The sheer mention of a trip to Northern Kenya is enough to evoke fear in any traveller’s heart. However, as ALLAN OLINGO found out, it’s a journey that also offers lots of fun filled exploration
When I was informed that I would be traveling for nine days to the Northern corridor, I was not excited. The stories that come from this area has never been positive save for the recent oil discovery. But given my curiosity instincts, I decided to give it a try.
We left Nairobi on a chilly Monday morning in a convoy of six Game trackers land cruisers, with our first destination being Maralal, 400 kilometres from Nairobi. The roads was smooth till we got to Rumuruti where we were informed that the next time we would enjoy the tarmac would be on the eighth day!
I wasn’t quite prepared for this extreme roughness of this road. “Was it going to be so bumpy the entire route?” I asked Kyalo, our van driver.
|African themed cottages at Palm Shade Resort [Photo: Martin Mukangu/Standard]|
“Yes it will be, until the eighth day when you will get to Isiolo,” Kyalo responded with a smile knowing that I was now being ‘baptised’ into the Northern Kenya terrain. I was resigned to fate.
The first few hours, were bearable and exciting as we marvelled at the lovely hills, landscape and the occasional stoppages by the roadside to admire the herds of elephants, buffaloes and even the Zebras in the private ranches that line up the Rumuruti- Maralal road. Interestingly, we only met one matatu on our four-hour journey to Maralal.
The stories and jokes soon faded and it dawned on everyone in the van that we were in the jungle. We all went quiet, suffering in silence as we were thrown from side to side in the vans as the drivers tried their best to reach Maralal within ‘safe hours’.
My entire body slowly grew numb with pain from the rattling of the van. But my anticipation of reaching Maralal or an encounter with the bandits kept me alert and full of fight.
We got to Maralal at around 9pm and checked in at a lodge. The next day, we set off for Loyangalani, another 400 kilometres away, with a possible lunch break at Baragoi.
Driving towards the Suguta Valley, the landscape transformed into a green bushy escarpment and as we made our stop to admire this valley, you could see a mirage of white clouds appearing on the horizon, which transformed into herds of very resilient sheep.
The lead driver, Rufus, warned us that this was now a prime bandit territory and that we had to be within eyesight of each other’s car. Suguta valley is famed for the notorious Pokot raiders who use it to hide the animals that they steal from the Turkanas.