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Posts Tagged ‘Kenya’

My tent has a flap on each of its four sides.  I roll these up for some air movement as otherwise the inside gets rather stuffy.  I’m in a tent on my own so can’t imagine how unpleasant the air must get when two people share a tent.  It started to sprinkle rain at 05h00 so there was a mad scramble to get up and drop the flaps before I got wet inside.  Whilst this was being done a bloody mozzie got inside so no further peaceful sleep resulted.  I got up 45 minutes later, and as usual, was the first, or one of the first, to be up and about.  I had my tent cleared out and packed up and on the truck before some others were up.  There was plenty of time to help some of the others, but isn’t it strange how it seems to be the same ones every time.  Some just disappear into thin air and wait for somebody else to chip in and achieve a quick pack-up.

We crossed from Uganda back into Kenya this morning.  The exit from Uganda was no problem.  I had to get another three day ‘Transit Visa’ to get into Kenya, but as I had done my homework this time, three days was all I needed.  Mind you, I used each of the three days!  It took us over an hour to clear both borders.  Again, there were trucks as far as the eye could see waiting on the Kenyan side to clear immigration and customs.  I counted 88 but didn’t start doing so until some way along the line.

We arrived in Eldoret at 16h45, rather early, but pleasant.  This is the same camping ground as last time.  I decided not to upgrade this time, I rather like my tent and because last time I had to squat under a low tap in my shower to get any water.  The communal shower was wonderful with water that hot I needed to use some cold to make it useable.  A thunderstorm had been brewing all afternoon and broke just as I started to dry off.  I waited until the worst of it passed before I made a dash back to my tent.  When I got there I found a river flowing beneath it.  It wasn’t as though I’d chosen my site badly as all the other tents were in a similar position.  I could feel the water flowing under the floor.  Thankfully the tent is completely waterproof and everything in it, including me, stayed dry.  It is interesting to look back on the whole trip to realise that we didn’t have to put up or take down our tents in the rain.  In fact, the only rain occurred when it didn’t really matter too much.  We were either on the road, eating under cover or in our tents when it rained.

My real comfort is the last of my ‘medicinal’ whisky and some peanuts.  With only one more night to go, I think I did pretty well eking it out to run out with only one night to go!  There will be some more bought in duty free at Abu Dhabi airport for the next leg.  If I get it on the way in I can pack it in my checked-in baggage as I have an overnight stop in Abu Dhabi after my flight from Nairobi.  Saves any possible confiscation of my litre of whisky by some nasty security person!  I can also decant the precious golden liquid into my metal water bottle to save both the weight of the glass bottle and to protect it from breakage.  Can you imagine me trying to suck my clothes dry should the unthinkable happen?

Juma gets a night off cooking tonight as we are being catered for by the camping ground.  They have a pleasant dining area next to the bar and as it is still over an hour before dinner and I’ve run out of whisky, I just might have to start warming a seat in that area.

The thunder storm turned out to bit more than a passing event as heavy rain settled in for an hour or two.  Again, we escaped an unpleasantness while eating our buffet meal.  After the meal, which had an African theme, one which I’m not sure I could get used to as it consists mainly of ugali, a maize based thick goo, and even more carbohydrate in the form of a yam-like root vegetable.  There were plenty of vegetables and tough meat to choose from to make the carbohydrate palatable.  Fond farewells were made as this was to be the last night the group was to be together.  Tip envelopes were handed over and the crew seemed to be happy – as we were with the whole trip.

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Our driver, Mbuthia  P1250984  DY of jtdytravels

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Our camp cook, Juma  P1250988  DY of jtdytravels

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A Tusker beer surrounded by the group!  P1250992  DY of jtdytravels

The trip kitty was reconciled by Ingwe and three of our group and after paying for dinner there was just over $5/PAX left over.  I think this is pretty good.  It was decided that anyone who wanted their $5 could have it in cash, otherwise the balance was put on the bar for all to enjoy.  It only paid for a couple of drinks each so nobody was able to go mad.

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The group at the fire  P1250998  DY of jtdytravels

I was well and truly snuggled up in my tent by 23h00 and asleep soon afterwards.  As would have it, a nature call was required some hours later.  The ground was really muddy and very slippery as a result of the earlier rain.  Over I went, down on my bum to dirty my clean undies and hands.  Thankfully there was a nearby tap which could wash the mud of my hands but my undies are still muddy and will have to wait until I get to Copenhagen to be washed.  My dignity didn’t suffer as there was nobody around.  Back in my tent I had to zip up my sleeping bag for the first time.  Until now I’d been warm enough just using it as a throw-over to my sheet sleeping bag.

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We got away to a fairly early start but got caught up in a traffic jam as were turned out of the camp site’s front gate.  A truck had broken down somewhere in the vicinity and this had caused the problem.  It took us an hour to travel only a few kilometres to a supermarket where the cook had to buy our provisions for the next few days.  This stop also provided most of us with an opportunity to cash in our useful currencies for Kenyan shillings.  There was also a good coffee shop in the complex that provided us with what was to be our last good coffee so far, not that we knew that at the time!

It was interesting to note that there was little roadside rubbish, we even spotted a few street sweepers.  Kampala is generally a clean city.

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A busy street-side market  P1090205  DY of jtdytravels

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Clean streets and green traffic roundabouts  P1090210  DY of jtdytravels

More when I get the chance   David

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The day started well until a loud explosive air hiss came from below our feet in our new truck.  Most thought that a tyre had blown out.  We came to a slower stop than I would have expected for such an event. The driver wriggled under the vehicle amidships and attempted to fix a high pressure air supply line.

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How can I fix this with a screwdriver?  P1090171  DY of jtdytravels

Being a new truck that had not been properly fitted out for our trip there was only a screwdriver available to fix the problem.  A call was put out to anyone who had any tape.  This, of course, made little impact on the problem due to the high pressure involved.  We deduced that the air line had something to do with the breaks.  Eventually the driver somewhat admitted defeat when he went across the road to a service station and came back with a bicycle inner tube.  This, along with some more tape, actually did the job.  We were off after a one and three quarter hour stop.

Whilst all this was happening most of the younger guys and one of the girls kicked a soccer ball around on a large grassy field beside where we had stopped.

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The kids came out to play  P1090174  DY of jtdytravels

Great fun was had by all until it was time to leave.  The biggest boy in the group grabbed the ball and made off with it on his bicycle.  We had naively hoped that the ball could have been shared a little more equally by those involved in the game – how silly of us!

The Ugandan border was not all that far away.  We passed many, many trucks all lined up waiting their turn to be processed.  I counted over 100 on our way back.  The drivers can expect to wait from three to seven days to get through the paperwork and inspections.

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Tourist buses get priority – thankfully  P1090165  DY of jtdytravels

Once we arrived at the border, foreigners in buses are given priority, we lined up at the appropriate windows to be processed without trouble.  That was until it was my turn!  I handed my passport through the window to the Immigration officer on the other side.  He looked at it hard and long and then motioned me to come into his office through a nearby door.  He said my visa had expired, as indeed, on my inspection, it had!

I had been given a Transit Visa on arrival at Nairobi airport by the lady Immigration officer.  This was valid for a 72 hour stop.  She asked me how long I was staying, to which I said I was leaving on the 17th and, did she want to see my itinerary?  She said she didn’t and gave me the visa.  I guess I was partly to blame as I should have known that I was to be in Kenya for four days not three, but after X hundreds of hours on the go, through various time zones etc. the error did not compute with me either.

So, now back to leaving Kenya.  The Immigration officer quizzed me on why I had a Transit Visa if I was to be in Kenya for four days.  I explained that his colleague in Nairobi had made the decision to issue me a Transit Visa.  He said I hadn’t paid enough.  I said that I was not trying to avoid paying whatever I should have and could I pay the extra now.  He ignored me while he attended to other people who passed their ‘all-in-order’ passports through his window.  I wondered what was going to happen.  He eventually returned to my passport and asked if I was coming back to Kenya?  Yes, was my answer.  How long will you be staying?  Overnight, I ventured as an answer.  He picked up his visa stamp and slammed it down on my Transit Visa and said, this is an official warning, and handed me back my passport.  Somewhat relieved, I meekly left his presence saying ‘asanti sana’, thank you very much.  We ALL continued on our way to our camping place at the Red Chilli in Kampala, crossing the Nile River at Jinja on the way.  We were to return to Jinja for a two night stop on our way back to Nairobi.

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The Nile River  P1090183  DY of jtdytravels

Along the way we passed black and blue cloth traps.  These were about 750mm x 750mm x 750mm and were seen swinging in trees.  Ingwe explained that they were traps for tse-tse fly, in other words, the insect that causes sleeping sickness.

 

More anon    David

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Our first day on the road – Lake Nakuru was our destination with a stop at the Rift Valley view point and a visit to the Saidia Orphanage in Gilgil along the way.

Everyone was keen to get going on this African adventure.  We were only 15 minutes late leaving Nairobi and that was partly due to the fact that we were travelling in a brand new truck.  The major problem was that the lockers on board were not as big as we had expected from reading the tour brochure.  The crew were somewhat dismayed. Things were different from what they expected, as well. Many things had to be rearranged and repacked.  Eventually everything was in and off we went. Our first stop was at a local supermarket where last minute personal items could be bought and the crew could complete the outfit of the truck to meet their impending requirements.

The Rift Valley    (P1080891  ©   DY of jtdytravels)

We climbed up and out of Nairobi making a stop at a viewpoint overlooking the Rift Valley.  This was at an elevation of around 8000 feet.

The small plots are intensively cultivated    (P1080892  ©  DY of jtdytravels)

Down in the valley there were many small farms most of which were growing vegetables or corn. It was all very green.

Curio shops and our truck/bus       (P1080898   ©  DY of jtdytravels)

At this viewpoint stop, there were a host of curio shops all selling ethnic things and the stop was also the first introduction for some of the group to the hassles of being pestered by people trying to earn a meagre living out of encouraging people to buy things they never intended, nor wanted, to buy.  Just what do you do with all these things that just do not fit into our homes when we get home?  Of course they get put in the bottom draw, or worse still, get given to family and friends who have even less interest in them!  A great learning experience for future, similar encounters, of which there will be many if my previous experiences are anything to go by.We climbed a little further up into some low mist and fog which obscured the view of Lake Naivasha, an area which grows many cut flowers, including roses, for the European market.

The Saidia Orphanage in Gilgil, Kenya   (P1080938   ©  DY of jtdytravels)

Our lunch stop was in Gilgil and, while Juma prepared our lunch, we visited the Saidia Orphanage. This institution was established by three grandmothers Jill Simpson MBE, Teresa Wahito and Jane Kinuthia. They saw the need to help the many abandoned babies in the area.  Jill sadly passed away in October 2009, but Jane and Teresa continue the work today.

They have 57 kids at the moment in this programme, some of them having come to the orphanage only hours old.   As well, now there are three other programmes that are run in association with the original orphanage: first, badly behaved kids; secondly, mistreated kids; and lastly, kids born to HIV infected mums who neither want nor are capable of looking after their babies. You can find out more about the work these women are doing to give these kids a better life on their web site:

www.saidia-gilgil.org.uk

Jane Kinuthia, one of the remarkable women who run Saidia Orphanage.  (P1080915  © DY  of  jtdytravels)

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Some of the children sang for us.   (P1080900  ©  DY of jtdytravels)

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Kids will be kids when it comes to playing to a camera  (P1080914   ©  DY for jtdytravels)

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One of the little ones.  (P1080913   ©  DY for jtdytravels)

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Older kids enjoy soccer  (P1080931  ©  DY for jydytravels)

Soccer is the sport of choice of these boys and a new ball is a great gift.

And in a place like this, there’s always a lot of washing!

My new friend, John    (P1080935   ©   DY of jtdytravels)

The orphanage is very well set up.  Each child selected one of us to take on a tour of the buildings. I was selected by 9 year old John, a young lad with bright eyes and a delightful grin.

One of the all important water tanks.   (P1080917  ©  DY of jtdytravels)

John proudly showed me the children’s paintings that decorate parts of the buildings. This colourful elephant adorns one of the water tanks. The name NDOVU is the local word for elephant. Other paintings were of a lion, a giraffe and a bat.

One of the children, happy to have the chance to live at Saidia.   (P1080936   DY ©  of jtdytravels)

This visit to Saidia Orphanage left us all with plenty to think about. We had great admiration for these visionary, hardworking ‘grandmothers’ who are giving at least some children the chance of a better life. As they had explained to us:There is no social security net in Kenya.  The extended family is still very strong and orphaned children would normally be taken in by an aunt or grannie. But kids with no family are on their own, and today many families have lost the entire parent generation to AIDS.” And that, in itself, is food for thought.

The idylic camp site at Lake Nakuru    (P1080939  ©  DY of jtdytravels)

In the afternoon, we drove on to Lake Nakuru National Park, arriving mid afternoon. The first task was to put up our tents for the very first time, a bit of a trial for some. Thankfully, I had one of these small tents to myself.

After this exciting activity we went on our first game drive.  Lake Nakuru has considerably more water in it than when Jennie and I were there last in 2004.  This meant we could not get as close to the shore as we did the last time but it also meant that there were many more birds to see.

An Ibis wades in the shallows   (P1080980   ©  DY of jtdytravels)

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These pelicans kept their feet dry on an island    (P1080990  ©  DY of jtdytravels)

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These pelicans didn’t seem to mind having wet feet    (P1080993   ©  DY of jtdytravels)

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Baboons grooming   (P1080949  ©  DY of jtdytravels)

We also saw lots of baboons, a couple of white rhinos, a hippo in the distance, gazelle, eland, antelopes, zebra, buffalo, water buck, and a venerable old tortoise  – and an obscured lion sleeping on a rock. We went back to camp very happy, but tired, after a long day.  I was looking forward to a sleep – if sleep could be had sleeping on a thin mattress on the ground. And I was looking forward to finding even more animals on our next drive.   I was really glad I’d the opportunity to come back to Lake Nakuru.

The best camping – under African acacias. (P1090039 © DY of jtdytravels)

We drove through a heavy thunderstorm on our way back to camp.  It missed our tents, thankfully. Our camping location within the park was unfenced so it was no real surprise when a buffalo strolled through between our tents during our after dinner briefing.  This caused some consternation amongst the group.  Signs of strain were evident on many faces as nocturnal meanderings to the loo were erased from the mind. We’ll see what the night brings!  D

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