Sudan would end up being the northern most country we would visit on our African odyssey. With time and declining bank balances, restrictive Egyptian import laws, and the Syrian conflict staring back at us, we made the difficult decision to turn the PPE around and head back for Tanzania. Kathmandu it wasn’t; nor was it Istanbul, nor Cairo. But a 32,000 km, 10 month trip across Africa it was, and what an adventure we had had.
We drove the barely believable 4,000 km back to Tanzania in around three weeks.
Completing the final segment of the northern historical route in Ethiopia, we spent a half day exploring the Blue Nile waterfall in Bahir Dar. Having criss-crossed the Nile all the way up to the Sahara in Northern Sudan, we were blown away by the sight of the droplets escaping Lake Tana through the impressive Blue Nile waterfalls. These very droplets would eventually snake over 6,600 km to Cairo, blessing desert communities with their life-giving force before joining the azure waters of the Mediterranean.
The tarmac would take us back through Addis, but we waited until Karkaro Beach at Lake Longano, on the main road south, before indulging in a couple of days of R&R. Despite appearances, the murky waters were great for swimming. The cool waters of Longano after the searing 50 degree temperatures of Sudan were an absolute treat.
Two days later, we would find ourselves in the notorious ‘Moyale’ Ethiopia / Kenya border town. On the way there we would experience some unexpected highs and lows:
- In Hawassa, roughly 400km from Addis there was a superb Italian restaurant called Venezia with some incredible Italian fare, served by an Italian who speaks no English. We don’t know how or why it exists, but highly recommend stopping by!
- Dilla is a popular overnight spot on the road from Addis to Moyale. Avoid the Tourist Pension Hotel. Despite all our travels and hardiness experienced travelling throughout the continent, this was one of the rare times yours truly got really squeamish. I had tucked in the mosquito net to shelter from the swarms of mosquitoes circling above. A small cockroach emerges on the bed – better sweep that away before Christine sees. Shortly after, a couple more emerge. Suddenly the wooden frame is covered in cockroaches. I flip out and back away from the cockroach infestation. Totally Gross. I run out screaming for my life.
- Instead of Dilla, we booked it out of there and drove a couple more hours to Hagere Maryam. We found a very new hotel that we think is in Hagere Maryam – the Mahlet Hotel. Unmissable on the main strip, modern and extremely comfortable.
In Moyale we met fellow adventurers Espen and Malin who had just made it through the infamous Marsabit – Moyale road. We had come across articles on the ‘road from hell’ countless numbers of times, and had feared it since planning for the trip had first started. “How was it?” I asked. “Muddy’. Unseasonal rains had resulted in flash flooding across all of Northern Kenya. Weeks before, a Lancruiser crossing a flash flood river had been washed away. Cars had been stuck in mud on the Marsabit-Moyale road for days. “Do you have rear diff lock?” “Nope.” “Ok, well you should be ok.”
Thankfully, the road had dried up considerably for a lack of recent rain, and I was slightly disappointed by the lack of mud as we trundled our way through. Drama, however, was only just around the corner.
Another 2 hours in we were caught by a locking left rear brake that completely immobilised the PPE. Luckily, a following World Vision driver helped us fashion an ‘African fix’ and we were once again on our way.
Far from the devastation we had expected, the Marsabit-Moyale drive was among the most spectacular of the entire trip. The flora and fauna were thriving from the recent rains and the green, blue, and dirt red contrasts will remain with us forever.
In Marsabit we stayed at the Nomads Trail Hotel (nothing to write home about, but a decent breakfast after the peculiarities of Ethiopian breakfasts!) The new Chinese asphalt road from Nairobi is well and truly on its way North, and we stumbled upon it just outside of Isiolo.
And just like that, another day later, we arrived back at our old haunt – Jungle Junction in Nairobi! It didn’t take us long, however, to hear about a recent robbery attempt only a week earlier, in which a wayward bullet grazed the eye of one of the dogs. The assailants fled after firing their only 3 bullets. A sobering welcome back to the dangers of the big city.