“We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us”.
Today started very smoothly, off with Whyliffe, JJ’s driver, into town to Nyayo House, Immigration, no queue and we were processed extremely rapidly. Once again everyone ignores the ticket numbers and counters allocated by the entrance ticket machine. It is impossible to make a logical choice of which counter/dept you want to go to. Just select any of the choices on the ticketing machine, ignore the waiting number and go to counter 6 to be stamped out for the Turkana route. This is what everyone appears to do. If there is a queue service is determined by your place in the queue and nobody looks at your ticket no. We had already picked up the blue immigration exit/entrance forms at our previous unsuccessful visit (as we as yet did not have our Ethiopian visas) and completed these at our leisure beforehand. Unlike our previous visit, where Wayne was stamped out of Kenya at that counter we were sent to room 16. Here the official inspected our visas, entrance stamp and then stamped us out. We were able to join Whycliffe in the parking lot and leave before he had to pay anything, the first hour being free. What a breeze and a pleasant change. We were back at JJ’s far earlier than expected and were able to make our so long awaited departure to our first stop, Nanyuki, by 11H00, at least an hour earlier than expected. What a good omen for the start of one of the most intrepid legs of our entire trip. The power was with us!
Our good kharma continued with getting out of Nairobi. Not surprising as we used exactly the same route used when we had driven up to the Aberdares a number of days earlier (details in Geeks from that date). In short one heads for Karen Crossroads Shopping Center, Dagoretti Rd, Kikuyu Rd and Limuru Rd before joining the A2 north. A mild milestone was crossing the equator yet again a few km before Nanyuki. There is a signpost next to the road should you want to photograph yourselves under this sign. We had a long list of potential campsites in and Nanyuki and the Laikipia area without any specific pointers, not that this was a big deal as we were only overnighting. The first place we tried, with excellent past reports, Kongoni Lodge (Kongoni Backpackers on T4A, but far too smart for that title), no longer had camping as they had built a swimming pool on the previous campsite. This Lodge is rather upmarket with a smart restaurant but when it appeared that they might be willing to offer us camping in an area of the grounds mostly occupied by a heap of gravel and looking a bit like a building site, we decided to look elsewhere. It appeared we would have been able to use the showers and washrooms at the pool, which was some distance away.
The next choice worked out fine, this was Nanyuki River Camel Camp (in T4A as Nanyuki River Camp). By now it was 16H30 and we were more than happy there, it served our purposes completely. The simple campsite lies about 4km along the C76, the road we were to journey on to the north. This road leads west from the center of town just after the Total Garage. The turnoff to the campsite is at N00 02,336 E37 03,412, the campsite itself is at N00 02,470 E37 03,580. There is a wooden signboard, not very prominent. It was fantastic to be camping in the bush again after our prolonged stay in suburbia. This is a very simple and rustic campsite down close to the Nanyuki River and a good distance from the noise of Nanyuki. The C76 is about 500m away so there is a little traffic noise. They have 3 camels which are for hire for rides, we declined. There are clean (if a little spider webbish) flush toilets and hot water showers. There is tap water on site. Apparently visitors had been very scarce over the last 2 years and we were once again on our own. There are open-walled huts if you need any shelter but we chose to have an open fire to cook on from the wood provided free of charge. The camp attendant could not have been more friendly or helpful.
CAMPING COSTS: KSh 900pppn (about US$9).
The campsite was level but a little sandy as to be expected in that part of the world. Further huts and some sort of entertainment center are under construction, but fortunately a little distance from where we had set up camp. We had suffered a short sharp shower of rain on entering Nanyuki, but this was not to trouble us again. Mt Kenya was once again covered in cloud. We had a lovely night there and the beers flowed somewhat because of our feeling of liberation from the shackles of administration and weeks in suburbia. We really enjoyed the feeling of being in the bush and well and truly on our way again on a most interesting and challenging leg to Turkana and Ethiopia.
I do have regrets that we were not able to explore the Laikipia area more thoroughly. From the little we saw of it is certainly is beautiful. Tourism is very developed here with many smart and famed lodges, private game farms and ranches. I hope to make time on our return leg south, but time is likely to be a little tight then.
The campsite at Nanyuki River Camel Camp.