At 2:30 am on Wednesday morning Christofer’s dad picked us up and drove us to Landvetter Airport were our 6:45 flight to Paris would departure. At the airport we paid the 1000 SEK fee to be able to bring the bikes. On the plane we found out it would be delayed due to a strike (typical french). After a while we took of and immediately fell asleep in the not so comfy airplane seats. After a stopover in Paris we got on the plane that would take us to Nairobi. We spent the seven hour flight eating, watching the beginning of a few movies, sleeping and talking to a girl from Burundi who happened to sit next to us on the plane.
In Nairobi we got our visa, our luggage and our bikes without any delay, and the cardboard boxes containing our precious bikes seemed to have survived the trip! When we got out from the airport our pre booked chauffeur waved a sign with our name on, and we jumped into his minivan and rushed towards southern Nairobi. Almost there the chauffeur asked us for the name of the hotel. We had no idea, and nor did he. After what felt like an hour of cruising around in the poorest area of Nairobi, asking kat-chewing teens for direction, we finally found our home – Nairobi airport stop over. We checked in, realising we were the only guests, had a beer, updated our Facebook page and then fell asleep, spooning in our princess-like bed.
The following morning we had bread, coffee, fruit and pancakes for breakfast. After that we assembled our bikes which indeed had made the trip without any damage. Good job Kenya Airways! With the bikes ready and stored in a storage room at the hotel we put on our dirtiest clothes and walked out through the 3 metre wall that was protecting us from the very poor southern part of Nairobi, AKA Nairobbery. We walked up the main road towards the city centre, quickly realising this was a polluted city with exhaust sipping down our lungs with every breath. People seemed very friendly though and we never felt insecure. After an hour of walking we reached the city centre were a man came up and insisted he’d show us the best parts of the Masai market. We let him disturb us for 10 minutes and then he wanted cash. We said we’d give him some rice instead. What we had in mind was a small bag, but he ended up with 5kg rice and 3 litres of cooking fat. He had managed to rip us off, but we were just happy he would leave us alone, and it didn’t cost us much.
We continued our sightseeing trip through Nairobi University and up to Nairobi National Museum where we met two more white people, and of course they were from Sweden! They had just been up Kilimanjaro, so we asked them tons of questions and then joined them in the museum. After learning about weird Masai culture and all the animals that might kill us during this trip we said goodbye to the swedes and walked back south. We reach our hostel just before dusk, and even managed to sneak into a supermarket and buy some food supplies for the next day – the first day on the road!
We got up early, had breakfast, a quick shower and packed our panniers with all our stuff. At about 11am we opened the gate and cycled our first metres on African soil. We had a plan. Christofer had his map. Jonas had his Gps. After five minutes we were lost. We cycled back and forward, crossing the same crazy roundabouts over and over again, but at around 12 pm we had left Nairobi behind us and were headed for the bush. We cycled west, north of Nairobi national park. In the village Rongai we stopped for lunch. We bought potatoes, carrots, onions and pepper from a local woman and sat down next to the road and got our kitchen ready. After just a few minutes we were surrounded by 25 locals, mostly kids. Some of them talked to us, and we had a friendly chat. At first we thought they just wanted to talk, but we quickly realised they were all hungry, and one older man tried to take Jonas spoon and eat his food. We shared a kilo of nuts with all the people around us, in an attempt to make the situation better. Someone got mad at us, cause he had no money, no passport, no future, but most of the locals were very welcoming. The situation was a bit tense, and since this was our first day on the road we were taken by surprise. We gave some money to a guy who was coaching the local football team (or at least he claimed so), and then we were on our way. After about twenty kilometres in the middle of nowhere a Tivoli aroused. It looked shut down, but we heard voices, so we went inside and met a man and a woman, whom we asked if we could pitch our tent there. They said yes and let us know there would be two night guards joining us. We decided to sleep under the stars, and after a while one of the night guards came. We shared some beer together and talked about Maasai traditions in Kenya. It was a nice chat, but when the other guard came they went and watched television instead. We played some cards and then fell asleep under a million stars. In the morning the guards woke us up at 6 asking for money. We gave them some and then fell back to sleep again.
When we woke up we made some porridge from the oat meal that we brought from home. At around 8 am we were on the road again, heading for Isinya. The road there was partially damaged, but we managed to be there by lunch or so. After Isinya we took the highway A104 down to Kajiado. The road had a big shoulder, so we felt safe from the traffic and even stopped next to the road and made lunch (again it was potatoes, carrots etc., but this time we could enjoy the lunch alone). In Kajiado we had gotten sick of tarmac, and took a left onto a dirt road that would take us east, into Masai land. After about 20 kilometers we reached a small village along the road where we bought some coke and water. After a while some locals came up to us and we asked them if we could camp in their village, and they said yes! (We had given up the dream of wild camping, because there were farmers absolutely everywhere). We set up our tent next to the oldest mans house, and then took a walk in the village. The village consisted of maybe 15 houses and a small shop. Under a tree we saw some men sitting, and we walked to them and started talking about Masai traditions, the world cup in soccer, Swedish climate and the fact that Swedes maybe have one wife and 2-3 kids while the Masais have 3 wives and 12-15 kids. It was a great hour of conversation, and we learnt that the men in the village make a living shoveling sand onto trucks. For this they were paid around 300 Swedish kronor per month. Of Course we couldn’t tell them how much our bikes cost, even though everyone kept asking us. “It’s a gift” we said, not telling them they’re worth more than they make in 4 years.
When the sun came down at around 6:30 we had some peanut butter sandwiches in our tent, and then went to a small shed where they had a 14” television running on a diesel generator. In there we paid about 4 Swedish kronor, and were then able to watch the soccer game between Brazil and Chile. Brazil won after penalty shots, and by then the time was 9:30, and we went straight to bed.
The following morning we played with some kids. They enjoyed taking photos with our camera and riding Christofer’s bike on the dirt road. At around 9 am we were on the road again, heading for Mashuru. On the way there we saw some monkeys playing, and at around noon we were cycling in the middle of nowhere, when we looked to the right and saw about 12 zebras standing not 100 meters from us. We stopped, amazed, and took tons of photos, and after a while the zebras got scared, and ran a bit, and this also scared a few giraffes that had been hiding behind a tree. After a while 5-7 gazelles ran across the savanna as well. It was a spectacular moment. Wild animals that we had just seen in the zoo before were now standing right there, so very close to us. Later that day we saw even more giraffes, ostriches and gazelles.
Later that day we passed Mashuru and headed for Selengei where we planned to buy food and water. Somehow we managed to miss Selengei, and the next village would be 30 kilometres ahead. It was a hard couple of hours, also because the dirt road had turn into sand road, which was terrible to cycle on. And every five minutes a lorry drove by, leaving a cloud of dust behind it. Eventually we reached a Masai village, and emptied their store from water and soda. We had a chat with the local drunk who didn’t make much sense, and then continued up our dirt road that was now our home. After about 5 km we reached another village, and a few minutes later we had set up camp on the local school yard, protected by a two meter high fence, which was supposed to keep the hyenas away! We talked to some locals for about an hour, and then fell asleep under the stars. The tent was too much hassle, and you can’t get a better place to see millions of stars than out in the bush, far away from electricity and internet.
The next morning we packed our stuff together, while doing so we had about 70 students standing in a circle around us, just watching us, touching our bikes, bike computer and panniers. As a Mzungu (white man) in the bush you are a real attraction.
Later that day we left the dirt road and hit tarmac again, this time on road C 102, heading south. Unfortunately that was straight into a massive headwind and uphill. During a period Christofer was biking just behind Jonas and didn’t see a gigantic rock and the road. He hit the rock, the bike went down, and so did Christofer right into a bush next to the road. He and his bike survived the crash, but he had to clean some cuts from his arm and back that was full of sand. About 30 kilometers later we set camp behind a church near the city Kimana. Again it was a beautiful night under the stars without tent. In the middle of the night we got woken up by a warthog (Pumba from the lion king) making some weird noises in the jungle. But we felt safe, sleeping next to the house of God.
In the morning we made breakfast as usual, and then we were on the road towards the Tanzanian border. It was a rough day, a lot of uphill and head wind. In a village along the road we spent some time at a market and at Masai kettle range, and by 3 pm we were in Kibouni, Tanzania with our new visas in our passports. We cycled a few kilometers into Tanzania and stopped by a school, asking for a place to sleep. And for the first time on this trip they said NO! Mzungus should sleep in real beds in lodges, and not in tents! We said we loved our tent, and then continued south, deeper into Tanzania. But the time was now 5 pm, and it would soon be dark, so in the next village we managed to find a small room behind a bar to sleep in. We payed 40 swedish kronor for the room and spent the night drinking Tanzanian beer and watching the soccer game between Argentina and Switzerland.
The next morning (which in fact happens to be today!) we took a shower and were on our way again. Right now we are at the university in Mwika right next to Kilimanjaro. Here in Mwika we’re supposed to meet up with a friend who is working for an orphanage. However, we are having trouble finding him, and right now Jonas is away looking while Christofer felt it was time to use the University’s Internet Cafe to backup some photos and write a way to long blog post!
All is well and we are loving east africa!
Christofer and Jonas