Hell road certainly lived up to its reputation. We left at dawn heading out through the sleeping town of Moyale into the unknown. A few km out there was an unrolled truck tire full of nails lying across the dirt road and a little sign saying checkpoint. The military officer in charge sauntered over wiping the sleep from his eyes and enquired about our travel’s. He then wished us luck and dragged the spikes from our path before waving us through.
I have known of this road for years, I’ve also been excited about crossing it for as long. The road from Moyale to Marsabit it 250 km. The first 200 are made up of dirt, rock, corrugations, mud and whatever else you can think of. The last 50 km to Marsabit are now paved. From Marsabit there is another 120 km of terror until the Merille river. This road is just as bad if not worse but everyone fails to tell you this. If the road is wet it can be totally impassable in parts. Buses and trucks are abandoned and left to fend from themselves from the bandits that frequent the area. People are regularly robbed and killed on this road. A few years ago an overlander on motorcycle was robbed, shot and killed trying to cross this part of the country.
Luckily we had the sense go slow over the last few weeks while waiting for the weather to clear up. It had been raining hard here for a while so we had to give the road had a chance to dry out. It was real hard going in parts, 100% concentration was needed at all times. I averaged about 35 km an hour over the 9 hours it took to get to Marsabit. I don’t mind the dirt and the rocks but its the washboard corrugations that drive me crazy. There is nothing you can do but watch your bike shake to pieces km after km. My shocks also reached melting temperatures. One time while checking the rear I got a blister on my finger it was so hot. I had to stop every 40 minutes and let them cool down for 20. I also poured water on them every time I was able to get some out of puddles or rivers. When there was no water available I relived myself on the shocks to help cool them down. This might seem drastic but I reckon that 90% of the bikes that cross this road need their shocks replaced afterwards. Mine are fine.
About half way through we were held up by a road block in a town called Turbi. the residents were protesting because they want military escorts reinstated on the road. They are sick of being robbed by bandits. I quickly found a way round and into the town. While there I attempted to negotiate Gianni and Fabi’s release from the wrong side of the blockade. It all seemed to be going well until the main man in charge found out about it. He came storming over shouting at me to get lost.
The crowd then started to become hostile and ask how much everything costs. I always tell people my bike costs about $3000 when they ask, any less and they get suspicious. Like clockwork they will then pull out their phones and begin calculating it into their funny money. Suddenly an audible hush will go out and everyone looks at you as if they are whale sharks taking a mouth full of krill. The crowd surrounding me then started pulling at everything and one guy was attempting to get on the back of the bike. I thought it best to get out of there and wait down the road. My efforts of getting Gianni and Fabi through were not in vain though as a concerned citizen went up to them and showed them a way through. The whole thing delayed us an hour on an already exhausting day.
We spent the night at a place owned by Henry the Swiss baker just outside Marsabit. Henry moved here 35 years ago, married and has 7 kids with a local woman. To look at Henry you’d think he just stepped out of the Alps or off the set of that TV series “Heidi’. Here we camped and were well looked after. The next morning we set out early for the remaining 120 km of dirt road. This part was just as bad but if the road had been wet it would have been a hell of a lot worse. Luckily I only had one close call on this section. To have an accident here could set you back weeks if not months.
Completely exhausted and soaked wet from a sudden downpour we pulled into a lodge just off the road for a well deserved rest. Unfortunately the mosquitoes had other ideas and kept me awake most of the night. I’ve not being taking mosquito tablets mainly because they are poison so I have to do my best to deter these bastarding things from sucking my blood and laying their eggs in me. Sometimes that involves staying up half the night.
From here we rode 320 km in the terenchal rain through the mountains. We crossed the equator twice while making our way to hell’s gate national park. As we approached the weather cleared and the place dried up. When we reached the park entrance I discovered that motorcycle’s aren’t allowed inside because they are too noisy. Trucks are allowed inside though. They finally gave in to our pressure and decided to let me enter if Gianni towed me and I didn’t start the bike. So off we went me in tow through the dust roads off to a camping area. By the time I got there I was about 10 kg heavier with the dust that was kicked up by Gianni’s van.
We camped on the side of a cliff overlooking paddocks of zebra, giraffe, warthogs and gazelle to mention a few. Here we made dinner, lit a fire and had a great night. Then next morning I jumped in Gianni’s van and we explored the park fully before I had to get towed back out. At the park entrance I started the bike once again and headed for the capital of Kenya, to Nairobi.
I spent 3 nights in Nairobi at a place called Wild Beast lodge. I had some work to do on the bike at Jungle Junction a few km away. It was nice to spend a few days hanging out with a few other overlanders while getting some advice and travel tips. I had the bike serviced and replaced my front tire. It’s nice to have no movement in the handlebars once again.
I said good bye to Gianni and Fabi as they were heading to the coast of Kenya and I was heading on Safari. It was great travelling with ye guys, best of luck for the rest of the trip. From here I headed off alone to the border on one of the worst roads I have ever experienced. The shortcut I was advised took me through what I suspect to be one of the worst parts of town. All I could here was Mazumbo, Mazumbo from the people in the street as I rode by. The road had more holes in it than tar which made it real slow going as well. I finally reached the Tanzanian border around 1pm happy to be leaving Kenya. I was really sick of watching my back the whole time.