Day 145: Kisii to Migori

Date: 08.03.17
Blog entry date: 08.03.17
Distance: 72km
Odometer: 7 562km
Avg speed: 18.5km/hr
Time on bike: 3h52min
Problems: None
Flat tyre counter: 3
Max speed of tour : 72.1km/hr (Day 142)
Longest day: 215km (Day 48)

Campimg at the Migori Maranatha Mission.

Today was our last full day cycling in Kenya! We are 20km from the Tanzania border and plan to enter Tanzania tomorrow and follow Lake Victoria around the south into Rwanda.

We started after a nice breakfast at the hotel. The route was beautiful but remained hilly the whole day. We are however loosing altitude with Migori at around 1400m. We can feel it is becoming a bit warmer as we descend.

We saw some sugar cane plantations along the way and the scenery still looks very green.

Today we reached 7500km and less than 1000km remain until Kigali. These small milestones might not seem like much, but help us with motivation.

Thanks for all the support and prayers. We needed all of it in Kenya.

Willem & Eva

Sugar cane plantations along route.

Beautiful scenery.

Typical road today. Not in bad condition, but no shoulder for us.

I took this picture while cycling through one of the towns….. organised chaos πŸ˜‚

Motorbikes (boda-boda) are used throughout Kenya and transports anything from passengers to animals and corn.

Day 144: Kericho to Kisii

Date: 07.03.17
Blog entry date: 07.03.17
Distance: 105km
Odometer: 7 490km
Avg speed: 20km/hr
Time on bike: 5h13min
Problems: None
Flat tyre counter: 3
Max speed of tour : 72.1km/hr (Day 142)
Longest day: 215km (Day 48)

Staying at Ufanisi Resort.

On Kenya-hill # 5199 I’m just about to go into my own little cycling-bubble. That place between comfort and pain where the body continues while the mind is elsewhere, numbing the effort to keep going. Suddenly 1000 shouts crashes through my concious, “hey mzungu!, hey mzungu!”. Whistling and laughing normally follows and remind me of the reality. We’re on yet another Kenyan hill and there is no mental escape from the effort required or from the attention received. Very dramatic, but true πŸ˜†

Today we continued through the Kenyan highlands. We moved out of the large tea-fields and saw maize and other crops. Very much hill country with villages scattered all throughout. The scenery was beautiful and at least the traffic volumes lower. 

Arriving in Kisii we stopped to look at the map. Some students approached and started a conversation. We enquired about accommodation and they recommended Ufanisi. Later, asking directions in town a local quickly escorted us all the way on his motorbike (locally known as a boda-boda). Very kind of him!

We are very glad to have reached Kisii. I think this was the only day we managed more than 100km in Kenya. This puts us less than 100km from Tanzania’s border and hopefully flatter territory, less dense populated.

Thanks for following. 

Willem & Eva

Typical scene along route today.

Keroka, it felt to us like organised chaos 😁

While Eva was in the shop, I put my phone on “selfie” mode and snapped this picture of the kids staring at us. This was about 5mins after our arrival and the hype already subsided somewhat.

Day 143: Kedowa to Kericho

Date: 06.03.17
Blog entry date: 06.03.17
Distance: 40km
Odometer: 7 386km
Avg speed: 18km/hr
Time on bike: 2h13min
Problems: None
Flat tyre counter: 3
Max speed of tour : 72.1km/hr (Day 142)
Longest day: 215km (Day 48)

Camping at the Tea Hotel in town.

With a name like “Tea Hotel” it’s no surprise that we cycled past many kilometers of tea fields. Today was probably our most enjoyable cycling in Kenya. Besides the fact that it was a short distance, it was beautiful scenery, little traffic and a good road surface. 

With only 12km to go we stopped at a reataurant on a tea farm. Almost the equivalent of the stunning Cape winelands with its many venues. 

If cycling was like this everyday, it really would feel like a holiday πŸ˜‚.

This is still very much the Kenyan highlands with the farms between 2200m and 2300m asl.

Thanks for following and all your support!

Willem & Eva

Kenyan hill country at around 2200m asl.

Perfect cycling conditions πŸ‘

Tea-fields until the horizon.

Beautiful located restaurant. Here we had a mid-morning tea and food.

More tea fields.

Tea-leaf close-up.

In case you have not seen enough of this.

Reception area of the hotel where we are camping.

Beautiful gardens at the tea-hotel where we camped.

Day 142: Nakuru to Kedowa

Date: 05.03.17
Blog entry date: 05.03.17
Distance: 71km
Odometer: 7 346km
Avg speed: 17.4km/hr
Time on bike: 4h05min
Problems: 25km uphill
Flat tyre counter: 3
Max speed of tour : 72.1km/hr (Day 142)
Longest day: 215km (Day 48)

Camping on church grounds in town.

I can understand why Kenyans are renowned long distance runners. It seems that most of the country is above 2000m. Growing up at this altitude you probably get lungs the size of airballoons. Interesting, Kenya does have various high altitude training centres, two of them at Nyahururu and Eldoret (or just cycle through the west of Kenya, that will also do the trick πŸ˜‚).

Today we climbed all the way up to 2550m again with a total of 1000m ascend. The longest hill of our tour was today. We climbed 600m non-stop over 25km (breathing noxious funes every so often). At least the last 15km was downhill again into Kedowa. 

We asked permission to camp at a local church as the town is very small. The pastor was very friendly and had no problem.

Unfortunately we had to go back onto one of the main roads today and it was very unpleasant cycling due to the traffic.  The road further south should however be more quiet, looking forward.

As I’m writing this a bunch of kids are observing our every move, trying to get our attention….. now we know what animals in the zoo feel  like πŸ˜‚. As we sat in the shade next to a building, we moved to the other side to try and avoid the kids, only for them to walk all around the property to keep staring and shouting at us. All the attention becomes very tiring. Even to ignore them takes concentration 😨.

Slowly but surely we are getting closer to the Tanzanian border (a little more than 200km remain in Kenya). To get through Kenya will be a huge milestone for us, as this has been the toughest of all the countries for three reasons. These are in order of difficulty: 

  1. traffic
  2. people
  3. hills 

(Eva arrange these in a different order 😁 so it’s open for debate).

Thanks for following.

Willem & Eva

The church building where we camped. We pitched the tent inside the building to try and avoid attention.

The view around the church ground. At one stage some cattle came grazing here.

 

For obvious reasons we do not stop and take poctures of traffic, but Eva got this one showing trucks along the way. Some of them emit large black clouds of gas. It feels like sufficating while cycling uphill 😨

Day 141: Nyahururu to Nakuru

Date: 04.03.17
Blog entry date: 05.03.17
Distance: 69km
Odometer: 7 275km
Avg speed: 21.6km/hr
Time on bike: 3h12min
Problems: None
Flat tyre counter: 3
Max speed of tour : 67.8km/hr (Day 136)
Longest day: 215km (Day 48)

Camping at a church in town.

At almost 2400m asl, departing Nyahururu we did not have much climbing before the first downhill. While still at a high altitude we arived at a view point over the rift valley, an impressive scene! We took it all in, saving it in the memory bank and then followed one of the best downhills of our tour. 

We were now descending into the rift valley, but just to climb out the other side again. While working hard on the hills, we crossed the equator for the 4th time (signage present on only 3 occassions). Now we moved back into the southern hemisphere for good, another small milestone 😁.

 On top of the plataue again we saw a tea-house and stopped for tea, pan-cakes and roast potatoes. With full belly’s it was then mostly downhill into Nakuru at 1850m. 

Nakuru is a big town with a feeling of chaos around it. While looking for a camp site we met our 2nd touring cyclists of the trip. Two South-African students who recently started in Nairobi, on their way to Rwanda. We ended up camping together after they got permission to use the grounds at a local church. 

Always nice to meet other travellers, bonus that they’re South-African πŸ‘. They use the basic but robust Quebeka Bufallo bicycles with single speed. Suits their student budget and this is typically what locals here use for cycling, i.e. easy to fix locally. Their idea is using the bicycles as auxilliary transport while taking lifts if they want to cover large distances.

The scenery today was beautiful and the road not very busy, the way we like it 😁. 

Thanks for following. 

Willem & Eva

At a view point over the rift valley.

The downhill into the valley was the best of our tour so far. The catch is that we had to pedal out the other side again πŸ˜“

Crossing the equator for the 4th and final time, back into the soithern hemisphere for good (signage on only 3 occassions).

Tea and pancakes in this beautiful garden was a treat.

Surprised to meet Samuel and Rueben in Nakuru. Sam is showing me their route from Nairobi.

The church ground where we camped. We were surprised when the pastor started negotiating a price with us.

Day 139 & 140: Nanyuki to Nyahururu

Date: 02.03.17 & 03.03.17
Blog entry date: 03.03.17
Distance: A slow 98km of which 74km bad gravel
Odometer: 7 205km
Avg speed: 13.2km/hr
Time on bike: 7h21min
Problems: Bad gravel
Flat tyre counter: 3
Max speed of tour : 67.8km/hr (Day 136)
Longest day: 215km (Day 48)

Camping at Thompson’s Falls resort back at 2365m asl. Big grass area, ablutions could be better, but not too bad.

We’ve been dreading the road from Nanyuki to Nyahururu. Our map shows this as tar, but we later found out it is bad gravel. The alternative includes an 80km detour with 1700m vertical climbing, so we’ve braced ourselves and decided to do it.

We knew it was going to be a long slow day due to the road conditions. Early morning my stomache was at it again. Seems I have not complety shaken the bug. Momentarily we were uncertain how to proceed with the day, but eventually decided to go. Early-on I had to visit the bush-toilet, but then things were fine.

The first km’s were tar and we cycled past a huge British army base. We believe this is the same area they used as the POW camp during the 2nd WW (as featured in “No picnic on Mt Kenya“). In some spheres of Kenya there is unhappiness about the continued British military presence. 

Soon after the gravel started. The surface varies between hard rutted soil with a lot of stones, massive rock plates and loose gravel. Occasionally 2 tracks are separated by a large median so that only high clearance vehicles will manage it. Sometimes stones are locked into the surface, sometimes strewn over the tracks, sometimes covering the whole road in a thick layer. I imagine this is what happens to a gravel road when no maintenance is done. At least we did not have sand, and sometimes another track in better condition ran parallel to the road. We assume this was started by the locals. 

In spite of the terrible road condition, we were very happy to be on a quiet road, the first in Kenya. It felt remote and nature-like. We’d rather have this, than the tarmac from Nairobi to Meru with all its traffic and villages.

We saw wild zebra and single humped camels (called Dromedar, as Eva educated me 😁). The environment was however very dry with only stumps of grass remaining as feed for the poor animals.

We persevered and cycled patiently until we reached tar again. Here we crossed the equator for the second time and we were in much better pshycological condition than on the first occassion πŸ˜‚. A local soon grabbed us and offered to demonstrate the Coriolis Effect. Using a bucket of water and a match-stick we first stepped into the northern hemisphere. While the water drained the floating match clearly moved clockwise. In the southern hemisphere anti-clockwise and on the equator it was laying still. 

After our science lesson we pedalled the last 15km to Nyahururu. Here we take a rest day as I need to do some bike maintenance. 

Thanks for following. 

Willem & Eva

For a few km’s we could cycle om a track parallel to the road.

We saw some zebra. I do’nt know what they’re eating as it was very dry!

We managed to find a little shade to take a break.


We had some visitors here😁

I’m told single humped camels are called Dromedar.

Like many parts in Africa, Kenya is experiencing a severe drought.

Crossing the equator for the 2nd time.

Days 136 to 138: Kisima farm to Nanyuki

Date: 27.02.17 to 01.03.17
Blog entry date: 01.03.17
Distance: A fast 46km
Odometer: 7 108km
Avg speed: 25.9km/hr
Time on bike: 1h46min
Problems: None
Flat tyre counter: 3
Max speed of tour : 67.8km/hr (Day 136)
Longest day: 215km (Day 48)

Staying in Beisa guest house, until Eva witnessed the slaughtering of chickens right next to our room. Then we moved to the Sportmansarms hotel.

All the hard work of the previous days finally paid off as we had a day of mostly downhill cycling. We started with another short climb and reached the highest point of our tour (by bicycle) at 2585m. Then it was mostly downhill all the way to Nanyuki.

Before this joy-ride to Nanyuki the stats tell how tough it has been. From Embu to Kisima farm is about 135km with approximately 3100m of climbing. Add to that high traffic volumes and over-enthusiastic residents cheering/jeering us along to complete the picture.

Despite the short and easy ride I did not feel good. Turns out I had a stomache bug wich kept me down for a full day. It is the first time on tour that either of us got sick. Feeling better today and hope to head off again tomorrow. Eva keeps on telling me I need to eat something, guess I look a bit skinny, the perfect cycling physique πŸ˜‚ Feels like were getting a bit stuck here in Kenya but the conditions have been tough.

Willem & Eva

Day 135: Meru to Kisima Farm Camp

Date: 26.02.17
Blog entry date: 26.02.17
Distance: A difficult 35km
Odometer: 7 062km
Avg speed: 11.8km/hr
Time on bike: 2h59min
Problems: Hills
Flat tyre counter: 3
Max speed of tour : 66.8km/hr (Day 88)
Longest day: 215km (Day 48)

Camping at Kisima farm. Not an official camp site, but we found it through the “iOverlander” app. There is a farm shop and they are super friendly. They immediately allowed us to camp on the grass next to the shop, at no cost. They also serve chips and good coffee.

This was a roller-coaster day for various reasons.

We started in Meru at 1600m and we camp tonight at 2550m, on the lower slopes of Mt Kenya.

Eva was not feeling too good, but still managed the tough hills. The plan was to go to Nanyuki, but we decided to make it a short day and camp at Kisima.

Upon arrival we were feeling a bit down, but then things started to change. Just as we arrived, a complete stranger walks up to us and orders us each a large plate of chips and cold water. A german who did a few weeks tour in Australia, he immediately understood what we are going through. He left shortly afterwards without introducing himself better, just pure kindness to strangers, awesome!

The farm shop was also a great surprise with many interesting curios for sale, Eva was very happy πŸ‘πŸ˜. 

We were just about to setup camp when a woman arrives and started talking to us about their visit to a rhino sanctuary. I’m aware that at some point the very last Northern White Rhinos were located to a sanctuary in Kenya.

 This is a sub-specie of the southern white rhino and there are literally only a handful (it might only be 2 or 3) of them left in the world due to poaching. The book by Anthony Lawrence (of Thula-Thula in KZN), “The last rhinos’s” tells the story of his attempt to save the last Northern Whites living in the wild at the time, in north-east DRC. A fascinating story. His brave attempt largely failed due to complex reasons that involve the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) active in that area, at the time. 

Sadly, now there are none of them left in the wild. In a last desparate attempt to try and save the gene pool the very last Northern Whites were relocated from a zoo in the Czech Republic to a location in Kenya. Reason being they rarely breed in captivity and have a better chance to reproduce in their natural environment. Needless to say, they are under 24/7 guard by heavily armed security.

I was trying to understand if they had the privilege to visit this sanctuary. She shouted to her husband asking the question. To our amazement, there stands Charley Boorman, the famous British presenter, known to us through a video production called “Long way down“. This documents his and Ewan McGregor’s motorbike journey from Scotland to Cape Town. In fact we watched this as part of our own preparation for the tour. A really nice guy who was just chatting to us as if the most normal thing in the world. We really enjoyed this chance meeting.

A day of ups and down, full of surprises, fortunately many of them good ones.

Thanks for following.

Willem & Eva

The road today was beautiful with less traffic and few villages. Unfortunately Eva was not feeling too good.

Beautiful canola fields.

Beautiful wheat fields.

Meeting Charley Boorman. A very friendly encounter. They also took some interest in our tour.

Our camp site at Kisima farm.

Days 133 & 134: Chogoria to Meru

Note: as of 25.02.17 you can find Mt Kenya posts under: 

Menu >> Posts by country >> Kenya >> Mt Kenya

Date: 24.02.17 to 25.02.17
Blog entry date: 24.02.17
Distance: A difficult 47km
Odometer: 7 027km
Avg speed: 13.7km/hr
Time on bike: 3h23min
Problems: Hills & traffic
Flat tyre counter: 3
Max speed of tour : 66.8km/hr (Day 88)
Longest day: 215km (Day 48)

Staying in the Meru Slopes Hotel.

We planned a short day to Meru as we knew it will be very hilly. We got on the bicycles again and after Mt Kenya we were in a positive mindset. 

This changed quickly as the road was terrible! It was very busy and just as hilly. Also, the “mastermind” who designed speedbumps in the shoulder had his way all along this road. For us the cycling in Kenya has so far been the worst and is proving a tough mental challenge, more so than physical. There is no end to traffic and villages along the road.

Today we reached two major milestones, but our mood was a bit dampened due to the cycling conditions. We reached 7000km’s and crossed the equator. Also we stop going north, as from tomorrow our route changes to predominantly west in direction. 

Thanks for the support.

Willem & Eva

7000km’s! We were still trying to be positive 😁

The view at 7000km’s. Do not be fooled by the “quiet” road.

Crossing from south to north.

Days 126 to 132: Mt Kenya

Date: 17.02.17 to 23.02.17

We are safely back in Chogoria after a fantastic and successful time on the mountain. 

I will try to create a separate menu item for all Mt Kenya entries and write a post for each day.

Please be patient as it will take a while to get up to date on the past 7 days. All I can say for now is it was awesome!  Keep an eye on the menu items, Mt Kenya should arrive on this blog anytime soon. 

In the meantime I will keep the cycling updates coming as we plan to get onto the bicycles again from tomorrow. 

Thanks for your patience. 

Willem & Eva

Us with the guide and porters at the start of the hike.