Kenya! Desert to Western Life… The Extreme Transition from Northern Kenya to Nairobi

Well well! Kenya at last! 😀

Mostly I think Ethiopia was just too long this year. A whole month there… in comparison, we’ve blown through Kenya in under two weeks, and it’s so much better!

The first few days were supposed to be the roughest days of the tour, Moyale to Marsabit. All lava rock roads, sometimes no roads at all, if you fall it’s falling onto lava rock and you’re cutting yourself like a cheese grater. This is a phrase we heard often, cheese grater. In reality, it was not bad at all! The vast majority of the road, probably 80-90 percent was either paved or very soon to be paved and in different levels of awesomeness for us to ride on. Sometimes it was just hardpacked and level and that was enough, sometimes it was fully paved and tarred and dried, sometimes it was a temporary side road that was shitty but nothing resembling the cheese grater fall roads we were told about. It was 3 days that was supposed to be hell, but next year it could easily be done in two, I’m sure almost all of it, if not the entire thing, will be paved by then. It’s odd though, cycling the 20-25k long paved sections with just one or two cars being seen over a period of hours.. Also there was a surprising amount of roadkill (even a Hyena), given how much traffic there was… Odd!

Camp at Sololo on day 1 was pretty nice, and the ride there had a tailwind most of the way to it, I think, and so even though it was rough road the whole time it was a lot of fun! Leah and I cycled a lot together, lots of good convo, and then a little bit of funny since we were talking about falling and then BOOM she falls to the ground. Quite a bit of scrapes on her from it, but she was a trooper and went on for the day! She loves her bike. Lots of other accidents too, which was weird, it wasn’t nearly as hard as a lot of days in Ethiopia. Michael and Kam both had some pretty big accidents… There’s a pic here at Claudia’s blog. It’s in German, but the picture is crazy. I have a pic of Mike below but I missed a chance to get a pic of Kam.

The next day was a slog. Lots of unpaved, a fair bit of up, and I just was over the offroad. If you’re thinking of doing TDA in the future, ignore two things they recommend everywhere: no suspension, and steel bike. Get an aluminum hardtail mountain bike. There’s just way too much offroad. We had bucket showers that night at the windiest camp ever… I just rinsed my feet, legs, arms, etc. Not much. Kam walked a lot this day because of his accident the day before, and he wanted exercise… He planned to just walk a bit, but Erwin was missed at lunch check-in (he was fine, they just didn’t see him come through), so the trucks were searching for him instead of picking up Kam and I think he walked through the desert for 24k alone and with limited water. No pavement! Then he got picked up.

There was a TT on the third day, 45k from camp to lunch, and it was all headwind. I went for it a bit anyways, just to see what I could do… I felt I was pretty competitive, given how casual I take most days… I was only 6 minutes behind Ina (2:16 to my 2:22) and I finished ahead of Young David and Sandro… Wee! Maybe that’s my additional rest, but it was still just nice to see that I could push it. I didn’t want an official time, so I took the lunch truck so I’d get 12h anyways…

We drove ahead to Marsabit where we camped at a convent, and had a rest day there as well… The convent was a nice place, really. They had slow wired internet which I magic’d into a wifi hotspot using Jennilea’s laptop and it was awesome, so many people were on it, it was great. Otherwise there wouldn’t have been internet there! The town was a bit sketchy at night… The best bar and restaurant was also a brothel, we didn’t spend much time there… I did find a beef dish and some chips though! Also some ice cream, chips, etc! Amazing bits!

Next day had a lot of hot in the forecast and all offroad again, so I took the camp truck and told them to drop me off 15k before camp so I could run it in. I got dropped off, but it turned out to be 5k not 15k. Oh well, it was still an ok run, and it was soooo hot, so maybe it was better I didn’t run 15.

The 2nd day past Marsabit was our transit-past-the-bandits day… And was supposed to be a sleep-in day. There was a very crystal clear rule about being quiet until 7am. The bus wasn’t leaving until 9am, breakfast wasn’t until 8am, and it was stated ridiculously clearly that taking down your tent at 6-something would make you very unpopular. Two people had their tents down by 6:15. I was awake randomly and chatting on my phone, but others got woken up by this, and I just think it’s crazy bullshit that people couldn’t obey this one simple rule. 6:15 is 1:45 before breakfast, maybe just WAIT A GODDAMN MINUTE. haha.. Birgit actually got woken up on purpose at 7:13 because someone thought she was oversleeping… Despite me being awake like 10 feet away from her and both of us were visible since neither had our rainflies on. WHY?! Her alarm was set for 7:15 anyways, but it’s just… I don’t get it. Let people sleep! We didn’t leave our tents until 7:30 and still were completely packed up and ready by 7:54, 6 minutes before breakfast was served. Everyone was sitting around impatiently despite the clear timing instructions!

Anyways, the bus trip was fun, we saw a Waller’s Gazelle / Gerenuk, which I think some people mistook for a Giraffe. There was also apparently Zebra that I missed… Mostly it was a nap.

We pulled into Isiolo at the Rangeland Campground pretty early where everyone enjoyed some Nyama Choma and wifi. It was another pretty nice camp with good showers. Birgit and I taxi’d over to Isiolo and found some ice cream, chips, and picture opportunities.

Next up was an amazing ride up and over the edge of Mount Kenya, the second biggest Volcano and Mountain in Africa. Nice views all day and two people even saw a big bull elephant! Agh, can’t believe I missed it. It was 35k of climbing followed by 35k of downhill. For 10k of the downhill I averaged over 50 km/h. I hardly even stopped for lunch, just two pieces of watermelon… Then into Nanyuki for chips and meat! Stocked up on meat for the next day when we were going to have a big BBQ! Delicious excitement!

Nanyuki’s hotel was Sportsman’s Arms… It was pretty nice and the Equator party we had (one night before crossing the equator) was amazing! We all went swimming really late at night (all meaning the coolest people – ;))… Sandro paid hard for it in the morning, maintaining his EFI with a massive hangover. Alex had to scout the route alone in Nairobi too, again with a killer hangover. I was fine, raced 2k to the equator and then trucked into camp at Savage Wilderness Camp, where there was supposed to be rafting, but the water levels were crazy low and the guide told us basically that it wouldn’t be fun right now (thanks for his honesty! Saved us a lot of money!) so we didn’t do it. I had my best IT fix here too, where I fixed the visa machine at the campground… I’d never even used one of these back home but it was clear to me what the problem was… Fun!

From there we biked to Nairobi! 115k overall or something, with a convoy for the last 20ish km. Birgit had a flat tire of course! So she got picked up quick by the Land Cruiser and the rest of us continued on, got stuck in taxi-strike related traffic jams, and eventually made it here to Indaba Campground, where both 3G and wifi are amazing! Wifi needed some setting changes for most people because they tried to limit us to 10 users at a time… And it wasn’t working for most! Other than that, it’s been great. Hamburger and Chips for a quick lunch yesterday… Then at night we all went out for many birthdays and going-aways to Carnivore, an amazing local restaurant that’s Brazilian BBQ style, all you can eat meat deliciousness. I tried Ostrich and Crocodile. Croc was better, kind of like a gamey chicken. The mall near the campground had a great supermarket too, and a Froyo store! Nairobi is so western! It’s such a huge huge shift from northern Kenya! Still no Kindle or Kobo or other eReader on sale though. I’m so sad mine broke. I did find a new book though, Cloud Atlas, a few days ago.

Today we went to an Elephant Orphanage and it was amazing… Amazing! Such good pictures and cute little elephants! Check out the pics below!

Tomorrow we cycle on to the border, then Arusha the next day. Apparently (details are lacking) I’m signed up for a 3 day Safari at this point with about 8 others, it’ll be super fun! Then maybe (almost definitely) 7 days in Zanzibar scuba diving and swimming instead of biking 7 days through more offroad in mainland Tanzania! SO EXCITED. Sigrid and some of her friends are also going I found out, so I’m even more interested in going!

That’s that! 🙂 All caught up! Stay tuned! Hopefully updates are more common now! Sorry for the lack, lately, friends!

MISS YOU ALL!!!

Picture time! 98 of them!

The roads start out rough and corrugated again, but this day was actually really fun! I'm not sure why... Perhaps just the quiet and solitude after the mayhem of Ethiopian kids.
The roads start out rough and corrugated again, but this day was actually really fun! I’m not sure why… Perhaps just the quiet and solitude after the mayhem of Ethiopian kids.
Michael was offroading and crashed and ripped his tire right off the rim. Tubeless problems.
Michael was offroading and crashed and ripped his tire right off the rim. Tubeless problems.
Luckily he was ok! Beaten up but happy and wanting to ride more.
Luckily he was ok! Beaten up but happy and wanting to ride more.
Me in disbelief about Michael. Glad he was ok!
Me in disbelief about Michael. Glad he was ok!
Rough road. I think this is Ian, Leah, and myself up ahead of Birgit.
Rough road. I think this is Ian, Leah, and myself up ahead of Birgit.
Encountering cows and road construction at the same time is fun!
Encountering cows and road construction at the same time is fun!
One of our first (maybe our actual first?) Kenyan coke stops. Probably the best, too, really. This is what I imagined when I thought of African coke stops.
One of our first (maybe our actual first?) Kenyan coke stops. Probably the best, too, really. This is what I imagined when I thought of African coke stops.
Steve, Myself, Ian, Leah, and Peter. And some locals who were excited to be selling us coke and other drinks.
Steve, Myself, Ian, Leah, and Peter. And some locals who were excited to be selling us coke and other drinks.
Our two truck drivers, Noah (from Zimbabwe) and Steven (from Tanzania) and a member of the Kenyan Tourist Police... They're serious business.
Our two truck drivers, Noah (from Zimbabwe) and Steven (from Tanzania) and a member of the Kenyan Tourist Police… They’re serious business.
Here's another angle with Birgit. I think I only meant to post this one, but oh well!
Here’s another angle with Birgit. I think I only meant to post this one, but oh well!
Justin's got some great tan lines going on... I've got competition!
Justin’s got some great tan lines going on… I’ve got competition!
Our first true Kenyan sunset, just outside of Sololo.
Our first true Kenyan sunset, just outside of Sololo.
I saw something shining in the dark, turned out to be this spider in a hole, ready to pounce!!
I saw something shining in the dark, turned out to be this spider in a hole, ready to pounce!!
Birgit and Alex, team teethbrushing!
Birgit and Alex, team teethbrushing!
Birgit took this just after I stood up... was going far too slow for this sand and fell over! I'm really good at these falls.
Birgit took this just after I stood up… was going far too slow for this sand and fell over! I’m really good at these falls.
Road construction! This will be paved tarmac very very soon! Next year's Meltdown Madness section will be Paved Awesomesauce instead.
Road construction! This will be paved tarmac very very soon! Next year’s Meltdown Madness section will be Paved Awesomesauce instead.
Another day, another flat. One flat in a day is a great day for Birgit.
Another day, another flat. One flat in a day is a great day for Birgit.
Why thank you, I will definitely cycle in this little lane!
Why thank you, I will definitely cycle in this little lane!
Road closed, Kenya (and Ethiopia, really) style.
Road closed, Kenya (and Ethiopia, really) style.
Birgit found a camel with a weird pattern on its neck... Wonder what was up.
Birgit found a camel with a weird pattern on its neck… Wonder what was up.
These Samburu women were not happy about this picture... Ooops.
These Samburu women were not happy about this picture… Ooops.
Birgit enjoys a hot electricityless coke stop.
Birgit enjoys a hot electricityless coke stop.
I struggle in the offroad. I wish the tarmac was complete!
I struggle in the offroad. I wish the tarmac was complete!
Donkeys and camels, something that's followed us all the way from Sudan.
Donkeys and camels, something that’s followed us all the way from Sudan.
Birgit and the camel and donkey. We just liked how they were lying together.
Birgit and the camel and donkey. We just liked how they were lying together.
The saddest site for me. Well, Birgit's bike is nice, but the end of tarmac is sad.
The saddest site for me. Well, Birgit’s bike is nice, but the end of tarmac is sad.
Alex, repairing tubes... Like every day.
Alex, repairing tubes… Like every day.
These huts were interesting... Wonder why they're covered like this.
These huts were interesting… Wonder why they’re covered like this.
Camels! Nice pic, Birgit.
Camels! Nice pic, Birgit.
The headwind on TT day was so strong it ripped the lunch truck's tarp. :(
The headwind on TT day was so strong it ripped the lunch truck’s tarp. 🙁
Post TT selfie. Dirty!
Post TT selfie. Dirty!
Sandro, Young David, Helen, and Jennilea... At a volcanic crater before Marsabit.
Sandro, Young David, Helen, and Jennilea… At a volcanic crater before Marsabit.
Mateo drew this forever ago, but it remains the case pretty much. Mateo's cartoons are awesome.
Mateo drew this forever ago, but it remains the case pretty much. Mateo’s cartoons are awesome.
Alex headed into Marsabit
Alex headed into Marsabit
More rough road. I think I'm gonna run a bit instead of ride!
More rough road. I think I’m gonna run a bit instead of ride!
Sadly I got dropped off 5k before camp and not the 15k I wanted, but it was 47.8 degrees, so maybe it was ok.
Sadly I got dropped off 5k before camp and not the 15k I wanted, but it was 47.8 degrees, so maybe it was ok.
Baby goat! So cute! And so baby that he still has an umbilical cord!
Baby goat! So cute! And so baby that he still has an umbilical cord!
Samburu women! So colourful!
Samburu women! So colourful!
Alex looks like he's straight out of Dead Space (a video game, for those uninformed).
Alex looks like he’s straight out of Dead Space (a video game, for those uninformed).
There was a school assembly I missed trying to fit too many things in...
There was a school assembly I missed trying to fit too many things in…
Leah's on the bus thru bandit territory!
Leah’s on the bus thru bandit territory!
A mosque in Isiolo, it was nice! I liked that town.
A mosque in Isiolo, it was nice! I liked that town.
Near the Isiolo Market.
Near the Isiolo Market.
A church in Isiolo. Quite the mural.
A church in Isiolo. Quite the mural.
Mount Kenya, the second highest mountain / volcano in Africa. I think it's more technical to climb than Kilimanjaro too.
Mount Kenya, the second highest mountain / volcano in Africa. I think it’s more technical to climb than Kilimanjaro too.
A sweet little stop and mural along the way.
A sweet little stop and mural along the way.
The biggest supply of coffee in Africa yet. 1L when Birgit and Alex ordered it.
The biggest supply of coffee in Africa yet. 1L when Birgit and Alex ordered it.
Uh oh.
Uh oh.
This was just such a pretty and amazing day!
This was just such a pretty and amazing day!
Jess takes a break and walks some of Mount Kenya.
Jess takes a break and walks some of Mount Kenya.
Cows are confused by cyclists.
Cows are confused by cyclists.
Alex stops at the sunflower field.
Alex stops at the sunflower field.
Apparently Justin was confused as to why Birgit and Alex were stopped here... Sunflowers, yo!
Apparently Justin was confused as to why Birgit and Alex were stopped here… Sunflowers, yo!
Nanyuki ice cream supplies! I LOVE THIS PLACE.
Nanyuki ice cream supplies! I LOVE THIS PLACE.
Enjoying my ice cream in Nanyuki!
Enjoying my ice cream in Nanyuki!
Holy shit, and bacon?! Where am I?! Am I still in Africa?
Holy shit, and bacon?! Where am I?! Am I still in Africa?
Hunting for sour candy.
Hunting for sour candy.
These birds have been with us for weeks... Some sort of starling, I think... the colours and reflections are amazing.
These birds have been with us for weeks… Some sort of starling, I think… the colours and reflections are amazing.
Another!
Another!
At the equator party, the night before we cross the equator! I found some hair!
At the equator party, the night before we cross the equator! I found some hair!
Crossing the equator! Pretty exciting!
Crossing the equator! Pretty exciting!
Myself, Birgit, and Leah... 1st 2nd and 3rd to the equator. RACE 4 LIFE.
Myself, Birgit, and Leah… 1st 2nd and 3rd to the equator. RACE 4 LIFE.
Me taking pictures of the racers racing off like they tend to do.
Me taking pictures of the racers racing off like they tend to do.
My bike was the only one left around so others were taking pictures with it. Here's Noah, our dinner truck driver.
My bike was the only one left around so others were taking pictures with it. Here’s Noah, our dinner truck driver.
And Kam, with my bike too. His was on the truck since his crash...
And Kam, with my bike too. His was on the truck since his crash…
Justin and Bina sweeping as we pass in the Hilux.
Justin and Bina sweeping as we pass in the Hilux.
Camp at Savage Wilderness
Camp at Savage Wilderness
This suspension bridge was swingtastic!
This suspension bridge was swingtastic!
Some geckos chowing down on bugs at the lights.
Some geckos chowing down on bugs at the lights.
Cycling down a 3 lane divided highway was an experience we'd never get back home! Entering Nairobi and suddenly everything is becoming super western.
Cycling down a 3 lane divided highway was an experience we’d never get back home! Entering Nairobi and suddenly everything is becoming super western.
Looking back at Birgit... This would be so illegal back home (Deerfoot biking?)... sketchy.
Looking back at Birgit… This would be so illegal back home (Deerfoot biking?)… sketchy.
Were we leaving a corruption ridden zone?
Were we leaving a corruption ridden zone?
More highway!
More highway!
Kenyatta University, I think this may be the biggest.
Kenyatta University, I think this may be the biggest.
Our convoy is about to begin!
Our convoy is about to begin!
The view at the front.
The view at the front.
We even got a tunnel!
We even got a tunnel!
Then the traffic jam hit.
Then the traffic jam hit.
Just chilling out in Nairobi's CBD.
Just chilling out in Nairobi’s CBD.
IT WAS ALL WORTH IT, I HAVE FOUND MAKE-YOUR-OWN-FROYO-CUPS.
IT WAS ALL WORTH IT, I HAVE FOUND MAKE-YOUR-OWN-FROYO-CUPS.
And unlimited meat by the sword carving at Carnivore! What a restaurant. Damn, I forgot to buy a shirt here.
And unlimited meat by the sword carving at Carnivore! What a restaurant. Damn, I forgot to buy a shirt here.
Ice cream and waffles for breakfast? Don't mind if I do! Can I get 10 pieces of bacon on the side too please? Thanks!!
Ice cream and waffles for breakfast? Don’t mind if I do! Can I get 10 pieces of bacon on the side too please? Thanks!!
Me and the babiest elephant!
Me and the babiest elephant!
Birgit and the babiest elephant!
Birgit and the babiest elephant!
Oh man, even baby elephants drinking water is super cute!
Oh man, even baby elephants drinking water is super cute!
Warthog and water lilies!
Warthog and water lilies!
Warthogs in Nairobi's national park.
Warthogs in Nairobi’s national park.
OMG the elephants were just so cool!
OMG the elephants were just so cool!
Birgit and the babiest elephants!!
Birgit and the babiest elephants!!
Never too many elephant pics, right?
Never too many elephant pics, right?
OK, we're getting there... There's been a lot.
OK, we’re getting there… There’s been a lot.
OK, but this is so cool! More elephants come for the feeding!
OK, but this is so cool! More elephants come for the feeding!
The biggest (oldest) elephant of the bunch. He had a limp, too. Sad.
The biggest (oldest) elephant of the bunch. He had a limp, too. Sad.
This elephant must have been pretty hot and/or itchy... He was very into rolling around in the water and getting more water shoveled onto him by staff.
This elephant must have been pretty hot and/or itchy… He was very into rolling around in the water and getting more water shoveled onto him by staff.
OK, bye elephants!
OK, bye elephants!
Cool warthog closeup! As I stood up he shocked the hell out of me though, ahhhh! He kind of made a noise and ran away, almost into Birgit! OOPS.
Cool warthog closeup! As I stood up he shocked the hell out of me though, ahhhh! He kind of made a noise and ran away, almost into Birgit! OOPS.
MORE FROYO
MORE FROYO

2 thoughts on “Kenya! Desert to Western Life… The Extreme Transition from Northern Kenya to Nairobi”

  1. You saw real live baby elephants! You can’t imagine how insanely jealous I am right now. Elephants are my favorite animal. And these babies are so cute! If I were you I’d forget about the rest of the tour and just hang out with the elephants for the next two months.

  2. Scott:
    Thanks for all the photos!! We look forward to you blogs. Thanks for taking the time for Michael, we enjoy seeing his photos too.
    Safe travels….

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