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Author Topic: 2020 - Big Red Pigs in Kenya  (Read 4615 times)

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Offline Sheepman

Re: 2020 - Big Red Pigs in Kenya
« Reply #60 on: July 09, 2020, 01:01:35 pm »
Great RR & pics....... again  :thumleft:

Offline Elkanah

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Re: 2020 - Big Red Pigs in Kenya
« Reply #61 on: July 16, 2020, 03:20:48 pm »
 :sip: :thumleft:
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Offline Osadabwa

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2020 07 - Day out for test ride
« Reply #62 on: July 25, 2020, 11:22:21 am »
After our last escape, in which I returned home with a decent gash in my arm, all of my riding has been confined to grocery runs. We fixed that yesterday with a quick day out. It was pretty much a milk-run, starting off behind the Ngongs, taking the tricky way to Magadi Rd, crossing to head into the Butt Brothers’ valley, up to Mi46 for a beer and a bit of hooliganising in the riverbed and back. 240km in all, back in time for an afternoon snooze.

Above: Off the main tracks in search of the rocky-rolly descent

Above: The end of the rocky-rolly descent… kind of hard to stop for pics where it’s steep and tricky

Above: Heading into the Butt Brothers’ valley, some enterprising weavers and a couple of beautiful red bushpigs

Above: Panic makes a nice drifty turn

Above: Giraffes above Butt Brothers’ farm

Above: A bit of the rocky quick stuff aiming toward Mi46. Just a month ago I did this track and it was quite a bit different. The mud was really something.

Above: Finding a breezy pub in Mi46, we swallowed a couple of White Caps and watched a cat do gymnastics while gospel videos alternated with Mexican telenovelas on the TV

Above: Peckish after the beer, we rode down into the riverbed, burning our way to a shady tree for some tinned fish and salty cashews

Above: We were more than half way home, so we had a postprandial rest and listened to the birds. Since there has been a couple of heavy rain years, the little tweeters are out in force. Also in the mix, the endless tinkling of goat bells.

Above: After lunch, back to braaap!

Above: Leaving the rocky/sandy section for the short, flowing section of pure sand below

Above: Love my XRR, love Kenya

Above: Panic going for glory

Above: Me opening up

Above: Lovely, quick riverbed riding… love it

Above: Back on the road home, some infrastructure has taken a beating and the fesh-fesh is starting to get deep

Above: Check that lorry in the distance… the dust it raised blocked out the sun!

Above: On a little detour off the dusty road, down in a different valley where Panic used to practice enduro. Don’t think he’s keen for that anymore!

All in all, just another wonderful day in the valley!

Hopefully soon, something longer…

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Offline Oubones

Re: 2020 - Big Red Pigs in Kenya
« Reply #63 on: July 25, 2020, 02:34:46 pm »
Always nice to read about your exploits.
I am not getting time to ride between covid and my work keeping me busy. :-[
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Offline XT JOE

Re: 2020 - Big Red Pigs in Kenya
« Reply #64 on: July 26, 2020, 08:12:52 pm »
Nice read as always, a tad dry that side
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Offline Osadabwa

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2020 08 - The big Sand, Stone and Water Ride
« Reply #65 on: August 08, 2020, 05:17:59 pm »
2020 has been pretty ugly so far. It seems like the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are polishing their saddles and sharpening their spurs. So, when it looks like the darkness might just sweep you away, the very best thing to do is get as far away from it as you can. Living in Kenya, that means going where there’s:


So three of us set out to do just that. In true 2020 fashion, we didn’t all make it home in one piece, but the ride carried on! This will probably be the only big ride of the year, and maybe one of the last for me for a while, so we had to make the best of it, hitting some of our favourite Kenyan riding spots and exploring new places along the way.

Stay tuned…


Offline Osadabwa

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Day 1 - To Bogoria the long way
« Reply #66 on: August 09, 2020, 04:00:10 pm »
Bikes prepped, Wry, Panic and I agreed to meet at the petrol station at 8AM and astonishingly, we were all there on time. For long trips like this, we’ve learned to just hit the tar for half a day and get upcountry, so that’s just what we did. So we dodged homicidal maniacs in 4 to 18 wheel cages all the way to Nyahururu where by 10AM we were sipping coffee and chowing full English breakfasts at the Thompson’s falls Lodge.

Above: Tarmac scenes

Above: You think it has been rainy? There used to be a bridge here… near Ol Kalao

Above: The boys showing their fitness level at Thompson’s Falls Lodge, Nyahururu

Fasts broken, we were ready to ditch the tar and scramble down off the highlands into the Great Rift Valley. The descent is steep as hell and torn to bits, which is just what we like in a track. Astonishingly, there are remnants of guard rails on this road which begs the question: was it once tarmac? Hard to believe… probably somebody ate the money.

Above: Wry at the top

Above: Dropping down

Above: Panic, demonstrating perfect body position and looking through the corner like he’s in a training video or something

Above: Me on the way down

Above: Guardrails on a crazy steep dirt road

Once at the bottom, we crossed the metal foot bridge and ripped south to a lookout spot I’d found high above Lake Bogoria. From there we’d roll even farther south through some patchy farm roads and attempt to enter the Bogoria park to no avail, the road being under water. So, we found another rocky path around and arrived at the Bogoria Spa by late-mid afternoon for a rest and a splash in their amazing pool.

Above: A famous lookout now behind the wire fence of a bigshot from the county… won’t be many pics taken from here soon

Above: Funky place, Bogoria… one of the Great Rift Valley Lakes, often thronged with flamingos, but now with so much water they were few on the ground

Above: Turtle splashing around in the muddy ruts… Wry's spirit animal... buggar peed on me and it even stank like his boots!

Above: Taking some of the little farm tracks south around the escarpment

Above: Abandoning our plans to ride up the lake shore from the far south end. Have to go in via the Maji Moto gate (which would be useful info for travellers, but alas, you have to go there to find out that info)

Above: I took us on a rather interesting little track right at the end where we met with some of our first water crossings and serious stone fields

Above: Just behind the Bogoria Spa was one of the roughest sections of track… all good practice, and the XR eats it up

Above: Ordinarily we wouldn’t stay at the Spa, but Covid 19 pricing, and the fact that all the other lodges in Baringo are under water made it irresistible. Place is pretty nice, and why not support the economy? Also, any idiot can suffer.

Above: After a few beers and a rest, Panic and I enjoyed this massive pool while ostriches wandered the grounds.

That night, we hung around on the balcony sipping beers and some of the Johnny Walker we’d brought along for the ride. Pretty good start to what will turn out to be an action-packed adventure to say the least…
To be continued…


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Offline Osadabwa

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Day 2 - Escarpment, Kerio Valley and a Helicopter Ride
« Reply #67 on: August 09, 2020, 04:13:49 pm »
Breakfast down, bags packed, we were fuelled and on dirt by 9AM, ripping away from Lake Baringo west, towards the Kerio River Valley. The track was more than I could have hoped for, first swinging west away from the lake then north in and out of a series of valleys, crossing the Sibilo River several times before running straight into the main escarpment.

Above: The road I wasn’t sure was a road turned out to be… a road... and a good one too

Above: And it was quick moving

Above: Turning north parallel to the main escarpment, the track was more playful and long on views

Above: One of an endless string of harmless stream crossings... they wouldn't all be harmless...

Above: Winding along through unspoiled forest. A local bee-hive in a tree

Above: Wry makes a wrong turn in the stony Sibilo river, which had to be crossed and re-crossed in order to connect back up with the road

Above: Figuring it out, Wry exits the Sibilo… it’s a good thing the water level wasn’t high

Above: Sibilo river crossing

Above: The place had a Jurassic feel about it… cool and green, fresh and unblemished by too many humans

Above: Wry checks his GPS and proceeds to go the wrong way… we waited for the mope

Once across the Sibilo, the scrambly track aimed straight up the main escarpment. The zig-zagging scratch visible in the otherwise uniformly green hills (there). It was a nice little rodeo getting up to the top, with lots of loose rock and dirt and only a boda track to help you decide on a line. Nobody got stuck, but there were some shameful boot-flailing moments which the photos don’t capture but that I preserved on video to shame my buddies with later.

Above: Take me to the hills, there!

Above: Wry climbing the escarpment with Lake Baringo far in the distance

Above: Getting up there

Above: Panic coming up

Above: It was a brilliant track, and just tricky enough to make it fun

Once at the top of the escarpment, we stopped at a roadside duka in what was a beautiful little agricultural area in the high, cool air. A tar road surprised us, but a sign promised it would fizzle out in 200M. To our surprise and shameful delight, it went on for about 20km and we rode it like 3 super-moto hooligans on the brilliant, sun-warmed brand-new tar, twisting and roaring and laughing our asses off in a Honda Red, ear-splitting convoy. I was in the lead, and it was clear the guys would have gone faster cause on right hand turns I could see the two of them in my mirror only inches off my tail pipe. It was a blast, and in a blink it was back to dirt and we rocked-and rolled to a lunch spot with a view of the Kerio River Valley.

Above: Wry at the top of the climb, the misinformed signboard. There are no pics or vids of the sumo stretch… it was over before we knew it

Above: For now, the dirt continues, but soon this whole road will be tarmac

Above: Parked for lunch with a view of the Kerio River valley

Above: Biltong (thanks Crazy Vet Lady), sardines and rice cakes (the latter are only brought because they are crunchy and don’t disintegrate en-route… otherwise, they’re loathsome things)

Lunch gave us a boost and we ripped down the rocky bull-dozed pre-tar section to a different road in the valley bottom. It was very fast, but punctuated with lots of little stream crossings, many of which sporting neat little concrete drifts in the bottom. At one point, I was cautiously crossing one of these – worried it might be slick from algae, when Wry rips past me and covers me head to toe in spray. Fair game, I thought, I’m being a weenie… but the image of those Dakar guys all eating it hard in similar circumstances kept me wary (THIS VIDEO)… Wry, not so much.

Above: Rocky descent from lunch… picking up speed

Above: Aiming for the Kerio River Valley

Above: One of many streams, this one with a concrete drift not quite doing a damn thing

Ripping along, I had a run-in with a goat. More accurately, the goat had a run-in with my boot. So I proceeded down the way some kilometers and waited for the others. They didn’t show and didn’t show… I started worrying the villagers had lynched one of them in retribution for the goat, so I started back slowly. Cresting a rise, I see the bikes parked oddly in the dip of a stream crossing, Panic shaking his head and doing the universal knife-across-throat gesture, and Wry sitting awkwardly in the bush. Oh shit.

Wry walks up to me and his face and body tell me everything before he says: I’m done, mate. Collarbone. Pete re-enacts the scene, which he witnessed first-hand. Wry crests the hill and goes for the drift, giving a whack of throttle as he hits it, like he did when he splashed me. But this time, algae on the submerged concrete turn his bike into gravity’s plaything as the tires lose grip and begin an instant sideways slide until the tires grip all at once on the other side. This, friends, creates what is known in the biz as a “highside”, and Wry learned the hard way that highsides are brutal. He was catapulted off the bike like a rag doll and landed directly on his shoulder, narrowly missing a 2” square metal pipe lodged in the ground to gauge water depth. He said he knew it was game over instantly. So now what?

Above: The scene of the accident… innocuous looking, ain’t it?

Above: Lovely blue skies, quiet little stream… note the red post… that nearly impaled our boy Wry. The bike slid to a rest against it with her skid plate.

Above: Going in… not much to see, but the bottom was slick. The middle frame shows the skid marks with the rear wheel already well sideways before grabbing grip all at once and launching Wry like a missile.

Just at the right moment, a boda boda came by with a passenger, and we jumped into rescue mode. We put Wry on the boda and Panic followed them on Wry’s bike to Kolowa, the nearby village. Once there, the boda would drop Wry somewhere comfortable and bring Panic back to the crash site for the bike. Meanwhile, I would start calling the AMREF air ambulance. This process began at 1:30 pm.

Above: Wry painfully pockets his GPS while the boda prepares to take his passenger

Above: Have you ever seen somebody look more pathetic in your life? Wry was gutted, and so were we… and for good reason as he’d miss out on a fantastic ride!

I sat in the meagre shade of the bikes contemplating life and fielding questions from the AMREF guys. At one point they asked me where the nearest airstrip was, which kind of pissed me off. I said: that’s literally the kind of info I expect you guys to have! But they explained that there are sometimes little airstrips they are unfamiliar with, so I gave it a pass… also, what option did I have? Eventually, they came back and said they’d be dispatching a helicopter, and I sent them a pin on Google Maps for where Wry was. By this time, Panic and I had re-united with him in the shade of a very basic clinic in Kolowa.

Now that the Heli was secured, we needed to get his bike out of there. We found a guy with a pickup and after some back and forth, agreed that he would deliver the bike to Baringo where Wry knew somebody who could look after it. By now, the heli pilot was texting me, saying he was 40 minutes out and would only have 5 min on the ground, so we’d best be ready. So, we walked Wry to the football pitch and made him as comfortable as possible until the big bird came and took him away.

Above: Wry and I in the shade of the clinic while the bike is loaded up. The lady there was so sweet… made us a snack, bought us sodas, etc. Generosity out in the bush is something else. Here we are, organizing a helicopter for a friend who screwed up on a frivolous motorbike holiday which will cost more than the combined wealth of the village, and she’s buying us sodas…

Above: The bike vanishes while Wry organizes somebody to be at the hospital when he arrives

Above: At the football pitch, Panic commiserates with Wry… he’s done the same in the past and still has the bump to show for it.

Above: Wry leaning against a new shuka we bought hoping it would work as a sling… it didn’t, but it’ll be a nice souvenir for the trip. AMREF showed up, landed, loaded and left. Bloody brilliant!

Above: Cheers, AMREF, for $25/year, this service is well worth it! For you Americans out there, this is further proof you pay too much for health care…

Above: Wry putting on a brave face…

Above: Wry from the chopper… wet down there!

Wry was gutted to be missing out on the ride. We were gutted as well, but the ride must go on! So as soon as the chopper was up, we were out. Watching a friend be airlifted away messes with your head. The only way to fix it is to carry on. And we were not out of the woods yet. The ride was quick given the circumstances, and we were making up for lost time. We crossed the Kerio River bridge and I said to Panic we were home free. When will we learn? Down a road I’ve been on twice now, I was shocked to find many tricky water crossings with loose-stone bottoms. Further on, two more were so deep and swift, groups of men were there helping to carry bodas across. I’ve seen enough videos of guys being pushed off their bike in quick water to know I didn’t want to be next, so we opted to walk as well through the flowing knee-deep water. Save the macho shit for another day.

Above: Everywhere we looked, we were reminded of Wry…

Above: Thankfully, at least this bridge was still operational

Above: The concrete drift was broken in places and washed out deep… I was glad to get a hand pushing the bikes

Above: In places, this water sloshed above the knee

Above: Sure again that we were home and dry, I took this lovely evening shot…

Above: Only to find another, longer, swifter crossing!

Above: At last, our digs for the night. Marich Pass Research Centre. Been around for decades and set in a lovely spot under hundreds of tall trees.

Above: Drying out our kit by the fire with our favourite little camp dog.

That was a lot of excitement for one day. We pounded several of the camp’s nice cold beers and hit the rack. Tomorrow would turn out to be the longest day of the trip.


« Last Edit: August 09, 2020, 04:18:20 pm by Osadabwa »
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Offline Osadabwa

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Day 3 - Over Mtelo to Lodwar
« Reply #68 on: August 10, 2020, 06:20:19 pm »
I was up at dawn. Dreamt that Wry was ahead of me crossing a river and just fell over on his side, totally underwater in all his kit with the bike on top of him. That was enough of that shit! Breakfast wasn’t until 7 so I took a stroll out to the riverbed to take in the morning. I strolled back, had breakfast with Panic, kitted up, bid the doggies farewell and we hit the road.

Above: There’s something unique about the light in the mornings in Africa

Above: I had my troupe of little curly tailed mutts for company

Above: Breakfast was old-school Kenyan, starting with porridge and complete with pre-mixed milky, sweet tea

Above: She looks sad for us to go

The plan for the day was to head up into West Pokot, an area I’ve never explored. The track would take us over Mt Mtelo, past the Turkwel Dam (and over the Turkwel River) and up to a small village called Amakuriat where I could see from Google there was a decent sized Catholic mission. That usually means a small guest house or something where we can sleep. It was a fantastic morning. We first enjoyed 20km of flawless, traffic-free, twisty tar to our turn-off. Then a foot-bridge took us to a road that, free from truck traffic, was in blissfully good nick and ran right up into the mountains. The views were fantastic, all green, all interesting. Cattle and small villages dotted around, small farms of maize, natural fences and huts… like stepping back in time.

Above: Zipping up to the trailhead through Marich Pass to Ortum

Above: Crossing the footbridge. Since it was the only way across a big river, we were pleased to find a great track on the other side

Above: Mt Mtelo hung high above us for much of the morning

Above: It was great to be up in the mountains in the morning

Above: Of course, where there are mountains, there are rivers, and we must have crossed twenty of them before noon. At some point, we just kept riding, not even pausing to see if the other guy made it through okay or not.

Above: Just after we’d dried out boots too…

Above: And another one, this time with a cattle blockade at the other side

Above: But the riding was fun. No trucks means no ruts means smooth going

Above: A bit of mist on the high peaks, washing on the line… I could think of worse places to live

Above: It would be a tough life, but a simple and beautiful one

Above: I scared away a girl washing clothes in this stream. Some say she’s still running.

After a couple of hours of delightfully easy-going riding in the hills (there) we descended to the plains where we hoped we could find a way across the Turkwel River (actually, the Suam, according to my old-time map). The temperature was on the rise as we dropped in altitude, and the hills fell away for sandy tracks through deep bush. We stopped at a village for a quick Coke break, enjoying the absence of people as everyone seemed to be at Church.

Above: More rivers as we descended to the flatlands

Above: A nice spot for a Coke… quiet on a Sunday morning

Above: A tributary to the Turkwel, the Suam, was 2.5km across from sand-bank to sand-bank, and 1.5km of it was wet. We watched groups of people crossing waist deep, holding hands for stability and labouring across… even boda boda guys said it was impassable, so we went in search of the bridge.

Above: And on the way to the bridge, we crossed a few more rivers! All of them had reliably firm sand bottoms, thankfully

Above: Gloomy clouds on the horizon over near Kapenguria made me wonder if these rivers might get a lot more full soon…

Above: Splash... again

After an hour of searching, we found the bridge we were looking for at Kacheliba, quit a bit farther South than we expected to travel. There, we put fuel in the bikes at an actual pump and enquired about the road to Amakuriat. I was shocked to see a tar road going our way, but the guys said it only went a little way then turned into “very bad off road”. In fact, the road was very good to our eyes and fast, but not overly inspiring. Lots of thick bush on either side and mid-day sun was all I could see. We stopped for a bit of lunch, but otherwise just carried on to Amakuriat, arriving around 4pm.

Above: At Kacheliba, there’s a bridge over the Suam and a Honda shop! At least the sign is fancy…

Above: The “very bad off road” aiming toward the Chepunyal Hills

Above: Amakuriat from the road… not a bad looking place actually

We located the Catholic mission and rode into the compound making an ungodly racket and turning the heads of everyone in the place. They promptly pointed to a mzungu and told us to ask him about accommodation. Turns out the Father was new to Amakuriat and couldn’t be sure if there were rooms. He asked a parishioner if there was anywhere in town and the guy looked dubious. Now usually, people in places like this assume we need feather beds and bidets when we are quite capable of staying in rough places, so I wouldn’t have taken his word for it, but when they said it was only 100km to Lodwar, where I knew there was a good lodge and we’d be ahead of schedule, we decided to blast it. Helmets back on, ear-plugs in, we darkened the doorstep of the church no more.

Above: Panic getting primed for the next 100km

We were in for a treat. The afternoon light was doing its thing, painting everything a nice shade of nostalgia for better times, and the views were genuinely spectacular. We crawled around and over the Karasuk Hills and found ourselves looking down on an endless carpet of trees. This was totally unexpected… I thought we’d see flat, white-hot sandy plains. It was fantastic, and the road was tricky enough to be playful. We rumbled over and down the other side and found a spike strip laid across the road which I promptly by-passed, but when I saw military guys shouting at me, I pulled over. Turns out it was a Covid stop. We were entering Turkana County and they needed to take our temperatures. The top cop there tried to scare us:

Him: Why didn’t you stop?
Me: We did stop. How are you?
Him: You have committed a very great offence.
Me: Sorry for the offence. How is it here?
Him: Next time, stop at the barrier and await instruction.
Me: Sawa. Is this Turkana County? Ah, it’s a nice place! Kwaheri! Braaaaaaaaaapppp!

Temperatures just barely in the realm of the living (all the thousands of little Chinese shit infra-red thermometers chronically under-estimate temperature here), we were off on a real ripper.

Above: Down into Turkana District at Golden Hour

Above: And it was a good road too

Above: The carpet of green

Once past the police checkpoint, the road improved dramatically. The Turkana guys even seemed to brag about it, saying it was a Highway. Well, a sand highway it was, and wide and straight. With the light, the prospect of cold beers and cool digs ahead, and almost 300km under out belts already, we let fly. Bouncing around the 130-140kph range for miles at a time is pretty uncommon in Kenya as the roads are usually too twisty, rocky or populated, but here we were zooming. Listening to the Pig scream was amazing!

Above: Turkana District, punctuated with their iconic cigar-shaped anthills

Above: Beautiful bike, fast country

Above: Between hard-packed sand there was ample deep, rutted sand too. The pig just chews it up. Don’t come to the North if you don’t like sand!

Above: Close to Lodwar we crossed yet another wet sand lugga, made a call to the Cradle where we’d sleep, and commented that the 100km from Amakuriat has turned into 150!

Above: When you’re loving it, you take selfies

Above: Lodwar doesn’t look anything like it used to. Now with Roundabouts and several streets, lots of shops, hotels and activity, it’s the fastest growing town in Kenya. We pulled into the Cradle of Mankind Lodge outside town, got set up with fantastic rooms at Corona prices (with AC!), and had a celebratory beer.

It was a long one, but a good one, and we were in Lodwar a day early. That night we feasted and slept like the dead.

More tomorrow...

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Offline Osadabwa

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Day 4 - Unplanned Rest and Wrench Day
« Reply #69 on: August 11, 2020, 09:22:34 am »
Before calling it quits the day before, we’d lubed the chains and given the bikes a once-over. The last hour had been high revving, high speed, and we wanted to make sure all was okay. At one point, I’d stopped to see what was smoking, and realized it was high-temp ATV burning off of the heat wrap plastered on my Barnums Race headers! They must have been glowing red-hot! Love it. Anyway, we discovered that both our front bearings were a bit clunky (probably a consequence of swimming through Magadi's caustic water several times and all the recent sandy river crossings) so we first went into town to find replacements. Oh, and we also needed tobacco for the old Turkana men in case we needed to bribe them, knee-guards for Panic cause he left his in Marich pass (Doh!), and petrol.

Above: We scoured the town for knee pads to no avail. In the end, we bought flipflops that Panic inserted into his Klim Dakar pants. We did find bearings we needed (thanks Honda, for using common sizes! Try that with a KTM) and I bought 250 grams of dry tobacco for the wazee. Time to ride.

Above: Back at the Cradle, we watched the FAO Desert Locust Eradication spotter helicopter take off. The whole crew was staying there. They had a chopper with a sprayer (only 400kg capacity) and an air Tractor with 2000kg capacity. The spotter takes off at dawn (which is shocking if you’re not expecting a turbine to light up behind your room…) and then calls in the sprayers if he finds the swarms.

It took us awhile to get organized and on the bikes. I had assured Panic it was just a toodle down to Lokori, so I wasn’t in a rush. We left the Cradle and headed East on sandy highways, stopping under a tree for Panic to put in his jua-kali knee guards and to marvel at the flat expanse of land there. Camels, low shrubby stuff, a few trees… hazy sky… Turkana.

Above: Panic outside a Turkana homestead. Those little grass huts are pretty damn sensible in this place. It gets hot out there.

Above: Pancake flat and featureless landscape

Above: The helmet looks like it could be for life support in this alien land… not the last time on this trip

Above: Panic putting in his knee guards

Above: Mirage in the distance over a pancake flat dry lakebed

Above: I can’t resist a dry lakebed. It was a mini-chalbi desert and I love making huge arcs and loops in that stuff… as long as it’s 100% dry!

We were about 50km from Lodwar and I’d just pulled us onto a smaller track. It was a double-track with hard-packed sand and loose sand… it was sandy. I had this sensation that my bike was clunking, taking the sandy tracks a bit rough, so I pulled over. When I did, a gawdawful sound greeted me… one of grinding metal. My rear wheel was askew and the bolts holding on the disk were rubbing on the protector. The bearing was totally destroyed! Now, I’d given the wheel a wiggle back in Lodwar and it didn’t clunk or move, so all I can guess is the fast road of the day before had done in the bearing, the BBs had busted out and worked their way inside the hub and jammed it, making it seem okay. Well, it was not okay. The spacer was a piece of modern art, the bearing was shattered, balls rolled out everywhere and the seal was toast.

Above: What to do? This is why we bring spares. We tied the bike in a tree, took off the wheel and inspected the damage.

Above: We banged out the bearings with the travel hammer (see why we bring it, Tigo?) but getting the new one in was easy peasy… the hub, I’m afraid, is toast, but it’ll get me home.

New plan needed: Return to the Cradle, have a big conciliatory lunch, go back to town, find a replacement bearing (wanted to have a spare) and a seal, do some afternoon maintenance under a tree with a beer and try again tomorrow. Execute!

Above: The steak we ordered was amazing. Panic’s foray into the markets of Lodwar produced not only the bearing (again, why we ride a Honda), but also seals that he wedged in to make up for the missing one.

Above: Panic took this opportunity to swap out front bearings

Above: And I did the same, plus an oil change cause why not? I also pulled a nail out of my rear tire and put a plug in it in about 5 minutes. I run TuBliss in the rear (never the front), and it has paid off every time. I seem to pick up a nail in every tire, and it’s repaired before you can say: "Thank God I Don’t Ride A BMW"

It was an afternoon well spent in the shade, drinking beers, listening to tunes. I love being self-sufficient, and the XRR helps us with that. We did carry bearings, but we were happy to get backups in town. Now the bikes were in prime shape for the rest of the trip and Suguta Valley!

Tomorrow we'd try the Lokori run again.



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Re: 2020 - Big Red Pigs in Kenya
« Reply #70 on: August 11, 2020, 02:49:57 pm »
Once again a stunning ride and report. The trips you guys do are fantastic and so are those BRP's. Keep it coming :3some:
When in doubt...grab throttle!!!

Offline Osadabwa

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Day 5 - Lokori the long way
« Reply #71 on: August 11, 2020, 03:51:28 pm »
Up in good time, we watched the Desert Locust guys take off for one final spray. The funding’s drying up, so they’re all heading home. Too bad the locusts aren’t! We would find plenty as we went along.

Above: Taking off from the Cradle in Lodwar

With bikes in good nick, we confidently raced out of town, retracing our steps from the day previous. I wanted to go see Lake Turkana, and had a plan to get there via Kerio village. We hunted for a way across the Turkwel in a couple of places, riding through sandy villages waiting to receive USA food distributions which were piled up neatly 2 meters apart, but never found the way. In Kerio, we turned South and roared over the tracks which had endless deep, sandy luggas to cross. I love that kind of riding.

Above: That mini-Chalbi again… Panic a speck in the middle of it going 100kph… after the bearing detonation, I’d be keeping the speeds reasonable as well

Above: Of the dozens of sandy luggas we crossed, only this one had a warning sign on it… and it was upside down!

Above: Sure looks like a desert, doesn’t it?

Above: my Piggie posing near a funky rock formation

Above: Again, if you don’t like sand, don’t come to Turkana!
The area was so funky. It was essentially sand dunes kept together by magic. In one place, a large section had black rocks dotted everywhere. Looked like prime fossil hunting to us, so we had a look around. We found several pieces of what looked like petrified wood and some more funky, aquatic looking petrified shells that I can’t identify. Last place we saw those was on our long ride to the Ethiopia border.

Above: Fossil hunting site

Above: Aquatic whatsit and petrified wood, maybe?

After our little Richard Leaky moment had passed, we paused under a big tree for a bit of lunch. A portal opened and a woman with kids emerged on the sand next to us. We chatted with her a bit, gave the kids some snacks. I offered her a piece of biltong. She was sceptical. Took it, touched the tip of her tongue to it and promptly spat on the ground! Guess she doesn’t like cured beef! It was hilarious. Pretty sure she gave it to her daughter who devoured it without comment (kids don’t get enough food out here to be picky)… I asked for a pic, she said no. I agreed. We parted with a wave.

Above: Lunch before the portal opened

After lunch, I took us on a bit of a boondoggle in search of the track to Lopredo. We almost ended up in Lokichar before spying a track leading back the right direction. Once we hit that one, it was fast and lovely riding though, through weird Badlands like terrain. Before we knew it, we were in Lopredo for a soda.

Above: A lone hut in the flats

Above: Panic enjoying a bit of hard-pack for a change

Above: Those yellow weeds looked luminescent in real life… photos don’t do it justice

Above: Panic through the Badlands… that could be Wyoming

Above: Some weird green spaghetti weeds… definitely not Wyoming

Above: The church in Lopredo had seen better days… high wind? God’s Wrath?

Above: When we pitched up here, there were a dozen people around. They scattered like the wind. The few who stayed said they were afraid of us giving them Covid-19! Probably not an unreasonable fear. Slowly, though they crept back, holding their shawls over their faces, totally bedecked in Turkana beads. Such a funky place.

From Lopredo, the road follows the Kerio river (hello again, Kerio!) down to Lokori through a surprisingly productive piece of land with irrigation canals everywhere as well. We were not in the mood for photos though, so we kept on trucking. My “it’ll only be a quick toodle” day had been 250km of sand, so a beer was in order.

Above: Panic on the Kerio river road… river in the distance

Above: Tall trees, maize fields, prosperous looking place

Above: In Lokori at Terter Resort… that “Resort” part is a bit of a stretch, but the place has electricity and fans in the room!

Above: Afternoon scenes… beers were even cold(ish)!

Above: They fed us, gave us shelter, treated us well. What else do you want in a Resort?

Above: My room… It ain’t the Ritz, but at this time of year it isn’t hot, and that fan made my day. I slept as well there as I did at the Cradle.

Tomorrow, the return to Suguta Valley. That meant we went easy on the booze… last time being hungover down there was a biiig mistake.



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Re: 2020 - Big Red Pigs in Kenya
« Reply #72 on: August 11, 2020, 03:53:46 pm »
Thank you again for all the effort that you put into your ride reports  :thumleft:
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Day 6 - Return to Suguta Valley Dunes
« Reply #73 on: August 11, 2020, 07:10:42 pm »
I’m not sure the proprietor believed me when I said we wanted to depart at 6AM, but the mama had breakfast for us at 5:45 and we were on the road as promised. Mottled, feathery clouds covered the sky and kept the dazzling sun at bay as we rode East into Suguta Valley. I remembered this track as a rock and roller, fast on the throttle and quick with a blip as we were exiting after an amazing day, but in the morning you’re always more contemplative, slower, more aware of your mortality… so we moseyed along enjoying the views.

Above: Dawn crept in, quiet, cool and cloudy

Above: We again crossed the Kerio river on another old metal bridge… the last time was just after Wry had abandoned us in Kolowa

Above: Some small wildlife encounters in the early light. This feather, as long as my thigh, belonged to a Kory Bustard who was startled into flight at our approach. Biggest flying bird in Kenya (and in most places, I reckon). Tried to save the feather for my daughter, but it flew away.

Above: Those early morning cotton ball clouds in the desert. Could look at them forever.

Above: The painted desert, with greens, yellows and rust red stone.

In time, we crested the final hill and the Suguta Valley spread out below. In the distance I could see the place we dubbed “Fanta Village” from our last ride where I, heat exhaustion only a minute away after too many hours plodding around in the valley off-piste, stumbled into a duka past some very serious looking chaps with guns and demanded Cokes. The girl hands me two purple Fantas, 500ml each, which I proceeded to pound one after the other. In the morning light, Fanta Village looks distant and small and peaceful, but it ain’t.

Above: That golden grass positively shines in the early morning, and the blue is the colour of angels’ eyes in paintings

Above: The track down into Fanta Village

Above: Wide, wide views

Above: At Fanta Village we found a perimeter fence and a padlocked gate. Sceptical villagers did not exactly rush forth to open it for us, but finally someone came and reluctantly swung the gate ajar. They were clearly wary, and since we didn’t need anything, we decided to just carry on this time. The 250g of tobacco I planned to share stayed tucked in my bag. No need for unnecessary interaction… these are people on edge, and we’re dressed like Storm Troopers on fire breathing dragons.

Moving beyond Fanta Village, we were on our own up a fairly decent road. I was 100% sure we’d find only one track, but in fact there were a couple, and the one we took did not lead us to a bridge over the Suguta as I was 100% sure it would. I was never too good with probabilities. No matter, though, we crossed the river swiftly enough (after I walked it… no taking chances down here) and cruised around, stopping to admire a funky knoll, or to have a moment with the famous Desert Locusts who seemed to be thriving in the Valley.

Above: On a little rise, we took in the early morning view, noting with disappointment that the clouds were already baking away

Above: Crossing back to get my bike after walking the Suguta River to test the depth

Above: Some funky volcanic spills coming down to the roadside. Totally unlike the black lava further up the valley in “the neck” which is sharp and evil looking, this stuff is made of spheres and bubbly shapes

Above: The pigs look small as toys out there

Above: The Desert Locust wears Honda Red… I can dig it

Above: But damn, there are a lot of them. They cover every inch of the bushes they invade. 2020 means business with its pestilence, disease and death, and somehow being in Suguta kept that feeling front and centre… especially since Wry pissed off with our satellite phone and there ain’t no Safaricom down here!

A bit farther along, we came upon another village cordoned off from the world by woven wire. Again, the road came right up to the gate. Again, we waited for one of the dozens of people within view to come open up for us. We waved. I doffed my helmet and smiled. Nothing. Finally, a small boy gestured for us to ride around the village, off piste, over a field of baby-head boulders. We complied. We were not welcome. So odd. There were hundreds of animals there loitering, waiting for someone to take them out to pasture and water. What were they waiting for? What did they know that we didn’t?

Above: The second village with hundreds of animals waiting to graze

Soon, I began to recognize where I was. We were close to the turn-in for the sand dunes and the Black Cone. When I reached the dry riverbed, I gestured eagerly to Panic who looked doubtfully at me, but followed as I raced down the stony lugga. I remembered it being a slow but easy jaunt over to the Suguta River where we crossed with relative ease and a bit of excitement before popping out not far from the dunes. This time it was something else entirely. The lugga was softer and rockier it seemed. The grass was much higher, even still green in spots, and dozens of half-meter deep and wide rivulets wound through unseen beneath it. It was treacherous and painfully slow going. It took us over an hour to cross 6km of land (which we’d have to re-cross later) and we’d already been riding for 3 hours. Whenever I looked back at Panic, he just sat there with his bike at idle, hands in his lap… passively judging me… quietly questioning my decisions… silently smoldering.

Above: Panic enters the lugga, easy enough going at first

Above: The lugga spills a tongue of gritty sand and rock out into the flats, to eventually be swallowed whole by the grassy tufts

Above: Before long, we were consumed by the grasslands. No track to follow, only our noses, not a square inch of dirt visible most of the time and hidden ditches everywhere to fall into and flail out of again… Panic parks his horse and idles… still as a stone… eyes like coal…

Above: Dammit Panic, I swear it was easier last time!

Finally, we veered away from a direct assault on the Black Cone and picked an alternative route that linked together some patches of bare earth which eased our passage. We reached the river already exhausted, and none to pleased that it looked so full. Along the banks, white sand dunes play among the doum palms, many of which seem to have been blasted apart by something, with their tops fallen in the sand and their trunks left like headless scarecrows. The riding was tricky, as the sand was soft, but a complete joy compared to the endless grass hell. We came to the crossing at last and weighed our options.

Above: My first view of the river spooked away a flock of hundreds of snowy egrets

Above: Navigating the riverside dunes and the doum palms

Above: The river crossing… a lot fuller than I remembered it

I hopped off the bike and walked boldly into the river, promptly dropping into water up to the knee. As I proceeded, I could feel some of the riverbed was quite soft, other bits were harder, but there were clearly deeper spots and shallower spots to navigate. We decided it would be best to walk the bikes. This was a big mistake. Panic went first, with me pushing the bike from behind. He sent a roost up my face and down my shirt, full of black gritty sand and murky water. We got bogged down at least twice and had to push like hell. My turn came, and we hadn’t learned a goddam thing. Panic’s turn to get roosted. On the far side, we were both soaked to the skin and covered in grit.

Above: It was a bit tense, so I didn’t take the time to make any videos of the flailing across the river. Suffice it to say, it would have been ridiculous, and would tarnish our otherwise bad-ass veneer, so wipe the image from your minds! These are not the muppets you're looking for...

Out the other side, cooled from being, well, soaked for half an hour, we were feeling pretty good. I knew we were over half way there, so I was gung-ho. Alas! The grassy crap continued with even more washouts, some with mud or standing water in them into which I often fell! We fought another half an hour and I declared to Panic: If we don’t reach those palms in 10 minutes, we’ll call it quits. Thankfully, my ultimatum was toothless. In no time, the spaces between the grass filled with sand, we whipped past the palm line and before we knew it, we were coasting up on the first solid gray Suguta dunes!

Above: Those palms… 10 minutes or we turn back

Above: Yeah! All is forgotten, Suguta is marvellous again! We’re a team again! Let’s ride the dunes man!

to be continued...


Offline Osadabwa

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Day 6 to the dunes continued
« Reply #74 on: August 11, 2020, 07:23:03 pm »
Before arriving, we’d talked a big game about dumping luggage under a palm and ripping up the dunes, hooligan-style, letting the sand fly! The reality is, on a self-supported trip, this place is too hostile for that shit. We don’t want to be forced to go back to get something in the heat, and in any case, we can’t really leave anything behind in case we need it… it’s not like we’re carrying frivolous shit. We could enjoy the dunes, but sensibly, and it was good enough for me. I’m never going to ride over these things in 5th gear, pinned… At most, I got to 3rd gear with the XRR roaring and groaning, trying to find traction with a dual-sport tire that was already half bald from our adventure thus far. These ain’t your trailer-up-and-ride dunes and we ain’t no Red Bull Riders. This is Suguta Valley, KN and we’re riding Big Red Pigs!

Above: We didn’t pin it, but we certainly did enjoy it!

Above: Panic thoughtfully made Wry a postcard. Sorry you are a doofus, mate! Next time amigo!

Hitting the dunes, we decided to aim for what we’ve been calling the “tan cone” or “Aruba Rock” as it is listed on some maps. It’s a Martian artifact stuck smack into Suguta Valley, and last time we didn’t get up close to it, choosing instead to go melt ourselves down trying to reach Lake Logipi through the Neck. This time, I’d plotted a track, and we also had the benefit of one other group who coincidently been there the same week, our friend Vincent at IntuAfrica with a trio of 4x4s had left a track which we found as we got nearer. Apart from that, the dunes were completely virgin. Every run was fresh pow-pow.

Above: Another reason I won’t be blasting over these dunes… that is a very, very long drop and you can’t see it until you’re on it. You’d have to play around a lot before you knew where and how to cross this dune field. Unsupported, it ain’t happening.

Above: Elated, loving it

Above: Panic found out the dunes are… tricky in spots

Above: Such a beast of a thing

Above: Still quite a ways til Aruba Rock, and just dune riding all the way

Above: I love this pic… shows you the size and beauty of the dunes compared to the rider

Above: Panic giving it a bit of roost

Above: Me giving it a lot of roost… but only cause I got stuck

Above: High-lining

Above: Higher-lining

Above: Getting closer to Aruba… the closer you get, the more orange it becomes

Above: 200m away, we could have scrambled up that rocky/sandy incline to ride to the base, but by now we’d already been riding for 5 hours and had designs on visiting the Black Cone and riding more of those crazy dunes

Above: Honestly, doesn’t “Martian” come to mind?

We took in the oddness of Aruba and hopped back on the bikes. I had a vague plan to ride over to the Cone and set up a lean-to with a fly-sheet for lunch, but I spotted a palm with decent shade and we parked up there for a bit of lunch instead. Lunch which consisted entirely of chili-chive-cheddar cheese in honour of our brain-addled friend Neb who always brings a hunk of the sweaty, fatty stuff on rides! Cheers Neb! And to wash it down, a half-litre of electrolyte drink from an expired-in-2017 UK military ration pack. Apple if I recall. Mmmmm…

Above: Lunch spot with Aruba Rock

Above: Spotty sandy palmy dunes

Above: The chili-chive-cheddar cheesiness of it all was amazing

Above: Though only 38C/100F in the shade, apparently the sun was pretty intense, burning a permanent reminder of the valley on Panic’s GPS (always cover your GPS with your helmet when you park in Africa, folks. This has been a Public Service Announcement).

After lunch, it was off to Black Cone. As the crow flies, it is less than 4km from Aruba Rock to the Black Cone, but the desert is like a hall of mirrors. Distances mean nothing. Time doesn’t exist. A dune looks infinite and then you’re over it in an instant. You can’t judge anything correctly. Sand is soft, then it’s hard and you’re wheelieing… It’s a real trip.

Above: Getting underway can be a dramatic event

Above: There were some decent drops in places… my kingdom for a drone and some other nguy to fly the thing and video us so I don’t have to spend a single minute doing it!

Above: Our destination in sight

Above: 100m away? 100km away? Impossible to tell. Maybe he’s on another planet altogether?

Above: Panic cuts a bad-ass figure on the horizon

Above: My favourite pic of the trip… thanks Panic!

Above: Aruba Rock shrinks into the distance…

Above: And the Black Cone stands just ahead!
Last year, we got off our bikes and climbed that bastard. I’m glad we did, the views were amazing, but I won’t be doing it again. This trip, it was past noon, the sun was high, we had dropped the bikes a few times and pushed the buggars through the river and ridden for six hours already. What energy I had left I wanted to spend on the bike on the sand. I had no intention of dying down there this trip. So, we set out to loop the cone, turn back toward the river and head out. At this point, small mistakes add up really fast, and we were making them.

As we approached the backside of the Cone, Panic mis-judged a line and bogged down in deep sand. This meant he had to flog that bastard down into a gigantic antlion trap and get himself back up again. Thankfully, he didn’t flood the bike, so he didn’t have to kick her alive again, but still it was a project and he was winded afterwards. Once he was out, I was ready to lead us back to the river ASAP and get us on to Baragoi for some beers and bragging.

Above: Panic getting himself unstuck

Above: Extricated, he got up on the cone’s shoulder

Above: My bike in her most extreme habitat

Above: Panic makes a loop on the last of the sand at the Black Cone
I was in escape mode, aiming for the river, but there was a big ass dune in my way. I gave it stick, roaring for all my might toward the zenith and gaining on it. At the top, I could see the other side dropped away into another antlion trap, so I made a quick call to try to arc back down again and pick a new line. Being a total dune gumby, however, I lost momentum, the bike went past vertical on the downhill side and began to pitch over. Still quick witted enough to know I didn’t want to fall 10m down a dune, I bailed off into the sand above me letting the bike pitch over downhill. Now the bike is wheels up, pissing fuel and flooding herself royally. I grabbed the front wheel and kicked the shit out of the rear wheel until she corkscrewed right-side up again, then, after several deep breaths, I righted her and skied with her back to the bottom of the dune where I had to de-flood and ride her back out. Now it was time for plan B: Retreat! We aimed for the closest exit which was furthest from the river and enjoyed the ease of riding the fringe dunes back to the grasslands, through the palms and to the river.

Above: My big oof… could have been worse…

Above: Retracing our tracks was at least half as tough as before, thank heavens!

To be continued...


Offline Osadabwa

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Day 6 continued...
« Reply #75 on: August 11, 2020, 07:27:53 pm »
At the river, we wised up and rode the bastards across. I went first, but bogged down half way and Panic had to push me across again, but with much less drenching. By the time he walked back to his bike, he was seeing double and it took a long pause and a sweet or two to muster the energy to take his chances. Being the big gorilla that he is, he gave the bike a fist-full and positively crushed the crossing until the last bloody meter when she finally stalled. So close! We drug the bike out, let the airbox breathe a bit and clattered back across the grass to the main road. We were home free!

Above: Dunes, river and grassland hell behind us, we were positively thrilled to be held up by a pack of dozens of camels jerkily descending the track blocking the last of our lugga on-ramp

Above: Panic leaves the valley floor behind! Good-bye Suguta Valley! We’ll be back!

Above: Not free yet! Having ripped a hole in his bag, which came loose and got munched by his tire (muppet), Panic was distraught to see the Black Label had also suffered damage and was leaking. Fortunately, I was carrying a litre of sacred Suguta Water to douse my head with, which I did, and decanted the Black into said Suguta bottle. Seemed like a good time for a toast, so we poured a bit out for fallen muppets (you, mostly, Wry) and had a couple of sips in celebration of another epic day! But there was a lot of good riding to come… the road in and out of Suguta Valley would be a top 10 if the Valley itself didn’t make it seem like child’s play!

Above: Panic gains altitude over the rocky track

Above: And aims for the clouds

Above: Rock and roll! Sayonara Suguta Valley!

Above: Traffic is hell these days…

Above: Cactus green and Honda Red… complimentary colours if you ask me

An hour and a million stones later, we emerged onto the Baragoi plains with tall acacias standing guard and Nyiro mountain lording it over the horizon. We shot through herds of animals and lots of beaded Turkana with a single goal in mind: Get me to the Bonsella for a cold beer and a meat feast! We shot straight to Baragoi, got petrol surrounded by grabby, begging pricks, and vanished into the colourful halls of the Bonsella for a great evening of beers, bullshit, bragging and beef.

Above: The high plains and some very African looking trees

Above: Get me to Baragoi! Said nobody, ever, except for Suguta bikers

Above: His face says it all! Suguta, you rock! I demand beers and meat!

And we got it.

And we slept.




We’d been riding for 10 hours, of which over 6 were off-piste on the valley floor and in the dunes. It felt like a blink at the time and an eon by the morning. Dakar racers do that shit all day, every day, with 100s of kms of transport in between for 2 weeks. Respect where it’s due!

« Last Edit: August 11, 2020, 07:30:55 pm by Osadabwa »

Offline Osadabwa

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Day 7 - Milgis Lugga, Mathews Range and Sarara Treetops
« Reply #76 on: August 12, 2020, 07:46:58 am »
I was still shaking sand out of my trousers (not just a little either, a kg of the stuff), boots and hair by morning, but the feeling of tackling the Suguta was lingering. We were in no rush to leave. Baragoi had been fantastic. Cool weather (Panic even pulled out his puffy jacket while we were sipping whisky), good beds and a silent night thanks to Kenya’s continuing curfew, it was a great stop-over. Today we had plans for yet another wonderful ride, down to Barsaloi to the Milgis Lugga, over to the Mathews Range, up to Wamba and around the shoulder to Sarara Treetops, a posh lodge Wry had organized. It's always nice to have an awesome place to end up after a big ride. We should be drinking G&Ts by the pool by mid-afternoon. Lets go!

Above: By night and by morning

The ride to Barsaloi is a lovely track. I’ve never seen a car on it. We veered off the main Maralal road just where some GSU military dudes were posted up. I was glad they didn’t want to chat or pretend to escort us anywhere. Their presence always reminds me that the place has its fair share of banditry and war. But all we saw were long views of acacia scrub… and locusts. At one point I was riding along thinking, where are all these little birds coming from, and why are they hitting my boots! We stopped and chased them for a bit, taking some video (that and 20 minutes of riding will be appended to this RR). It’s astonishing how many of the buggars there are.

Above: Locust stop

Above: A nice weaver bird Christmas Tree

We were at the Barsaloi tributary of the Milgis in no time. We’ve ridden it up and down now several times, but this was the first time it was actively flowing with water beyond the first corner. That puts Panic and I on alert. We’ve both sunk bikes in quicksand, and you can never tell where it’ll be. But after a while it became clear the sand was solid all the way to the Seiya River’s inlet, so we could open it up. Nothing like the races we’ve had before, but still quick. We were at the Seiya before we knew it.

Above: At the top of the Barsaloi Lugga

Above: Wet river riding

Above: I stopped to chat with a boda guy who assured me the sand was firm

Above: Panic takes a pic of his bike next to this fallen palm every year!

Above: We stopped to check out this funky stone wave

Above: And to pose for photos… my Captain Morgan pose

Above: My mermaid in repose pose…

Above: And our grungy bikers in the bush pose… me and Panic, we've been at this for 5 years now. Ain't no better riding buddy.

Above: The place is spectacular. Funny how small the XRR makes it feel now.

Before we knew it, we were at the inlet of the Seiya River which was flowing quite a lot. Our road out was just on the other side, so we once again found ourselves crossing an unknown river. Fortunately, the murky water wasn't deep and the sand beneath was equally firm, so we had no issues. More challenging, though was getting to the road. The bush came down all the way to the waterline, and though we’d crossed without issue, we didn’t fancy dropping right into the river’s course like kayaks to reach where we were going, so we bushwhacked on elephant paths off-piste until we connected.

Above: The Seiya… Panic’s eyes say: More water? Really? You're turn to go first, wanker!

Above: After seeing me cross sans issue, Panic could rip it for the picture

Above: Off-piste in search of the road. All that time in the bush, and not a single thorn puncture. Amazing.

Above: Looking down toward the Ndotos and Ngurunit. With more time, we would have liked to visit again. Next ride.

Above: Track acquired! Time to ride up the Mathews Range to Wamba

We had options. We could return through the Mathews the way we’d come two Xmasses ago, which left one of us with a broken leg at Kitich Camp, or we could explore another road that paralleled the Seiya and might get us to Sarara a bit sooner. We chose the latter. I always like to ride different paths. This one was lovely, with occasional views of the river, and plenty of rough stuff. The Mathews Range is beautiful, and it was great to see it from another angle.

Above: Taking the low-Mathews road

Above: An abandoned house looks like something out of Cormac McCarthy novel... maybe the Judge is holed up in there waiting to put a bullet in you

Above: A quick lunch in the “shade” of a scrawny acacia

Above: Somebody pushed me down. I'm telling mom!

Above: Panic rides the rocky road

Above: High view of the Seiya in the distance. I suspect for most of the year, it’s dry as a bone… maybe a lugga worth exploring next time

Above: It is beautiful. And it’s nice to ride stones that aren’t volcanic. The quartz here clicks and clanks as you go.

Above: Seiya views

Above: Rode a short lugga over to the Seiya to see what we could see. People were washing clothes and watering animals. I splashed a bit of fresh water on my neck and moved on.

Above: Any of these luggas could lead to wonderful rough campsites

Above: A couple more river crossings for good measure. All clean, all firm.

At one point, we pulled into a village in the midst of a huge market day. I have never seen such a sight. Samburu warriors everywhere, bedecked in their most dazzling finery. Bright skirts, beaded heads and chests, feathers and ocre, bangles and bells… It was spectacular. The Samburu are really the show-offs of the Northern tribes. I stopped to buy a sarong and to soak it in. Only snuck one photo, and it does no justice. The lady that sold me the sarong asked if I was afraid of Covid. I said not really. She said she was, but what to do? Indeed… Before we knew it, we were in Wamba and I was sure we were 20 minutes away from Sarara.

Above: Market day. Honestly, there was so much more to see! It was like a circus. This photo sucks, but it's what I have.

Roaring into Wamba, we got fuel at the pump and shouted at the dickheads. They love to hover at the pumps, poking your GPS, generally annoying you and then asking for a soda. Panic turns blue every time: “Why the fuckshouldIgiveyouanything? All you’ve doneisannoymesinceIgothere!” You can almost see recognition behind their glazed over eyes as they mumble and stumble away. Because we only stop briefly, and only where others who are moving stop, we are treated to the most useless people in a village every time. When we've taken the time to pull in for breakfast in Wamba, we've been treated to wonderful folks. Alas... we were moving.

My track to Sarara took us directly behind Wamba, and had been vouched for by a guy who had driven it several years ago in 4x4s. Immediately it became clear that times have not been kind to that road. Still in Wamba town, we had trouble staying on the track. It was bisected in dozens of places by deep clefts in the soil, leaving us to squeeze by, hoping the sides didn’t collapse. Eventually, it led us out of town to a pass looking down on a lovely sight. The road had been murdered, but the boda guys kept a thin single track line scratched in it for their own use which we followed to the bottom.

Above: Looking down the pass

Above: The road was no longer passable by 4x4 and with effort by bike and foot

Above: Bodas have kept a little section clear. Good bodas.

Above: A nice long view down.

At the bottom, we panyapanyad around a bit. Eventually we got on the right track, heading toward a spectacular mountain. Finding Wry’s friends at their house (they manage the lodge) we were given an escort to our place by a worker on a Kibo who was super chuffed to be showing us the way but was so slow it was difficult to keep the Pigs upright! When we got to our destination, drenched in sweat from moving so slowly, our minds were blown!

Above: Heading toward the lodge

Above: Found a small group of Reticulated Giraffe… the handsomest giraffe with their geometric patterns

Above: The view that greeted us at Treetops when we got there. What a sight for a pair of worn out bikers!

Above: The dining area/lounge

Above: After a clean up and some lunch, a cool beer in the shade

Above: We shared the place with only one other family who took off for a walk in the afternoon, leaving us to occupy the pool until dusk.

Above: I didn’t want to leave the pool. Floated around in circles until it got dark

Above: Our tents on stilts above the forest floor, connected by long walkways

Above: Somehow I got the most amazing view. It was probably meant for Wry! Pick tent 5 if you can!

Above: The interior. Pretty smart. And the shower hangs off the side in the open. I love that.

How great to have a short transport day that was 200km long over 6 hours, involved riding a wet riverbed, climbing a rocky mountain range and descending a bombed out road to arrive at a place like Sarara! No place beats Kenya. No place!

It was such a great surprise to crash in a place like that, but we were gutted Wry couldn’t join us, especially since he organized it and got us a deal! My family saw the pics and declared an immediate plan to return with them as soon as possible. I won’t argue!

The sounds of hyenas in the distance and night jars in the forest. All night long.


Offline Osadabwa

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Day 8 - Nanyuki up the Doldol Rd
« Reply #77 on: August 12, 2020, 08:08:07 am »
Up early to enjoy the morning light. We needed to vacate sharpish as the lodge had guests arriving early and there are now special Covid cleaning procedures to perform. The breakfast was amazing, the views delicious. We reluctantly kitted up, bid the place farewell and descended into the bush worrying about elephants. Apparently, there are a lot of them. Heaps of poo everywhere keeps your head on a swivel. Don’t fancy surprising one around a tight bend. The riding was funky, and we made our way out of the bush tracks to Wamba in good time. It was just an easy day up to Nanyuki, and our last day on dirt.

Above: Breakfast by the pool

Above: Saying bye to Sarara

Above: Funky bush tracks out. I’m pretty sure this isn’t the track they suggested we take

Above: Connecting with a better road

Above: Camels with hand-carved wooden bells on the Right, a bell end on the left

Zipping to Wamba for more fuel (overly cautious we are, since the Borderlands ride), we ripped up to the track known to us as Ngai Susu road. It’s a lovely little ripper that takes you past a memorable natural feature on the way to the Barsalinga bridge over the Ewaso Nyiro.

Above: The feature erroneously known to us as Ngai Susu (a kid confirmed it’s called Nongupuli)

Above: My piggie enjoying the view

Above: For Wry… the juvenile delinquent in our group who loves this track

Above: Panic making time around the tit, er, Nongupuli

Above: Crossing the Barsalinga bridge

A quick ride over to Kipsing town and we took off on the only track I hadn’t planned myself. It was one Wry gave me from a trip he did on a quad safari which would take us up the Borana escarpment past Tasssia lodge. We roared down the road searching for the track… and it was a river! Not only a river, but a flowing river! Not only a flowing river, but one that was at the bottom of a mountain that was actively being rained on above. Cursing our useless friend’s name, we backtracked to take the easy road to Doldol. I’m glad we did!

Above: Which of you damn hipsters keep blessing the rains down in Africa? Not while I’m riding okay!

Above: Returning to Kipsing for our alternate track

Above: Panic making dust

I’d been on the track to Doldol with Bwana several years ago. I knew it involved an interesting climb out of the lowlands, but I knew it was there. After hunting for the track, we connected to it and I paused to wait for Panic. He got to me and says: I don’t think we’ll get up there! It did look intimidating… overgrown and very little sign of activity. But if you looked closely, there was a boda track, and that’s all you need.

Above: Coming out of the overgrown section, beginning the climb

Above: Planning his next move

Above: It was actually a nice climb with a couple of tricky bits…

Above: And great views

Above: And plenty of grip since it was all stone

Above: Those are the fekking eyes of death again… they burn holes in your soul

Emerging at the top, we were close to Doldol and the place is lovely. Cool air, a shower on the horizon, green grass and livestock nibbling around. It’s nice, but we didn’t want to get rained on, so we twisted grips.

Above: The uplands

Above: Good roads

Above: Not going to out-run the rain, I’m afraid…

Above: This Covid stop ensured we’d get wet… again, I had a 35.4 degree head

Above: Putting on our raincoats. Made the mistake before of toughing it out… froze our ass. Panic was furious about the rain. Howling at the weather. Cursing the gods. Throwing shit around. It did lots of good.

Above: Here’s a man with a more relaxed view of things. Just put up your umbrella and carry on.

We got soaked but didn’t freeze. The road kicked us out in Nanyuki and we bee-lined it for the Shephard’s Huts opposite Barney’s. They were awesome. We had to share one, but no matter. The shower was hot, the place was dry, the beers were cold and the garden lovely. Nice way to wind up another excellent adventure!

Above: At the Shephard’s hut

Above: Tucked in with hot water bottles and Black Label to keep us warm

In the morning, a Full English Breakfast in our bellies, we hit the tar for home. It was the most stressful 2.5 hours of the whole trip. We were nearly written off by a truck, we saw a bike accident, dozens of times I had to ride on the shoulder to avoid oncoming assholes. But we made it home and it’s already a forgotten footnote to an otherwise epic adventure.

Above: Parting shot… heading home

And all’s well that ends well for Wry. While we were at Sarara, he was having surgery on his shoulder. A day later, his bike arrived on a flamboyant bakkie. Now he’s just got to heal up and we can head back out again!

Above: Wry reunited… with collar bone and bike (his tear was somewhere between type III and V)

That’s all folks!

Before I go, here's the route:

And for those interested to see the countryside in moving pictures (and if my YouTube view numbers are correct, damn few are) here's the video:

« Last Edit: August 12, 2020, 08:09:07 am by Osadabwa »

Online ClimbingTurtle

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Re: 2020 - Big Red Pigs in Kenya
« Reply #78 on: August 12, 2020, 08:55:08 am »
Awesome as always!!

Many thanks for the effort, really appreciated!!

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Re: 2020 - Big Red Pigs in Kenya
« Reply #79 on: August 12, 2020, 09:13:14 am »
Unreal riding, Kenya has it all !
Little by little, one travels far
J.R.R Tolkien