THEMA: Vier Wochen Self-Drive in Dezember : Bericht
02 Jan 2020 19:13 #576360
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kommen gerade aus Kenia zurück - ein Bericht für alle die bald aufbrechen oder über einen Trip nachdenken. Falls ihn die Mods in "Reiseberichte" verschieben wollen - gerne.


Kenya 4 weeks self-drive in December

With the ongoing drop of tourism in Kenya we thought its time to self-drive the country again after 25 years.
Here is a short travel report, in english, for kenyan and international friends.


Rental Car
Toyota Landcruiser Prado from Paul Basude 4x4 Uganda,
Had the best quote and in Uganda we heard positive remarks from his clients. We can vindicate it.
Automatic gear, no diff locks, sun roof (good for animal spotting)
Rooftop tent (RTT) and full camping gear (eFridge), tow rope, shovel, jerry cans
Good condition, the best tyres we ever had in EA (and boy did we need them...)
No tyre puncture, two mechanical problems, see text (with the MPESA money transfer system the rental car company and the fixers can deal directly, a big advantage)

Guides & Nav
Rough Guide (RG) 11.ed, 2016:
in a word: excellent, indispensable for such a trip, kudos to Richard Trillo !!

Lonely Planet (LP) 10th ed. 2018
Only a shadow of its former self: although technically more update we rarely used it.

Map: Reise Know How (RKH, the corresponding new german guide will come out in Q2/20 with a new focus)

Garmin Montana with OSM Kenya, via
very good - from Nairobi back roads to National Park water holes, no need for T4A

Dangers & Annoyances
as usual in the 3rd world: traffic is the biggest threat, drivers are reckless and inept. Its not a problem for much of the country but on the N-M Highway madness takes control, e.g. incoming trucks force you merciless off-shoulder without hesitation. On more than 3000km km we have seen only a couple of serious accidents, so relax.
Police: 3 stops on roadblocks, always nice, no bribes etc.

No threats, con schemes - people friendly and helpful throughout.

Rental contract excluded northern provinces due to a fluid security situation (see

Money, Provisions & Petrol
ATMs and supermarkets even in small towns
Visa & MC widely accepted (Total, Shell), Maestro often denied
National Parks: always Credit Card

Climate & Weather
African patterns are drastically changing: while Vic Falls dried up, in Kenya it was the worst December rains from time immemorial: parts of the country was still flooded. We had daily rain, torrential at night and to deal with lots of mud.
We choose the RTT based on comfort considerations but with hindsight it was the right decision just for this: the tour with our usual ground tent would have been impossible due to soggy, muddy and flooded camp grounds.

Other tourists
Met only 3 self-drivers (!) see text, were totally alone on almost all camps.
Reduced number of all-inclusive-tourists on coast and in major NPs, many hotels/lodges have closed for good.

In a nutshell:
Kenya is again a great country for the independent self-driver, mass tourism has gone down to reasonable levels.
More so the number of independent travellers: in the old days you always met motor-cyclists on the long way down, stalwart RTW-Unimog haulers, backpackers, Overland-truckies etc. Largely a thing of the past, reasons are up for debate.

The trip, day by day:

29 Nov.
Lufthansa Airbus is packed, fast immigration with eVisa
N (night): Acacia Tree Hotel, Karen: good, friendly

Prado delivery from Uganda arrives in time, Carrefour supermarket for food provisions
Exit Nairobi on A104 in heavy rain: slow due to long road construction patches and mud detours
N: Lake Naivasha: good ol‘ Fisherman‘s camp - hippos, fish eagles & pelicans.

1 Dec
Hells Gate NP: slow intro back to Kenya and a way to get aquainted with the car (Buffalo Circuit). The Gorge is closed due to landslides.
N: Fishermans

via Narok, on new tarmac (almost to Sekanani Gate) to the Maasai Mara. Greets us with rolling clouds and fresh green. We see a lot of highlights that afternoon (cheetah with cubs, leopard, lion hunt) – this frees your mind for the scenery in total.
N: Aruba Camp - friendly swiss interim manager allows us to shower in a posh tent.
Dinner is the most fork-tender Ossobuco north of the Limpopo.

Thru Mara east to west: all fords are flooded, with south bridge the only option. Mud however clears the area of minibuses, for hours we see no vehicles.
N: Oloololo Camp – still a EA favorite, still no fence. Befor sunset elephants & buffalo walk up the escarpment close by.

Along Mara River: most access tracks to the river proper are flooded, but Hippo pool possible, later on to the Serena area.
Suddenly a big bang from the roof: the RTT has crashed down! We backtrack to the O-gate. Outside, the ford and bridge are flooded, we have to wait for an hour until a Maasai welder in Mara Rianta can do the repairs (the whole rusty roof rack was hold together by paint alone).
After the village its black cotton soil, local cars stuck everywhere, a petrol bowser toppled over. We fight our way in low gear thru the mud, make a left at Aitong. From here neither the RG nor the OSM are of any help: instead of our target Bomet we end up in Kapkimowa (always on a good and straightdorward track south of the River).
N: Kericho: County Gardens cottages, good.

via Kisumu to Kagamega Rain Forest NP, afternoon bird walk,
N: Udo‘s Camp, in a jungle clearing

Sunrise walk when the mist just starts to clear on Buyangu Lookout.
The KWS has neglected the place: bridges over streams (i.e. fallen logs) are washed away or outright dangerous. Good news however: 2020 the two sections will be combined, eFenced and imported Chimps released to the wild.
N: Kitale: Iroko Twigs Hotel, good

towards Mt. Elgon NP: visit Kitum & Mackingeny Caves. Having done bat research in a previous life (and still remembering Preston‘s scary book „Hot Zone“...) we put on surgical masks to protect us from potential Marburg/Ebola viruses in the piles of bat-shit. Evidence of nocturnal elephant visits (tusker marks and droppings) is everywhere.
As its a dry day for a change we dare to tackle the peak road: the faithful Prado slowly paddles the 38km thru the mud up to 3500m altitude.
N: We camp above the clouds in perfect isolation. The night is cold (4°C).

Next day we hike up the valley, being Almost-Sexagenarians in the thin air the going until 4000m is slow. Goal is not the peak itself but the outlandish afro-alpine vegetation, giant lobelia and senecias. Long ago, we have seen them on Kili, Mt. Kenya and Ruwenzori, here its the easiest access by far.
Down to the main road (the track has dried up a bit) and going north of Saiwa Swamp NP
N: Barnleys Guesthouse:

„one of the finest homestays in the country“ (RG) – perfectly true. Pitching tent in a beautiful garden, a good chef for dinners. Host Richard is a veteran born here, full of help and incredible stories. He laments the fact that the North is considered unsafe and the inexplicable decline of individual tourism.
Our rear-right shock absorber has called it quits (was installed without washers…) - the mechanic high-jacks the Prado and installs two second-hand Bilsteins from Richard‘s Toyota toolbox after a phone call with Paul in Kampala. They improve overall performance and hold up to the end.
So we loose one day, buts its the best place in the country for such a delay, nobody should ever miss it!
N: Barnleys

Cherrangani „Highway“: finally lives up to the denomination: all new tarmac, no nav problems. In fact Matungano-Marigat might be the best moto-cycle route in Kenya with lots of twisties!
Unfortunately the 3000m hills are in the clouds, rain and cold brings us in Iten into the Kerio View Hotel: posh styling, good music, lots of international long distance runner teams going for high altitude training. Charming host Jean-Paul just came back from an expedition to Lake Turkana, showing us pics, its pretty wild up there.

Roller-coasting down the Rift Valley escarpment, up the Tugen Hills, down again to Lake Baringo
N: Robert‘s camp. The water has almost reached the famous Thirsty Goat Bar, our car just beside. The lounging Crocs are well fed by catfish, so pose no danger. Its the full-moon, at midnite the resident Hippos come out to graze and grunt just under our tent. A night to remember!

Motor Boat trip around the islands. Turns out we did the trip in 1994 with same guide Joshua - when he was just training the fish eagles for the photo-stunts. „Welcome back brother“, time flies...
On to Lake Nakuru, chaos at the gate. Its independence day and Kenians have free admission to the NPs. The Nairobi middle class tries their SUVs on the tracks but are all gone before sunset.
N: Camp at the waterfall - dirty toilets, trash dispersed by the baboons (who have learned to open car doors…), showers padlocked, no water. That park‘s KWS is infamous for its greed and neglect and it shows, 60 USD for nothing! At least we are all alone with the moon.

At Nakuru you can see all the big ones (lions, leopard, buffallo, b&w rhinos) with relative ease. We breakfast (without style and R. Redford) on the Out-of-Africa-lookout, from the baboon cliffs we see the tiny rest of the once-famous Flamingos.
Via Naivasha on to the Aberdares
N: Camp Kipipiri near Matubio Gate: very basic, very friendly

Nobody has checked in at the gate for a long time. Eerily alone we drive thru a tolkienesque landscape of moss-covered trees, upland moors and waterfalls, For a moment we even see the elusive Bongo antelope. Then its an extremely muddy descent into the lowland towards the eastern gate. As we are no Royals, the famous Treetops Hotel wants USD 20pp just for seing it, something we politely refuse.
N: Sandai Farm, a great and welcoming lodging run by the „effervescent“ (LP) Petra Allmendinger – like us born in the Swabian Jura, so we all fall back fast into our childhoods dialect...

we have to plan for the reminder of the trip: Samburu is flooded, as is Amboseli, Meru situation is unaccounted for.
we make a change and drive straight to Nairobi, to
N: Chris Handschuh‘s famous Jungle Junction camp, where we are the only guests.

down the super-tarred C102 to Oloitokitok, swing left to Tsavo West (rough muramm).
N: Chyulu Campsite: an Oryx walks by as we prepeare dinner, the night is full of predator calls.

before even the rangers are up – Mzima Springs. A magical place, unfortunately the Hippos are only in the lower pool, not at the underwater chamber. Breakfast on Poachers lookout, for an hour we see Kilimanjaro before it hides again in clouds.
Bridges and fords at the river are flooded, we down some Guiness on the terrace of the Kilaguni Lodge.
N: Voi, Lutheran Guesthouse, good value.

N-M-highway to Samburu, tarmac to Kinanongo, from there disaster road to Shimba Hills NP. Views to the coast from several viewpoints. And an elephant shrew crosses the track for a second.
N: Public campsite, run by the super-friendly warden Ali. Only the safari-ants made us dance...

Through early morning fog we see 18 Sable Antelopes, a deer that eluded us on so many african trips...
Down to Diani Beach - after the loneliness of the bush it hits us like a ton of bricks, Mallorca in the Tropics!
N: Escape north to Twiga Lodge, the old overlander hideout - white sands, swaying palms, tourquise waters
and finally here they are: Jutta & Gerd, a german retired couple, since 4 years on the „forever RTW trip“, travelling in their MAN-Ex-Army-Monster-Truck.
Later arrives Dutchman Mario on his Honda African Twin: for a year going around Africa, hugging the cost, next stop Ethiopia (of which we hear chilling stories...)
So the spirit is still alive!
N: Twiga

We do a snorkeling trip (arranged thru the camp staff) to Kisite Marine NP: mass tourism at its worst, were also cheated on snorkeling time. And underwater its not necessarily the Red Sea or the Great Barrier Reef either...
And don‘t snorkel from the camps beach: on the reefs edge its dangerous when the surf is up, the inward „lagoons“ are preposterous little pools fringed by masses of sea urchins.
N: Twiga

to Mombasa, ferry is no problem, but city-traffic.
N: Kilifi, Distant Relatives, due to the RTT, camping would mean the parking lot, a sure no-go, we take a Banda instead. Its a great hangout even for grown-ups.

Watamu: Gedi Ruins – not to be missed in a trip devoid of any culture...
Ocean Sports still does snorkelling trips but has stopped camping:
N: Mwamba Field Studies Center. Difficult to put up the RTT under the trees, but very friendly, x-mas dinner with kenian families, a morning swim with nobody for miles...

via Malindi to Tsavo East, Sala Gate. Thru the big green void via Arusha Dam to
N: Ndololo Public Camp. For the first time with KWS we are not alone, expats and locals hang out. Lions get close at night.

Tsavo East Big Loop: to Lugards Falls, Kanderi Swamps and back. Long drive on bad tracks.
Due to the rains, both Tsavos are green and bushy, animal wise its a far cry from the Mara, Serengeti or the Luangwas but with some patience you see it all: lions, cheetah, elephants, the works.
N: Ndololo

via Mudanda rocks and Observation Hill to Tsavo Gate
to Nairobi on the Highway to hell…
We left Nairobi four weeks ago in a downpour, we come back in a downpour...
N: back to Jungle Junction, the grass is a quagmire.
A Pink Bus (, the last dinosaur of a bygone overlander era, has arrived and is stuck in JJs mud. It takes 20 people and 4 PSPs more than two hours to get it out, quite a show.

Henry arrives from Kampala for the Prado pickup.
Lars, a Swedish bicyclist arrives, he has travelled intensively in Ethiopia (were he was almost stoned to death) and the Lake Turkana area. My highest respect for such characters.

Lufthansa strike is not affecting Jome Kenyatta Airport, so its a night flight home.
It was a very good trip.
Letzte Änderung: 03 Jan 2020 11:31 von Pinback. Begründung: Typos corrected
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03 Jan 2020 09:30 #576396
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Jambo Pinback,

vielen Dank für Deinen Reisebericht. Der kommt genau zur richtigen Zeit, denn ich bin gerade dabei unsere Selfdrive-Reise durch Kenia im nächsten Dezember/Januar zu planen. Wir waren auch seit über 10 Jahren nicht mehr im Land und sind sehr gespannt, was uns erwartet. Wir steuern fast die gleichen Ziele und Übernachtungsplätze wie Du an. Allerdings in umgekehrter Richtung mit Masai Mara als krönenden Abschluss und in 6 Wochen, so dass wir uns ein wenig mehr Zeit nehmen können.

Ich würde mich sehr freuen, wenn Du mir in einigen Punkten weiterhelfen kannst. Meine größte Unsicherheit besteht derzeit bei den Eintritten in die Nationalparks. Ich werde auch aus den Erläuterungen auf der KWS-Homepage nicht schlau. Was hat das mit der Smartcard auf sich? Muss ich da irgendwo ein Guthaben aufladen, oder kann ich einfach alle Nationalparks an den Gate per Kreditkarte bezahlen? Wie habt Ihr das gehandhabt? Auch aus den Regelungen in der Masai Mara werde ich nicht schlau. Wie verhält sich das mit den beiden Teilen "Mara Triangel" und "Mara National Reserve", wenn man zwischen diesen wechselt? Muss ich jeweils separat für die beiden Teile zahlen, oder kann ich für den Gesamtaufenthalt in der Mara zahlen und dann beliebig zwischen den beiden Bereichen wechseln?

Ich würde mich sehr freuen, wenn Du ein paar Bilder Deiner Reise hier hochladen würdest.

Dein Post muss nicht in einen Bereich "Reiseberichte" verschoben werden. Du musst Deinen Post als Reisebericht markieren, dann taucht er auch in dieser Rubrik auf. Um Deinen Post als Reisebericht zu kennzeichnen musst Du auf "ändern" klicken und dann ein Häkchen bei Reisebericht setzen. Befindet sich direkt über dem Button "ABSENDEN".

Alles Gute
Letzte Änderung: 03 Jan 2020 09:32 von Topobär.
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03 Jan 2020 12:17 #576416
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Hallo Thomas,

uns waren die KWS-Eintritte auch nicht klar - es ist aber einfach:
man kann an jedem Gate mit Visa bezahlen (meist auch mit MC). Smartcard gibt's anscheinend nimmer.
Falls man doch länger im NP bleibt zahlt man am Exit-Gate problemlos nach. Cash wird NICHT genommen.
Am TsavoW-Chyulu-Gate (wird i.M. umgebaut) gabs keinen Empfang - wir bekamen eine Temporäre-Bescheinigung und zahlten am nächsten Tag in der KWS-Butze am Flugfeld der Kilaguni-Lodge.
TravoE Sala-Gate: hat nie Empfang, wir zahlten vorher am KWS-Gate des Malindi NP und bekamen eine Safari-Card die am Tsavo-Exit-Gate wieder einbehalten wurde.
In der Mara zahlt man für den Gesamt-Aufenthalt, d.h. man kann beliebig wechseln/umherfahren es gibt im Gelände keine Kontrollstationen.

Gerne Photos, ich habe aber ein Problem:
mein HDR-Bildbearbeitungs-Programm starb vor Reiseantritt mit meinem uralt Vista-PC, für den neuen Win10er brauche ich Ersatz. Gibt es Tipps von den Spezialisten hier (Free oder Pay)?

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03 Jan 2020 13:14 #576426
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Hallo Pin,

die Antworten helfen mir schon einmal ganz gewaltig.

Noch eine spezielle Frage zum Mt.Elgon NP. Darf man dort offiziell am Ende der Peakroad campen und wie lange ward Ihr zu Fuß unterwegs bis Ihr die botanisch interessanten Bereiche erreicht habt.

Bei den Bildbearbeitungsprogrammen kann ich Dir leider nicht helfen, da ich nicht in RAW fotografiere.

Alles Gute
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03 Jan 2020 14:14 #576429
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… ist offiziell, man zahlt am Gate auch die USD 20pp - es gibt aber keinerlei Facilities oder Wasser.
Bei Trockenheit ist die Auffahrt unschwierig, alles weich, keine Felsstufen.
Die ersten Senecien sieht man früh (ca. 1 Std), zu den Lobelien ist es dann weiter (nochmal 1-1.5).

Ich mache auch kein RAW sondern mit der Sony 5er JPEG_Bildserien mit +/- 4EV, die Software muss die dann tone-mappen und Mini-Verwackler kompensieren.

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04 Jan 2020 18:11 #576512
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Meine Empfehlung für HDR: Photomatix Pro (ich glaube aktuell V 6.1).
Gute Ausrichtung und Geisterbilderkorrektur plus vielen Vorlagen und Stapelverarbeitung.
Kostet allerdings ca. € 70,- ... 80,-, m. E. für die Fotos so einer Reise durchaus ok.

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