Left Nairobi, with visa’s finally stamped in passports and safely locked away. The main route to Mombassa quite simply is, the highway to hell, 90% lorries, 10% buses and us, everyone drives like lunatics, this road is definitely not for the faint-hearted (like me)
Relieved to reach Tsavo West, which is technically semi- desert and should be burnt to a crisp at this time of year, however this was not the case and everything was very lush and green.
Arrived at the gate to National park very late, only to be told the only camping was 35 k away in the middle of the park. Off we went,meeting a couple of large bull elephants, who didn’t appreciate our headlights too much. Found Chyulu camp, which turned out to be lovely, no water but nice and wild with only us, a Leopard coughing nearby and some very noisy hyena’s .
Next morning it was raining, but this soon cleared and we set off to explore the park. We weren’t really expecting to see much, as the animals disperse when there is so much food around ,but we were pleasantly surprised to discover what a beautiful and varied place this is, with good roads, lots of signs, always helpful. We saw Dik-Dik’s in huge numbers, common as rabbits, as well as Duikers .
Stopped to have a look at The Shetani Lava Flow, being only a few hundred years old, it’s quite a strange sight. A vast expanse of black lava spreads for about 50 sq kms across the savannah, at the foot of the Chyulu Hills. The last major eruption being around 200 years ago. There are still a few plants growing among the cinders.
Moving on we spotted some beautiful reticulated Giraffes with fantastic detailed markings on our way to Mzima Springs, this again is a weird phenomenom, resulting from the porous volcanic rocks. The springs apparently produce an astounding 250 million litres of fresh water daily, this is then piped to Mombassa several hundred kms away.
Home to Hippo’s, crocs, etc, it also has an unusual underwater viewing chamber, it was interesting to watch all the fish and strange beasties, swimming by through the portholes. We thought it might be a good idea in other parks too.
We had decided to head for the coast , abandoning our plans to stay in Tsavo East, because of the dispersion of animals and also our time limit, here it also very wild and covers a vast area.On our way, travelling through the park though, we did see the famed “Red Elephants”, which are quite extrordinary, not quite pink, but you can spot them from miles away for a change. It was really nice here and Well worth a visit.
Michael was chuffed as we saw some Vulturine Guinea Fowl, which he’s wanted to see since he was a boy………aah………..we’ve since seen masses of course, they have such beautiful markings.
On a sad note though, there are only 18 Black Rhino left in the whole park, which along with Tsavo East, was once Africa’s stronghold for the species, which numbered several thousand, as late as the 1980’s.
Another 100k back on” The Highway to Hell “took us to Voi, not much in this little town, but we did find a good place to camp at “The Red Elephant Lodge”, very quiet as they had no customers, so they let us use the shower in one of their rooms. Lonely Planet had no camping listed, so we were very grateful to find this place.-800 ksh per person.Camping in this area is not that easy, which we found rather odd.
Voi to Diani Beach,had the sat-nav misbehaving, so we took a a scenic,short/long cut,which actually turned out to be quite harsh, but passed through the Shimba hills national reserve, finally arriviving at Diani Beach.
Although we’d been warned it’s somewhat touristy, it was actually fairly deserted, maybe we arrived at just the right time, before the Christmas holidays.
Chris from Jungle Junction kindly offered us the opportunity to stay in a property on Diani Beach,he has ended up as executor to a will, part of which is a lovely beach villa here, with a fantastic pool at the quiet end of the beach, complete, with the shy and rare “Blue monkeys” leaping around on the roof, which are difficult to see everywhere else in Africa. Sadly we only had three days here, before we had to move on. The beach, as you can see from the photo’s isn’t bad! The Indian Ocean and pool are, shall we say pleasantly warm, no hesitation in getting in here, with temperatures averaging 35c. Plenty of diving and snorkelling to be had around here too.
Had a seriously good seafood pig-out on the beach, King prawns, Calamari and crab, all for a snip fantastic location, on the beach,with great service, something of a rarity in Africa. This was to be our Christmas lunch, as we expect to be in Ethiopia on the day itself, most likely with a tin of beans, Although wev’e been told the food is great there.
Kenyan’s everywhere have been celebrating 50 years of independence with 2 day’s public holidays, apart from some rather dodgy TV coverage and the odd party going on, we kept out of it.
We are finding the people here pretty laid- back, hospitable, friendly and helpful, as we have found everywhere, nobody bother’s you, even the police have waved us on at the road blocks but although they might ignore us, there’s still a very high police presence, for instance, being searched before you enter shops and plenty of military with rather large guns in the aisle’s, only to be expected I guess, given recent events.
Left the coast after a nice relaxing break, stayed the night at Hunter’s Lodge, on the main Mombassa to Nairobi road, they let us camp in their gardens, wev’e given up looking for sites and just have to be bold and ask if we can camp in the car-park. We thought Kenya would be awash with camping, but sadly this hasn’t been the case for us.
The following day we by-passed Nairobi on “The Outering Road!”- supposedly a short cut to take us on to Meru, not so as you’d know it, more like an off-road training course, nose to tail through a very muddy, hugely potholed, seriously busy, part of town,plenty of minor shunts, with everyone trying to sell you the usual stuff, Donkey’s,cattle and kids everywhere, absolute bedlam!
Having got past that minor hurdle, joined the A2 a major road with a 100k speed limit- only problem is, the speed bumps and Zebra- crossings every 30 metres, all a bit random, especially given Kenyan driving practises and ending up in complete chaos!!
Arrived safely surprisingly, in a town called Kibuko, no camping here either, but tired and weary, we saw a battered old sign, claiming “Spa and Accomodation”. Neither in fact were true statements and it certainly wasn’t anything like the spa’s we get at home! They let us camp though after fleecing us on the price, but as we were so tired we couldn’t be bothered to argue.
The bar-maid, a buxom wench offered Michael a massage, which he rather cowardly refused ( I thought) She then took a shine to our much cherished box of wine, I let her have a small glass, but she kept coming back for more, so we had to get tough.
Strange men seemed to come and go throughout the night and with no lighting in “The long-drop” toilets, I really couldn’t bring myself to enter….. the bushes for me again!
The owner of this, no doubt brothel, promised to light us a fire, maybe he felt guilty because he’d charged so much for “accomodation/car-park”………the fire never really did get going until the following morning, just as we were leaving!
Next stop Sambaru National Park