Day 135 Kenya : Baragoi - Timau

Day 135 Kenya

Trip Distance 338 km (210 m) Total Distance 15894 km (9878 m)
Road Condition 80% off road 20% tar  
Time to travel 8 hrs 2.5 hrs  
Timau River Lodge N0 05.135 E37 15.119 KSH6000 (Full board) - A little rundown but with an open fireplace, en suite bathrooms, flushing loos, hot showers and a view of Mt Kenya to wake up to, who could resist?

We set off from Baragoi fairly early in order to make the long haul to Archer's Post - our last off-road driving for this leg of our journey, at least!  We headed in the direction of Barsaloi and after a bit of a detour, and being geographically challenged for about 40 minutes, we eventually managed to find the correct road  a_SG105072 and set on our way - Iain leading, Anja and Jorg following and us taking the rear position in the convoy a_RIMG1575 .  Having had a chat to Adrian we knew that we needed to look out for a fairly major river crossing - the Seya River just beyond Swari and before Wamba.  After any rains, the river bed has sinking sand, he told us, that is treacherous for crossing vehicles.  With this ringing in our ears, we made good time to Barsaloi on the soft sand roads which every now and again were hard enough to make relatively good time.

As we approached Swari, we had our first river crossing.  The Seya lay in front of us.  There had been no rain so the bed was dry but nonetheless the boys went down to check out the surface and plot a path to cross a_RIMG1569.  Once they were happy, they drove across the river bed and easily and safely made it across to the opposite bank.

A little further along, and we reached another river crossing.  This time not so wide but the exist on the opposite side was steep and slippery with dry, fine sand on powdering the rocks.  This time it was my turn.  I checked out the surface and planned a crossing.  Trevor was on the opposite bank videoing all the action.  As I got back in the car, I spotted a local running down the road towards the car and I.  I calmly locked the doors and started off ignoring him banging on my window and shouting at me.  Trevor had seen the man running down the road and had been frantically gesturing and shouting to get me to come across not knowing that I had already seen him.  A tense couple of moments for us both.

I set off across the river bed and Sully took it all in her stride.  Leaving the river bed behind, the steep incline took us both a bit by surprise as the front left tyre lifted.  But with traction control and a bit more accelerator, she transferred power to the right front and climbed gamely up the rocks.  Phew!  We didn't have to be towed by the Land Cruiser..... hehehehehe

We finally reached Wamba and with only 50kms ahead of us to Archer's Post just wanted to get to the main road.  This last 50kms was hell as we encountered the most awful corrugations.  Just wide enough apart that even at 70kph, we couldn't float across them and with the camber of the road sliding away from the centre off to the side, it took Trevor all his strength and balls to keep Sully on the road.  Everything inside the car shook, rattled, squealed, squeaked and rolled as the suspension bore the full brunt of the surface.

At last we reached the main road.  But in Kenya as we already know, roads are named for their importance which is NOT relative to their condition.  A couple of kilometres further ahead we saw, miracle of miracles, a road being prepared for tar!!  We raced towards it and cut across onto to it and it soon turned to a tar surface.  Bliss!  Who could ever complain about driving a tar road - I never, ever will again.  It wasn't to last though as we had to cut back to an unpaved surface - just as corrugated, potholed and badly damaged as before.  This time though just as we were about to cut back to the tar, Willy, Anja and Jorg's Land Cruiser started to wallow.  They managed to hang on a few kilometres further till we'd passed through Archer's Post and we stopped for a check.  The poor thing had a broken suspension mounting on the front right where a previous weld had given way.  Luckily the OME suspension arm was fully in tact. 

Land Rover 1 - Land Cruiser 1

After 1003kms of off-road on all surfaces, ironically it was the dreaded (Moyale-)Marsabit-Isiolo stretch that had caused the failure - a bloody nasty road if ever there was one!

With Archer's Post being rundown, desolate and not a nice place to stop, we all decided to push on with Anja and Jorg leading the way and setting the pace.  After Archer's Post, the road stayed as tar but with some of the worst potholes we've ever seen.  We stopped in at Samburu National Park to see if there was any camping avaiable - yes, but the US$60 EACH for 24hours just for park entrance was MUCH too rich for our tastes.  It was a bit of a shock to discover that this would be a standard rate throughout Kenya for park access.  They will eventually price themselves out of customers if they aren't very, very careful. 

But we finally made it to Isiolo and limped in to stop at an ATM to draw money and for Iain to fuel up.  Iain hadn't manage to find an ATM that would accept his card so he wasn't able to fill up.  With him riding just about on the fumes of his tank, he calculated that he would just about make Timau River Lodge (where we had decided we wanted to stop) and we set off again.  20 kms from Timau Iain was sure that he would run out of petrol so we stopped at a garage, loaned him some money and he filled his tank.  In the meantime, Anja and Jorg carried on heading for the lodge.

As the sun was sinking closer and closer to the horizon, we entered the lodge grounds and parked up to have a look around.  In the car as we were driving towards it, I had said to Trevor that if it was wooden houses with a fireplace and a restaurant, I would be prepared to pay anything to stay. - we were exhausted after a long and tiring day.  We turned the corner and the wooden houses made their appearance. The chimneys were hard to miss as well!!!! Now all I needed to hear was the price.  The manager walked us around and showed us the bungalows.  The one we chose had a front door opening out to a view of Mt Kenya. sigh.  And we could stay there full board for KSH6000 per night for both of us.  Done deal.  We parked the cars and bike outside the bungalow and dragged ourselves off to the bar for a cold beer.  As the fire cracked in the fireplace we ordered supper and managed to stuff ourselves with T-bones steak and chicken curry. Yum!

By the time we got back to the bungalow, the fire was blazing, the bungalow beginning to warm up and all was well in the world.