Pikipiki’s United

All set. The journey may continue. Last afternoon enjoying the gardens of Jungle Junction in the quiet outskirts of Nairobi. I hear the grumbling of a GS 1200 coming up the driveway. Armin has returned from the East. Over a cold beer we decide to ride together towards Uganda. Two solo-riders re-united.

Back across the Equator towards Nanyuki we go. Every stop surrounded by >20 curious people asking questions. Never really restful but always entertaining. I’m asked multiple times to spread the word back home that Kenyans are very friendly.

Stunning campgrounds around former colonial villas and farms. We’re the only guests. Infrastructure and food are ok, but the effort our hosts show is truly respectable. That’s what counts to me.

Perfect weather, great sand tracks. Bumpy and sometimes rocky, but at >80 km/h the Husky and I glide over everything. Several monkeys, the occasional zebra and a group of giraffes along the road. This is motorcycling heaven.

A husky raising dust
Obstacle ahead
First priority: Riding

We make it to Rumuruti before rain sets in. Time to fuel-up, take a break and let the storm pass. The plan is to ride the last 80km to Lake Baringo on tarmac. It’s been exhilarating but exhausting. Openstreetmaps indicates a passage through the mountains. We’ll give it a try.

Tarmac, then gravel, then rocky roads. Finally, bedrock covered with stones the size of footballs across the mountains. Tough going and full concentration required. Run-ups for the climbs; stopping is not an option. At one point the Husky and I fly over the crest of a climb. She lands, shrugs it off and we blast on.

We’re back to flat lands on sandy / muddy tracks, only 10km from the main road. It’s dawning and we take a break. Exhausted, but almost there. A bridge is blocked with logs. Some locals tell us about a detour, run ahead and show us the way through the woods on a sand footpath. We reach a point with a steep 10m sand descend into the river. The bottom is washed away creating a 1m vertical drop into the 20m wide river. Not ideal, but worth a try.

The Husky and I go first. We traverse down and enter the river. We make it to the middle, but the riverbed is lose mud. Her rear wheel sinks in and we’re stuck. Brown water with a foul smell coming over my knees. Three villagers come to help and push. Parkolwa seems to be the villages’ โ€žman in-chargeโ€œ and gives instructions, shouting from the riverside. The Husky starts swallowing water through the exhaust but keenly spits it out again and again. We make it out, but it was struggle for the both of us.

Another learning: Check suitable crossings for yourself; don’t rely on others’ opinions. We find a better crossing for the GS 1200. On the other side the descend in reverse w/o a run-up. We’re maxed-out and snapping for air once we reach the top.

Made it across
The smarter way to enter the river
The ascend isn’t less of a struggle
The villagers; our saviors (Parkolwa, the man in charge in the middle)

It is dark now. Parkolwa and his friend ride ahead on a Pikipiki (Swahili for motorcycle) showing us the way to the main road on footpaths through woods and villages. He gives us his phone number and tells us to call him if we face any troubles. This is how friendly Kenyans are.

Arrival at Lake Baringo after 08:30 p.m. I pour a puddle of muddy water from my boots onto the courtyard of the guesthouse. It has taken us nearly 5h for the final 40km. I’m sure the story of the two Mzungu (Bantu for white man) stuck in the river will be told for many years in the village. We’ll call tomorrow a tarmac day.

New day; the Husky roars to life as if nothing has happened. I think to myself what a good companion she is, after what she’s been through the previous day. We cross the mountains towards Eldoret on paved roads. Taking a break in a bend, a GS 800 approaches and stops. Kinga, a Polish female solo-rider, on the road since 2y, coming from Australia. What a coincidence our paths meet in such a remote place. We continue together. Three solo-riders united.

At the foot of Mount Elgon we plan on a last stop at Mount Elgon Lodge, before crossing to Uganda. The stretch to the lodge is an 8km track of red mud on a hard surface. A perfect balance exercise on the bike; front and rear are whipping left and right. Not too much of a joy though; it takes us >1h for the final 8km.

View from the campground in Iten
Mud-track to Mount Elgon Lodge
Few meters before tarmac
Arrival at Mount Elgon Lodge

We cross-over to Uganda. One-stop border; approximately 1h. Actually not worth mentioning. Plenty of fixers wanting to help, but no need for any help. We take the 120km stretch down to Jinja and lose track of each other entering the town. We all end up on different campgrounds.

Upon alignment we head towards the agreed campground. Having crossed a bridge, non-admitted for pikipikis, we’re stopped by the police. Ready to continue, the Husky’s clutch starts failing. I ride the last 20km w/o clutch and roll onto the campground, the clutch completely gone upon arrival

Timing could be worse. “The Haven” is a perfectly tidy campground / lodge with hot showers, an excellent restaurant and a stunning view on the Dead Dutchman Rapids. We are 20km down the source of the Nile at Lake Victoria. A mystic place worth staying for a while.

The Dead Dutchman Rapids

I replace the clutch slave cylinder on the Husky and have the luggage system repaired by a tailor on-site. This place is perfectly organized. Joรฃo, a Portuguese solo-rider, currently living in Uganda, joins us for 2 days at the Haven. Four solo-riders united.

Four solo-riders united
Multi-purpose Husky

As long-distance motorcycle overlanders we’re paying half-price. Two days later we find out why. Rainer, the owner, is a German former solo-rider, who has settled here in Uganda 14y ago. Five solo-riders united.

It has been a longer break than planned, but worth every minute. There is a real risk of settling in here for a long time. Tomorrow Rainer, Armin and myself plan on heading north. We will start riding around Uganda together. Back to three solo-riders united. Three pikipiki’s united.

4 thoughts on “Pikipiki’s United

  1. Seriously, the Germans and their organization … it almost kills every advanture… ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Anyway, glad your bike is not letting you down.

    P.S.: … you should have teamed up with the lady instead ๐Ÿ˜‰


    1. A well organized / equiped place comes in handy from time to time…๐Ÿ˜… Touch wood; hope it stays this way!

      Thx & cheers!

      P.S. ๐Ÿ˜„ The lady went home for a while; sure she would have joined us otherwise!


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