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On a scenic road trip to Namanga

By Jayne Rose Gacheri | August 1st 2021

A group of female riders en route to Namanga.

The offer was irresistible - a road trip to Namanga with women motorcycle riders – the Inked Sisterhood. Since I was not a rider, we agreed they would ride and I would drive.

This was a year ago, and the world was just beginning to slow down.

The riders were clad in leather - black leather boots, guards, jackets and helmets. The leather wear is not only for protection, but is also their trademark.

We set off for Namanga, making our first stopover at Mlolongo where the group caused a stir that almost brought the place to a standstill. 

From here, it was challenging keeping up with their speed and road manoeuvres. The Namanga road offers an excellent driving experience, with few speed bumps. At some point, we gave up and decided to drive at our own pace and enjoy the scenic drive.

From Kitengela, we drive through Isinya, a journey that takes us past massive constructions – apartments, estates, homes, business premises, and all manner of structures. This once upon a time savannah, where wildlife roamed freely, is turning into a concrete jungle.

After Isinya, the landscape changes dramatically into dry woodland, a bit of forest and shrubs. There is not so much of human activity, and the drive gets exciting. 

Suddenly, we are in the land of hills – especially on the side that borders Amboseli National Park, We occasionally stop to appreciate and enjoy the beautiful landscapes, as we interact with the locals.

A hike to the summit of the hills – an easy hike, is quite phenomenon. The view below is breathtaking. However, hiking is not the only indulgent. Besides exploring the enterprising border towns. 

Another manifestation of the drive down to Namanga is countless rivers with beautiful Maasai names. We learn that before climate change, these were big rivers, which often times flooded during rainy seasons. Sadly, that is not the case anymore. Most of these rivers exist as dry river beds. 

Rivers aside, what really captured our attention are the spectacular Oldonyo Orok Mountain, also called the Black Mountain, probably because of its dark green colour. One is not able to see the mountain’s summit due to clouds that hang around its tip. At each side of the Mountain are the Namanga hills. 

From a distance, the hills seem to be hanging on both sides of the mountain.

They stand out as an escarpment of huge stunning hills that seem to roll into each other endlessly, a natural marvel, and a reminder of how nature intended the world to be. A hike to the summit of the hills, an easy hike, is quite phenomenon. The view below across the border town and beyond is implausible.

When we finally get to Namanga, we find that the ‘girls’ faithfully waiting for us so that we could have a late lunch. We explore the eateries, specifically looking for the nyama choma joint where President Uhuru and his deputy William Ruto had a remarkable goat-eating encounter. 

Unfortunately, we learn it is quite a distance away, and instead we decide to crossover to experience the Swahili culinary delights at the Tanzanian side. We do not have any challenges at the immigration offices. A visitor can travel a radius of about eight kilometres (no man’s land) on both sides without immigration documents. 

Actually, it did not feel like we had crossed over to the Tanzanian side. I learn that the guiding principal is that any sign written in English is an indication that one is on the Kenyan side, while those written in Swahili is a sure sign that one is on the Tanzanian side. 

Also, al though it is common to see registration numbers for vehicles and motorcycles from both countries on either side, the one domineering is an indication of which country one is in. 

A road trip is so relaxing and therapeutic. By the time we were done, we were happy that we gave up chasing the ‘wild gang’ of riders for a leisure road trip back.

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