The trouble started when we were bringing our bags out to the car and Karioki asked me if we weren’t coming back in the evening. I said no, we are going to Nairobi after picking up the hikers from the mountain. “I cannot drive at night, it’s very tiring. Also it’s not allowed. I can drive 6 to 6.” We decided to pack the car and go. We weren’t able to reach the other group members by phone so we had to decide what to do later.
Pffffrrrt! Not a flat tyre again! The rear right one as usual. It took 1,5 hours at least to change and get a new tube in Nyeri. At the park gate I got in contact with Agnese and it was decided we would not leave for Narobi in the evening. Inside the park gate the going was slow. First some opposing traffic halted our progress then the road conditions went from bad to worse. It was raining and the tracks were muddy. We happened on a wild pig but it hid in the bushes and then ran away. We saw buffaloes, birds and baboons but not much else. The forest was beautiful though and I realized this is the kind of place where you need time. You won’t see many animals but when you do it’s more rewarding than on the open savanna where you can just drive from one animal to the next.
We had some difficulties on the slippery roads. In one steep ascent we got stuck and I honestly didn’t think it was possible to climb that hill. At another place the left side of the car plunged down into soft ground and I had to climb out the window to be able to help pushing. We all had red clay on our feet and legs at the end of the day. We came out of the park well late and without having seen any of the waterfalls in the park. We didn’t have time to go through the higher parts of the park either. It then turned out that we had to go back to the park headquarters and then to our gate of entry to try and sign out the safaricard. This led to us picking up the hikers at 7, two hours late. They were in a good mood though, just a bit tired.
The night air was filled with smoke from the dying fire, shouts from animals and our Masai guards. Together with smells from salami, moldy oranges and dirty socks, currently being stored in our tent, this was creating some pretty weird dreams in my head.
The alarm sounded at 5 AM. People were slow getting up and we left camp a bit later than planned. No worries though, Hakuna matata. We could see many zebras and wildebeest, left overs from the Great Migration which ended a few weeks ago. Our Masai guide soon led us to a lioness resting on a slab of rock. Next there were more lions, seven of them! Elephants, giraffes and buffaloes were common. There were some birds as well, but I didn’t always get a good look at them. Apparently the 25th giraffe or 98th topi was more interesting than a new species of eagle. We saw hippos and crocodiles in the river. Lots of skeletons as well, more left overs from the migration!
Pfffrrrrrt! We had a flat tyre for the second time in 24 hours on the road west from the reserve. Now there was no spare, so our driver had one tyre fixed in a small town. He then wanted to get new rear tyres close to the Tanzanian border. He didn’t find any, and we were now several hours away from our destination for the day, Kisumu. The drive was slow in the dark, we passed the time by counting and betting on the number of “slow down bumps” until Kisumu (149). The winner was Ilgonis with the guess of 150! Agnese and Ilva started to sing to keep everybody awake and many joined in. Karioki was asked to sing us a Kenyan song but he declined, saying he would think of one for tomorrow. Luckily I was never asked to sing something Swedish!
Finally we arrived at the seemingly deserted Kisumu Beach Resort well after midnight, only greeted by barking dogs, grunting hippos and clouds of mosquitoes. The place hadn’t seen any improvements since the 70’s and had a spooky air about it. I was waiting for zombies creeping out from the dark but the risk of being trampled by a nearsighted hippo was probably bigger.