This article is dedicated to Alexis.
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Aurel: We are at the border Ethiopia/Kenya. The procedure is quite quick. Many people warned us about thieves in Kenya and a kid already tries to steal my stuff in my backpack at the border
We were told that the 400 km ahead of us are like hell. We feel a mix of curiosity and apprehension. If it was a 2 week trip in Marocco it would be pure excitement but here the road is still long. It is not the time to break the bikes or a leg.
We fill-up the bikes to get through those 400 kms where we'll be cut off from the world. There is no petrol station here, we use petrol from a drum.
Then we tackle the track. It's a very bad road but a good track so we ride quite well.
Colors are amazing, pictures do not show the beauty of the place.
The first 100 kms are quite easy. Honestly there is no real difficulty. However it shakes and there are lots of rocks. It's hard for the tyres as well. We were right to keep our road tyres because it's dry. Spiked tyres would have been ruined by the rocks.
We run into a Canadian guy, Markus, who has already spent 14 months around the world.
Loïc: I love meeting people! We are in the middle of nowhere and it starts to be painful because of the vibrations. We only met a 4X4 and a truck in the last 100 kms and now this biker traveling alone. Not only we say hi like we would do back home but we also stop. We ask each others about the road condition in the following kms. We exchange some good addresses to stay and some tips to send the bikes by plane...
It's true happiness to meet someone who does the same thing as us. We feel a bit less vulnerable by belonging to a community. Those 15 or 20 minutes are as intense as short and we leave...
Aurel: He rides the opposite way; he's coming from South Africa. According to him things are going to get serious for us in about 30 kms. He spent 6 hours riding 100 kms, a nightmare. The worst road he has seen despite his 14 months around the world.
Loïc: We are going to travel by night if we ride at his speed. We already have the rule not to ride at night on roads so even less on difficult tracks. We decide to stop as soon as we find a village on our way.
Aurel: Loïc lets his bike fall a couple of kms later
Loïc: Only a small problem with the crutch and the bike falls without me being on it. Nothing serious!
Aurel: As it is already late we decide to stop 20 kms later in a small village recommended by Markus. We'll start the hard track tomorrow morning. The worst would be to continue and to have to repair a blown up tyre or a breakdown somewhere in the savannah at night.
The village is only a 200 m street long.
Tough there is choice to stay at night!
Loïc digs up a hotel at the village entrance. For 4€ we get a double bedroom and a water bowl.
Perfect for a quick laundry!
As we arrive quite early we take the opportunity to visit the village.
Loïc: The first hour is not the funniest when we arrive in this kind of village. We have no mark but the whole population looks at us. Once we have said to a couple of people where we come from and where we go then the news spreads fast. Aftwards we do not attract the attention anymore. Great, we can fit-in the population without being taken for aliens.
Kids do not have the reserve of adults and are willing to play...
Tough sometimes they find us crazy.
Soldiers from the village's check point meet us around a beer. We share some pictures and we talk about the country with them.
I realize that the few words we exchanged in Sudan or Ethiopia were very basic and it's very pleasant to discuss about security, politics, education...
An animal crosses the village main street at the nightfall. Are you able to recognize it?
Aurel: The day after we leisurely take the road again. Serious things are supposed to start now. It's true that the track is wearing away a little. Ruts get deeper and slippery, rocks get bigger, it shakes & vibrates more. We ride by phases of 30 kms. It's enough for Loïc to lose a case!
We turn back to look for the missing case!
Loïc: I did not fall! It came off with the vibrations!
But our sponsors can be reassured: our stickers are fine!
Aurel: The front rims (which are a bit soft on KTM Adventure) are slightly damaged by the track.
But the track is amazing and we enjoy it!
It's a bit technical and we get scared once or twice, but we are fine!
Loïc: Yes but actually I have a slightly different point of view of the most difficult kms.
Either we ride at 20 kph at first speed. Each rock makes the wheel jump on the right or the left. We almost fall each meter, we do not see the end.
Either we ride at 50 kph. It shakes enormously but we feel less the uneven surface. The rocks shake the bike without throwing it off. We know that we have to be careful with big and hard rocks that could damage the rims or throw us out. It is my speed. It's not a cruising speed because believe me it has nothing to do with a cruise. And I get scared many times.
Aurel rides even faster than I am to less feel the road relief. But a fall could have been harmful.
I feel exhausted after 30 kms, sometimes less. It's not really a physical tiredness (even if it shakes!) but a very high concentration on the 50 m in front of the bike. There is nothing totally technical with this track. With time anyone with about any bike could do it. But it still gave me a hard time!
Actually we were told so many times: "it's going to be tough", "it's 400 kms of hell", "you are going to cry!" that we expected worse. Even when it was shaking a lot we thought "it's fine, hopefully it will stay that way".
Thanks Alexis for offering us these kms but you could have chosen some easier tracks!
Aurel: To tell the truth the most dangerous part is when we stop on the side of the road to drink a coke in a café. We ride on a nail and blow a tyre. It's the attraction of the day for people who live there.
There is dense wildlife. We see our first wild ostriches.
Loïc: I am so concentrated on the track that I only see the landscape when we stop (thanksfully quite often).
I still see those funny ones:
Aurel: I also blow a tyre at this moment. It blows slowly so I should be able to reach the next stop by reinflating the tyre every 10 kms. The camping of "Henri the Suisse" is located in Marsabit.
Indeed once there we find a nail in the tyre.
The place is nice. Instead of camping we sleep in a small house in between a hut and a Mongolian yurt.
We meet two South African people who drive a 4X4 from South to North Africa.
I have a look at my GPS which does not work well. A quick cleaning brings it back to live.
In the evening we do some shopping in the village to make a barbecue. The main street is full of small stalls selling more or less the same things. We buy some meet and vegetables.
Loïc: the night falls on the savannah. We relax after a tough day near the fire and with a cold beer. We are going to grill the meet. A vision of happiness. But at this moment I miss my beautiful blond girl.
Loïc: We take the road after a good night sleep and even a hot shower (probably the first hot one since Egypt). The 150 kms left should be easier than the previous day.
Not totally awaken I let myselft being caught out by a sandbar only 7 kms from start.
The bike is on the ground, a case's fixing is broken and the case is damaged.
We have to get back to our starting point to solve the problem. We are lucky as Henri le Suisse's son is also a welder!
We fiddle a new fixing, a metallic one this time.
We straighten the case the Egyptian way, meaning with a mallet.
So we spend the night there again. It was a false start.
We are pleasantly suprised to see Marco and Keim arriving at the camping. We had met them on our way to Sudan. Harder are the conditions, further we are from home and stronger are the human relationships.
Aurel: The day after we leave for real this time
A couple of sandy places that we ride slowly...
We meet a Kenyan from a local tribe.
Loïc: I thought that those who were dressed up like this were doing it only for tourists but actually not. He does not ask us anything and accepts a polaroid with pleasure.
Aurel: Then we leave and come across 2 other South African adventurers who ride throught the continent.
From now on 80% of the track is uneven surface. The ideal is to ride fast. I find my cruising speed at 95 kph but it is not always easy to keep the same speed.
We decide to stop and wait for Keim and Marco (our Dutch fellow travellers) about 30 kms before the end of the track. These 2 hours of waiting are a good time to discuss with locals.
Loïc: He is the oldest person of the village. 76 years old!
Aurel: We hit the road once Keim & Marco have arrived and after a quick lunch. The uneven surface disappears when we get closer to the road. We are back on the asphalt not long after.
Loïc: ah... asphalt... the holy grail!
Aurel: 100 kms later we find a lodge for the night. Comfortable beds, hot showers, cold beer, perfect! We appreciate these moments of comfort.
Tomorrow we are going to cross the equator and enter the South hemisphere.
Thanks Alexis for offering us these kms of adventure!