Stranded in the Kenyan desert, and a visit to the land of the Maasai

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Ethiopian-Kenyan border at Moyale

Ethiopian-Kenyan border at Moyale

We spent the night of the 20th of June in the border town of Moyale, and headed out for Marsabit in northern Kenya in the morning. As we rode from one country into the other, the asphalt road ended. We did not think much of it at the time. The first 120 kilometers on the dirt road were easy and fun, and brought us to the village of Turbi. But then, as we entered the Dide Galgalu Desert, the troubles began.

The “road” there, if one can call it that, was really just a pair of deep tracks left behind by trucks forcing their way through a seemingly infinite collection of stones and not much else. The condition of the road quickly went from bad to worse. At some point, we were forced to walk our motorcycles, which slowed our speed to less than a kilometer per hour. After doing this for a while, the physical strain became too much. Our minds and bodies started to fail us, and our motorcycles started plunging into the ground. It was only a matter of time until one of the motorcycles, my friend’s, gave up, and refused to go any further. There we were, stranded in the middle of the desert. Luckily, a Kenyan government SUV came by and took us along to the next village, Bubisa, where we found a friendly local with an old truck who was kind enough to pick up our motorcycles and take us to Marsabit. The 250 kilometers from Moyale to Marsabit took us a total of three days, which were one of the toughest and most adventurous days on our journey from Germany to South Africa.

Once my friend’s motorcycle was fixed, we continued on to Isiolo. I think it was on the ride from Marsabit to there that we first saw free-roaming elephants. Seeing these sublime animals in their natural habitat is one of the things that will change your perception of the world forever, if only a little bit. Somewhere near Isiolo, maybe in Merille, the asphalt started again, and the rest of the ride to Nairobi, which included crossing the equator in Nanyuki, was quick and without problems.

While in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi, we stayed at a place called Jungle Junction, run by German expat Chris Handschuh. Jungle Junction is a meeting point for overland travelers, and a wonderful place to get to know like-minded people from all parts of the world. It includes a garage where cars and motorcycles are serviced and repaired. It was this garage where I brought my motorcycle after we got into an accident in Tanzania, about which I will write in my next report. For now, I will just say that the accident gave us an additional two weeks in Kenya that we utilized to go on safari. We first went to the Maasai Mara, a large game reserve contiguous with the Serengeti, where we had the opportunity to visit a Maasai village. The Maasai are an ethnic group of semi-nomadic people inhabiting southern Kenya and northern Tanzania. We then moved on to Lake Nakuru in the rift valley of Kenya, which is known for its large number of flamingos. The flamingos are attracted by the lake’s abundance of algae.

Part 1: From Germany to South Africa: The journey begins
Part 2: A millennium of Islamic scholarship, and a revolution yet to be completed
Part 3: Stories of a time long gone, and Egyptian khichuri
Part 4: An oasis of hospitality in the searing heat of the Nubian Desert
Part 5: The Simien Mountains, and the first hijra in Islam
Part 6: Stranded in the Kenyan desert, and a visit to the land of the Maasai
Part 7: “Welcome to Africa!”
Part 8: Victoria Falls, and free-roaming lions in Botswana
Part 9: South Africa: The Rainbow Nation
Summary: My Germany to South Africa Motorcycle Expedition 2011

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