315 km, 6704 km from Cape Town
THE GREAT ROAD
Leaving Meru, plump with fuel and with fine weather we started on the great Marsabit Road which runs essentially rom Isiolo to Moyale on the Ethiopian border and is pretty much the last of the natural untarred great north road. Although the chinese have been busy for a long time with upgrading this and other roads all over Africa, there are still long sections which remain as they have always been.
The road cuts through the Kaisut desert and pans of northern kenya which is home to remote and unique tribes, who we were told have chased off the road-builders on occasion. A great broad highway through the region would change their pastoral ways for ever and so it is understandable.
Riding conditions were pretty tough as the original road is corrugated, rocky and sandy untill it started to rain, when it became just muddy!
Before the rain though, we had to deal with two rear wheel punctures with camels as audience.
We crept into Marsabit quite late and found our guest house.
Riding conditions being fairly hectic it was relatively difficult to spot wildlife. Nonetheless we surprised, and were surprised by, animals and birds as we crawled like ants across the face of one of Africa’s fine natural roads. Strange longnecked guinea fowl trotted away in front of the wheels with a lot of very skittish small dik dik-like buck bolting in terror both sides. What were those, we wondered! At one stage we were stopped dead by a huge troop of baboons, babies, females and arrogant, swaggering males which crossed the road. There must have been at least 50 or 60. The bush had changed since the slopes and was now thorn and scrub. Pin tailed wydahs, blueand plum coloured starling, unidentified robin like birds and raptors were spotted. In between there were small groups of camels in the acacias, each wearing the wooden bell given them early in life to signal their presence in the bush…clonk, clonk, clonk. What strangely benign creatures so adapted to Africa and looking just right in bush or desert conditions. I confess they have become a personal favourite on this African journey. Garth noticed an interesting thing about them, they appear quite thin viewed head on, probably some sort of adaptation to Africas conditions. They ruminate away quietly and are undisturbed by bikes and humans. Termite mounds were large in the surrounding bush, evidence of vast nests which had been building for years undisturbed.