You are currently browsing the daily archive for March 28, 2010.

Route taken: Eldoret, Webuye, Malaba (border crossing), Bugiri, Jinga

Our last few days in Kenya. We left Nairobi slowly on Thursday; we only needed to get as far as Eldoret to be well placed to cross into Uganda on Sunday. We stopped in Nakuru to get the last of the cheapest fuel. It will be cheaper again when we will cross back into Tanzania again in a few weeks.

An easy journey but the road turned into a warped nightmare towards Eldoret as I had to find the right groove to fit the tyres into, whilst trying to overtake lorries that were going very slowly uphill. It was like placing a record needle on a piece of vinyl. If you missed the groove they would slip off.

We had heard good things about Naiberi camp so we headed straight there. Possibly the best site we have stayed at on the whole trip. It proudly had a plaque outside the reception that said ‘ Bill Gates had stayed here whilst in Kenya’.

We were given a spot to drive into which gave us access to a bandas (a traditional hut). This was open on all sides but would keep us dry from the rain and allowed us to use the giant BBQ and benches for cooking and eating.

And the rains came! Four inches in just over and hour. This fits into the pattern that has been lovely in the day, and then rain in the night. We half expected it, but there wasn’t any thunder this time to announce its arrival! We got under the bandas and started cooking. We had bought some nice marinated steak in Nairobi.

An overland truck arrived that had to journey in the torrential rain and along the warped road. The occupants didn’t look very happy when they arrived and quickly passed us on their way to the bar!

On Saturday morning we got introduced to the crazy owner, Raj, a Sikh man who’s family have been in western Kenya for generations (we didn’t give him the blog address!) He was dressed in a safari outfit and had a mullet haircut. He also wore modern wraparound sunglasses. It was quite a look! He latched onto us as soon as he saw us, asking us about the Landcruiser and where we had come from. He was really helpful and insisted on showing us to anywhere if we needed any help. We said we needed a few things so we headed to his factory first, Ken-Knit a large clothing factory that supplies high quality jerseys and blankets to the army and hotels in Kenya.

He said he was meeting some friends for lunch, so he made a call to order another chicken and asked us to join him. We got our tyre sorted. It had been going down slowly over the last week, so we got him to show us to a tyre repairer to sort out the leak. With that sorted, we met him again to go for lunch.

We went to the base of the Western Kenya Motor Club. It had seen better days but was still a good meeting place for his Sikh friends who all own businesses in Eldoret. We had amazing dry chicken covered in many different spices which came with a spinach type dish that was made from radish leaves. They all came here to eat this dish once a week.

After lunch we went off to see Eldoret’s one and only quirky ‘must see’ sights -a cheese factory! The Doinyo Lessos Creameries cheese factory produces over 30 different types of cheese. Kenyan’s don’t really eat cheese, so most of the production goes to hotels in Kenya from what I could tell. We had a wander around with one of the employees and after got to sample some of the different cheeses.

We started with the cheddar, which was pretty good. The rest of the samples we tried were very rubbery! I’ve lost my appetitie for cheese on this trip. I thought I would be craving some. Then they hit us with the blue stilton – even that didn’t do it for me! We had to make a small order before we left, so Bun bought some cheese, and I got some yoghurt and milk. I quickly gave one of those away when a street kid stopped us after we left.

We met Raj again back at Naiberi. He had arranged for us to join him at his house and eat some qat (used throughout east Africa and in Yemen, it is a mild stimulant, but can be addictive when eaten consistently. It pre-dates coffee and is known by different names in Ethiopia, Kenya and the Arab peninsula. Most of East Africa chew the leaves. In Kenya they chew the stem and it is known as mirra). In Djibouti they eat in in parliament! When I was in Djibouti five years ago, the whole of the captial was nearly empty as everyone was at home eating the stuff.

We got introuced to his partner Maggi, a Kenyan from Nairobi who was in Eldoret for the weekend and the twelve dogs! We sat and watched a film and chewed the qat. We had to eat it with bubble gum as the stems are so bitter. We stripped the leaves of the outer stem and chewed it in our mouths until the flavour had gone and then started again. We packed our way through the bubblegum and we drank it with coffee made with ginger and honey!

We kept asking each other if we could feel anything, but it was so mild. It seemed hardly worth the labour eating it. When we stood up we got a hit from it.

We finished the night by drinking at his bar whilst Raj kept telling naff jokes and kept interupting his partner Maggi, who was chatting to Bun. For some reason he dressed in combat pants and Naiberi camp army style sweater that was made at his factory. He looked like he was ready for combat. We made our escape around midnight!

Sunday morning, we knew we should head to the Uganda border. As we were about to leave we bumped into Raj who mentioned that there was a lunch function that we would be welcome to attend. He tried to make us stay one more night but we said we needed to head on. We said many thanks for his kindness and help and he responded by saying ‘thank you for your company’. He was an interesting character. It’s easy to joke but he was extremly friendly and generous. For some reason we received some special treatment from him as soon as he saw us.

Two hours later we were at the border. We avoided the trench size pot-holes on the road leading to the border. Easy enough through the border and we were on our way to Jinga. We thought Kenya was green but Uganda is incredible. We are looking forward to exploring Uganda if the rains hold off.

We made good time to Jinga. We got a glimpse of Lake Victoria as we came down the hill into Jinga and them crossed a bridge over the White Nile and headed north on the west side of the river to follow it to ‘the Haven’. It has a great spot overlooking the first rapids on the White Nile.

Jinga has some of the best white-water rafting in the world here. We are going to sort out a day trip on Monday.

There is news lately coming out of the Democratic Republic of Congo that the northern Ugandan group, the Lord’s Resistance Army were responsible for the massacre of at least 321 people last December. The reports have been verified by the Red Cross and Human Rights Watch. They have also spread into areas of Sudan. It remains one of Africa’s longest conflicts.

Jinga –

March 2010