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Choppy lake. On a boat! My bike onboard. A coxswain with questionable sobriety, keen to show off. My bike being thrown about. Me waiting for a rope to snap at any moment, and for the bike to flip overboard into the crocodile infested waters. Praying that the rope would snap clean off, so the bike doesn’t take the whole boat down with it… My swimming skills are as abundant as chicken milk…

I’m here staring at the white water splashes, wide eyed in bewilderment, and a question keeps ringing in my head: Is this how stupid people die? It’s a fine line between genius and stupid.

However, a few hours into the boat ride, I’m fast asleep – on the same boat under the same conditions. Humans get tired of being bewildered.

That is how day 4 of my 8 day trip to Anam Ka’alokol went down. “Anam Ka’alakol” means “the sea of many fish.” Anam Ka’alokol is what the ancients called Lake Turkana, before a foreigner “discovered” it and named it Lake Rudolf, or The Jade Sea… And before Kenyatta named it Lake Turkana in 1975.

The Jade Sea called me again, and I answered. I have been to the lake a number of times before but, this time, I had a strong desire to use a route new to me, and to cross the lake on boat with my bike onboard. And to visit the islands. And to see the El Molo people again. And many more things that I ended up not doing because I had made some awfully wrong assumptions in my planning.

I scoured the internet looking for any info on this route, and found none. I message a Lodwar resident asking about this route, and he had almost no info on it. There remained just one choice: to go out there and find out for myself. And now I will tell you all about it, with tons of photos to boot. (If you ever come across a 1600km trip report with more photos than this one, show me!)

I will tell you a lot of things… I will tell you about towns I went through…

Beautiful landscapes…

Good people…

This hotel…

Yes, that’s a hotel!

This hottie I met…

This monument…

Bagayo, the enigmatic coxswain and his two litre bottle of Cocacola…

Beautiful sunsets…

Donkeys…

Children…

Getting stranded with a damaged bike…

And many, many more. As usual, it will serve you well to read the story part by part in sequence, without skipping anything, even photo captions. This way you will get the most out of it, and not get bewildered by unexplained references I make as I keep progressing with the story.

Now, sit down. Let me tell you about my January 2021 solo motorcycle adventure to Anam Ka’alokol…


Preparation

I’m both excited and anxious about this being a solo trip. I plan to follow a route I can’t find any information on. Google Maps shows no road there, but a different map does show a road. I do not know if it’s passable, or the state of security. Perfect ingredients to an adventure, ey?

As usual, I begin by laying out of the floor the stuff I intend to carry with me. This helps me to see everything at a glance and not forget stuff. I have reached that age. A friend helps me put together a basic first aid kit. I hope I won’t ever need it. I also get some canned and dried foods.

I make some adjustments to my after market rear shock. More preload. Fiddling around with the rebound damping… These later turn out to be the most valuable adjustments I make. Day and night difference in handling and confidence.

While giving the bike a quick last look-over, I notice that the bolts holding the front brake master cylinder to the handlebar are a bit loose, or so I thought. I try to tighten them, and end up breaking both bolts. Now I have no way to mount the master cylinder, which mean no brakes, no side mirror. No trip! This is how a simple ten minute job becomes a half day ordeal.

I go to the local chuma fundi to see if he can help. The broken bolts are stuck in the cylinder and can’t come out, even after trying some welding tricks. (Gotta be careful with heat here, the cylinder has rubbers and delicate things in it.) Finally the fundi brings out a tap and die set, much to my surprise, because I do not expect a fundi in such a small market place to have such tools. He says he used to be an engineer in some big company. He drills out the broken holes, taps in new threads, and I’m good to go. My trip starts tomorrow, and I really do not want to postpone it!

Broken bolts

Engineer with his assistant.

Tap and die set!!!

Before I go to bed, I pack all the stuff into my adventure bags and put them by the door. I also load up the maps I have drawn into the GPS unit.

I have been looking for gas canisters for my Campingaz 206 burner and recently found a shop selling them cheap, and bought two. I mount one canister to the cooker and it doesn’t quite work well. The sealing rubber has grown old and, before I can realise what is going on, the whole canister is empty, my hands are freezing from the leaking gas, and I’m genuinely scared I’m going to blow up my house!

I try to reinforce the sealing rubber with some polythene bag, and mount the second cannister. It works, but I can still smell it leaking. I altogether dump the idea of carrying it, and decide I will cook with firewood.

Bags by door.

Don’t buy this piece of shit.


Day 1 | Nairobi – Kapenguria

Day One’s plan is to ride from Nairobi via Nakuru, Eldoret, to Kunyao, a small town north west of Kapenguria. I had done an online search for a place to sleep there, and found a small hut that seemed to invite guests over. A call to the place proved otherwise. The mzungu owner of the place was not amused that I called him, and seemed to be reminded that he should remove his phone number online. He later sent me the area chief’s number, telling me to talk to him.

Meh! Not gonna do that.

I decide to go there and figure things out on the fly. Good thing is that I have a tent, food, and water, and I’m ready to sleep anywhere safe.

Kunyao.

The plan to ride to Kunyao begins disintegrating right in the morning, as it takes me too long to leave home. While packing the bags, I realise that I’m carrying just too much stuff, and I start losing weight. I leave a lot of the canned food behind. I had gotten a lot of food because during my last trip to northern Kenya, I lost appetite and got sick of eating fish, the most available food in the region. Coupled with not having been exercising regularly, I eventually got so weak and got such crazy sugar craves (a doc told me it was a sign my body was eating itself). You can read that full story here.

Weight cut, I strap the remaining stuff onto the bike, and gear up. It’s time to begin the trip!!

Packing the bike.

Departure selfie.

I have a group of family and friends (henceforth referred to as “my people”) who have agreed to follow my trip updates, and whom I have promised to give moment by moment updates of my whereabouts and plans. This is especially important since I’m travelling solo. I have requested one of them to be on standby in case I need help or rescuing.

Telling my people of my departure.

Leaving home.

Heading towards Naivasha.

I stop at Buffalo Mall Naivasha to get some few things.

Buffalo Mall, Naivasha.

Don’t ask…

One of several bikes on display at the mall entrance, for sale.

The journey continues…

Disturbing roadside wildlife.

Getting disturbed by middle-of-the-road humanoid wildlife.

Getting into Nakuru.

I need to pick some more things here.



I also need to get puncture repair glue and some extra patches. I hope I won’t need them!

He tells me where I might find a puncture repair guy.

Finally I find the place.

The boys help him do the math.

Updating my people.

A little chit chat with this biker. He does Nakuru to Eldoret in two hours, he says…

…and I get back on the road. Leaving Nakuru.

Road to Eldoret.

I get into Eldoret where I intend to briefly meet my sister before proceeding on. Since I left late, it’s clear that I won’t get to Konyao today. I’m resolved to spend the night at Kapenguria.

Eldoret.

Meeting my sister.

Leaving Eldoret.

I leave Eldoret and head towards Kapenguria. Here I use a road I have never used before, suggested to me by one of my people, the road through Cherangany. This route avoids the truck-ridden stretch from Eldoret town to Maili Tisa, and the rough, narrow road to Kitale town, and Kitale town itself. The road through Cheragany is in good condition, and the ride is a relaxed breeze.

Sibanga.

I stop somewhere to take a leak and enjoy the sunset. Google maps tells me I’m 24km from Kapenguria.

Maili Saba junction with Kitale-Kapenguria road.

After covering over 30km I stop, wondering why the 24km are not over. I check again, and find Maps had lied to me before, I’m now about 30km to Kapenguria town. It’s getting dark.

Finally I get to Kapenguria.

I like filling up before settling for the night.

Camera art.

I get to a hotel recommended by one of my people and book a room. The room is very clean and nice for the price. And I get to park my bike right outside my room. Convenient. There are a number of guests in the other rooms. A young lady is checked into the room next door.

Getting to the hotel.

The room.

As soon as I check in, the whole town is plunged into darkness. No power. I go to the restaurant and order some food, and sit at a table to wait in darkness. One of the workers brings a candle to my table and lights it up. I’m just warming up to the idea of a romantic candle lit dinner when Kenya Power absolutely ruins it by restoring power.

Me: AAWW! I’m gonna enjoy candle lit dinner.

Kenya Power Sadism Officer: He is having too much fun with the darkness, put the power back on!

Dinner.

After dinner I go back to the room, unload a couple of things from the bike, and take a shower. Just as I settle into bed, communicating with loved ones and falling asleep, loud music starts playing from a bluetooth speaker somewhere. I can tell that it’s a bluetooth speaker because it keeps reconnecting loudly, and the music keeps being interrupted by phone calls. I’m hoping I’m too tired to care, that I will just black out, regardless.

I’m not too tired to care. After turning and tossing a while, I drag myself out of bed, wrap a kikoi around my waist and go outside to see where the music is coming from. It’s the lady neighbour. I knock on her door softly, hoping not to find myself facing a sour half naked boyfriend with a bulge… On his chest, I mean…

I find myself facing a sweet half naked girl, who opens the door wearing only a t-shirt, with nothing else below the waist. I effortfully force my eyes away from her thighs, up to her face, and I smile apologetically…

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