SECOND START (South Africa to Kenya)
Two months after our first departure (and four weeks of repairs
and re-issue of visas), we were ready to leave again. A last
minute task was some photocopies of our passports at the local
pharmacy as it was Sunday. After our other vehicles were stored
and everything locked up we set off again. Where were the
passports? Whew! Fortunately it was only a 2km detour and the
pharmacy was still open!
This time it was all tarred road (though often with numerous
potholes, particularly in Zambia). We drove long hours, stopping
only for fuel and to sleep. Messina was our first stop and
we enjoyed the good campsite under Baobabs. Near Harare we were
fortunate to find a space in spite of all the fences, next to a
game farm. In Zambia, north east of Lusaka, near Kapiri
Mposhi, we were shielded from the road by a giant anthill. We
found the radio mast again, where we had stayed before, in a
cleared level area of the natural forest. The new leaves on the
trees were amazing shades of copper, rust, maroon and lime green.
The 5th night out, we thought of camping earlier, when
we saw a veldt fire coming towards us. On we went until 9 o’clock
when we stopped to ask the way. As we pulled off, the left rear
side shaft broke. In 4-wheel drive, with front traction, we could
carefully follow the track to Kizolanza Farm campsite. The
next morning, when replacing the side shaft, Jan noticed that the
rear prop shaft universal joint was also broken. The spare did
not fit. (It happens sometimes!) In Iringa, 50km further,
we bought the spares but then had to drive most delicately (again
front wheel drive only) for another 135 km to a suitable place for
the mechanical operation. This “suitable place” was on the banks
of the Ruaha river in between Baobab trees on a concrete
slab where a building used to be. Just in case Jan and this
Little Diplodocus (Dipli) were feeling sorry for themselves… there
suddenly arrived – a double-deck London bus! A giant camper with
low ground clearance; 8 young people in it; seats and sleeping
space at the top and kitchen and dining area on the bottom level.
On the 7th day at the turn off to Dar es Salaam we had
completed the circle home and back. (A detour of 7000 km!).
Through green sisal fields we drove towards Arusha. The clouds
lifted and we were fortunate to see Mount Kilimanjaro with
its snow-covered peak. After 4050km in 8 days we reached Masai
Campsite at Arusha, a popular overlanders’ sojourn. The
next morning we found ourselves completely surrounded by little
Towards Ngorongoro and Serengeti. Incredibly bad corrugated and
pot-holed dirt road through the town of Mto wa Mbu and then
up a hill overlooking Lake Manyara. Thump! Thud! Crack!
Left front swivel ball housing cracks and side shaft goes too.
Jan phones Brian there in the middle of nowhere (sat phone to cell
phone) and asks for replacement spares to be sent to Nairobi. Jan
toils for 3 hours while a procession of identical safari vehicles
When we entered the Ngorongoro Conservation area, we were
on the North rim in thick indigenous forest. There was such thick
mist, we could hardly see the potholes. 15km of crawling down to
the valley floor. Once down in the sunlight it was awesome seeing
herds of wildlife next to a large lake with the backdrop of the
600m crater walls. The rim campsite is at 2340m and quite
cold. On towards Serengeti, on more of the total of 640km of
the incredibly bumpy, chassis shaking, battering of bones. Those
corrugations were leading to an affliction we called “progressive
whiplash”. Jan often tried skilful “tightrope driving”; that is
balancing one wheel on the slightly smoother outer gravel edge of
the road, sometimes left and sometimes on the right-hand side.
“land of endless space”... The plains are covered with golden
grass, the colour of lion. We were indeed lucky to detect a large
pride just after we had entered the park. New for us were
antelope like the Topi, Thomson’s Gazelle and Grant’s Gazelle.
Because of the sparse bush, birds are concentrated in small
areas, and we saw many... We admired the architecture of the
Seronera wildlife lodge but stayed at Ngiri Campsite with very few
facilities; but resident buffalo and birds like Fisher’s Love
birds around us. Serengeti is so flat & level because of the
volcanic ash from Ngorongoro Crater. It was now September and the
wildebeest had migrated to the North but we were thrilled with a
good variety of animals we did see.
The same way back. A worthwhile detour was to Olduvai gorge
where the Oldupai (wild sisal) grow; and where the Leakey family
had discovered the bones of Homo Habilis and 3 ½ million-year-old
footprints. We met a South African Ranger there who works for the
Tanzanian National parks. He said that the Serengeti is still
dependent upon donor money. He assured us that all fees go into
conservation. We had paid $25 each, entrance plus $30 for the
vehicle plus $20 pp camping. (i.e. US$120/day with zero camping
facilities!) We saw “Whistling acacias” (because of little mud
balls made by ants) and Lions paw. The Masai people in
Northern Tanzania and Southern Kenya were a photogenic delight.
They wear bright red tartan cloaks and lots of beaded adornments.
They always carry a stick or a spear. We have seen them at
markets, tending their cattle and once also a whole team playing
football, draped in this gear. The “young warriors” wear black
clothing and paint patterns and masks of white ochre, on their
It took Jan 8 hours, and some persuasion, at Nairobi
airport to extract the replacement spare parts, which the Cotton
team had so efficiently dispatched. At the SA High Commission
there were faxed letters from Liesl and Ingrid. We were happy
with that but fed up with Nairobi. (Felt just like Jo’burg). So
at 5pm we decided to get the h…. out of there and headed North for
the Rift Valley lakes. We plunged into the rush hour traffic.
Late that night we reached the large lush green campsite at
Lake Naivasha. That area is the largest producer of roses in
Africa. We saw acres of rose bushes the next day and hot houses
but no colour anywhere. We crossed the Equator. At
Lake Baringo it was hot, humid and “mozzy”. From a local
motorboat we saw hippo, croc, and lots of water birds.
The road to Lake Turkana (“The jade sea”) and beyond was
tough. It consisted of lava beds with shattered small rocks, up
to large boulders. There was patterned dry mud and huge salt
pans. The trucks had left deep tracks in the washed away
sections. The constant hot wind blew the dust from behind into
the front windows. What added to the fascinating but hostile
scenery was the fact that there was no vegetation near the Soda
Lake; only black volcanic rocks. The distance from Maralal
to Moyale was 786km. Our average speed was 21km/h. It was
39°C and Jan had to fix another breakdown. He even had to weld a
steering arm in the middle of the road.
The Samburu tribes’ people we saw, in the town of South
Horr, were interesting to look at. The young men were painted
and wore an ostrich feather. The women’s adornments consisted of
beaded earrings and a pile of single necklaces. If they are
unmarried they wear a bright silver medallion on the forehead.
was where we had to join the convoy. We were able to buy a used
left steering relay arm (just in case the welded one didn’t
last). We had to find a workshop with press (to straighten track
rod) & angle grinder (to weld swivel ball), so they could go back
into the spares kit. Once again the Catholic Mission with a
Technical School workshop came to the rescue. We also stayed
there for the night.
The Monday morning we were up at 5 to be first in the convoy. We
waited but no other vehicles arrived. An Irish motorcyclist came
along and we waited. At 09:30 we hired our own armed Police
security guard. ($20). We offered to take Liam Kelly’s spare
tyres and he went in front. When he stopped for lunch we passed
him. The road was the usual; corrugations and deep furrows left
by trucks in the wet season. We were bumping along as carefully
as possible. “Thud!” “Crash”! Left rear wheel severed.
Stub axle broken. Alas! We have no spare. It is late
afternoon. 144km have taken us 5 hours. We have more than 100km
to go. We are 6000km from home. Jan starts working immediately.
The policeman, Shukri and Liam help, but Liam is thinking fast of
a plan. Jan sketches the part, gives him $200, to buy the part in
Moyale for return by next convoy. The police Land Rover which
passes does not wait for him. He follows another. He thinks
Leoné should be evacuated but she declines. Jan works until
dark. Leoné and Shukri pan the bush trying to detect Somali
bandit movements. The high lift jack obstructs the chair storage
area; so we sit around in the dirt. When we go to bed, Shukri
climbs through the hatch. We hand him his machine gun and he
keeps watch on the roof the whole night. (Chewing sticks of mira,
a shrub containing a stimulant drug, growing there).
When Jan starts working again, the next morning, our loyal guard
passes out on the front seats, with a loose curtain over his
head. Cattle trucks pass but no spare part. A large herd of
Camels are too afraid of us to pass without much persuasion. At
13h15 the part arrives, together with some unrequested bearings.
Liam’s accompanying note says the change is at a hotel in Moyale.
Jan was so well prepared that we left half an hour later.
At 17:30 we were still 50km from Moyale. Crunch! Bolts broken,
front left swivel pin housing. Shukri helps to take the wheel off
and put back and quickly we are ready to go. Oh dear! It will not
start! It is getting dark and to quote from Liam’s note “A second
night on the road and the Shiftas are sure to get you”. Clear
diesel air lock and relieved we move again. Lots of animals on
the road: kudu, dik-dik, jackal, guinea fowl, baboons, and wild
cat – real jungle. About 20km from Moyale there is a single light
on the road far ahead. It disappears. When we get closer, it
reappears. Jan switches on the powerful spotlights and it is
gone. We reach Moyale’s security barrier after 8pm.
Shukri speaks to his mates. They tell him about the ambush at 2pm
that afternoon, 20km from town (!), of a vehicle and 9 people
including the armed guard – all murdered. (Shukri is convinced
that the light we saw were the bandits preparing to ambush us, but
that the spot lights had scared them, since here only police
vehicles have ‘spots’). At the Medina hotel we find Liam’s
“letter” with $160 change rolled up like a rod. Our guard escorts
us to safe parking in the border area. He is pleased with his
The next day quickly through Kenya side. At the border is someone
with a note from Liam. He had come to collect the unused bearings
(or the money if we had used them). The Kenyan border police
confirm the report of the previous day’s ambush.
next day quickly through Kenya side. At the border is someone with a note from Liam. He had come
to collect the unused bearings (or the money if we had used them).
The Kenyan border police confirm the report of the previous
Dipli Travel diaries - Read the rest of this overland
expedition in a Land Rover Forward Control Overlander