Friday, September 25, 2009

19th Sept – Mombasa

The roads from Navaisha through Nairobi to Mombasa were still being built. Nairobi was slow with a lot of traffic circles being manned by cops. The city itself looked very modern with fancy glassed high-rise buildings and more still in the process of being constructed. But after that the roads were particullaly bad as for each few kilo’s of new roads there was detour on really rough stuff whilst bridges and causeways were being constructed. These detour’s soured the whole trip. We had one overnight stop at Tsavo Inn, an old hotel – very colonial – but pleasant rooms and good food. What pissed me off was that locals pay 3000 K shillings for B&B and we have to pay $90 – that’s about 7200 KS. The next day we arrived at the "Royal Reserve Beach Club Hotel", just north of Mombasa at a place by the sea called Kikambala. A very fancy place indeed, with lots of things happening all the time. We had supper one evening to a local traditional dance group and we were even dragged in to join them on stage just for some embarrassing fun. It was strange to hear the Hotels disc jockey was playing gospel music all through super. I don’t think it was quite what the patrons had in mind by the bewildered looks of some of their faces but no- one complained and some it seemed enjoyed it. We met up with some South Africans, again, and often joined them at meal times or just chatting in the pool, which was often as it was very hot being not far from the equator. Colleen really loved it here – just up her ally. Tomorrow we go into the centre of Mombasa to have the Prado serviced having done 15000k’s since it’s last one. The staff wanted to wash the Prado – as by now it really looked worse for wear because all the accumulated mud and dust, but we told them to leave it alone as we wanted it to look like we’ve done a serious safari trip when we get home. However the manager did not want dirty looking vehicles at the entrance to their fancy resort and commanded them to wash it without us knowing. We were surprised when we saw it – and also a bit pissed off because maybe they rubbed the dirt over the paintwork and damaged the surface. We have been through a fair amount of heavy rain and that didn’t get the dirt off so only with rubbing could they get it clean. Anyway too late to cry over spilt milk. Gordon will have to sort it out when we get back home. There’s already a few extra scratches accumulated since we left, what with the collision with the taxi in Lusaka and a number of flying stones kicked up at us including a chipped windscreen, and rear bumper knock’s from the trailer hitch, all which is expected on a trip like this. I’ve been so laid back that I completed Riaan Manser’s biography "Around Africa on a Bicycle". This is a very inspiring book – not that I want to ride a bicycle – but that one can actually turn their dreams into reality. So the moral is – don’t stop dreaming.
Thursday I go on a double dive trip to the marine reserve which should be interesting as there’s a good chance of seeing a whale shark amongst other things. On Saturday we drive to Lamu +- 320k’s north from here and park the Prado and go by ferry over to Lamu Island for a few days. Lamu is a very old world place a bit like the old Lisbon, very narrow streets with the buildings on each side nearly touching each other . I think this will be the last time we spoil ourselves as its time to start thinking about going south to HOME!!!!.
I think we will leave by Tuesday from Lamu and start heading to Malawi, arriving there on about the 3rd October.

16th Sept = Navaisha

We stayed at Fishermans Camp on Lake Navaisha. It's a very big Camp with a lot of big old Acacia trees with lots of grass to park on. We stayed 2 nights, the first night we got friendly with the manager and his wife - Brendan and Val, at the restaurant. She's Kenyan, English and he is Australian born ex. We all got fairly trashed that evening. After lots of coffee the next morning we cleaned up the trailer and sorted our clothing and bed linen because this was going to be the last night we were going to camp for about 10 days as we are going to our time share week in Mombasa, and then probably on to Lamu Island which I hear is much better than Zanzibar and far less touristy and much cheaper, which of course suits us nicely. The bird life here at Fishermans is the best so far. Fish eagles, Oriol's by the dozen, hoopoes, wood pecker and chiselling away all day, just to name a few.
It has just recently started to rain in Navaisha and was lush and green but the rest of the Rift Valley and throughout Kenya is exceptionally dry. They are having a serious drought. We saw quite a few (freshly) dead zebra on the side of the road after leaving Lake Bogoria, apparently because of starvation. The goats were fat, but most of the cattle were there showing all ribs from the lack of good grazing, and this seemed to be the norm throughout Kenya, very sad indeed.

14th Sept – Lake Baringo and Bogoria.

The drive from Eldoret over and into the Rift Valley is remarkable. I think our highest point we were at was 2700 metres above see level, consider this when Gauteng and Table mountain top is about 1250 Metres. We stayed at Roberts Camp on Lake Baringo. I was not very impressed, but the bird life seemed good. There was also a big croc on the lake edge about 20 metres in front of us as well as some hippo’s. Although extremely hot I decided against going for a swim, He He. We met an ex South African and his Ausie wife who have been sailing for some months from Dubai (After living in Dubai for the last 8 years) to Seychelles, then decided they had enough of that and are now travelling Southern Africa before leaving to emigrate to Perth in Aus. They = Robert and Kate and 3 kids came over and joined us for a braai. We overdid it a bit that night and took awhile to get moving the next morning to Lake Bogoria which was only about 70 K’s away. But 70k’s can take 3 hours as we found out.
Well let me start by saying that I have never seen or imagined ever seeing SOOoooo many flamingos in my life. Millions upon millions. The lake is probably about 20k’s long and all the way were these hot water springs with boiling hot water/steam shooting out. I put my finger in the water and found out how hot it was – ouch. This would then run into the lake and cause algae to grow rapidly and all the flamingos would be at the lake edge eating this algae. We stayed at Fig Tree Camp, on the water, which is at the end of the lake and all the way were millions upon millions of flamingos. Incredible. I’m going back there one day, this must be one of the best high lights of our trip. A big Wow factor here. Fig Tree is really bush camping but at least they have a beautiful stream running at the end of the camp right next to us and there is a concreted bath about a 50 meter walk up the hill through these humongous fig trees. Very romantic, He he he as we found out. The air was 36 Degrees at 6 that night, is was so hot that the stream (and not steam) bath was very welcome. That night we sweated the whole night, just far too hot for us.
We woke up in the morning about 7 am only to see the most spectacular sight – it seemed that all the entire population of flamingos came to our side of the lake – right there in front of us. Absolutely marvellous.

13th Sept - Eldoret

We landed up staying in Kampala = Red Chili camp – for 3 nights due to the favt that there was a "Political Riot" and 10 people died. At the same time all shops and factories were closed down and my springs were also locked inside one of these factories. However the Riots seem to subside by Saterday morning and I was very relieved when the mechanic turned up with my springs. I was so excited with helping him to fit then that I forgot to watch the rugby – NZ vs SA – which apparently we won. We then left for Jinja even though it was only 1½ hours drive – Kampala was now driving me crazy. This time we stayed at Eden Camp just up from Speke camp (which was where we stayed previously – on the rapids) but the Ablutions were not as atrocious as Speke’s.
Then on Sunday we crossed into Kenya and stayed at Naiberi Camp in Eldoret. This is probably one of the best laid out camps we have seen or stayed at. It’s a fairly new camp +- 4 years, but spectacular. I’ll defiantly recommend this camp especially if you have children with you. It’s on a river/stream has a massive swimming pool for the kids, a tunnel walk to go down to the pool or the bar/lounge/dinning room. This area feels like you are in a group of big caves in the evening, the ambiance is fantastic. We had like a special camping bay for us with our own lean-to kitchen/dining area, Very private.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

6th Sept Entebee - Cindy goes home

So this morning we dropped Cindy at the airport at 6:30 to fly home, We were of course rather sad, as we had a wonderful time enjoying her company, enthusiasm, and as a travelling companion for the last 2 weeks. When we got back to the camp, the heavens opened up and it rained, with thunder and lightening - ALL day.
The next morning we left for Murchison Falls Park., we had a great road all the way until the beginning of the park where it had just rained and we had wet red mud all over the Prado and the trailer. This part of the trip was bad. On the way we saw “Long horned” cattle. We also noticed that the East African baboons look much more furry than our “Chagma” local cape baboon. We stayed at Red Chilli (also same company as Red Chilli in Kampala.) The next day we discovered yet another NEW leaf spring on the trailer was broken. However we still went on the most fabulous boat ride for 3 hours up to the falls, on the “Nile River”. There was a fantastic amount of game all the way along the river. Buffalo were bathing in the water right next to the Hippo’s, crocs and warthogs in the back ground. In the pic you will see this giant Nile crocodile’s head is the same size as the Hippo’s head.
We spent 2 nights wonderful there, amazing bird life as well. We returned to Kampala the next day to have another spring fitted to the trailer, We found out that the mechanic’s assistant had “Graunched” the shakel up so tight that it could not move and hence the extra strain on the leaf spring caused it to brake.
Tomorrow we hope to head over to Kenya with our first stop at Lake Baringo (NW Nairobi) where apparently the Flamingos have been arriving in the millions. After that to Mombassa

Friday, September 4, 2009

3rd Sept – Kampala

We had a short trip from Jinja to Kampala, 68k’s with good roads. Staying at “Red Chilli” – great place to stay at, lots of action. Its very well known. So I found a local mechanic and we stripped out the springs, the right hand trailer main leaf was broken on off on the shackle end and the bottom load blade was broken in two. I remember hitting a pot hole about 1,2m in diameter at about 80kph, just popped out of nowhere. On these East African roads, busses, Trucks and cars are continuously weaving from side to side avoiding pots holes and even going off the roads to avoid speed humps etc. We had supper at a small restaurant next to the camp with a German/Spanish ex south African born guy called Roth, who has been travelling for 3½ years. A very entertaining evening. Cindy went jolling with the youngsters to Bubbles club in town, and got home about 2am. Must have been a good evening. We met a guy from Switzerland travelling through Africa on a BMW bike, and now on his way back to Europe up the east coast, his name is Hans and met Hannelie and Jean in Spain and in Ghana. He sends his regards to the Vissers. Tomorrow we are going to Entebbe to drop Cindy at the airport on Sunday morning crackers – with or without the trailer. Then we come back to collect the trailer if all is well and go up to Murchison falls, NW Uganda.

1st Sept– Uganda - Jinja.

After a 2 hour crossing into Uganda we had a beautiful road to Jinja. We stayed 9 k’s out of Jinja at bujagali falls – rapids to be exact, absolutely the most spectacular view to camp on. We were right on the river, with roaring rapids all around us. The camp site “Speke” was really run down, and I wondered why. So much they could do with this place the ablutions was disgusting – really cr@p. Filthy dirty and all the plumbing and sanitary is broken. I made enquiries only to find out that they are building a Hydro electric dam a Kilometre down stream and the whole area will be flooded in about 4 years. Cindy went white water rafting and had a fantastic time and met some new friends. Colleen and I went on a boat trip and tour. We were supposed to go fishing but the Boat owner didn’t have proper bait. They catch mainly Tilapia, which we had for supper the previous night at the camps restaurant, it was good and cooked nicely, not over done like most places. We stayed 2 nights there, fantastic , except the health risk when having to shower, even with my crocs on.

30th August - Maasai Mara

We left Musoma to Sirari border post, Was easy peasy but then we hit the worst crappiest road or “No Road” for 150 k’s to Maasai Mara. At this stage all held together in one piece. Maasai Mara was not what we were expecting. Ok so they have the world renowned Wildebees migration crossing, We missed this by 3 days, however because the weather pattern has changed the Mara was low, and therefore not as many drowning as normal, funny they say the crocs don’t eat the drowned animals, they want to kill there own food. Most of the animals are drowned because the mass of them jumping and being pushed under by the mass. However the masses are much less these days only and couple hundred thousand at a time. We saw a number of big very big fat crocs and all the spoor of the wildebees and a number of carcases but not at the waters edge mostly I think they died from injuries sustained at the crossing of were attacked by lions when they came out of the Mara . Other than that if you imagine very large herds of cattle on a farm and replace the cattle with wildebees then that’s the Maasai Mara for you. Just large very large herds og wildebees cattle. The public campsite at $25 per head was in a dense bushy area but absolutely no facilities, not even a tap. So nor more Maasai mara for us. Then we left the Mara and went to Kericho and camped at the Tea Plantation Hotel, again the “No Roads” were so bad that we broke the trailers main spring blade. But we kept going all the way to Uganda. Buy now the trailer shock’s wers useless and the plastic sleeve cover had actually melted and all the oil bled out.

27th August - Serengeti

We stayed at our pre-booked Tented camp “Wild Frontiers” camp - Makoma 2. Awesome loads of lions, cheetah Ellies, Giraffe, buffaloes, but again no Leopard. We took a look at the Seronera public camp sites( I think there are 4 camps) because we had read a lot of articles and were told of absolutely diabolical ablutions in Serengeti as a whole. We were pleasantly surprised as they were clean and neat, and hence the reason we stayed in the Tented camp at huge expense. The ablution blocks did not look old either, so maybe they have cleaned up there act a bit. Then we left to go to Maasai Mara in Kenya via Musoma. We camped on the beach on Lake Victoria at Tembo Hotel and Camp. It was hot and Colleen and I decided to take a swim. The water was clear but all the debris on the floor was distasteful, like tins and bottles left by the fishermen and others so we gave up on that one, but the setting was great with a stunning sunset. We were the only campers next to the Hotel – no overland back packers to bother us.

25th August - Kudu Camp – Ngorongoro

We are now in Kudu Camp Park – Karatu, also very pretty with a gr8 bar and pretty gardens. This is because tomorrow we go into the Ngorongoro Crater and will stay there one night at Simba Camp A on the rim of the crater, and as Tanzanian Park fees are hellishly expensive we need to use up the 24 hour permit to our best advantage, this means going into the park at 11 am, drive to the camp, drop off the trailer, pick up out compulsory guide which is included in the $200 crater fees and spend the next 6 hours in the crater before coming out again the camp on the rim. Well to say the least the Crater is absolutely wonderful. We saw all, and I mean ALL, except leopard. Lots of lazy fat Lions lying belly up. Their was a hungry looking Cheetah waiting to catch it’s supper when it started to walk it had a very bad limp in it’s hind leg. Obviously it had been injured and hence the reason it looked hungry is it could not hunt. It is like a huge plain with game everywhere in huge quantities, Also their was water – although its the dry season -the lake is fed by a spring. The contrast from the rim down into the crater is vast, freezing cold on the rim at 2360m and very misty with a dense forest leading up the top. The crater is quite warm and dry, only one section has a forest which is beautiful and full of ellies and giraffe. Apparently it’s even nicer in the wet season as from November onwards the whole centre of the crater is filled up with millions of Pink Flamingoes. There were some there now but only a few thousand. One thing was that you got herds of cattle grazing amounst the wild game and the lions don’t go near the Maasai, apparently the smell of them and also their brightly coloured blankets scare the lions away. Amazing that Wild life and domesticated animals can live together in harmony. I wish people could do the same.

24th August - Arusha Town

We left Pangani and arrived in Arusha, I must say it’s a lovely lush city, very pretty with lots and lots of gardens and parks. I think you could buy anything you wanted here – it’s a great shopping centre. We managed to eventually find the Wild Frontiers Office to confirm our booking to the Tented Camp Lodge in the Serengeti. This will be the first accommodation that we had had in 5 weeks other than camping. The guys there were fantastic with helping us to plan the next week of our trip. We then left and drove 25k’s to Snake Park Camp via the Zain Cell provider and bought a local sim card. We found that the use of the Sat Phone that Adolf lent us a bit restricting as the connections that we have had so far (about 25mins) are of very poor quality and we have to keep repeating ourselves with the signal coming and going.
Besides the Camp having a snake park – which we did not go and see ­-they also have some camels – not quite sure what they do with them, but better still they have a gr8 pub.
I found the owner of Snake Park Camp also has a workshop that repairs cruisers and he has also rebuilt 2 of them. One is a mid 60 FJ45 with 1F motor and the other is a “FJ43” see the pics, I could not establish the year model, but have posted some pics here. Someone please tell Adolf about the 43.

23rd August – Dar to Pangani Camp

The ferry was rather quick and after drawing more $$$ from the ATM we were on our way to Snake Park Camp. It was more suited to backpackers but as it was only one night it had to do. I must say that the Police stops are everywhere, I would say about ever 20 k’s, but they are very great and are just inquisitive to know who we are and where we are going and a friendly “Welcome to Tanzania” a hand shake and we are off again to the next stop. I have never known a country with so many Speed Bumps, drives you crazy!!!! This was a lovely camp site on the river (Pangani) and again we had the place to our selves. By now Colleen and Cindy were really enjoying themselves. We passed plantation after plantation of Sisal plants. They had a jetty on the river and a chair that looked like a “long drop” at the end. I was about to try if when the girls could me in the act.

23th August – Dar es Salaam Battery problems

Leaving this camp was difficult as we had made good friends here at Sunrise Beach camp in Dar es Salaam and was a gr8 place to unwind. However we left and Headed through the traffic to the ferry crossing. This is the first time we have taken the Prado and trailer on the ferry, previously we did the 39k circular stretch which took over an hour, but saying that one can also wait an hour of more to cross with the ferry. The reason why we had to go in to town centre today – Sunday is because I discovered that the Prado’s main engine battery was playing up over the last week as 2 cells were dead. Being Sunday the main suppliers were closed so had to use a back yard dealer, suspect, but we had little choice. It was not the exact same battery but from a 79 series cruiser – the terminals are on the opposite sides, however a bit of juggling around with the cables and it fitted. By now it was 11am and we still had 380 k’s to go to our next stop.