Published: May 30th 2010May 27th 2010
Great Rift Valley
Stretched out stuff
We flew out of Addis Ababa and into Nairobi on Friday 21 May, leaving behind our independent travels for a few weeks to join an ACACIA
overland tour. We had decided due to the great distances to travel and timetable, it would be easier to do this part of the journey with a tour. We stayed at the Hotel Boulevard the night before the tour departure, meeting all our fellow bus/truck (it's still being debated!) mates the night before.
From previous experiences, Brent said a tour can be made memorable for very different reasons depending on who you travel with, whether you have a good group of likeminded people and a great tour leader. So we were very pleased to find ourselves with a great group of really genuine friendly people. We started in Nairobi with 10 people, ourselves, a British contingent of couple David & Rhonda, brothers Greg & Gareth, solo traveller Glen, Swedish friends Elin & Maria and solo traveller Teokatai, or "T", a fellow Kiwi.
Our tour leader was South African Marietjie, whose cooking skills are brilliant and who I would definitely recommend. Our driver Patrick is from Kenya and we also had South
African Albert joining the tour, an experienced driver in Southern Africa, who was joining the route to learn more about the roads in Eastern Africa.
Everyone on the trip would be on the tour for differing lengths, depending on which tour they had paid for. So while we began with 10, we would pick up an additional 5 just for the Gorilla section of the trip, then more in Nairobi. We would say goodbye to more people in Zanzibar and pick up more at the same time.
Our mode of transport for the next 39 days would be a large white Acacia truck (or bus, depending on who you spoke to). The seating section itself was quite high off the ground, allowing for all the tents, food and equipment to be stored under the truck. There are 24 seats, with 8 set around a table, good for playing cards. There is also a sound system, so the person sitting next to the cable can plug in their MP3 player for the day and be the "DJ". The truck also contains 24 lockable 70 litre lockers where you can put your backpacks and all your gear in, chillibins (mostly
Long in the nose....
for beer, but sometimes good to keep your chocolate unmelted).
So we departed Nairobi
at 8am on Saturday 22 May heading for the Great Rift Valley
and Lake Nakuru. I had the responsibility of being the group's first DJ, so it was a U2-heavy first morning..ha ha. The Great Rift Valley is one long huge geographic trench which runs from Syria as far as Mozambique, created by shifting tectonic plates. We had a short break to get out and take some photos on the high side of the valley, also spotting some small geckos at the same time.
Then we pushed on to Lake Nakuru
, where it was lunch and time to organise everyone's duty teams. We were paired up into teams A, B, C, D and E and matched up with duties for the day, Cooking, Washing, Packing and Cleaning. Cooking means preparing the food for the meals, so chopping the veg, making dips etc. Washing is washing up everything used to make the meal, excepting everyone's individual plates and cutlery which everyone washes themselves. Packing is unpacking/repacking the truck, so taking out the tents, tables, boxes of food etc. And cleaning is cleaning the truck everyday,
Nice lake thing
sweeping out the dirt, cleaning the tables and putting out the rubbish. The fifth team each day enjoys a day off.
I had the pleasure of being on cooking duty the first day, so it was chopping up cucumber & tomato and grating cheese for our sandwiches. Lunch was an interesting event that day, as the site was full of cheeky monkeys, just waiting to snatch away anything that wasn't stuck down or fiercely guarded. So one of the team was on hand with a broom at all times whilst the rest chowed down.
After lunch we went on a "short" game drive (which took about 4 hours!) where we were able to see many animals up very close from the truck, including white & black rhino, wilderbeast, waterbuck, giraffe, zebra, baboons, and plenty of flamingos. The game drive also became a game of "splat the mosquito" as they flew into the truck through the windows (the poor people on truck cleaning duty..ha ha), which not only kept everyone entertained during quieter moments, but also added in some good group bonding.
We were then told that we would not be camping in our intended destination that night, as the roads were very bad. So we pitched up camp by the lake. Then it was time to learn how to pitch our tents and then we all settled in for our first camp meal (curry..). The first camp was quite basic, there were flush loos, but nothing else, and much better than the proper bush camp we would have had. Especially for those very inexperienced campers (yes, me!). First night at camp was also quite an experience as there are no fences in the park, so animals can wander around if they wish. We had a water buffalo walk right past as we were about to eat dinner! Needless to say I decided to hold on instead of getting up to pee in the middle of the night!!
The next morning it was cereal & tea for breakfast and then off to our next destination, Eldoret. After a few hours on the bus, we arrived at a luxury camp for the night...this one had showers, toilets, a great bar and a pool! YAY! So after unpacking and tents up the group all jumped into the pool with a beer or two each for some much needed cooling off and down time. Then after another marvellous Marietjie meal (beef stirfry) we all settled in to bed ahead of the 4.15am start the next day and the long drive across the border to Uganda