We were extremely fortunate to be hosted by Karen and Vishal in their wonderful home in Lake View, Nairobi . We parked our vehicles and slept next door with Devan, Vishal’s brother, who had a more spacious garden.
Karen is the daughter of a very good friend, Paula Quested, from Observatory back home who was visiting Nairobi at the same time. It was great to be surrounded by so many people we knew after so many months on our own.
Keith just couldn’t wait to get off to play golf with Devan the next day while the rest of us went shopping and purchasing Kenyan shillings with our US dollars at the ABC centre, a real shopping centre! We met and chatted to the proud owners of an amazing fruit and veggie shop, the likes of which we had never seen in South Africa. After an expensive lunch in a posh restuarant we went back to Lake View, all of us together in Keith and Tickey’s van.
The next day we went to a Craft show in the suburb of Karen named after Karen Blixen of “Out of Africa” fame who had lived there on her farm.
Paula’s daughter, Karen, had a stall at the Craft Show for her bags with the brand name “Tamu”. Visit her website at http://www.tamu.co.ke to see her beautiful product range.
Another stunning lunch was enjoyed by all at Tamarind, a nearby restuarant in a beautiful garden setting. Nairobi has, like Johannesburg, another side to it… A world class African city, different to anything we’d yet seen on our travels.
Nearby was the Giraffe sanctuary. We had to take George to see his relatives closeup!
We went off on our own to visit the various back packer and over lander campsites with the hope of meeting up with other travellers going north. We wanted to join in convoy with them on the difficult road that lay ahead. On the way we stopped at a roadside Masai craft stall.
We visited Jungle Junction, Karen Camp and Eco Wildebeest camp in search of the fellow travellers. No such luck. There were no such travellers! The negative messages that the British and US embassies were putting out had brought the travel industry in Kenya to its knees. There were reports of 60 thousand workers connected to the travel industry in one way or another that were effected. The current problem of bombings in Mombasa, and the resultant unfortunate deaths is a reality but the danger to tourists is not to the scale that the embassies are reporting.
Some travellers we had encountered were having problems of getting through on the usual routes. They were shipping their vehicles to Dubai and continuing via Iran. Some were returning to Walvis Bay or SA to ship to Europe from there. A couple we were in touch with had got to Alexandria in Egypt but were held up there because of no ferry services operating due to the lack of travellers and security situation.
We decided to visit the embassies never the less and start the quest to get our travel arrangements sorted out for further travel to the north of Kenya. We needed visas for Ethiopia, Sudan and Europe which we were not able to get earlier in South Africa as they had to be validated within 90 days of issue. SA passport holders do not require a visa for Egypt.
So into the traffic we went!! There were more roadside stalls on the way.
We were prepared for hectic traffic by our encounter with traffic when we’d first arrived, but it was worse than we’d ever thought possible. I had to adopt the same driving style as the locals or I’d still be sitting in the chaos….. just push in while smiling at the other drivers! It took forever but we progressed… Pole, Pole, as the saying goes….slowly slowly!
While sitting in the traffic jams we were able to admire the pavement nurseries selling gardening requirements on the side of the roads. From beautifully laid out plants, to garden gnomes, ponds, fountains and everything else you can imagine.
The Ethiopian embassy only processed East African applicants, so we needed to send our passports back to SA to a visa agent to apply on our behalf.
The Sudanese required a letter from the SA embassy in Nairobi confirming our status. We obtained this from a really helpful South African official without difficulty. He did however say that he was not happy that we wanted to travel further north.
The real problem was with the Norwegian embassy. They no longer processed visa applicants themselves. They had handed everything over to an agency because of all the new requirements in obtaining a Schengen visa. Biometrics are now mandatory and it could take weeks to obtain the visas as they would have to send our passports to SA. We only had a month before we had to leave Kenya or have our stay extended and we would have to have our passports with us to do that.
The next stumbling block was our car. We had to visit the AA to acquire a carnet du passage. The AA is in the south of Nairobi near the airport. Suddenly Nairobi was no longer a First World City but a mud hole of dongas, filth and tracks filled with potholes. It took us over two hours to travel the 17 kms!
On the way there we witnessed the Maribou Storks living in the city near to the waste dump.
Unbelievable! We eventually arrived at the AA at closing time but the wonderful staff still attended to our enquiries. We were there about 1.5 hours and told we had to find between R80k and R120k to obtain our travel carnet. We were highly upset but decided to sleep on it before making the choice of what the best plan forward would be.
We needed to have our car serviced and checked over so we booked it into Vishal’s cousin’s garage.
Keith and Tickey needed to get back to SA for Keith to attend to business matters. Before leaving for home they decided to visit the Equator. We were sad that we were not going to continue exploring Kenya with them. There was so much still to see and do. Up to now we had only spent time in and around Nairobi. But the next day they said their goodbyes and left for the South.
There was a long weekend coming up. We chose to wait until the following week before continuing with our visa and carnet arrangements.
We also took off to spend the weekend at the equator and rift valley near Lake Nakuru.
We took photos at the Equator in the rain to prove we’d been there, done that, but didn’t get the Tshirt!
Had lunch at the Trout Tree restaurant near Nanyuki. Check out their cooling system for the drinks!
Found Colibus monkeys there too. Solveig just had to take pictures to prove the similarity!
Camped at Batian’s that night at the foot of Mt. Kenya.
A beautiful treed campsite, American owned, which specialised in educational and outdoor adventure tours for American students.
We met a young assistant there, also from America, that made some delicious cinnamon buns which she shared with us. So special.
The next day we dropped down into the rift valley.
A most beautiful mountain pass with spectacular views.
Crossed the equator a few more times,
both north and south, en route to Lake Nakuru.
Lake Nakuru is famous for its flamingoes, but park officials advised that there were very few because of the water level. The campsite we planned to stay at had been incorporated into the game reserve and was very expensive with the park fees added in.
We had made the decision earlier on not to waste our money by paying the massive fees for the East African Game reserves with their shocking infrastructure and bad roads. We are blessed with so many affordable, well stocked and well managed reserves in Southern Africa, where we can visit conveniently anytime. There is so much else to see that is different from home in Central Africa. The landscape, the people, the mountains and trees…..
We asked where else we could stay. The park officials kindly directed us to a very reasonable community run campsite and resort, Kivu, nearby.
We returned to Nairobi via a different route through the Rift valley and decided to stay at Karen Camp. We had spent most of the weekend examining the various options for us to continue our journey to Oslo.
The overland journey was fraught with problems. We felt that we probably could make the trip as far as the Mediterranean, but then what? We needed to know that we were not going to be stuck in Egypt with no way out but to return via the same route we had entered. That had no appeal as it would mean we had to do the difficult part twice!
Shipping the car from Mombasa to some European port was very expensive and we still had to ship it home again at the end. And how long would it take? Then there were also the airfares to add to the total. We crossed that option off too.
Option three seemed the most plausible. Return to Arusha where we could leave the car safely. Fly to Oslo from Kilimanjaro international airport. Greet the family members in Norway and backpack to France to visit Sven, Anka, the Brands and the remaining Norwegian family in France. Fly back to Tanzania and drive home. We would also have enough time in hand to get our Schengen visas in order.
We were so excited! We’d also get to Europe in their summer. We bought a backpack to see whether we could fit all we needed to take with us before buying a second one. That night at Karen Camp and with a good Wi-fi connection I purchased the tickets online. The next day we would go to the visa agency in Nairobi and apply for our visas!
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