Jungle Junction

 

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// Nikon D7200 | -1,36214 : 36,74015 | alt. 1818m

Crossing the border was easy going. On the kenyan side, very friendly attitude from customs, smile and everything, one of the first border like this ! Still $50usd for the visa, and I should pay $40usd on top for road tax, but here in Kenya, you get the first 2 weeks for free, so they didn’t charge me anything, I may have to pay this later….
Quick drive to Kusumu, where I camped at Donga hills. That night, I took a beer at the camp’s pub and I met the owner with his friends. They invited me to their table and we spent the whole evening chatting, wonderful people ! This was a totally new experience after Uganda, which was very unfriendly from my own experience. I think we all ended up drunk that night… good thing I parked only 20m from the bar !
I was planning to service the car in Nairobi, but the friendly owner told it was fine to service my van in the campsite and they have more or less everything in Kusumu.
It may sound like this van has tons of problems, but you have to look at the roads !! And you better get ready for what’s coming, once you drive north of Nairobi, the mighty sahara is not far from us.
Next day, I finally found my new shock absorbers, engine oil and filter, perfect ! Such a new experience to have working shocks on mister Fox ! 🙂
I spent one more night here, enjoying the beautiful sunset from this hill, this location could not get better.

On the way to Nairobi, I took a small detour to Naivasha lake, because the highway is too boring, and I’m not doing this trip to stay on the main track.
Around the lake, I found a trail crossing the forest, ending on the shore, and to my surprise, plenty of baby giraffes and zebras ! Wonderful sight ! Always a fantastic experience to walk among those creatures 🙂
To get back to Nairobi, I had to climb a ridge on a very bad road, full of lorries barely able to climb. It took ages to get on top, but the view over the great rift was a nice reward.
Finally, after many hours, I made it to Jungle Junction, THE overland stop in Kenya. This is where every overlander stops on the transafrican route, and for a good reason : it takes time to get a visa for Ethiopia, there is a nice campground, lot of lovely people to meet, internet, an honesty bar, a good restaurant, and a workshop. The manager, Chris, will take care of the bbq every friday night, and will find any spare part you may need to fix your vehicle.

There, I met again with Mike and Sue, the canadian couple I met in Malawi, and Steph, a crazy biker on a round the world trip (doing all seven continents with her honda crf250). Next day came back my friends Eiji and Chizu after a few weeks on their own in Uganda, and we made a giant bbq with everyone 🙂
Before doing anything else, I had to service my van properly, new oil for both axles, but while doing so, I noticed a wet spot on my prop shaft…. and it smells like diesel…hmm cannot be good. With a flashlight, I found the origin of the leak, the injection pump…… fuck. Probably the most complex part of the vehicle, it would also cost a fortune to repair. I went to the manager to get some advice, and as I expected, I will have to fix it myself to stay on my budget…
This is how I spent my birthday, sitting in the engine bay, trying to repair this pump. For this I had to remove the driver sit and tons of pipes/hoses. It was a very stressful moment as I disassembled the pump. The main seal was leaking and Eiji gave me a gasket maker to fix it. Reassembling the pump was another story. When everything was back in working condition, I was scared the engine would not fire, but it did !
This time, fuel is pouring out from a different point…… End of the day, no more daylight. This pump is like a submarine diving too far, as soon as I fix a leak, another one will pop right after….
Mike and Sue came back to me with a birthday cake, and it was the sweetest moment I could ever imagine. Using internet, I could see all the birthday wishes from my friends, and it gave me all the positive energy I needed to pass this day.
It took me 5 days in total to fix the pump and to service everything, when everything was done, Steph also gave me a birthday cake, and it was now time to enjoy Nairobi.

Since Steph is camping, she spent a long time in the social corner, and we had some very nice evening talking about travels, and other stuff. Next day we decided to visit the Giraffe center nearby, the best opportunity to kiss a giraffe for $10usd. Giraffes are actually not so friendly in this place, and if you don’t have any food to give, they will simply kick you with their massive head ! So always make sure your hand is full of snacks ! Such a magical encounter !

After this “vacation” in the trip, it was now time to start my favorite part : paperwork. One does not simply cross into Ethiopia.
First thing first, you need a letter of invitation from your embassy for Ethiopia. Without this precious document, you cannot even pass security. Thanks god, the french embassy is doing one, but this is not the case of the british embassy. I spent half a day with the french consul to get this document, for free, and even without any appointment 🙂 Steph got a letter from the british embassy saying they don’t issue letter of invitation. This used to work, but not anymore since one week….
When we went to the Ethiopian embassy, she could not get in, and since she was sick, she went to my van to sleep a bit. On my side, I got my letter signed by the ambassador (after 2 hours) and then I had to wait inside to get the other papers. You have to do everything before noon, get the benefit of the lunch break to pay your visa, and come back at 2pm to finish the paperwork. My visa was ending the day after Christmas, so they gave me a big favor, according me 90 days instead of only 30. I had to pay a little extra for this, but more time is always welcome.
I met the infamous dragon lady, the person giving you clearance for your visa. The legend was true, her face is covered with tribal tatoos ! She looked at me for only 2sec, didn’t say a word, and gave me my visa….. that was unexpected !!

Rest of the time in Jungle Junction was spent with local beers and bbq with all the nice overlanders here, it feels like a big family, and it’s always a nice moment sharing crazy stories.

You may wonder why I went straight to Nairobi…. Kenya simply falls in the same bag as Tanzania. I have to pick up a new guest for next part of the trip, and I’m a bit behind schedule. There is still a nice piece of adventure left over, doing the Turkana route to Ethiopia !

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