

In the meantime, we have left East Africa, drove through Zambia and have reached Namibia ... time to reflect on and describe the differences between the two large African regions, Northern Africa and East Africa ...

After we had spent several months in Northern Africa, East Africa - beginning with Kenya - was very relaxing right from the border.

As beautiful as we think Northern Africa is and as intensive our encounters with its people in Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia were, as beautiful and impressive it was to again drive through an isolated and green landscape and being allowed to meet the open, relaxed and cheerful people along the roads.

 

What a relief! And not every square meter is inhabited!

 

That Kenya and Tanzania are somewhat different, we instantly realized when we saw so many "mixed" couples and families. Without wanting to accuse the people in Northern Africa as being racists, one can say that the more conservative orientation of the people in these countries rather leads to a situation that culture, religion, but also the colour of a person's skin often lead to segregation instead of supporting contacts.

Impressive for us were the big shopping malls in Kenya which reminded us rather on the US than on Africa. The security guards with their automatic guns searching us for hidden weapons at the entrances and exits did in no way disturb, upset or frighten us. After in Northern Africa - even though we are quite open when it comes to different food - we had really missed especially cheese, sausages and good meat, but also chocolate and good wine, suddenly we were back in a culinary paradise. In spite of the high level of prices we indulged in French and Swiss cheese again ...

 

Our only cheese in Ethiopia ... brought from home by Mischa's mother.

 

But, in Tanzania - apart from the very few exceptions in the (very few) supermarkets in Arusha, Tanga and Dar es Salaam - the supply situation with familiar European groceries was a thing of the past again. And even in the supermarkets in these cities, what was offered was rather poor ... and expensive (i.e. a piece of the cheapest Gouda cheese sometimes was over 10€!)! At the same time, it is possible to get fresh fruit and vegetables at nearly every corner and also basic foodstuffs such as pasta and rice.

In addition to the high level of prices, also the national park fees have really surprised and startled us: if you want to enter the world famous Ngorongoro Crater with your own car and two children (in our case one of the cildren being below five years of age and thus free of charge), you have to pay a solid US$530 to US$580 PER DAY for entry (including entry to the crater itself), the car and camping. Absolutely ridiculous!

 

The Ol Doinyo Lengai ... near the Ngorongoro but less crowded and less expensive!

 

Tourists should try to inform themselves about other national parks and maybe decide on visiting these smaller and less touristy parks such as the Ruaha National Park, where you maybe see less animals at the same time, but don't have to share your experiences with a dozen of other safari vehicles full of other tourists taking photos of the same pack of lions at the waterhole. In East Africa tourism seems to be concentrating nearly completely on the high-priced segment of Safari-tourism and thereby completely neglecting the individual tourists. But exactly in the individual segment of tourim intercultural encounters and connected with that cultural exchange and understanding are more "normal" than in the rather "posh" segment, where you nearly rarely have an eye-level communication between guest and employee. A rather high percentage of the money spent for these holidays will end up in the hands of the owners of big international hotel and safari businesses. Individual tourists on the contrary buy most of what they need at the smaller markets, in small shops and thus spend their money where it should go to and where it is needed: with the "ordinary people" ...

Encounters ... How to make Swahili Crayfish

Encounters ... Meeting Adam Mkwawa, the Chief of the Hehe.

But especially because of this difference, individual tourists will quite often get preferred treatment by the "locals" and there are uncountable chances of intensive personal encounters. There are always at least two sides to each story!

One aspect everybody warned us against before traveling to Africa and especially to East Africa was the supposed corruption of policemen and military in Kenya and Tanzania. But - was it luck? - we didn't experience even one awkward encounter with members of these groups of persons. On the contrary, we were always treated corteously and friendly, sometimes even amicably. In Tanzania this might be because John Magufuli, the new president, has taken the cause of fighting the corruption in his country and the wealth grab of certain groups of persons connected with that..

 

John Magufuli, President of The Republic of Tanzania (source: www.bloomberg.com).

 

But he has made several other right decisions: He has, for example, reduced the costs for the celebration of the country's independence from a planned US$ 100,000 to only US$ 7,000. Politicians cannot travel abroad with a large entourage at government expense anymore, but have to use economy tickets and all international travel of civil servants has to be authorized personally by the president himself. Those who do not follow this doctrine are fired! Due to this policy, slowly but steadily the government coffers are filling and the money can be invested in hospitals, schools and in an improvement of the infrastructure. Every Saturday all civil servants have to collect garbage on the streets and in the countryside to make their mother country more beautiful. ... Corruption or personal enrichment of civil servants also lead to a prompt dismissal. Everywhere in Tanzania we have met people who felt encouraged by their president and there is a great spirit of optimism. The new president's popularity especially with the ordinary people is immense! In some way the policy of the new president has a rather unifying effect on Tanzania's inhabitants. Does this development in Tanzania lead to a respective media coverage in Europe? We don't know but fear that the majority of news are still negative, simply because they sell better.

...

Looking back on East Africa, we can say that Kenya and Tanzania have impressed us so deeply and were so wonderful to travel in that we can more than imagine coming back and discovering these two countries in more detail at some other point in time.

 

Bugs, Bot Flies and Back with Friends

Back in Nairobi, we first of all clean the beach out of the car and do some maintenance work (the prop shaft has been haggarded by the bad road from Mariakani to Nairobi and some other bits and pieces have become loose, nothing really bad actually!).

We have to take out and check the front prop shaft because it made funny noises. Lars is a proper bush mechanic!

Three Land Rovers at Flora and Lars' farm.

A great support in this is fellow Land Rover owner Lars Svensson who lives in Nairobi with his wonderful Kenyan wife Flora and his two kids Chantal and Erik ... We stay for some days at their place and really enjoy their company.

We pay a visit to the Elephant Orphanage in Nairobi.

An ostrich sneeked in ... just wants to show off apparently!

Giraffes like showing off, too! Do you see the big monkey on the thin twig in the background?

Moving on to Lake Naivasha, we meet the French "KUMP" family again. We stay at Carnelley's Campsite directly on the shore of Lake Naivasha where at night, we can hear the hippos enjoying the lake (and maybe also each other!).

Still, we want to go on further up north, because our plan is to go to Mount Elgon and then to Uganda. The campsite Kembu Farm in Njoro near Nakuru is really wonderful, just like a park on a farm. The Kumps have come with us and we enjoy another night together bbqing and exchanging experiences and stories.

Unfortunately, the next morning, we discover that one of Sóley's moscitoe bites has become infected. At a closer look, we see that the white thing in the middle of this small skin-volcanoe actually MOVES! Midwife Mischa presses and finally manages to help giving birth to a MAGGOT under loud screams from Sóley while Juliane is holding her! Aaargh, that is really scary! Closely inspecting both girls, we discover another one in Anouk's backside, so we finally decide to go back to Nairobi to have the two girls properly checked by experts in a hospital. For Anouk at this moment the trip is over. She feels totally dirty, homesick and wants to go home.

At "Gertrude's Children Hospital" it turns out that both girls have/had "bot flies", a nasty fly that lies its eggs directly on people's skin or on laundry hanging outside to dry. As soon as the eggs "feel" that they are in the right environment, they hatch and the maggot digs itself into the host's skin leaving open a small wound as its "breathing hole". There it stays until it is matured to become an adult insect. This normally is not dangerous, but pulling another living being out of your daughter's skin surely is not a really nice experience ... for both! Anouk's "subtenant" actually is about 2,5 by 0,3 cm!

Taking Anouk's situation and feelings seriously, we discuss with the kids what they expect from the next few months. They want to go to the beach. What they don't like about the trip is that they meet so many nice people, but have to leave them again, because both them and us have to go on traveling. So, we change our plans and do not go to Uganda and Rwanda, but to the beach in Tanzania via Arusha istead.

Finally, we manage the maggots (the girls don't even have nightmares) and experience high quality modern hospitals here in Kenya, in some ways even more modern than many hospitals in Germany are. Africa is not so bad after all, but Kenya and especially Nairobi certainly are very modern and have a very high standard in so many ways.

After having again stayed for some days with our Swedish-Kenyan friends Flora, Lars, Chantal and Erik, we go back to Jungle Junction to meet up with our friends the French "Dacaluf" family.

But, after having dealt with the maggots, the next medical situation is just lurking in a dark corner waiting to cause problems: Juliane's cough develops into what the doctors call an initial pneumonia, which makes us go to a hospital again. After the second antibiotic, Juliane's condition has improved and after having waited for the doctors to allow us to continue on our travel, we drive down to Arusha in Tanzania.

In this context, we have to thank our close friends and "international expedition medic team", Stan Weakley (South Africa) and Susanne & Mathias Löhnert (Germany) for their friendship and continuous support on our trip so far.

Carribbean Lifestyle in Kenya?

As many international overlanding families are connected via facebook (especially through the Facebook group "International Overland Families"), for a long time we had planned to meet the "Dacaluf" and "KUMP" families from France. We finally meet in Kilifi north of Mombasa at the "Distant Relatives Ecolodge and Backpackers". This place really is special: you enter the place walking through djungle-like vegetation and suddenly find yourself in the middle of a Caribbean Rasta bar ... Carribbean???

 

The bar at "Distant Relatives"

 

Restaurant, living room, office ... and definitely nice!

The small shop.

 

Our beautiful camp on the nearly deserted campsite.

 

Well, I am sure that what we call "Carribbean" feeling or lifestyle originally is African. Very African and definitely touching the heart! What a place!

The Creek

The "Musafir" and the "Burning Woman" for New Years'.

A spontaneous sundowner party with life music ...

... what a wonderful event. Definitely makes you want to stay longer!

The campsite is spacy, the food is fresh from the sea and really great, there is a pool and down in the creek you can go swimming or spend some time on the "Musafir", a traditionally built dhow established by a group of volunteers who plan to do a project on it, sailing the waters of the Indian Ocean and following the idea that the connecting forces of the oceans have always been more important than the dividing ones ...

Meeting other overland families is really great ... they experience the same things, positive and negative and it simply is wonderful to be able to exchange ideas, material, experiences et cetera ...

 
 

Our Christmas we spend with the two French overland families and we also invite people we meet at Kilifi, a Dutch family living in Nairobi and a Canadian who is married to a Kenyan with their daughter. Later on, we are joined by an English/Ugandan father Christmas. Some days earlier, also Stan and Anne from "Slowdonkey" showed up and stayed for two nights, but they wanted to spend Christmas ON the beach and went to Tiwi down south.

 

Our English/Ugandan Father Christmas.

 

Happy Sóley!

What exactly does he tell her??!

 
 

We home cook 6 lobsters, 4kg of fresh prawns and 11,5 kg of fresh Baracuda, all bought freshly directly from the local fishermen ... what a feast!

Fresh fish from the local fishermen.

A spontaneous science lesson ...

The setting might be a bit "rustic" but who cares ... company and food are simply gorgeous!

... and everybody is extremely happy around here!

First, "fun and games" ...

... and then great food for everybody!

Here is the video the "Dacaluf" family made of this great evening.

On the second day of Christmas, we go on celebrating: it is our daughter Anouk's 6th birthday, the second she now has spent in Africa.

 

Anouk ... time goes by so very fast!

 

Pancake Gateau á la Findus & Petterson.

Friends

With her new friends from France, Kenya and the Netherlands she enjoys the pool and in the evening she has "open end" and we go to an "African Jazz" concert at "Distant Relatives". The children dance until late in the night.

 
 
 

Very tired for sure, but also very relaxed and happy - a great birthday party!

 

A few days later, we direct ourselves from the Kilifi Creek to the beach north of Malindi. The beach directly in front of the tented camp "Barefoot" simply is gorgeous: we camp directly behind the beach in the bushes and enjoy campfires at the beach and bbqing but also the great food cooked in the restaurant by Eddie and Selma, the owners of Barefoot.

Beach camp

Now, we are even three families!

With campfires nearly every night.

International Barefoot beach combers.

For New Years' we go to the Barefoot Restaurant and indulge in Eddie's 8 course (!) dinner. The kids have their own table and are allowed to occupy the kitchen and make their own pizzas.

Eddie and the kids make pizza.

The children' table.

 

... Oh my God, they look so mature ... did I miss something?!

 

Beach life

Great Fun!

 

I am a lucky man to have found a partner who enjoys traveling just as much as I do! It is great to know where you belong!

 

While we are at the beach we first hand hear the story of a public bus in northern Kenya, which is stopped by a group of fundamentalist Muslim terrorists who want to execute all Christians in the bus. But all Muslim passengers guard the Christians in the bus and the terrorists finally let them go. Still, two people die in this incident. We try to find out what the European media report and find ... only small notes: from what we know, both major German TV-channels only report of the incident either on radio or with a short notice on their website only! Why don't our media put incidents like this into the main news? They happen just as often as terrorist attacks, maybe even more often! The problem is that good news don't sell well and bad news are bestsellers! But this one-sided media coverage about Egypt, Sudan and Kenya has such a very bad impact on tourism here ... which is down to maybe 20% of what it was a few years before ... So very many families have to suffer and are struggling to feed their children ... this can and most surely will be a new breeding ground for even more terrorism and crime!

 
 

Anyway, we don't feel unsafe at all in Kenya and are really relaxed here. Kenya is a great place to be and all Kenyans we meet are most welcoming and warm people.

Unfortunately, after a few days Juliane develops a really bad cough which makes us go out of the beach wind and back to colder Nairobi to later proceed to Uganda and Rwanda from there. Sadly, we leave our new French friends, which especially for Anouk is really hard.

 
 

Kenya … first impressions of another wonderful country

 

The Kenyan border post at Moyale ... so very friendly and welcoming!

 

Reaching Kenya after having driven through Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia really is a wonderful moment. Before crossing the border, there is nearly every square metre inhabited and wherever you stop (even if you want to go "behind the bush"!), you will not have even a minute of solitude. In addition to that, the road conditions on the road between Awassa and Yabello were quite "different" (it actually remembered us on the essay on the "African Pothole" written by Kingsley Holgate). Actually, we leave Ethiopia quite stressed and are more than looking forward to new adventures in Kenya and further down south in Africa.

Directly on the Kenyan side of the border a completely different lifestyle begins: people are extremely relaxed, friendly and also very helpful (i.e. the lady at the immigration office who fills in immigration forms for me just to speed up the process - there is nobody else there, so she just does it for me!) ...

Then, you for the first time after Sudan, drive through a more or less isolated, wild and impressive landscape, people wave at you instead of begging for "Money money money!" and for the first time you feel you are in the "Africa" you know from movies and books. "Australian Outback" was our first impression of the green and red landscape under a blue blue sky. Where have all the people gone so suddenly???

The road between Moyale and Isiolo, once one of the overlander's nightmares, now is tarred to a high percentage and traveling on it really is not problem at all anymore (here is our blog post on this road). There is a high army presence in the area to make sure that Al Shabaab and other Muslim fundamentalists are not able to continue terrorising both locals and travellers. As after Marsabit, we experience unexpected heavy rainfalls and 30 km of thick fog around Mount Kenya, we decide to move on to "Jungle Junction" in Nairobi, maybe the first overlander's hubb after northern Africa. Alltogether it takes us 11 hours of nearly non-stop driving. It is really impressive how relaxed our kids are when we have to drive for such a very long time. We listen to music together or to audiobooks, sometimes they are allowed to watch a children's movie on the i-pad or they simply dream into the landscape. Great kids we have!

Jungle Junction, which we reach at 11 o'clock at night, is a very convenient place, as this is a "real" campsite with restaurant, laundry service, a really fast internet connection, lots of toys for kids, cold beer, hot showers, a proper workshop where you can service your car (or have it serviced) et cetera ... something every overlander looks forward to after long days of driving through northern Africa. Only maybe the pool is missing here!

And then when you go to one of the shopping malls in Nairobi, culture shock strikes! Juliane, coming from the eastern part of Germany, feels like it was when the Berlin Wall came down and she was in a west German supermarket for the first time. I feel more reminded of the USA. Here, behind the well-guarded gates, you can get everything, French cheese, South African red wine, even German Nutella or Kinderschokolade (Sóley's favourite). Fasting season is over now for the 4-wheel-nomads ...

As our friend Sam Watson from (then) Cairo had established some contact with the Kenyan Land Rover club "Bundu Rovers" for us, we meet this funny group of great people and go camping in the Ngong Hills with them.

 
 

No, the "Bundus" are not all Rastas ...

... it is just the motto of the party!

 

What a wonderful campfire-night we had with the "Bundus"!

 

The party sitting around the campfire is as colorful as Kenya is: some people are of Arab family background, some are deeply rooted in Africa since time began, there is the Australian volunteer who fell in love with Kenya and decided to stay, there are Christians and Muslims, old and young, well off and "middle class" Kenyans ... even people who don't own a Land Rover at all. What a wonderful and relaxed mixture! A dj plays reggae music and hip hop ... As everybody has brought their families, the children play outside and are with us until the very end of the party. We feel so very much at home here and really enjoy our time with the "Bundus". It is great to meet the locals and we make a lot of new friends this evening. Africa definitely has taken over and we are deeply infected by it's virus!

Giraffe for breakfast ...

... quite a normal thing here in the Ngong Hills!

Ethiopian roads – from Addis Abeba to Nairobi using the “worst road of Africa” from Moyale to Isiolo (incl. border procedures, places to stay the night and visa issues)

 

The Kenyan border post at Moyale ... so very friendly and welcoming!

 

We avoided Addis Abeba, as for European citizens it is possible to get on-arrival visa at the border, and stayed in Awash National Park at the Awash Falls Lodge (N8° 50.574' E40° 00.753') overlooking the famous Awash Falls where you can watch the Nile crocodiles while you are having breakfast. There is a national park campsite about 300m away from the lodge (N8° 50.871' E40° 00.273'), which is a really nice camp in the bush - just beware of cheaky baboons!

Awash Falls Lodge - a great place to stay!

From Addis Abeba there are actually two parallel ways to reach the Ethiopian/Kenyan border town of Moyale about 1,000 km to the south: #1 The direct route via Shashemene, Hawassa (Awasa), Dila, Mega and finally Moyale and #2 the route which from Shashemene goes parallel to route #1 through Sodo, Arba Minch until it joins route #1 in Yabelo. Actually, we had expected the road to turn bad on the Kenyan side as the Moyale - Marsabit - Isiolo route had the reputation of being the most dangerous road in Africa for many years, we did not really check which route to take on the Ethiopian side. So we took route #1, which apparently was a mistake, as the roundabout 230km from Hawassa (Awasa) down to Surupa are the worst road we have so far encountered in all Africa, actually in all our travels. It is impossible to ravel this road with a normal car and in a 4x4 or truck it is really challenging ... the roundabout 500km from Shashemene to Moyale take between eleven and fourteen (!) hours and are a hard test for man and material. When we asked drivers working for local tourist agencies, they told us that route #2 is the better one which is even manageable to drive in a normal car or even camper van.

Aregash Lodge

This is our "room" ... gorgeous when normally you live with four people on roundabout six square meters!

If you still decide on taking route #1, the "Aregash Lodge" (N6° 44.954' E38° 26.629') in Yirga Alem, owned by an Ethiopian/Greek/Italian family is a wonderful place to rest a while. The lodge is a peaceful haven for the weary traveler and the bamboo thatched Tukuls simply are pure luxury and the prices (also negotionable!) are quite reasonable if you bear in mind the nearly European standard not to be seen too often here in Ethiopia. The food the on site restaurant prepares (both buffet and á la carte) is splendid and a good fusion between international and traditional Ethiopian recipies.

After having experienced the road conditions on the Ethiopian side of the road between Addis and Nairobi, we did not really know what to expect on the Kenyan side.

In Moyale (Ethiopian side), the "best" place to stay for one night is the Koket Borena Hotel in Moyale (N3° 32.678' E39° 02.909') which has a walled courtyard where your car is safely parked. Rooms are cheap (around 500Birr, about 23€) but the standard is rather low and nobody speaks proper English.

The border procedures are easy (coming from the north: first go to immigration, then to customs on the Ethiopian side and check in with the police first, then go to immigration and then have your Carnet stamped at customs on the Kenyan side) and there is absolutely no hassle by any "agents" or "fixers" of the kind every traveller in Africa just "likes"! All officials we met both on the Ethiopian and Kenyan side are really friendly and helpful. On the Ethiopian side immigration opens at 7:00 in the morning and customs at 8:00 (counter three, if that one is not occupied you have got to ask at one of the other counters, if you don't ask, it might be that nobody serves you in a long time!).

On the Kenyan side (when traveling southbound), make sure that you get an East African Visa which is valid for Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda alltogether for three months and costs US$100 per person (needed documents: passports, no passport photos needed!). This way you save a lot of money, as the Kenyan visa is US$50, the Ugandan (as we heard) is US$100 and we are not sure about how much the visa for Rwanda are.

 

This is supposed to be the worst road in Africa?!?!?!

 

The supposed "worst road in Africa" is good and new tarmac for more than 80%. The remaining 20% (not more than 100km alltogether in two stretches between entering Marsabit and leaving the Marsabit National Park and in the complete Losai National Reserve plus detours around bridges under construction and a short stretch directly in Moyale after entering Kenya) are relatively good gravel or dirt road. The worst part actually is the road through the city centre of Masabit, which is deep mud in the middle but if the weather is relatively dry, you can go around most parts easily. The road was also famous for the bandits that raided unsuspecting tourists and trucks ... this time seems to be over as well! We felt very safe and secure and the Kenyan Army is taking care of security (some checkpoints but everybody is extremely friendly and welcoming).

There is one good campsite in Marsabit, called Henry's Rest Camp (N 02° 20.739' E 037° 57.941') and another campsite in Isiolo, just in case it takes you longer due to rainy weather conditions. For the roundabout 800km from Moyale to Nairobi it took us about 12 hours. After Isiolo, it is no problem to drive at night as the road conditions are good. Only watch out for trucks (very slow on ascends!), minibusses and the local buses which do not follow any traffic rules.

In Nairobi, you can stay at "Jungle Junction" (S 01° 21.767' E 036° 44.438'), which is a safe, reasonable and very friendly overlander's camp with easy access to all conveniences of Nairobi shopping and sightseeing. Chris from Germany and Diane from Kenya are wonderful hosts, can help with almost anything and Chris is known to be a really good and thorough mechanic (especially so when it comes to motor cycles!). Their kids are simply lovely and great playmates for any travel children. Note that "JJs" have moved to "Karen" on the outskirts of Nairobi and many GPS navigation systems still seem to have the old address.