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Author Topic: 2019 - Big Red Pigs in Kenya  (Read 16119 times)

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Offline Osadabwa

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2019 12 - Oldonyo Lengai & Lake Natron
« Reply #160 on: December 15, 2019, 09:47:41 pm »
In the middle of East Africa's short rainy season (which had already caused disastrous flooding and had made turned everyone in sloggy Nairobi positively miserable) Wry and I set out for Oldonyo Lengai - the Masai 'Mountain of God' in Northern Tanzania - because biking isn't only a fair weather game and meteorologists are useless in Africa anyway, so we might get lucky.

Given all the uncertainty, there are two philosophies: 1) It's the rainy season - stay home and make tea. 2) It's the rainy season - go see what happens.

We subscribe to the latter category, and it has always paid off. This time was no exception. I don't remember when I've been so blown away by a place. And that's saying something given this year's rides. The Lengai trip wraps up the best year of motorbiking I've ever had, with a fantastic tour of Northern Kenya and the Ethiopian Borderlands and a first visit to the sweltering dunes of Suguta Valley. If we wanted to top off an amazing year with anything, we couldn't have done better.


Above: Two little piggies in the valley of the Mountain of God

I'll leave this here while I prepare the ride report.

What a trip.

 :snorting:
« Last Edit: December 15, 2019, 10:16:10 pm by Osadabwa »
 
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Offline steveindar

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Re: 2019 - Big Red Pigs in Kenya
« Reply #161 on: December 16, 2019, 03:23:31 pm »
Washa blah, blah bwana, kueleza hadithi!
COVID KILLS SADDLE TIME!
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Offline Osadabwa

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Day 1 - To Natron Camp and Oldoino Lengai
« Reply #162 on: December 16, 2019, 09:27:50 pm »
In the beninging, it’s always ugly.

Nairobi at dawn in the rainy season is just a muddy, chaotic mess. I waddled over to Karen side to collect Wry at the Shell and we split up the road in a roar of exhaust fumes (mostly from the matatus) and high spirits right until his bike pooped out. Flubbaflubbaflubba. I came back and found him perplexed, scratching his widow’s peak and already worn out from kicking. Bike genius that I am (thanks to Panic), I immediately diagnosed no spark, pulled out my Swiss Knife and cut the wire on that stupid ass switch that gave us trouble when we were doing our trial run earlier (all that prep work, a month’s worth, in previous posts) and she fired right up. Hell yes!


Above: Wry’s bike resurrected in the gloomy morning on Ngong Rd.

Our plan for the day was ambitious. We wanted to rip over to Lake Natron in Northern Tanzania as quickly and painlessly as possible in order to be ready to climb Oldoinyo Lengai that night at midnight. It’s called Africa’s toughest one day hike for a reason… the bloody thing is a physical manifestation of Kenya’ population growth rate… exponential. We’d have to cover about 150km of tar, cross TZ’s annoying but reasonable Namanga border, and then rip another 150 or so km West to the camp to rest and prepare for the climb. We best get to it.

So, we fell asleep at the bars for an hour or so and put up with the “agents” at the border, who are no more than glorified errand boys but bill themselves as invaluable – “Here, sign this. Stand here. Take you bag there”…  as if there weren’t signs and officials there to guide us. Anyway, we photocopied things, stamped things and lied about things and in an hour and a half we were through. 30km more and we were at the shoulder of Longido, and the beninging of the dirt. Then we let the pebbles fly.


Above: Longido at our backs, aiming West on a wet and puddled, but otherwise rip-snorting road to Kitumbeini, half way to Lengai.


Above: Despite the occasional long stretch of muddy puddles, the road was throttle-stop fast.


Above: After a quick coke and water stop at Kitumbeini village, we set off to split the Kitumbeini mountain and Mt. Gelai, but there were plenty of washouts to contend with along the way. The water had been flowing fast, and not long ago.


Above: Wry aims toward Gelai.


Above: One or two spots required some navigating to circumnavigate big gullies and my poor piggy was getting hot under the collar. I, too, was sweating buckets. The place is usually a blast furnace, but with all the recent rain, it was now more like a sauna.

Before we knew it, we could see our mountain. Oldoinyo Lengai peaked her head above the hills, ducking in and out of billowy cloud, acting like a much taller peak than she is. She rises about a vertical kilometre from the plain, and tops out at around 10,000 ft. One of East Africa’s few active volcanoes, she’s unique in a lot of ways, but for us the challenge of the midnight hike and the chance to see a long-overdue eruption were part of the thrill. Little did we know that just being near her would be mind-blowing.


Above: The first peek at the peak. Oldoinyo Lengai tussling with the clouds in the distance.


Above: Wry ahead pauses on a crest with the first views of Lengai and her sister peak, another volcano on the edge of the Ngorongoro Conservation area.

The road was in very good shape. Hard murram with plenty of grip and grit. No dust made it quick business, with each of us taking turns at the lead. Rain showers flitted along the edge of the horizon, and the peaks and the green plains spread out as far as you could see were serious eye-candy for bikers more accustomed to the dust and thorns of Kenya’s deserts. Most of the year, probably 90% of it, looks nothing like this, with feshfesh and dust devils owning the landscape. We caught it perfectly.


Above: Wry heads down to the junction with the Mto wa Mbu road (for the 'zungus out there, that would roughly translate to Mozzie Creek, which would be a shit place to live)


Above: Swamps took the road on an enjoyable little detour, and soon Lengai was totally visible.


Above: The grass… unbelievably green and carpeting huge areas. The plains are composed of millennia of ash from the volcanoes which is great for grass, but not much good for trees. We passed small clumps of zebra and antelope, and masai and their unsustainably large herds of animals as well, all looking happy with the lucky turn of events. It’s been 5 years since they’ve had such a good season.


Above: Down near the junction, a Lake had appeared. I was about ready to ford it, after I played Lord of the Flies with this nice Wildebeest Skull, but Wry said: Hey muppet, let’s just follow those tracks that go around… so we did. And it was a blast.

Riding over the plains, picking our way as we chose, I deviated from the 4x4 track to aim directly for Lengai’s flanks. My track took us around a few hills there, a washout or two, and down to the road, affording great views on all sides. Finally reconnecting with the main road to Ngare Sero, we tore off over what was rather rough and rugged terrain, paid our dues at the little hut (where we found a group of French bikers on rented little 200’s who ogled our Pigs with unabashed envy) and tore into camp with a flourish.


Above: Wry makes his way toward Lengai


Above: We traversed some of the dried volcanic ash that isn’t yet good enough for the grass.

To be continued...
« Last Edit: December 16, 2019, 09:34:01 pm by Osadabwa »
 

Offline Osadabwa

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Day 1 continued... to camp
« Reply #163 on: December 16, 2019, 09:31:50 pm »
Now it’s time to own up to something. Our digs were… awesome. We did not skimp. Frankly, we splurged. The plan was to climb up Lengai, which is no easy stroll, and we needed rest, guides and transport to and from the mountain. Since we booked at Lake Natron Camp, all of that would be included, as well as an absolutely spectacular setting and safari tents, fantastic staff, drinks and a soda spring full of Natron “Soda” Cichlids that would clean off your weary feet with their scratchy little teeth. We didn’t regret a thing.




Above: Just look at that.


Above: The spring runs past the camp and is chock full of cichlids. It takes a bit of getting used to, but once you get used to them nibbling off the dead skin on your feet, it’s very relaxing.


Above: I mean veeeery relaxing. After lunch, we lounged in the pool then retired to our respective tents for a nap. We would be setting out for the summit in only a few hours and we needed rest.

Unfortunately for us, the summit push was not meant to be. As the evening drew near, thunderclouds over Lengai and the plateau beyond made the guides squirm. If it dumps in Ngorongoro, we won’t be able to drive to the base. If there’s a thunderstorm on the mountain while we’re climbing, the trail becomes impassable at best and dangerous at worst. Gutted, but sure we’d just make the climb tomorrow, we tucked into our dinner, put back some wine and enjoyed the evening.


Above: Gelai on the right, a much more gradual, sloping, extinct volcano, and Lengai on the Right attracting the clouds.


Above: A full moon awaited anybody out to enjoy it

Tottering off to bed after a long game of cards with the other guests at camp, I couldn’t help but notice Lengai and Ngorongoro had completely shed their cloud blankets and the stars were fighting with the full moon for brilliance. I hoped we hadn’t missed our chance…

But, knackered from lack of sleep the night before and a long ride, I happily hit the sack and slept like the dead. We’d get our mountain tomorrow.

 :snorting:
 
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Offline Osadabwa

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Day 2 - Seventeen corners and the shores of Lake Natron
« Reply #164 on: December 17, 2019, 01:04:21 pm »
Up with the dawn. I needed that sleep. Feeling fresh as a Desert Rose, we got our kit on early and set out for a day-ride. Since the climb wouldn’t start until midnight, we had plenty of time to explore some of the tracks I’d planned. So we took off through the village, stopping at the petrol guy for some go-juice, and took the track leading along the river. It was very rocky in spots where flash floods had brought down the mountain, but all of it was easy work for the Piggy.


Above: The skies had been crystal clear all night… we could have climbed


Above: Heading into the village of Ngare Sero through a nice, shady, tree-lined lane


Above: Through the village and out onto the road.


Above: The fresh grass was positively glowing in the morning light.



The plan for the morning was to ride up “17 Corners”, an old, mostly unused track that switchbacks up the side of the escarpment and then see how we’re getting on for time. I initially planned to have a full day set aside for exploring this area and beyond, but with a hike at midnight, the plan now was to get back in the early afternoon to eat and rest up. The approach was rocky with a decent river crossing thrown in for good measure and the climb up the 17 Corners was fantastic, with long views of Lake Natron below.


Above: Coming through the rubble


Above: Crossing a pretty sizable river. If it were raining up above, we would have to be more cautious, but we more-or-less just went for it. I sent Wry first to see if he’d stuff it up.


Above: Geologically, this place is just bizarre. Volcanos make a lot of weird and wild rocks, and the eroded places beg to be explored.


Above: From up on 17 Corners, the views were great. The funky trees along the track had all blossomed with bright flowers as well. Maybe Faceplant should bring his watercolours and paint them.


Above: The track was in good shape, but hardly used judging by the lack of tracks

At the top of the escarpment, we were greeted by a massive, perfectly flat plain with low hills there in the distance where Olduvai Gorge is located. The track, having no terrain to avoid, went arrow-straight through it over rocks, mud and sand. The bush crowded the edge of the track with wait-a-bits and other pokies trying to make us bleed, so it wasn’t exactly a speed race, but it was steady enough to make me feel dizzy, like going through an endless tunnel. At one point, a cattle reservoir gave me an idea. I told Wry I wanted to get pics of him riding around it with the hills in the back. Setting off to get in place, I roosted such a quantity of mud onto him, he was covered head to boot. Afterwards, I managed to roost him on the other side, adding the same nice texture. I’m something of an artist, myself. He had to admit he was impressed… even with the Dar Bikers it was rare to get roosted twice in such short order… unless you’re Tigo, muppet.


Above: Straight 4x4 track going out


Above: Quite swampy in spots… again if it had been raining the night before, maybe we wouldn’t make it through


Above: Muddy and green


Above: Nice reservoir race-track.




Above: Wry displays the mud splatter I gave him on the right side. Funky section of sand running along through these odd candelabra trees


Above: Wry showing his left-side mud splatter… I really am proud of that.


Above: Heading to Malambo village for a quick break.

To be continued...

 

Offline Osadabwa

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Day two, contnued
« Reply #165 on: December 17, 2019, 01:10:14 pm »
In Malambo, a decent little village the foot of the hills there, we had a cup of tea and a mandazi and took another look at the GPS. We’d spent quite a bit of time just getting there, and if we wanted to be back by 2pm, we’d best make our return plans. It’s a shame because we left hundreds of kms of tracks on the table, but like a couple of Cyberdyne Systems Series 800 Model 101’s… “We’ll be back”. So, we decided to head as far North toward the Kenyan border as we could and still be able to get down to the shore of Natron. On the way, I took us down a riverbed for about 10km before it dropped off a dry waterfall and we had to turn back. Doing so lit a spark and it was a full-on race back to the track, with Wry just ahead of me throwing sand roosts and drifting corners. Riverbeds are so much fun.


Above: The riverbed was hard-packed and a bit damp. Very good for racing.


Above: Heading back


Above: Finishing out the very good track to the edge of the escarpment, we fell down to the lake shore.


Above: This place has several very deep, spectacular canyons coming off it


Above: Mt. Shompole floating in a very full Lake Natron


Above: Down to the lake shore

The lakeshore track was a rocky mess, but it’s what we practice in Kenya all the time. By now we handle it pretty confidently unless we get cocky. I kept thinking how many times the bars got deflected and I didn’t go down. I’m sure younger me would have dumped it. At some point, the track reached the salt-pan edge of Lake Natron and I carefully rolled out on it to play. I did several doughnuts on the slick surface, testing where the water saturation makes the clay unbearably slick before calling it quits. Wry gave it a go as well, but hadn’t tested where the grip gives out… so he saw his ass.


Above: In her element


Above: (Top) Wry sees his ass. (Bottom) Me, a stately figure showing how it’s done. I have a lot of experience with this sort of surface, and it often ends with a nice low-side. No bikers were harmed in the making of the above images (bruised pride notwithstanding).


Above: Carrying on, in search of some fresh-ish water to clean off the soda clay


Above: Wry found a nice little spring to rinse away some of that salty clay


Above: And then promptly got stuck climbing back out. Muppet! I warned you!


Above: It was a beautiful, if sweltering place to give the piggy a bath, but not 100m further on there was a whole rocky riverbed full of fresh water that would have done the job a hundred times better.

The ride back along the shore was tough work, but really enjoyable. You get closer to Lengai as you go, and the riding just doesn’t let up. As we approached the deep river we crossed earlier, there was a group of 4x4s there hemming and hawing about the best place to cross. Without letting off the gas, Wry and I just ploughed through it one after the other, sending a muddy bow-wave over our helmets. That’s how. Back at the camp, it was time to eat and rest for the climb.


Above: One cold beer at the Soda Cichlid toe-nibbling station before heading to the tent for a kip

Unfortunately for us, Mother Nature had other plans for our evening. At around 5, there were thunderstorms everywhere, far worse than the day before, and I knew what the guides were going to say. Sure enough, we could forget about climbing if it didn’t clear up immediately. And they gave us a bit of intel as well: A group had gone up the night before, but got turned back before the summit. The top 200m of the mountain is solidified ash which is crumbly and fragile. Over time, a track has been etched in it to get climbers to the top, but the slope is such that you could slide a long, long way back down if you got it wrong, leaving a mzungu-shaped skid mark as you go. After the last weeks’ rains, that last 200m was a sheer, slick face with no hand- or foot-holds. Anyone going all the way would have to cut them in as they go. That made us feel a bit better.


Above: Rainbow and thunderstorm over Gelai… heading Lengai way


Above: Turbulent skies all around, but an unbeatable sunset


Above: The camp had organized a bit of mbuzi choma for an appetizer, and I was positively slobbering to get at it

By nightfall, all hell had broken loose in the skies above. The wind was whipping and rain poured in from all sides. We huddled with our drinks in the centre of the mess tent with the other guests and watched the lightning show play out. The flats below the camp slowly filled with water and reflected the flashes like a mirror. In a way it was good: A definitive “Not this time, mzungus” from Lengai to Wry and I, meaning we’d simply have to come back.


Above: In the centre of the tent, riding out the storm on G&Ts

It was rather cold at night. We slept like the dead.

 :snorting:
 
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Offline Osadabwa

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Day 3 - Ngare Sero Source and God's Hole
« Reply #166 on: December 17, 2019, 01:19:56 pm »
With the Lengai climb off the table, Wry and I were free to have a full day of exploring. On the advice of the others, we decided to take a morning hike up to the source of the Ngare Sero river in the morning, come back for lunch, and then head out for an afternoon ride up near the mountain that had so rebuffed our advances. It was the best day of the trip.


Above: Still some lingering clouds after the night’s light show


Above: Heading into the canyon is a scrambly walk over loose rocks


Above: Then it’s a descent to the river floor over rocks that had been loosened by the recent rains


Above: The sides of the canyon were spectacular


Above: Down on the riverbed, we saw Civet tracks in the sand… as you can see, on the bike and off, I’m a real fashionista. Wry says: "When you smile, you look like an armpit with teeth". Ouchfafaksake.


Above: We walked in and out of the river, under hanging gardens of palms dripping fresh water from the many hillside springs recently replenished from the rains


Above: We were getting close to the source. Above, hundreds of swifts flew pell-mell around the sky, with one or two vultures higher up. The place was magical.

Then Wry fell.

We were scrambling around a cliff on a pile of rubble and dirt when it happened. I had just moved a few steps ahead when I heard Wry grunt. I looked back just in time to see him fall straight down. He dropped about 10 feet without making contact with anything before ricocheting like a meat bullet off a boulder and being propelled forward for another 10 or so onto a pile of rubble. It was horrible to watch.


Above: The fall and the aftermath. Wry was standing full weight on a rock that just gave way.


Above: My view of him from above only seconds after the fall… I always get the photo

I couldn’t believe he hadn’t broken something. It was a serious drop and he tumbled like a rag doll. After determining nothing was broken, we had to concede that continuing on to the source was daft, so we found a clear spring and washed out the wounds, bandaged them up with the First Aid kit we had (we are bloody well prepared these days), and headed back out. I was relieved to hear Wry say he was still good to ride! What a trooper.


Above: Those gashes were deep and ugly


Above: Heading back down, and enjoying it. The fall was a fright, but no permanent harm done. Our poor guide had lost his shoe in the sand and was now rock-hopping barefoot. I told him if it were me, you'd be better off to just drown me and leave me for the hyenas than to have me walk barefoot on those stones.


Above: Intrepid explorers discover Africa. The Africans were interested to hear it.


Above: Last hiking pic… this is a bike report after all!

To be continued...
 

Offline Osadabwa

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Day 3 - Ngare Sero and God's Hole continued
« Reply #167 on: December 17, 2019, 01:26:25 pm »
True to his word, Wry the Rugged was ready with his kit for a post-lunch braap. I was keen to explore a few craters I’d seen on my Google Earth recce, and we’d found out that one was called Shimo la Mungu, or God’s Hole… well, juvenile me had to make some cracks about that (get it, cracks) so off we went.


Above: Cheers Wry, you’re a tough buggar


Above: Heading back toward Lengai, around newly filled road puddles


Above: Just past the turn off to Longido, we struck out across the grasslands to the spot on the GPS marking Shimo la Mungu. It was great just picking you own line. All of a sudden, the earth just vanishes beneath your wheels, and you see this:


Above: Boom.


Above: What a spot. I don’t know why Shimo la Mungu is the way it is. All the rest of the many craters are at the top of a cone. Anyway, hell of a cool place. We had to ride the rim.


Above: Wry proceeds precariously above the rim


Above: One of many pics from this place… what a fantastic surprise


Above: Glad we ignored the forecasts, Wry?

Half way around, we set off for another obvious cone crater in the distance. From where we were, it looked like we could easily ride to the top of it. Turns out it’s too steep, but we walked up anyway to take in the views. By then, a big storm was crossing over Kitumbeini and heading our way and the evening light was starting to paint the world vivid. We hiked down, started up the bikes and bee-lined it for a black/gray dried wash that would take us back to the road to camp.


Above: Who’s got two thumbs, just fell down a cliff, and is loving this shit? This guy.


Above: Picking our way through the eroded edges in the presence of God’s Mountain


Above: The top of the other crater… wide-angle lens doing its best to flatten everything out.


Above: View from above… note the wee bikes down there


Above: Shimo la Mungu from above, Gelai behind


Above: Off-roading back to the track


Above: Hitting the wash


Back on the road, I stopped to take a pic of a giraffe that had nicely stopped to pose with Lengai in the evening light. I told Wry to go ahead. He took this to mean I would be chasing his ass down, so he absolutely gunned it. By the time I started rolling, he was nowhere to be seen. I gathered he was in race mode, so I screwed on the throttle. And I gunned it. And I blasted it… and I got absolutely no closer! His dust was so far away, it might as well have been from yesterday. We crashed into rocks, flew willy-nilly through the deep, black sand and screeched to a halt at the barrier where a couple of tourists who had just trundled up in a 4x4 asked Wry: Do you do this for fun? Yes, mate, yes indeed.


Above: My giraffe

That evening, riding high from an amazing day, we hit the beers early and quick, starting out in the Cichlid pool. By the time dinner was over, we had moved onto my stash of whisky, and by the time the full moon had risen to its zenith, we were out on the muddy flood plain whooping it up. We goofed around a long time with Wry’s night-photo app before stumbling back to the camp where I took a night swim with the little toe nibbling cichlids before tumbling into bed past midnight. Every ride needs one hoot and a holler. It was absolutely the right way to end the day!


Above: The Mad Motorbikers' Moon Dance!


Above: Man emerges from the darkness to sip whisky in the mud

Tomorrow might start out a bit rough…

 :snorting:
 

Offline Xpat

Re: 2019 - Big Red Pigs in Kenya
« Reply #168 on: December 17, 2019, 02:01:43 pm »
Oldonyo Lengai is no place for girly Honda riders! Only real men - meaning BMW riders should apply  :pot: :imaposer:


And no - it doesn't stand one km over the surrounding plains. It stands almost exactly 2 km above the plains (plains 800 meters above see, top 2800 meters) - a difference you would have definitely noticed if you would have attempted to climb up at night on 45 degree slope made basically of ceramic tiles. Must be even more fun when they are wet  8)

OK, let me park my inner prick for a second and show my compassionate side: These are the views you would have seen if you would have made it   :pot:

















Sorry for the hijack, but I'm sure you appreciate to see what you have missed  >:D That said, you at least can go again soon, while I'm stuck farting around Gauteng now...

Offline sidetrack

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Re: 2019 - Big Red Pigs in Kenya
« Reply #169 on: December 17, 2019, 02:08:22 pm »
Great RR
Little by little, one travels far
J.R.R Tolkien

Help make the TSAT a reality
http://www.wilddog.za.net/forum/index.php?topic=241580.msg4325284#msg4325284
 

Offline Osadabwa

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Xpat you're a dog's left nut!
« Reply #170 on: December 17, 2019, 02:14:26 pm »
You hijacking hooligan, you!

I know very well how tough it would be to climb the bastard, that's why I spent a month in the gym and humping it around Mt. Longonot every week. I am in fighting form, and gutted we didn't summit. Christmas and New Years will probably come and make me fat and lazy again, dammit.

But, the silver lining is very shiny. It takes Wry and I basically a long half day to get there from home because our Hondas eat dirt for breakfast. So, as soon as we get a long weekend when we're sure it'll be dry, you'll see an appendix to this RR with us standing on top! I may even moon the camera, and when I do, I'll be thinking of you!

On a serious note, thanks for the reminder of the height of the thing... it is massive. I shall edit. Can't wait to get up there.

Now shut up and let me finish the RR.

 :snorting:
 

Offline Osadabwa

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Day 4 - To Arusha via Kitumbeine
« Reply #171 on: December 17, 2019, 02:20:46 pm »
With heavy heads, we dragged ourselves out of the tents at dawn. It’s (relatively) easy to wake up early here since the sun shoots its laser pointer through your tent walls immediately, and there’s a bloody Night Jar that sounds like a car alarm that goes off at around the same time. And, it’s so damn beautiful at dawn, you don’t want to miss it. Anyway, we were up. And we had a plan to go for a quick little stroll to some ancient footprints frozen in solidified mud and ash. The prints were found in 2006 and dated from between 8,000 and 20,000 years. Seeing them was surprisingly moving. There were size 10’s and size 4’s walking with purpose all over the place. Couldn’t help but wonder who these cats were and what they were up to all those years ago. Our stoic Masai guide even admitted these prints were made by people that roamed before the Masai got here.


Above: Footprints frozen in time


Above: I was interested at this guy’s high arch, and that he had a size 10 foot… bet he could have beat the shit out of me.


Above: Things like this make you feel like you’ve stepped back in time. On the Right, frozen animal tracks as well. Maybe the guys were just following after their herds.

Anyway, back to the camp for breakfast and on the bikes in a blistering hour and a half or more, we finally got moving by eleven. That same rocky stretch of road that Wry strafed the evening before had the bikes jackhammering all over the place this morning. Oh my head. But soon the road to Mto wa Mbu widened and became race-track smooth and we shot like a bullet past Lengai, Shimo la Mungu and the rest of it at the throttle stop, pausing only to avoid murdering a zebra or gazelle.


Above: Last GPS check before the fast, flat racetrack


Above: There were lots of animals grazing this morning: zebra, gazelles, impala, wildebeest and ostrich

Our route to Arusha would take us over the top of Kitumbeine mountain on a path I poached from Ajax, one of our friends from Dar. When I told Wry, he rolled his eyes: here we go on a goat path. He wasn’t totally wrong. It started out a nice rocky 4x4 track, but eventually deviated onto a muddy footpath that gave our hungover minds and bodies a real workout. Then all of a sudden, Wry’s bike said: “Fakin’ sploooooosh!” and he vanished into a tower of steam. Somehow, one of the jubilee clips holding the radiator pipe on broke, dumping most of the coolant in one go. This is interesting.


Above: The road starts out a road, but a rocky one that gives you a workout


Above: We were getting some nice views of Lengai from up here


Above: Some sections were tacky with mud… if it rained, they’d be downright horrific


Above: Climbing up through scrubby forest and a few farms towards what looks like a menacing cloud


Above: Ajax’s road turns foot path… just as Wry predicted. I love it. Didn’t stall and kept the bike chuggin'.


Above: The radiator hose disaster. Would this stop us in our tracks?


Above: Fortunately, it wasn’t a split hose… just a broken jubilee clip. Also, hey little bug.


Above: While Wry prepared an impromptu lunch, I got to work on the bike. The man in red said: Ikinyesha mvua, usiyendi juu… meaning we’d be stuck here if it rained… that mud would turn to snot. With that, I became very interested in fixing that puppy. Massive zip tie to the rescue.

To be continued...


 
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Offline Osadabwa

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Day 4 continued - to Arusha
« Reply #172 on: December 17, 2019, 02:25:07 pm »
Having saved the day yet again (athankyou), Wry had to agree I was a pretty swell guy. I, in turn, had to agree that he brought better canned food along for lunch. We called it even. Back on the trail. That was easier said than done, however, and we hunted and pecked a bit before reuniting with what passed for a road, and then it was all downhill. The cloud petered out and we were could enjoy the scenery in peace and commence clattering down the rocky track to the flats below.


Above: Wry manages to drop the pikipiki… she was having stalling issues, still some electrical gremlin in there we were not too fussed to figure out


Above: Through the deep forest. These areas are always great. Huge African cedars.




Above: On top of the world


Above: Any other time of year and we would have missed all these crazy flowering trees in action


Above: All downhill from here


Above: Rocky track, steady under the bikes all the way to the road below

Off the mountain, we ripped to the village for a soda and then shot out on the track to Arusha via Monduli. The track we were on was an East Africa Safari Rallye stage that had been cancelled a week ago due to floods. The track was a total wreck, but all good for the bikes. The absolutely worst spot was man-made… a crew of road workers were in the middle of repairing a long section and had just ploughed up the dirt. It was like trying to ride through a freshly ploughed field. I haven’t cussed like that since forever.


Above: A quick soda stop at Kitumbeini village


Above: The road crosses many long, sandy washouts


Above: Secretary birds on the prowl, a pig in her prime


Above: Terrapin blasting around in the roadside puddles


Above: The recently ploughed hell road. Wry wisely got the hell off of that, happier to risk thorns in the tires.

The road up and over Monduli is a joy. It’s beautiful, colourful and cool. On a regular ride, we would have slowed down, taken it all in, snapped a million photos… but after Natron and Lengai, we had reached beautiful scenery saturation and I for one was thirsty for a beer. We’d been on the road for six tough hours and Arusha was calling.


Above: Giving it some oomph on the switchbacks


Above: Beautiful, but I’m thirsty


Above: Lots of love, but it could rain… lets go!


Above: We chased a raincloud into Arusha. The roads were dripping, but we never saw a single drop. Somebody up there loves us.

Totally tuckered out, we had a couple of beers and a nice curry at the Outpost, watched a game or two of the Cape Town Rugby 7s and crashed early… and by early I mean 8:30!

 :snorting:
 

Offline Osadabwa

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Day 5 - Heading home
« Reply #173 on: December 17, 2019, 02:31:12 pm »
Very well rested, we were up and on the road early. Wisely, we’d donned rain jackets. It wasn’t threatening, but the air was cold, and as we climbed toward Longido it got positively frigid. We tarslapped it up to Namanga, stamped back into Kenya, and shot up to Mily Tisa to have a look at the riverbed. It wasn’t actively flowing with water, so we went for it. 150km of tar behind us, we were itching to hit the dirt. Ah, but beware, friendly bikers… the slopes of Oruk had been channelling some serious runoff and there were huge holes in the road. It took me a while to get the message though… in fact, it took a near death experience. Ripping ahead, I came a hair’s breath away from dumping the Pig into a very deep hole that was hiding behind a bush. I managed to clutch, brake, slide and braap my way over a slightly less wide spot, smashing the sump guard on the other side and skidding to a halt with my heart in my throat. Okay. Lesson learned… again.


Above: Scenes like this should have given me pause… but the throttle itched!


Above: My trajectory was aiming for the middle bit thanks to that damn bush blocking the view from up the trail. It was a bike’s length wide with a sloping approach on both sides. No way in hell would I have made it.


Above: I managed to redirect with a skid and a braap and smashed my way over a smaller gap, leaving a little grey smudge where the sump guard hit the dirt. Phew!

After my close call, we rode more cautiously to the riverbed, enjoying the little track and the view of Oruk’s backside. Before long we were in the riverbed, climbing toward the lava flows. It was the first time Wry had been to this section, and he picked his lines well, grinding through the odd, eroded orange stone to the sandy 35km stretch of unspoiled riverbed beyond.


Above: Oruk in the background, Wry makes his way to the riverbed


Above: Nice, hard packed sand, but watch out for those shiny bits… somehow a layer of slick mud floats over the sand and it will kick your ass… eh Neb?


Above: When in doubt, take a pic of your bike in a riverbed.


Above: The rocky bit begins


Above: It’s slow going, but fun. Grip is 100%, just don’t tumble off the edge of something




Above: We blasted the sandy riverbed, but the muddy slip and the tacky sand made hard drifting corners very difficult. The bikes laboured hard through the grippy sand, but they still chewed it up.

Once out of the riverbed, it was time to make time. Wry wanted to be home for tea and we wanted to have kuku choma at Olepolos, so we just did our thing. The riding is wonderful and varied, and the sun was shining in Africa. We were the kings of the world.


Above: Still some beautiful umbrella trees around


Above: The roads were all a bit worse for wear after the rains


Above: Wry cubed


Above: Past Mi46, almost home… I can smell the kuku


Above: With Olegorsailie in the background, that’s the end of the ride!


Above: Olepolos never disappoints. Beers, chicken and chips to get us home.


Above: A parting shot.

Wry, it was a hell of a ride! I was blown away by the place, and we have to get back there for our Lengai summit. When we do, I’ll append it to this RR.

Braap.

Oink.

Out.

 :snorting:
 

Offline Osadabwa

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Re: 2019 - Big Red Pigs in Kenya
« Reply #174 on: December 17, 2019, 02:32:37 pm »
Okay, here's some moving video for you illiterates (Xpat).

I whacked it all in there, roughly in order.

 

Offline Sheepman

Re: 2019 - Big Red Pigs in Kenya
« Reply #175 on: December 17, 2019, 09:21:02 pm »
Excellent RR, yet again - thanks  :thumleft:
 

Offline Osadabwa

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Merry Christmas and see you in 2020
« Reply #176 on: December 23, 2019, 11:56:32 am »
Okay folks, with exception to the addition of any return to Lengai, I'm wrapping up this thread. It was a hell of a year and will be hard to beat, but we'll try.



So, until then, Merry Christmas and Braaaaapy New Year!

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Re: 2019 - Big Red Pigs in Kenya
« Reply #177 on: December 23, 2019, 12:34:11 pm »
Thank you for this great fred and all your photo's and writing!! :thumleft: :drif:
Roll on 2020!! :thumleft:
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Offline steveindar

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Re: 2019 - Big Red Pigs in Kenya
« Reply #178 on: December 23, 2019, 06:40:28 pm »
There's still a week left, Hunter. MTFU!

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Offline XT JOE

Re: 2019 - Big Red Pigs in Kenya
« Reply #179 on: December 26, 2019, 10:03:16 pm »
Stunning RR- loved the tented campsite , Gods mountain and the crater pics and the writing is getting to bestseller levels :thumleft: thank really enjoyed
« Last Edit: December 27, 2019, 11:36:40 am by XT JOE »
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