From Kentrout we decided to drive back about 25 km to Lewa Wildlife Conservancy. Brian’s great uncle Clive went there some years ago to help them with their conservation programs. We thought it could be worth spending another night in the region and do our first game drive. But as we came in and asked around there was nowhere to camp within the reserve, it was very expensive to do a game drive and we wouldn’t have been able to use our own car, so we ended up leaving again. We soon reached Nanyuki where we splurged out at a big supermarket (Steaks! Bacon! Cheese! Dark bread! Rusks! Beer!) and had lunch.
As we reached the equator there was one thing we had to do. The water demonstration. Everyone does it and we felt like such tourists but we just had to do it! A guy called Nick came out and demonstrated to us how the water runs in different directions north and south of the equator – and on the very line the water doesn’t spin at all, it just empties straight out of the funnel. Basic science that someone one day was clever enough to start demonstrating to tourists and make some money from it!
Then we headed off to the next campsite, which also wasn’t too far away and we got there in the late afternoon. This was also just a gamble, having found it on the gps but knowing nothing about it. Mountain Rock Lodge turned out to be a good base for people who want to hike or climb Mt Kenya. We chilled in the afternoon and finished the evening off with a nice dinner, celebrating the lack of mosquitos thanks to the high altitude. The rump steaks on a braai, boiled sweet potatoes with butter, tomatoes, sweet peas and grilled onion. Yum!
The day before we had met Isac, a mountain guide working at the lodge. He has been a guide for 7 years and has lost count on how many times he has gone to Point Lenana, the third highest peak on Mt Kenya and the highest one you can reach by hiking (Nelion and Batian require actual mountain climbing to the top). Isac said we could walk to a view point where you usually have a good view of Mt Kenya and we thought that was better than nothing. Isac came to pick us up at 8 the next morning but we were a bit late – we had been chasing away baboons all morning… A small group of them now and then wander into the campsite searching for a snack – and they found the garbage back I had just put down behind the car, about to go and throw it away. I was just on the other side of the car when one of them quickly snitched it. Then the rest of the troop moved in and advanced bit byt bit until they could get to the campsite’s main garbage bin. We did our best to chase them away but didn’t want to risk getting attacked and bitten – the biggest one would have been my size standing up and they’re quite intimidating! Eventually we could pack up our camp and made sure nothing could get stolen by baboons while we were away. I have a feeling this will not be the last campsite baboon encounter during this trip…
Unfortunately there were massive clouds covering the entire mountain so we never actually got to see more than the base of it, but it was still nice just getting out on a miniature hike after spending so many days in the car. We then continued down to Nairobi and had two options, Jungle Junction in town where we knew most overlanders go, or a campsite out in the suburb of Karen. We ended up going to the latter and were quite happy with our choice since some overlanders do find that one too and it wasn’t as hectic as we heard it is in town. The first evening we met a nice German couple who have been out on the roads for three years! As we came from the north and they came from the south we chatted and exchanged experiences and info the entire evening.
At first we had planned to only spend one night in the city and swiftly move on but our plans soon changed a bit. We found out about some practical things going on back home in Sweden that we had to deal with, doing a bit of work online, and we added one day to the stay. So the next day we went and had lunch with Kajuju, who we met in Sweden a few years ago when she was studying there. She is a pilot and has moved back to Kenya and has also founded an organisation for Women Aviators in Africa – but now she’s busy being a mom to one month old gorgeous boy Hotani.
Planning to leave the next day we now had some big decisions to make. The original plan was to go west to Uganda, on to Rwanda and then to Tanzania. But now we had heard about the latest ebola outbreak in Uganda. The German couple said they had felt a bit weary about it, being there, but they only heard about this new outbreak as they were leaving the country. So they warned us and said we must be careful. Our families also started commenting on this, telling us that the virus can even be airborn and it’s no joke – if you get it you’re quite likely to die. There were also reports on some problems increasing in DR Congo, spilling into Rwanda.
At first we kind of shrugged and thought hey, of course nothing will go wrong. We’ll continue according to plan. But then we started discussing it further. What if… And we have the deadline of wanting to be in Zimbabwe to celebrate Christmas with Brian’s family. One of the main things we wanted to do in Uganda was to go and see the mountain gorillas. It’s something I’ve wanted to do since I was a little girl, being very inspired by Dian Fossey, Jane Goodall and Birute Galdikas and their work for the primates. The German couple said it’s also cheaper during November (350 USD) and the prices will go up again in December (500 USD!). But we wouldn’t just be able to bypass Kampala, where the new ebola outbreak is, and go straight to the national park – we would have to go into Kampala to get the gorilla trekking permits…
So we now had to decide – were we going to risk getting a deadly virus in Uganda and ending up in potentially violent affairs in Rwanda, or were we going to skip these two countries for now? I just didn’t want to let go of my gorilla trekking dream and I said to Brian it was a very difficult decision to make. ”Is it, really?” he said. ”Ebola or Zanzibar?” And there it was, decision made. It was truly a hard one to make but when he put it that way..! No, but it was a tricky one for him as well. I still somewhat doubt we made the right decision. But my gut feeling was telling me we have already been going against recommendations a few times on this trip, crossing the red-zoned Sinai and so on, how many times could we push our luck? So, after days of constant pondering of our options we finally decided it’s time for our first big change of route – we will have to come back and visit Uganda and Rwanda when we get a chance in the future and we would now head south towards Tanzania.