The next morning after breakfast, we parted and headed for the area around Mount Kenya. The traffic in Nairobi was not too bad and as soon as we were on the main road north, we drove almost alone on the three-lane highway. For a late lunch we stopped at the ‘tree trout restaurant’ and enjoy their mixed trout dish. The trout farm is located in a forest and has five troops of black and white colobus monkeys that like to feast on the left overs. More cheeky than the colobus are however the Sykes Monkeys (closely related to the blue, silver and golden monkey) that get chased out of the tree house during our lunch. The campsite in Ngare Ndare forest, our planned overnight stop, is unfortunately not open and we needed to find an alternative campsite. After having seen two dreadful campsites, we reached a large flower and vegetable farm that had before welcomed some overlanders on their premise. Their point of contact was always the coffee and vegetable shop that belonged to the farm, but unfortunately, we found it already closed and decided to head for the farm itself… To our luck, the security manager as well as the owner of the farm had just arrived at the gate as well. After a quick conversation between the two, the owner gave us a warm welcome and, after learning we are Dutch, invites us for a tour through his flower farm the next morning. The security manager brought us to a very nice and quite place where we could set up camp.
The next morning we are went to the owner’s office and after a small introduction, where he showed us how his flowers are sold in Aalsmeer (he could follow the ‘clock’ via the internet) and explained how the Dutch completely ‘dictate’ the international flower industry. We went on a tour from one of his green house managers. During the next hour and a half we learned everything about growing roses and saw some the most beautiful roses (it turned out that this farms roses are the best of the country). We especially like the ‘Queen of Africa’; a very large white rose. To our big surprise, we were told that this farm alone sends on average 70.000 roses to the Netherlands DAILY and in peak season like Valentines day even 120.000 roses per day.
Samburu and Buffalo Springs National Reserve
After the tour, we continue the smooth tar road north to the Samburu National Reserve. Thank you, China! At about two o’clock, we entered the gate and started a game drive towards the campsite to check it out. It looked reasonable and was nicely located at the river. We continued our game drive into after crossing the bridge in the Buffalo Spring National Reserve, which we can visit on the same ticket. The numbers of wildlife we came across were not overwhelming, but what made these parks special and certainly worth the visit were the high number of gerenuk (giraffe neck antelope), grevy zebra, reticulated (or Somali) giraffe and the Somali ostrich. These animals cannot be seen in any other national park in Kenya (or in the countries we visited before). Our campsite is nothing more than a spot on the muddy Ewaso Ngir River. After a quite night, we got up early for another game drive and left the park around eleven towards Henry’s camp in Marsabit.
The rest of the afternoon, we relaxed a bit and did the necessary chores that we had pushed forward in the past days.
The past days we had been debating whether or not we would go to Lake Turkana and make the loop via South Horr, Loyangalani, North Horr back to Marsabit. Many overlanders had marvelled the views and ruggedness of the landscape and we had been intrigued since we started planning our route through Kenya. The catch was however the poor condition of the roads in this remote area. We were strongly advised not to drive it alone as the chances of getting stuck in the (fine) sand or mud in the desert are high. Also your car would definitely get a beating… many stories online tell about broken springs or shocks and punctured tires resulting from the rocky, sandy or corrugated roads. What to do…
As we went faster through the parks and past Mount Kenya than planned, we had some days to make the loop and still be in time in Addis Ababa. So, we figured we should do it. In Amboseli NP, we met a South African family living in Nairobi. They moved to Kenya as he is managing the high windmill project at Lake Turkana. He offered us to step by in the compound if we decided to visit Lake Turkana for a bite and if needed some diesel and he told us that there was a very smooth dirt road build by/for the project from the village Laisami (90km south of Marsabit) straight to the lake. Although not as adventures as many before us had done it, it was the perfect solution for us driving to Lake Turkana alone. He had not lied, after the smooth 90km tarmac, we turned into a dirt road and could maintain our cruising speed of 80km an hour. The scenery was incredible, starting with hills in a bushy desert, it changed in to a serious mountain range. After about 2 hours, when we saw the first windmills on the hillside covered by rough lava rocks, we knew we were getting close to the views over lake Turkana.
After 200km of driving on a perfect dirt road up to and including the perimeter of the windmill project, the road got worse by the metre and we crawled the last 20 kilometres! However, we were also treated to very lovely views of the lake; also called ‘The Jade Sea’.
Lake Turkana, which is the world’s largest permanent desert lake,
We stayed overnight in Loyangalani, which stands in utter contrast to the dour desert shades surrounding it. This tiny village is colourful in many ways; feather headdresses and blood-red robes as it is an important meeting point of the great northern tribes: Turkana and Samburu, Gabbra and El Molo. Our campsite is Palm Shades Camp, a small campsite and some bandas in the midst of large palm trees that provide the much needed shade. During the day temperature rose to 45 degrees, cooling down to 29 degrees when we went to bed at eleven thirty. There is always wind in this region; hence the windmill park, and the palm trees next to our truck made a rustling noise the entire night.
The next morning, we take it slow as we plan to go back to Marsabit and knew the way. We spent our last days in Kenya updating the travel blog, maintaining the truck, laundry and cleaning the truck of months and months of dust and sand.