Nerves of Steel

We gathered together with 2 other cars to start the Lake-Turkana-Adventure.  No road, volcanic rocks, sand and a lot of dust. We prepared ourselves for a hot 8 day journey without any diesel, water or shade on the route, the only way to survive is to keep on driving to get some “cool dusty air” (as the air-conditioning from our car is broken). Unfortunately one side of our axle in the rear broke down somewhere in Ethiopia, we got it welded 4 times, as the welding service in Ethiopia is not so good, so we have to make it to Nairobi to get it fixed properly. We hope our axle will hold it through Lake Turkana. We started our journey with a very anxious heart. Our trip along Lake Turkana was a big adventure! Driving here takes skills and nerves of steels. 

 

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Day 1: Distance 90km  Duration: 2u30

We drove the last 20km on asphalt and then continued our way on gravel to no-one’s land. Our first stop is in a little town called Tumi, the owner of the campsites tells us that we’re lucky as we will be able to have a look at the bull jumping from the nearby village.( The boys in the tribes here need to run over the backs of bulls to become an adult. In the meantime there is a whole ceremony where men are winging around with whips. The women fight to  get hit by those whips. The few women we see passing have than also beautiful scars…). Unfortunately the welcome text of our guide ‘I will break your camera if you take a picture without paying’ didn’t really attract us to go and have  look.

 

Dag 2 Distance 145km  Duration 3u10

Our first of the many high stress moments was at the border Omorate (Ethiopia) where we had to get stamps in our visa and carnet (papers from the car) to leave the country. Unfortunately when we entered Kenya, they filled out the wrong ‘leaving point(town)’ on the papers of the car. We put on our most beautiful smiles and presented ourselves in our best behavior, talking about everything and nothing, trying to keep the immigration officer happy. And we succeed!

With leaving the immigration office we also left the civilization behind, the road became worse, the people less and the weather hotter. Driving was the only option to try and get a bit of air as the air-conditioning in our car is broken. Unfortunately the road is so bad, that we can’t really get a lot of speed to get some air. No air-conditioning means driving with the window open which also means that a lot of dust comes in the car. For lunch we tried to find a bit of shade from a lonely tree somewhere and we tried to park our cars in such a way that we created a bit of shade, the air was so hot and dry that the lunch never took longer than 20-30minutes.

Today we started passing local tribes, as they don’t see cars or white people very often they come running from far away to wave at you and try to touch you. The locals here are beautifully dressed with beads.

Around 5 o’clock it was time to leave the “road” and drive out of sight (for the few people around) to open up our tent to spend the night. As the area around Lake Turkana is just open there was a lot of wind at night which made it difficult to sleep.

 

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Dag 3 Distance: 114km  Duration:5u

We continued our way through no-one’s land, and started on a steady sand road where we were able to drive 30-40km/h, too bad the road changed to a bad gravel-stone road where we were lucky to be able to reach 30km/h

On our way we had to cross a few steep river beds with very loose sand, very nerve wracking, but we made it out all of them, none of us got stuck once.

To give us a little break from the horrible road, there was a little oasis; palm trees and water in the middle of the heat, beautiful! The temperature in the meantime was also very high, we guess it will be around 30-40 degrees.

On our way there was a national park, we planned to drive around it as we didn’t have the time to have a look around and we didn’t want  to pay the entrance fee. Unfortunately they recently changed the boarders of the park, which made us driving through it… We tried to find another exit, but no luck, unless we really wanted to break our car, so we  paid our fee for not seeing any animal in the park.

We drove a bit further, out of the sight of the NP guards and then put our tents up for the night. When we were having dinner a jackal passed by. Luckily we saw one animal that day, OUTSIDE the park!

 

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Day 4  Distance: 120km Duration 3u30

It’s day 4 and our axle is still ok, olé!  The road has its ups and downs, we start at 30km/h and we’re able to speed up to 40km/h and one time we were even able to drive the full speed of 50km/h. Our nerves get tested again on two very steep river beds we had to cross, but we made it all safely through.

We also see for the first time Lake Turkana which was beautiful!

So our end goal for today is Loiangolani ,a little town that has a little campsite with water and a chance to shower. After 4 days driving in this hot dusty environment it’s heaven to take a shower! Here we also enjoy our first Kenyan beer.

 

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Day 5 Distance 0km Duration 0h

As we have shade, water and beer here, we decide to stay an extra night to get some rest (as driving on this roads takes a lot of your energy) and check the cars, we’re grateful to have our compressor (Extreme Outback Products) to get the dust out the motor.

 

Dag 6 Distance: 89km Duration 3u50

After some rest we continue our way along Lake Turkana, on very bad road where we are able to reach an average speed of 25-30km/h. We were just thinking that our axle is holding so well and then we hear the unpleasant sound we wished not to hear every again. The welding from our axle broke again…. What to do, what to do? We’re in the middle of nowhere, no garage to be seen for miles, one side is broken, if the other side breaks too, we will just lose our whole axle and our adventure will be over… But as it’s too hot to wait too long, the men start thinking and they quick fix with a stretch belt so we can drive the last 30km. We drive so slowly, too scared to break our beloved car and we make it to the next town where the men quickly start to work before it gets dark.

 

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The men do an amazing job, from a steel bar we still had in our car (just because you never know) they made a construction to keep the axel attached to the car.

 

Dag 7 Distance 144km Duration 5u10

With a little heart we continued our way as we don’t have any option, the road we have to drive on doesn’t do any good for our Lady, but she had to keep strong. Every now and then we stop to have a look, the men’s construction is holding, barely. On top of our problems it starts to rain, of course! The rain doesn’t make the roads any better but after a very long and tiring day we safely arrive on our next stop were we park our lady on a big green field right in between the zebra’s.

 

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Day 8 Distance 0km Duration: 0h

We take again an off day to give our blood pressure time to settle. We go for some shopping in town and decide to take a local taxi who drives without any concerns through half a meter deep puddles! The bottom of the car hits a few times the road and sometimes we have to drive backwards as we are stuck, but we arrive in town. Why are we are so careful with our car!?

 

Day 9 Distance: 159km Duration: 5u30

In Maralal we part ways, one car is taking another road, luckily the second car is so nice to stay with us, making sure that we reach safely Nairobi.

Before we leave we ask the local people how long it would take us to reach our next destination ,Thompson falls, they told us 3hours, but with our car probably only 2. Yeah right! It took us 5hours! This road was even worse than most of the roads we’ve seen along Lake Turkana.

But we finally reach civilization again, leaving our sorrows behind for tonight, beer, wine and restaurant, here we are!

 

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Day 10 : Distance: 204 km Duration: 3u45

Yes you read it well, today we hit the tar again and we wear able to reach a speed up to 60km/h! Nairobi and proper welder, here we are!

It took us 10 days and a lot of blood, sweat and tears, but we made it! More bad roads on our way? Come and show us!

 

Visit our website http://www.waarisworteltje.be 

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We are Eef and Dries, a Belgian couple who decided to see the World before settling down. We quit our jobs, sold all or stuff, bought a car and on the 9th of February 2013 we left!We started our journey towards Africa –because Dries wanted to see Africa- and we’re planning to go to Australia –because Eef wants to go there- afterwards.Have a look at our website for pictures and stories and feel free to send us an email! http://www.waarisworteltje.be