After travelling for two days with Noor Mangia of Mangia Enterprises from Marsabit I am certain I have met the “Last King of Kenya”. There is nothing that he can not arrange for you. After the failure of my bike on the first section of the road from hell (Isiolo to Moyale via Marsabit) I engaged the services of Noor and his trusty Toyota Land Cruiser. My bike, complete with broken shock on board and all the panniers and equipment from the team we head north following the surviving bikes. I had now become a support vehicle for the 520 km journey north. A road that I have given a special name however can only refer to as “the road from hell” for this article.
Noor a 2nd generation Indian Kenyan tells us various stories on the way north. I ask him why he is here, his answer is “I wish my Grandfather was still alive, I would ask him why the ***k he choose to come and settle in Marsabit.” 5 hours later I am walking the streets of Marsabit and dry wrenching at smell and state of the Hotel toilet. I too am asking myself why the **** I am here.
Day two of the trip starts with an early morning departure from Marsabit. As we approach Ethiopia we are reminded that we are travelling in the most dangerous part of Kenya. Noor himself being a witness to the death of 4 people through bandit machine-gun fire as playing driver to them along this road, I naturally feel more comfortable. The repair of my bike becomes secondary to the safe arrival at the border. I recall the travel advice for this area:
“We advise against all travel to areas off the principal roads/towns within 50 kms of the borders with Sudan and Kenya. Along the border with Kenya, cross-border banditry related to the drought in the region has increased. Armed groups hostile to the Government of Ethiopia operate in several areas near the border with Kenya. “
We are approximately 50km’s from the border and stop for the 2nd replacement of Jo’s battery, with the job almost complete we hear shots being fired just as Brendan steps into the bush for a pee. After realising we don’t have a gun Noor hurries us along and we depart the area as soon as possible, the shots are locally known as a question of whether you are armed or not. We travel the 50km’s and arrive at the Ethiopian/Kenyan border. Great stuff we can cross the border and head into the safety of the tar seal highways of Ethiopia, or can we ??????
Tony & Floyd