Thursday, August 11, 2011

Our time in Nairobi, Kenya

 What a whirlwind of a time we've had in Nairobi.  We arrived with a list of things to do:
  • Get Ethiopian Visa;
  • Get Sudan Visa;
  • Get Schengen Visa;
  • Figure out if there is any chance of getting a carnet for Egypt (and then get a Visa for Egypt);
  • Search shipping possibilities out of Port Sudan;
  • Do a much needed service on the bikes.
The first two items were super easy to do.  We flew our passports back to South Africa, to the Pretoria Ethiopian Embassy, with a pile of paperwork and with the help of Nick's brother got it issued to us on the same day.  Once we had our passports back we applied at the Nairobi Sudanese Embassy for a holiday visa, and after they had looked through the mounds of paperwork, they issued it to us within 24hrs.

Getting the Schengen was a bit trickier, we had to print out lots of paperwork (again) and get an invitation letter from someone in Holland.  Lucky for us we met a great group of travellers at Jungle Junction from Holland who (Very thankfully) agreed to give us an invitation letter.  With all our paperwork in hand we went to the Dutch Embassy who then informed us we needed another letter from the Local City Council in Holland where we would be staying OR proof of accommodation for two weeks.  Oh accommodation could be pricey. So we called our good friends Marko and Kiem to ask for help with the Local City Council letter.  They got on it right away! In the meantime we searched Holland for cheap campsites and managed to make a booking for two weeks over email (without having to pay in advance!).  Deciding we should take a chance with this booking we submitted the documents and are happily today sitting with the Schengen sticker in Nick's passport!

Els and Merjin
Anne and Reinier

Ahh the dreaded carnet issue! After many frustrating emails back and forth with Automobile Association South Africa (AASA) and a few more calls just to confirm what we were receiving on email, we finally found out that it is just not possible for us to travel into Egypt with the motorbikes.  Egypt require a 200% the value of your vehicle deposited into the AASA's account to get the carnet to allow you to import and export your vehicle into the country. Unfortunately you don't get the deposit back until your vehicle is back in South Africa! Such a hefty lump of money is not available to us right now - so we will be travelling to Sudan and shipping our motorbikes on to Europe. 

Which brings us to the shipping.  Many, many Google searches and emails out to shipping companies and it looks like shipping our motorbikes is going to cost a couple of thousand US dollars - ouch! We have had many interesting conversations with other travellers moving through Jungle Junction and the verdict is that shipping by container is expensive because you never get quoted on the terminal handling charges (THC) - yes learning the lingo - for the arrival port! There is maybe a possibility of going on a Roll On Roll Off (RORO) ship in which case we can travel with the bikes but would then most likely have to go to Jordan first and then on to Italy. The third option could be to fly our bikes out of Sudan - but we haven't done too much research on this as we may need to kill a few weeks before Nick's Schengen kicks in.
So basically we don't really know how we getting out of Sudan yet - but were sure being on the ground chatting to freight forwarders (more lingo) we'll be able to figure something out!

The service on the bikes was pretty quick and easy. Teeny’s bike will now have a few less rattles and Nick should now be able to break a bit more sharply than before! Jungle Junction has a great workshop on-site and if you speak to Chris nicely you can borrow a few things here and there to make your job a little easier!

Bit of tender love and care before we hit Moyale!

Two of the most patient and upbeat people we have met. They took their whole engine apart 3 times in one week to get the problems solved!
In-between all the admin work that needed to be done we managed to get out and explore Nairobi city.  We caught a bus into town and were impressed with how clean and developed it is! We walked up and down the street with no real aim but to soak up the atmosphere of the city.  There are lots of skyscrapers and odd shaped buildings which must have been an architect’s dream to see go up.  We walked a bit of down town Nairobi - which was chaotic.  Most of the shops are filled with electronics and Chinese clothing!  Other than buying a new pair of slops we didn't spend much money in town and went back to Jungle Junction with slightly sore lungs after all the exhaust fumes we inhaled!

Our bus ride into Nairobi city

Hilton hotel on 'Moi Avenue'
Very pretty flowers along the balcony of this hotel - quite European!


Smoking centres - if you don't smoke there you could be arrested or fined heavily!

On another trip out we went to the suburb of Karen.  This is where Karen Blixen lived when she "once had a farm in Africa" (from the movie Out of Africa).  We had decided to take the bus there and unfortunately miscalculated on time for getting to the Karen Blixen museum, so will head that way when we leave Nairobi and have a look.
Some of the older buildings in Karen
 Nairobi is actually a lovely city, and the people are very helpful when you approach them.  At first they are not particularly friendly, but when you start a conversation they are interested in what we are doing and where we have been. One night we went out with a 3 British guys and a chap cycling from Germany to a local pub in Karen.  The beers were really expensive, so to make sure we weren't getting charged Mzungu prices Teeny went up to a chap to ask him what he had paid for his beer. Turns out we were being charged 10 shillings more but that didn't really matter because the next two rounds were on him! :) It was such an entertaining evening chatting to the pretty drunk locals and one of the British guys was given a cap as a gift from one of them-signed and everything! Our poor taxi driver waited for us the whole night we were there and even when we went to 'Kenchick' to get a midnight (errr 3am) snack! Great night out on the town!

The bar during the day
Our after drinks snack house!

Lots of gated community type housing in our neighbourhood
And fancy SUVs
Jungle Junction, our accommodation for the past 19 days, has been comfortable and entertaining with all the travellers coming in and out.  There is lots of information available on the boards, a well equipped kitchen to cook up wholesome meals and good wifi available (when there is power). As many other blogs state: a must stopover for any overlander. We've also had a few great Braais! First our own chunks of meat and then a chap from South Africa arrived with sheep ribs and we were treated to delicious lamb!!
Jungle Junction main house
First camp spot before we were asked to move because we were killing the grass! :)

The living area
Couldn't resist - the toilet and shower - very clean actually!
Our delicious braai

With a few vodka a cokes - a real treat!

Elayne and Chris - travelling in their non production buggie. They've been on the road for 4 years already!
Mmmmmm lamb on the braai!

Yip thats a lamb rib!
 From here our plan is to travel to Lake Naivasha (only 100kms away), past the great rift valley viewpoint, to get ourselves back into travelling mode. Then onto a road less travelled to take us across to the main road up to the Moyale border with Ethiopia.  This stretch is renowned for being the most challenging of the Cape to Cairo route, and we are both excited and nervous for what lies ahead.  We have heard horror stories of shocks blowing from the corrugations, stones like marbles, sneaky sand patches and bandit attacks! But after reading many blogs of travellers who have conquered this stretch the horror stories are overpowered by the sense of achievement, beauty of the landscape and enjoyment of the ride!  Needless to say one of the next blogs are sure to have a picture of Nick and I kissing the tarmac road we will hit at Moyale!!

We spend our last evening have a few Tuskers - but not too many- as we will be hitting the road tomorrow out of Nairobi! Livin the dream!!

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