Moyale/Ethiopia – Nairobi/Kenya

So it was Thursday the 29th, when we got our Kenyan entry stamps in our passports, had our first Kenyan lunch and cycled the first 60 km out of 520 km on this dirt road called „Trans East African Highway“. We met a couple from Berlin this afternoon, stopping with their 4×4 car on the other side. They were on their way home after a trip around Africa. We had a nice chat. They recommended to stop at Henry’s place in Marsabit, still about 200km away. He is a nice man from Switzerland, who lives already many years there and also offers a place to stay for travelers. That sounded good to our ears and minds, gave us new motivation!

The next day went very well. We started early morning, had an afternoon-lemonade stop in the village Turbi and covered 102 km until sunset, although the dirt road was not a dirt road anymore from Turbi on, more something in between a dry riverbed and an unfinished railroad track! So although we started again early on Saturday morning and were moving the bikes for 7.5 hours, the counter stopped at 59 km when we finished our day after sunset, totally exhausted. On our 4th day we reached Marsabit at lunch time, after a strenuous uphill ride up again to 1400m. Well, we were happy to be there! Exactly half the way to Isiolo already behind us!

But we were also happy, that we had no further trouble on this stretch from Moyale to Marsabit, because we read and heard before, that this area is not really safe to pass through and that it is recommended to load the bikes on a truck and go in one of the convoys to Marsabit or even up to Isiolo. But while collecting some more information about the situation from travelers we met on the way, already from Cairo on, we decided, that it can not be so serious and that we want to go by bike anyway. From our own experience in Moyale and also riding this stretch finally, we have got the feeling these stories of robberies and rebels are more a support for the business of the local truck drivers. We didn’t feel unsafe at all, slept every night somewhere outside, far enough away from the next village.

Well, the first evening we were passing a group of about 15 armed men, marching in our direction and if you want, then they looked more like rebels then soldiers of an official army, but they were smiling friendly and were replying our greetings. One of them was carrying a radio. So we recognized them, when they were passing our night camp in some distance, still marching, about 2-3 hours later.

We left Marsabit on Monday afternoon, April 2nd, had a rainy start on Tuesday, still covering strenuous 100 km, were suffering for another really shitty 60km on Wednesday, the hardest day so far and finally reached asphalt again in Isiolo on Thursday evening, where we spent the night and most of the next day, relaxing.

What an effort! A real strain for man and machine. You cannot argue anymore, that you do that for fun, or that you are actually enjoying this, especially on these two 60km days. It’s a test and you have no chance, other then to take it and to pass it. It is part of this tour, part of this African experience. On these days you ask yourself not only once, why you are doing this. Your body is shaking the whole day, you have to be fully concentrated where you go next, you can feel and see the material is suffering and often you are moving so slowly, that you could also walk. Then you get stuck and fall or the front wheel slips on a stone and you fall, or you are just fed up of the all the gravel and let yourself fall…

But again, it is never only as bad, there are always also happy and nice or even really exciting moments. Plus, that you know, that it is only temporarily so hard, that it will get easier soon and that, looking back one day, you can smile about it, about yourself.
The exciting moment for example I have in mind, was on this shitty Wednesday. It was afternoon already and it were still about 6km to the next cool lemonade/village, when we saw our first wild elephant, right next to the road, maybe 100m away! Yes, and he saw us as well! We stopped to take a picture, happy and alarmed, because he was facing us now and shaking his ears. What should we do now? Let’s just try to pass slowly, that’s what I thought and did. Thomas was still looking at the scene through his camera. But then the elephant blew his trumpet and started to run towards me! Huh! I dropped my bike immediately (priorities shift in these moments as well:) and jumped to the other side, ready to run. But fortunately, that was the only thing he wanted to see! He turned around and left the scene. Thomas told me afterwards, that he would have dropped his bike in the same way! ;)

During these 8 days from Moyale to Isiolo we saw antelopes, hyenas (one dead, one alive) pavians, this beautiful chameleon, strange insects, many birds and this elephant! On the Ethiopian stretch I forgot to mention the impressing termite towers and sculptures. We saw them in different colors, mostly in dark red but also in white-beige and grey-black. They made me think of some of the famous sculptures of Giacometti. It was like an open air art exhibition! There were also other kind of monkeys at our hotel in Shashemene and a turtle in the middle of the road somewhere…

We left Isiolo Easter Friday afternoon and the road went up and up, going around the peak of Mt. Kenya in a wide circle. I was not feeling very well again plus that it was not easy to find a spot for the night. I t was already dark and we were riding with our headlights on. When we decided to push our bikes over the next field to our right, behind some trees… But there was a hut and somebody was living there. One of them is Benson, 10 years old. He was not scared at all to meet us there, two strangers in the darkness. His English was fine, we could communicate. First we wanted to continue, just wanted a quiet place for us and some relaxing sleep, but then we followed his invitation and waited for his mom, Rosemary, to arrive. We spoke English. It was no problem at all to park our bikes there, to put up our tent next to their hut and to cook our pasta, while they had diner as well. Then Benson was coming out again with this typically milky tea in a thermos bottle. We had a nice talk, he showed us his school books and Rosemary asked if we want to have more food. Thank you!

The next morning it was raining a bit and there was a wonderful rainbow. Daylight. The contrast between our ‚home‘ and theirs was immense. They were out of two different worlds. Their home was a wooden hut, again not more than about 3 x 4 meters with a little fenced area in front for the goats and chickens, everything surrounded on 3 sides by a cornfield. In one of his exercise books I read the day before, that he has 2 sisters and 3 brothers. His fathers name is Joseph…

It was Saturday again, April 7th, when we were passing the equator line, fifty three latitude lines south from Berlin, with our bicycles. But there was no line on the road, as I had imagined, only a sign to our right. No need for a picture. Now we are on the southern hemisphere! What a feeling. We are in Kenya! On Easter Monday we arrived in Nairobi, where we were looking for the popular Jungle Junction meeting point, recommended by Henry in Marsabit, Ralf and Katrin, the young couple from Cologne on their motorbikes (It was another one of these nice moments on a hard day, when we met them between Marsabit and Isiolo) and another couple, from Essen in Germany, on their way home after an extended Africa journey with their Toyota 4×4. Thanks to all of you and thanks to Christof and his employees at JJ’s! It is a really nice and friendly place to stay and to relax.

So now we are on our way to Tanzania. Our last 1000km here in Africa. We are in Ngong town right now, just outside of Nairobi. The border is about 150km further south. We are planning to be in Dar es Salam on Monday the 23rd and looking forward to pass the famous Kilimanjaro on our way through Arusha and Moshi. From Dar es Salam we hope to write our next (and not our last :) post…

Thank you!


pictures to this article: Addis Abeba/Äthiopien – Nairobi/Kenia : Fotos

12. April 2007 - Maik | english texts | Kommentare :: comments :: comentarios | Inhalt drucken

4 Responses to “Moyale/Ethiopia – Nairobi/Kenya”

  1. 1 OLIVER 19 April 2007 @ 3:07

    Der Unterschied zwischen Eurem Zelt und der Hütte ist nicht so groß wie der zwischen der Hütte und den Leuten die Eure Tour vor dem Computer verfolgen.
    Na da sind wir ja auch auf die Bilder vom Kilimanjaro gespannt. Euch beiden wünsch ich ein paar staubfreie Tage.
    Ganz liebe Grüße

    zwei Frauen ein Mann

  2. 2 Jost 19 April 2007 @ 8:32

    Hallo Weltenbummler,

    Eure Berichte bleiben spannend, wie die von Humboldt oder Magellan. Ich bin immer wieder ergriffen und reise in Gedanken mit Euch. Alles Gute für Euch.


  3. 3 Simon Abbott 16 Mai 2007 @ 14:52

    As always I’m so impressed with your stories and especially your photos. There are so many fantastic ones in there.
    I just had to comment on this entry as I not only had a holiday in Kenya but was borne in a town you may have gone very close to. It’s on the western side of Mount Kenya and is called Nyeri… I spent the first 6 months of my life there!

    When i went on holiday there about 4 years ago (to see where i came from) we did a safari up to Lake Turkana. That invloved us going through Osilio and we also stopped at Marsabit.

    From memory the tarmac (going north) stops about 200 meters out of town and never returns! We were in a big 4×4 and we didn’t always enjoy it.

    Also isn’t Marsabit basically a mountain? With the craters at the summit (i think one was called ‚paradise‘ or something). You have my upmost respect if you cycled up to that place.

    Keep going guys, I’ve just come back from India and there are vast areas where it’s as flat as you like. From what i hear you should only have to keep an eye out for the monsoon rains.

    All the best


  4. 4 stephen kimogol 20 Januar 2010 @ 0:01

    you guys must be strong and courageous to have cycled on the rough road between moyale and marsabit,kenya.i’m from marsabit and i know how bad the roads are.congrats you made it!
    i know a few of the people in your photos..from my home village and the likes of henry dorman.
    the photos are beautiful and i miss the warm weather,its damn cold here(norway).
    i guess you enjoyed despite the hard situation!!

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