Northern Kenya

We just had an interesting conversation with a 25 year old Kenyan guy who offered to barter two camels for Sally… seriously.

I told him it would take 10 good camels, no old or sick ones, only good quality camels.

He shook his head and said it was too much.

(Posing at lake Turkana… I’d trade ten camels for Sal any day!)

He also told us that he’d just bought his wife for one camel, and she’s only 15 years old, this was accompanied by hand motions signifying a small, petite girl with small breasts… seriously.

I guess two camels for Sal isnt so bad, Matias and I reasoned that if we broke down in the desert we could always trade Sal for a pair of camels and walk out of there 🙂

We’re camped in a strange little village on the shores of lake Takana, three days ride north of Nairobi. This is a tribal area where people depend on things like camels, cows and goats for survival. The people are predominantly tall and thin, and they wear huge necklaces made from brightly coloured beads, and carry a knife or an AK47, and a tiny little seat made of wood that looks like a mushroom… seriously.

Their houses are the shape of a sphere with a bit missing on the bottom, traditionally they might have been covered in mud or straw, but now mostly with old waste plastic, so theyre relatively colourful in contrast to the surrounds which are brown and beige, the colour of the desert.



The road here was seriously rough, the type of road that breaks the motorbike, corrugations, rocks, rubble, sand, the last 20km was in loose rubble, really hard and slow going, so we decided to spend a day in the ‘oasis’ town before heading off tomorrow.

Leaving Nairobi we took some smaller roads north to a lake where we camped to the sounds of hippos grunting and snorting all night, some came really close to the shore, maybe 50m from us, really cool! From there it’s been two days on rough dirt roads to get here, passing through small towns and tribal grazing areas. We stopped at one point for a short break in the desert, and a guy came walking down the road out of nowhere. Turns out we’d stopped next to an army camp, and he came to see what we wanted.

“Is this a safe place?” Sal asked
“Yes, it is safe because we are here close by”
“But is it safe further along?”
“Ah yes it is quite fine now because there is grass”
“Grass?” I asked, thinking i’d misunderstood
“No drought now, so there is too much grass” hmmm
“So there is enough grass for every persons cows, so no fighting between tribes”
“And that makes it safe?”
“Yes, you see otherwise i would have my weapon, but i am waking casually now, when there is drought, no grass, so much fighting and violence”

It’s another world.

We stopped shortly after that for lunch in a tiny village, where we ate rice, beans and cabbage (again!) for 70c. The afternoon was pretty hard going in the heat and dust until we reached a much improved dirt road newly built to service a windfarm, and thinking we were home free I started to relax a little and enjoy the ride. Unfortunately at the end of the windfarm the road turned to shit again, and the last 25km were painfully slow and hot.

On the upside we were rewarded with an amazing view of an impossibly big lake in the middle of the desert, the road descending to the water in a steep rocky landscape that felt like we were on a harsh alien planet. No trees to be seen, only red brown rocks strewn across the hills, not even anything green next to the lake, just this shimmering surface that had me imagining the set of a scifi film and wondering whether the water might be poisoned to explain the total lack of any life.

Then with just a few km left on the gps track, we came around a bend and there was the oasis town, with it’s funny little round houses, palm trees and shouting waving children.

It’s about 35 degress here now, but thankfully it cools down in the early hours of the night which if it werent for the galeforce winds would make it possible to sleep. We’re all a bit bleary eyed and short tempered as a result.

There’s a trip to the lake for a swim planned for this afternoon and bbq fish for dinner, before a super early start to beat the heat in the morning.

Love to all xxoo

2 thoughts on “Northern Kenya

  1. Just jumped on to get a bit of an update on your travels. Pretty much as I expected….. more crazy experiences!

  2. 10 camels Dean, that’s our daughter!!!
    It looks so barren and can’t even begin to imagine living in those conditions, especially when there’s fighting and weapons used when there’s no water or grass!
    Keith just said that regarding the camels, he’d want at least 20 and a hippo.
    Good luck, love you xxxxx

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