Into the Northern Hemisphere through Kenya
We have spend this morning travelling through Kenya since crossing the border this morning at around 01:30, crossing the Equator a few hours later.
Within those first few hours, in the dark of the night, we'd already seen a wide variety of Kenyan wildlife next to the road - zebra, giraffe, ibis and two hyenas which forced us to make an emergency stop as they ran into the road.
With a beautiful pink and orange sunrise came our first chance to see Kenya by daylight. What a stunning country. Travelling through the central uplands, the view was full of the flat topped acacia trees dotted around the savannah grasslands that looked just like the Africa of my imagination. The Kenyan people look different to the previous countries: darker skin, taller and thinner, and with much more traditional-looking clothes - the copies of Western fashion and football shirts of the Southern countries in Africa have thankfully not yet made it to this part of Kenya. Further along the road, we saw herds of hundreds of camels grazing in the scrubland, an ostrich running alongside us, and a family of monkeys crossing the road. Truly amazing sights.
Progress through the savannah was good for most of the morning. But ahead of us was the only remaining dirt road of the whole 19,000km Challenge. The 130km of rough dust road is ominously called 'the road of hell'. Whilst the road surface alone justifies the name, it actually has earned this nickname because of the activities of the armed bandits that target travellers along this stretch. Sounds great.
The tarmac road just stops suddenly when you reach the 'road of hell', giving way to heavily corrugated, rutted and potholed tracks, baked as hard as concrete in the Kenyan sun. The corrugations are vicious enough to feel like they're shaking the car apart at just 20kph - it really doesn't feel safe to go faster than that. Except for the local, heavily overloaded buses that is, which pass through in a cloud of dust, drifting through the corners at nearer 100kph. This whole section was been very frustratingly slow progress, and very tiring for the crew as we're being shaken around so much, even at such a low speed.
Alongside this horrible dirt track, a brand new road is being constructed which should be complete in a year and a half. Luckily for us, Rainer made friends with the Turkish construction manager Nuri who gave us an escort along one section of his brand new, unopened road for some of the journey. It was such a treat to have the beautiful, smooth road all to ourselves for 30kms, giving us some welcome relief from the endless dust, ruts and holes. He even had his Turkish chef bring us each a plate of goat stew and rice to take with us at the end of his section of new road. Many thanks to Nuri for his hospitality and making the road of hell a little more bearable.
We stopped in a small roadside village further along to take some photos with some tribal Kenyans related to the Masai tribe, in brightly coloured clothes and amazing jewellery. I think they were quite perplexed at the sight of the three of us arriving out of nowhere. Further still up the road and it was our turn to look surprised as we were greeted by Harry, an old acquaintance of Rainer's from previous trips plus all twenty of his workers including his four sons waiting for us at the roadside. They had tracked us on our website, and come out with home made Cape to Cape banners and t-shirts. What a lovely gesture. Sadly we couldn't stop and accept Harry's offer of hospitality (at the nearby Camp Harry, his campsite) with time to make up from that lost on the road of hell.
We are now powering towards the Ethiopian border. Kenya has been truly wonderful in my opinion - the 'most African' African country for me. The prospect of crossing into Ethiopia feels like we're leaving central Africa behind, and moving towards a new, different experience as we head further North.
Next update tonight will be from Ethiopia.