Long story short: KENYA

Long story short: KENYA

Days spent: 33 (from December 10th, 2017 to January 12th, 2018)

Distance ridden: 1972 km

If you wish to see the detailed route, please this click the image of this map above to open a new page with OUR FULL ROUTE on Google Maps.

Entering and exiting:

IN: We entered the country separately from our motorcycles. We flew in with RwandaAir from Dubai to Moi airport in Mombasa (got Kenyan visa online for 50 USD in advance through e.citizen site) and went through a very relaxed procedure at the airport. Our motorcycles were shipped by sea from Iran. They arrived to Mombasa port and it took us one long day to get them on the African ground (full details on motorcycle shipment will be posted very soon).

OUT: We crossed from Kenya to Uganda on Malaba border crossing. It is the main road and a bit crowded place, but the process was nevertheless very easy. On Kenyan side we had our Carnets stamped out (lady did it without even looking at the motorcycles) and continued to Ugandan side where they have both Kenyan and Ugandan migration officers. Kenyan officer stamped us out of Kenya with a friendly conversation added to it.

Challenges:

  1. Riding on the left side of the road – this is the first country for us since we left home in 2016 where we get to ride on the “opposite side” of the road. At first it was tricky, especially in big chaotic junctions, but by the time we reached the border with Uganda, we got used to it.
  2. African traffic “rules” – when we first arrived and got out of the airport in Mombasa, I was shocked by the situation on the road. We got to see the worst part of the road near Mombasa – the real situation on the roads was not as bad as there – minivans, motorcycles, cars, trucks and busses, all fighting for their right of way on a terrible narrow road with millions of potholes… It gets intense in some places, but most of the country as we got to see it later, was quite ok.
  3. The habit of local people to push other members of traffic off the road. Especially on main highways, they think it’s completely fine, to blink their long beam lights at you and then just change lanes and come straight at you while passing someone moving slower in the same direction as they do. We had to learn to keep an eye on the oncoming traffic at all times and be ready to move out of their way if they decide to ignore the fact that we are actually riding there…
  4. The little grocery stores in the countryside have very limited variety of products available, so “hunting” for something for dinner was a bit complicated. The roadside eateries (which for some tax-related reasons are sometimes called a hotel, even though it’s just a canteen) are a bit hard to spot too and sometimes they are located in the most crowded part of a village, so would not work for us it we were not into a lot of company for lunch.

Roads: main roads are mostly paved and vary from very good new roads, to very bad ones with hundreds of potholes. Important roads are of decent quality. Most of the backroads are made of typical African red soil and can be dusty and sandy when dry or slippery and muddy when wet.

Fuel: about 1 USD for Premium unleaded fuel. The biggest gas stations are of Total and Shell brands and the prices for fuel are fixed throughout the country.

Highlights:

1. While waiting for the motorcycles to arrive we have booked a Wasini island tour and went snorkeling and watching dolphins and tasting lobster on the South-Eastern corner of Kenya.

2. On the first day of riding we saw many zebras and baboons right next to the highway Mombasa-Nairobi between Tsavo East and West national parks.

3. Rides over Aberdare mountain range from lake Naivasha to Mt. Kenya and then back to Nakuru were very pleasant – views are beautiful, roads are great, the panoramas are decorated with lush green tea plantations and due to higher altitude, the temperature is very pleasant.

4. At “Robert’s camp” on lake Baringo a friendly crocodile kept us company in the evening – it laid on the shore of the lake and let us take pictures from up close and the hippos, which were in the water right next to the campground during the day, came out for grazing at night and greeted us at 6 AM in the morning, before getting back into the water.

People: All the people we met were very friendly. And even if someone’s face seemed worried or maybe a bit grumpy when they would be watching us ride by, a friendly wave of a hand would immediately plant a wide smile into that previously serious face. Everyone spoke at least a bit of English, so the communication was always easy. And of course we got quite a lot of attention because of our “big bikes”.

Food: It took us some time to sort out the local specialties like chapati, ugali, pilau or kuku (which were available almost everywhere), but eventually it was great. Beef or goat meat are the most common ones while pork is a bit harder to find and chicken is available, but unlike in the rest of the world, is not the most common and cheapest meat in the market. Fruits (pineapples, papaya, mangoes, bananas, oranges…) taste fantastic, if you manage to get the perfectly ripe ones.

On the other hand, tasty bread is hard to find (the square toast bread is the most common) and most of dairy products (apart from milk, fermented milk and yoghurt) are mostly imported or made locally by fancy farms and therefore are very expensive compared to the average prices of other products.

Special rules and regulations: Plastic bags are banned in Kenya. Not only supermarkets cannot sell it, but also it is forbidden to have plastic bags for personal use. If caught with a plastic bag, you can get a fine of over a 1000 USD or even get some jail time. We did use some plastic bags when going shopping and never had any troubles, but got some comments about it from the locals.

Traffic police: Half of our time in Kenya we saw a lot of police officers around the roads, but they would show us thumbs up and wave us through without asking to stop, but on the second half, while riding in the western part of the country, we got stopped by every officer on the road. Sometimes it made up to 4-5 stops, but usually they wouldn’t even ask for our documents – they wanted to know where we are coming from, where we are going and sometimes: why we chose this road and not the other… Only once, about 25 km from the border with Uganda, when we were heading for the exit, we were stopped by police supposedly because of speeding that was registered “by someone up the road with the radar…”. We were riding at about 70 when the speed limit was 50. But after a friendly conversation with two officers and kindly asking to let us go without spoiling the beautiful impression of their country we had so far and giving them our stickers as souvenirs, they let us go.

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