Kenya: Taking the back road to Lake Baringo

Whenever i stop in a village, i'm quickly surrounded by people.From Nakuru, i wanted to take a scenic route up to Lake Baringo in Kenya. Stopping off at a supermarket (which was up to South African standards!) i got a few days supplies, not knowing where i’d end up. The road up to Nyahururu was lovely, climbing into the hills, flanked by beautiful lawns, forrest and tea plantations. I knew the equator was somewhere along the road, so was not surprised to see a sign saying this was the equator. After pulling over for a photo, i checked my GPS which disagreed, telling me it was 5.4km further on.

The actual equator was in Subukia where the location of their sign in the town matched up with my GPS, in position and altitude. Stopping for a photo, i quickly get surrounded by people, mostly guys asking about the motorcycle – how much, how fast, how economical? The common phrase in East Africa, is that my “motorcycle is the size of a car”, and costs more than a basic Toyota estate car/van that costs 800,000 Shillings = €6,700/$9k US from the dealer. The local 150cc motorcycles which are mostly Chinese, with some newer Indian Boxers joining the mix cost 100,000 Shillings (€840/$1,100 US).

The road from Lariak to OlAlrabel does not seem too badThe road up to Olarabel is nice tar, where i turn off onto a nice dirt road. I quickly come across roadworks that leaves the navigable track on the camber of the road. Its still pleasant riding through small villages where people stop and wave back.

It's too late. The stoney track descends 30m and i can turn around
How come photos of nightmare descents never do the feeling of peril or effort justice?

The road starts to get gnarley but still quite easy, until i am on a downhill section where the track narrows, turns, becomes steeper and the track is flanked by scree. I’m stuck. I can’t back up or turn around, so i take it easy. Very easy. My back break takes the strain, keeping my speed from running away and i make it to the bottom of the hill, where it flattens out. I stop to allow my heart rate to settle and the adrenaline to subside. I was not a happy bunny.The road down continues to be tricky, near Logumgum, KenyaA minute later, Paul and Sam appear on a 150cc motorcycle and stop for a chat. They tell me that this dip is the worse section and it gets easier afterwards. Foolishly i believe them and psyche myself up for the ascent and the easy ride down. After reading ‘Dirt Busters’ which i was awarded at the BMW Motorrad event in South Africa, i reduced my tyre pressures to about 15psi/1 bar from 2.4/2.9 i use on the road. I make the ascent, though my helmet is now very moist with sweat from the effort and anxiety. From the top of the rise, Sam offers to lead me the rest of the way down the mountain, so that i can follow his ‘easiest’ route. The road down does get easier for a few hundred meters, then continues to descend over rocks, rubble, stones and volcanic sand. 

View down to Lake Baringo, KenyaWe come across a truck who’s front right axel has collapsed on the descent.  They are in the process of jacking up the truck to allow them to fix the axel in situe. The views are spectacular, when i can afford some time to look out over the valley. Kindly, Sam and Paul stop so i can take some photos and enjoy my first glimpse of Lake Baringo.

Profile of the last 20 miles, descending 4000ft.
Profile of my 4000ft descent over 20 miles

After a final set of switchbacks, were finally approaching the valley floor. The final surprise of the day are some stream crossings with steep sides, though after the previous sections they are no bother. We arrive in Paul and Sam’s village at 16:30 and the temperature has climbed from low 20’s at the top of the hill to low 30’s on the plain. I am not sure how much longer it would take to get to my planned over night stop so i ask Paul if i could setup my tent next to his house. He kindly agrees.

These little 150cc motorcycles are ideal for the challenging terrain, near  Logumgum, Kenya.In the morning, i set off along the track and found that the road does not improve for another 15km. At one point, there is a diversion along the riverbank which leads me to a stoney river crossing. Happily the stones are compacted and don’t move when i ride over them, so no dramas, unlike yesterday…

 

2 thoughts on “Kenya: Taking the back road to Lake Baringo”

  1. Hey Steve,

    glad you’re doing well ! enjoy reading your blog and following your travels.

    keep safe mate !

    Regards Jean

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