So it looks like I have been enjoying myself far too much back in Australia and didn’t get around to doing my last blog post before we left Kenya, so here it is.😎😎
We set off for Nairobi and the first part of the drive was fantastic with very little traffic but then we turned onto the Nairobi to Mombasa (Kenyas main port) road which was absolute bedlam. Bumper to bumper trucks going along at 70 to 80 kilometres per hour going both ways. Then there were all these crazy car drivers who were overtaking when they clearly shouldn’t have been but don’t seem to have any regard for theirs or anyones life. On one particularly steep hill cars were overtaking on double white lines as the trucks were down to 20 kph so I thought I should do the same or never get to Nairobi. Unfortunately after being so good for so long I chose the wrong time to do this because at the top of the hill was a police roadblock and they signalled for me to pull in! Why were you overtaking on double white lines he asked? Well because the trucks were going so slow and everyone else was overtaking was my reply. Well I am going to have to fine you and you will have to come to court on Monday in this town. So again I used a little white lie and told him that I was heading for Nairobi to fly out to Australia the next day so in frustration he let me go! We arrived at Jungle Junction which was to be our accommodation for the next couple of nights and also where our Land Cruiser would be stored while we returned to Australia for Christmas. Jungle Junction is a great place where you get to meet a lot of fellow overlanders and are able to trade stories and advice. We met some great people including Dan from Canada, Diana and Emil from Sweden and JD from Canada to name a few. The owner Chris Handschuh is a great bloke who can pretty much solve any problem and will be fitting the roof top tent while we are back in Australia. We still had a few days to kill before flying out so we decided do a trip out to where I was born and raised so we left Nairobi the next morning heading to Nakuru. The road from Nairobi to Nakuru was really busy and along the way for quite a way were stalls selling sheep skins and also sheep skin hats which looked great and I’m kicking myself for not stopping and buying one but might get a second chance when we return. Nakuru is a very busy trading town and we stayed in a hotel right in the heart of town but straight after booking in we went over to the Nakuru War Memorial Hospital which is where I was born.
We took some photos of the hospital and were about to leave when I decided to go inside and see if we could have a look at the maternity wing. The receptionist was very enthusiastic when I told her that I had been born in that hospital nearly 60 years ago and asked us to wait while she checked. She came back with Nancy who is a midwife, she was also very excited to meet us and took me by the arm and took us up to the maternity wing. We had a look in the birthing suite of which there is only one and Nancy said that apart from having tiles on the walls now, nothing much would have changed from the time I was born. I did get quite emotional when looking through the ward, thinking back those 60 odd years to when my Mum who was only 22 years old at the time and was a very long way from home back in England having her second baby with not a lot of support.
Then it was off the next day to Nanyuki which is where we lived and farmed for a while in Kenya. It was a very interesting drive as we were to cross the Equator for the first time and in fact we nearly missed it as we went roaring past but we did a u turn and went back and Peter introduced himself to us as we were taking a selfie at the Equator. Peter gave us a running commentary on how water running down through a hole in a bowl will in the Northern hemisphere fall in a clockwise direction but in the Southern hemisphere will fall in an anti clockwise direction and right on the equator it will fall straight through the hole. It was a brilliant presentation and worth every cent of the approximately $5.
From there we left and shortly we were climbing up the escarpment of the Rift Valley and at the top we stopped and took in the incredible views below. Further on we got to the Thomson Falls and thought we would have a look so swung into the carpark which was chock a block full of curio stalls and I in a moment of weakness told one that I would come back which can be a big mistake! just as we were getting out of the Cruiser it started to rain and so we rummaged around and found our two umbrellas that had travelled with us for the last 25,000 kilometres without being used. This was great because even though it was busy we were the only ones to leave the shelter of the building to go out to view the falls and so didn’t have any trouble getting good photos. When we came back to the car there was the lady from the stall that I said we come back to waiting for us at the car! Pauline took one for the team and went back and had a look while I made the coffee and entertained the locals!
We then continued on and the GPS wanted to take me on a short cut which we knew by now would be a rough dirt track but with no van to worry about we just took it! Yes it was dirt, rough and not long after we started on it the heavens opened and we were driving through great deep puddles of water but it was a really interesting diversion. We arrived at the accommodation that I had booked as a bit of a treat called Soames Hotel and Jack’s Bar which was a stunning place looking out over Mt Kenya.
It had 8 stand alone units, a fantastic restaurant and of course Jack’s Bar which was frequented by a lot of British Army personnel based at the army base nearby. The next morning on recommendation from the owner we set off to have a look around the Ol Pejeta Conservancy which is a privately run 90,000 acre conservancy.
Previously it was a cattle ranch and in 2004, the ranch was purchased by the U.K.-based conservation organisation, Fauna & Flora International, with the financial backing of the Arcus foundation a private international philanthropic organisation founded by Jon Stryker. Today, Ol Pejeta is the largest black rhino sanctuary in east Africa, and home to two of the world’s last remaining northern white rhino. It came with a very hefty price tag off $125. AUS each a day which at first we balked at but then having had such an emphatic recommendation went through with it and were greatly rewarded. We set off through the park and it wasn’t long before we started to see lots of animals including the biggest Eland we had seen so far in Africa, elephants, White Rhino with calves and herds of Buffalo.
We also want to visit the Rhino Cemetery which is the final resting place of roughly 20 Rhino mostly killed by poachers and for both of us it was a really moving and also confronting sight. While there we had our morning coffee overlooking the open Savannah grassland and realising what a beautiful spot to have this memorial.
We left and continued on our way around the park and it wasn’t long before we found ourselves in a very wet, soft, boggy area and soon realised that we were not going to be able to turn around so I found a piece of ground dry enough to be able to get out and let our tyre pressures down a bit. We did manage to get through but only by the skin of our teeth which was good because I really didn’t want to have to get out in the soft sticky mud to do a recovery!
The conservancy has around 110 critically endangered Black Rhinos and around 30 Southern white Rhinos so you would think that we would see lots of Black Rhino but they are so timid that you don’t often see them because they stay in the cover of the bush. We did however see one when it came out to a drinking hole before trotting back off to the cover of the bush.
We did however see lots of the White Rhino who were quite happy to be out in the open and many of them had young calves. There is actually no colour difference between white and black rhino. The name is said to have been a mistranslation of the Afrikaans word ‘weit’ meaning ‘wide’ – which refers to the White Rhinos square shaped lips used for grazing. This is the main distinction between white rhino and black, which have a hooked lip for browsing. An interesting fact for you is that a kilo of rhino horn can fetch up to $60,000 on the black market, but ironically, it is just made of the same substance as human fingernails – keratin.
As we were about to look for a spot to stop and have our lunch the threatening skies opened and it rained very heavily so we decided to head for the conservancy restaurant and have lunch there which was delicious and as we finished lunch so did the rain stop. Back out on the track we came upon a big herd of Ankole cattle which have massive long horns and we wondered how on earth they kept their heads up but in actual fact their horns are hollow so quite light.
We then moved on to where the conservancy has set up a 300 acre Chimpanzee Sanctuary home to 43 chimpanzees. The facility was initially established to receive and provide lifelong refuge to orphaned and abused chimpanzees from west and central Africa.
We then bumped into one of the rangers who told us that there was two lions nearby and he led us to where they were resting during the long process of love making! We found them but they were quite some way off the track so we didn’t get a great look at them.
It was then getting a bit late in the afternoon so we headed for the exit gate and returned to the Soames Hotel for another great of chatting to the locals and eating great food in the restaurant.
The next morning we returned to Jungle Junction where we were to leave the Land Cruiser while away in Australia for Christmas. This is also when we will be having our roof top tent fitted to the Land Cruiser.