Through the Cauldron

The last 3 days has been tough – a 600km journey across the Kaisut desert in Northern Kenya to the border with Ethiopia at Moyale. It’s not just the road conditions – sand, scoria rocks, ruts as deep as canyons and corrugations that shake your fillings loose – but the heat of a desert making tyres puncture prone – and finally hostile locals.

It’s taken us two full days and one false start to make this stretch only to be refused entry to Ethiopia and told to go back 800 kms south to Nairobi to their embassy there to get visas. So here at the border we have encamped – two bikes with shock absorbers broken, another with a battery shaken to pieces and mirrors shaken off, another with its suspension mount bolt sheered and all bikes with loose bolts all over. What a test – certainly the hardest ride we’ve had in all our worldbybike adventures.

For all that only one involuntary dismount – yours truly as I tried to pass Joanne and buried my bike into sand. Floyd sure was glad he was riding on the truck carrying the broken bike at that time.

But it’s the lack of security here that gives the ride its edge. This is home to all manner of rejects from the conflicts further north in Somalia and Ethiopia. Maybe that’s why the Kenyans ensure the road is so bad – they don’t want these people coming in. Our own exposure to the lawlessness came when at one of our many breakdowns shots were from the surrounding scrub fired to see if we had weapons to resist with. Our truck driver had already lost 4 passengers killed by bandits a few years ago and himself been abducted and robbed, so he took no time in hurrying us back on our bikes to make a fast exit. At another stage when we had a total bike failure the army came out into the desert to fetch us, quite angry that we were out here without armed guards.

Still we’ve made it, now the challenge is just to get into the country people are so keen to leave. Seems ironic.

Comments are closed.