31. Dezember 2013

HAPPY NEW YEAR! / EIN GLÜCKLICHES NEUES JAHR!

HAPPY NEW YEAR to all of you, dear EarthLoversOnTour friends!
 
Just a short update: After 7 1/2 quite intense and exhausting weeks in Ethiopia we are very happy being back in Kenya. At the moment we are staying in Nanyuki at the foot of Mt. Kenya again for a few days, just to relax... and also to finally update our blog - so watch this space. 





EIN GLÜCKLICHES NEUES JAHR wünschen wir euch, liebe EarthLoversOnTour Freunde!

Nur ein schnelles Update: Nach 7 1/2 sehr intensiven und anstrengenden Wochen in Äthiopien sind wir sehr froh, nun zurück in Kenia zu sein. Im Moment genießen wir für einige Tage wieder Nanyuki am Fuße des Mt. Kenya, nur um zu relaxen,... und auch, um endlich den Blog zu aktualisieren. Also wenn ihr mögt, schaut bald wieder einmal "vorbei".




13. Dezember 2013

Lake Turkana Route: Infamous, and Justifiably So / Lake Turkana Route: berühmt berüchtigt, und völlig zu Recht

We are northbound. In front of us you see Merille, and with it the end of the tarred road. From here on there is only gravel road for a long distance - for those staying on the "Moyale Route" as well as for us turning off westwards.
Wir fahren gen Norden. Vor uns liegt Merille, und damit das Ende der Teerstraße. Ab hier gibt es erst einmal nur noch Piste - für diejenigen, die auf der "Moyale Route" bleiben, und für uns, die wir gen Westen abbiegen.
Beautiful moments
Schöne Augenblicke
So far the livestock we have seen on the road were mainly goats, sheeps,
cattle and donkeys. For a change here we come upon camels.
Zur Abwechslung treffen wir mal auf Kamele auf der Straße. Die Nutztiere, die wir
bisher dort antrafen, waren vorwiegend Ziegen, Schafe, Rinder und Esel
.
The Lake Turkana attracts not only us. Do you spot it, too?
Der Lake Turkana zieht nicht nur uns an. Seht ihr's auch?


Lake Turkana Route: Infamous, and Justifiably So


There are basically two options to drive from Kenya to Ethiopia. You can either take the way from Isiolo via Merilla and Marsabit up to the border town Moyale, which are roughly 500 km. The 370 km from Merille to Moyale are not tarred and thus demanding. (Yet this is the only non tarmac part on the "Cairo to Cape Town" route. Yes, you are reading correctly. Beside of these 370 km the total route is tarred. Can this still be an adventure?) Depending on the weather the driving conditions are bad to disastrous, with a lot of stranded trucks obstructing all traffic, and a quite long travel time. Even so this is the primary route.

For the alternative is the Lake Turkana route, and this one is infamous. Many passages are extremely rocky or sandy, partly cluttered with heavy stones and sharp lava rocks. Besides it is little used. In case of an emergency you would have to wait several days for a car to come by, in the rainy season even longer. We have hardly heard from someone who travelled this route with no problems. Some had to carry back their vehicles with damages to the chassis by truck towards Nairobi. Others with a gearbox damage or engine failure had to wait on the road for a quite a while. Still we decide for this option. "Why that?", you might ask. Well, first the landscape is said to be spectacular. Second: Martin already took the other road a few years ago. Third: The adventure is calling (at least the male part of our crew;-)). And we shall not be disappointed. We experience a unique landscape and even several challenges re routing and our vehicle:

Ol Pejeta Conservancy: First Discussions, then a Surprise / Ol Pejeta Conservancy: zuerst Diskussionen, dann eine Überraschung

Rhinos: fascinating animals, but highly endangered. I could watch them for hours.
Nashörner: faszinierende Tiere, doch leider stark in ihrer Existenz gefährdet.
Ich könnte sie stundenlang beobachten.
Spotting the first wild dog makes our hearts leap for joy,...
Unser beider Herzen schlagen höher, als wir den ersten Wildhund entdecken,...
... and we are melting away at the sight of this little chappy.
... und wir schmelzen dahin beim Anblick dieses kleinen Kerlchens
.
Unique experience, to watch the little wildogs at play
Einmaliges Erlebnis, die kleinen Wildhunde beim Spielen zu beobachten

"I am not interested in a privately run park", Martin says. That hits home! "Hey, Ol Pejeta is a not-for-profit wildlife conservancy. They are doing exemplary work which I am following for a long time already. They are cooperating successfully with the surrounding local communities. The conservancy also boasts the largest sanctuary for black rhinos in East Africa, and we have not seen any rhino so far on our tour", I argue. (Except Maxwell, the blind rhino in the DSWT in Nairobi.) "Well, you can go there alone", is Martin's suggestion. This I don't want, since he should see the rhinos as well. There are not that many left on Earth, unfortunately. I phone Tine, a Belgian living close to Nanyuki, and ask for her opinion. She recommends to go there, because of the wildlife and landscape likewise. My husband still hangs back. Therefore I contact Raabia. Being us, of course she would go, she says. There would also be some wild dogs around. With a bit of luck we could even see them, she adds. Wild dogs, Martin's favorite wildlife. This is THE argument! Next morning we are going together to Ol Pejeta Conservancy, situated a few kilometers west of Nanyuki/Mt. Kenya. And look what we find:

24. November 2013

A Short Sign of Life / Ein kleines Lebenszeichen

 
The first rhinos in the wild on our tour - after more than 12 months!
Die ersten Nashörner im Freien auf unserer Tour - nach über 12 Monaten!
A wild dog puppy - YEAAAAH! One of 19 pups in the Ol Pejeta Conservancy
Ein Wildhund-Junges - YEEAAAH! Eines von 19 Welpen im Ol Pejeta Conservancy
Meager life at the Lake Turkana
Karges Leben am Lake Turkana
Bizarre beauty of an unreal area
Bizarre Schönheit einer unwirklichen Gegend
Hamar woman at a local market in the Omo valley
Eine Hamar auf einem lokalen Markt im Omo-Valley
Hamar women somewhere on a road in the Omo valley
Hamer Frauen unterwegs auf einer Straße im Omo-Valley
Mursi children in the Omo valley
Kinder des Mursi-Stammes im Omo-Valley


A Short Sign of Life


It is already a while ago since our last blog post, I know. Meanwhile we already got some concerned inquiries. Hence just as a short interim report: please do not worry - everything is fine with us! The past weeks have been quite intense, full of events and mainly without any internet access. Even now - here in Addis Abeba, internet is rare. And if it is working, then just in a "slow motion" version. Our today's update will be followed by more detailed posts and many more pictures, once technically possible.

Ein kleines Lebenszeichen


Unser letzter Blog-Eintrag ist schon eine Weile her, ich weiß. Wir haben auch bereits die ersten besorgten Anfragen bekommen. Daher als kurzer Zwischenbericht: Alles okay bei uns! Die vergangenen Wochen waren ziemlich intensiv, erlebnisreich und größtenteils ohne Internet-Zugang. Selbst jetzt, hier in Addis Abeba, macht sich das Internet rar. Und wenn es mal funktioniert, dann nur in der "slow motion"-Version. Habt also bitte Verständnis für diese Kurzversion vorab. Ausführlichere Posts mit mehr Fotos folgen, sobald die Technik es zulässt.

Rhinos and Wild Dogs with Puppies - Lucky Us!


Ol Pejeta Conservancy west of Mt. Kenya made it possible: We saw the first rhinos on our tour. Finally! This event was even topped a few hours later. Topped, is this possible at all? Yes, it is, namely by a pack of wild dogs - the first ones I have ever seen in the wild. And the best: they had puppies. Nine adult dogs and 19 pups! What a day for me as wildlife-lover. And even for Martin, since his favorite wildlife animal is? Guess what? Yes, exactly, the wild dog!

24. Oktober 2013

KenTanzKen-Mix

Together with Momo in my favorite African travel mood
Mit Momo in meinem liebsten afrikanischen Reisemodus
Martin, having a short siesta
Martin bei einem kurzen Mittagsschläfchen
Cattle...
Rinder...

... and their proud owner, a Maasai
... und ihr stolzer Besitzer, ein Maasai
Bananas for sale everywhere on the streets
Bananen werden überall auf der Straße verkauft

KenTanzKen-Mix, what is that? A recipe? A music genre? No, it is none of the two, it is just a post of our current Kenya-Tanzania-Kenya trip. 


After the Maasai Mara we went back to Nairobi and stayed at the Jungle Junction campsite (JJ's), which meanwhile had moved to a new location in Karen Hardy, Congoni Road. What's it like? the travellers amongst you surely want to know. Well, what shall I say... there are still many starting points for optimization, let me turn it this way. At least we can meet other globetrotters there (to Martin's great joy) and we are just ten minutes by car away from the DSWT elephant orphanage (to my great joy), a fact that I used by visiting the baby elephants as often as possible (a post about the DSWT is on the way). 

Amboseli - the Symbol of East Africa / Amboseli - das Sinnbild Ostafrikas

 
Top view onto Africa's highest mountain, the Kili
Top-Sicht auf den höchsten Berg Afrikas, den Kili



Spotted hyenas and a gazelle - the predators are just watching, luckily!
Tüpfelhyänen und eine Gazelle - die Raubtiere beobachten
ihr potentielles Opfer nur, glücklicherweise!
 


What is the symbol of East Africa for you? For me it is the snowcapped Mt. Kilimanjaro, and in front herds of elephants, antelopes and other wildlife roaming between fever trees. You think this is a picture from the past? No, it is not, it still exists: in the Amboseli National Park, situated in the South of Kenya close to the Tanzanian border. The view onto Africa's highest mountain is rarely clear, but we are lucky. On our first morning we can marvel at the massif and later on at the abundant wildlife in a varied and fascinating landscape. We were especially delighted to see many herds of elephants, since they are seriously endangered due to the recent dramatic increase in poaching. Also there must have been spring in the air, but check out yourself the pictures below....

Tarangire, Tanzania's Best Well Kept Secret / Tarangire, das best gehütetste Geheimnis Tansanias




Located around 120 km southwest of Arusha there is Tanzania's possibly best well kept secret: the Tarangire National Park. Because of the permanent, life-giving water of the Tarangire River, the park has an abundance of all form of wildlife throughout the year. Yet the Tarangire is especially renowned for its big herds of elephants and unusually large number of huge Baobab trees.

Lots of impressing elephants and Baobab trees: what a fabulous combination to guarantee a perfect safari day for us… we just love it!




7. Oktober 2013

One Year On Tour! / Ein Jahr auf Tour!


Yes, you are reading correctly: On 7 October 2012 we started our tour in Cape Town, and this is exactly a year ago now!

It was by now exciting, fascinating, interesting, sometimes exhausting, funny, educational, heart-warming, surprising, all of this but one - it was not boring. Therefore - and also since there is still so much left of Africa which we have not seen yet due to our deceleration - we will move on: travelling, experiencing, marvelling, enjoying.... and blogging for you.

Interim Summary


As a little interim summary here are some of the questions which often come up - and our answers:


Which place did you like the most so far?


Difficult question. So many places have been fascinating, yet the utmost highlights so far were:
 

Which have been your most impressing experiences so far?


in chronological order:
  • Our meeting in Zimbabwe with a village chief. He considered our choice to stay overnight under their sacred baobab tree as a blessing. Sacred Baobab Tree / Heiliger Baobab 
  • Our encounter in the house of Jenny in Malawi with her little adoptee, the elephant orphan baby Moses: Sneak Preview Moses, RIP Little Moses
  • My first view of the Mt. Kilimanjaro, which was in January from the Lake Jipi in Kenya. At that time I had no clue how often this giant of almost 6,000 m height would yet impress me in the following months with its beauty and magnitude. For Martin: the breathtaking view a couple of days ago from Willi's premises in the Amboseli/Kenya onto the Kili, this time extraordinarily snow-capped.
  • The visit of our friends Bernd & Claudia. Together we went on safari through several national parks in Tanzania - great fun!!!  Safari with Friends / Safari mit Freunden
  • My several visits at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust orphanage in the Nairobi NP. It is always so heart-warming witnessing the joy of living of these little baby elephants. And my heart sinks when I realize: we humans are now busy exterminating these highly intelligent, deeply social and touchingly sensitive animals - if we are not able to stop this senseless slaughtering very soon. DSWT - A Haven for Elephant Orphans / Im Elefantenwaisenhaus des DSWT, Visiting my Foster „Child“ Ajabu at the DSWT / Zu Besuch im DSWT bei meinem Paten“kind“ Ajabu. Please also watch this new and powerful DSWT-video WILD: DSWT
  • ... and of course the intense encounters with other travellers and hospitable people - once strangers who are now familiar persons or even friends. THANKS TO YOU for your time, support, help, tips, stories - in brief: for enriching our first year OnTour the amazing way you did!

 

What surprised you the most?

 

  • the spontaneous hospitality of the Africans
  • how many interesting people we meet along the way
  • the cellphone as the most important and most prevalent personal item - however not just as a status symbol but also as a useful tool, e.g. in order to stay in contact with family members being far away, to make payments etc.
  • the importance of story-telling in Africa: with good, gripping, funny stories you can not only amaze people or make them laugh but also solve (nearly) every problem that way
  • Many people own very little, although they are quite content. We do not conclude that satisfaction is a result of owning just a little. Yet isn't it thought-provoking that there are people in the world owning much more while being clearly more dissatisfied?
  • the realization: travelling is addictive.

28. September 2013

Maasai Mara: Breakfast with Lions / Maasai Mara: Frühstück mit Löwen












Since our first two days in the Maasai Mara have been so fascinating we decide to go there for a third time. Can this day be as magical as the ones before? Yes, it can. And it will. Just marvelous!

Maasai Mara: Paradise-like Moments / Maasai Mara: Paradiesische Momente










Maasai Mara: The Great Migration Inclusive River Crossing – Lucky Us! / Maasai Mara: Die große Migration mit Flußüberquerung – Glückspilze sind wir!



The next morning shortly after six we are one of the first cars at the Talek Gate entering the Maasai Mara National Reserve. Day is dawning, and then it is  j u s t   s p e c t a c u l a r. Come, view the pictures, and you will see what I mean:

Maasai Mara: Die große Migration mit Flußüberquerung - Glückspilze sind wir!


Am nächsten Morgen kurz nach sechs Uhr fahren wir als eine der ersten durch das Talek Gate in das Maasai Mara National Reserve. Der Morgen bricht langsam an. Was wir dann den ganzen Tag über erleben, ist einfach nur eins:  s p e k t a k u l ä r . Aber seht selbst:

 
Slowly the hot air ballons are rising up in the morning sky.
Langsam heben die Heißluftballone ab in den Morgenhimmel.
What a marvelous scenery!
Was für eine Kulisse!
We see the first herds of wildebeests...
Wir sehen die ersten Gnuherden...
... grazing relaxed on the open plains in the Maasai Mara
... beim entspannten Grasen in den weitläufigen Ebenen der Maasai Mara

The Maasai Mara is located in the south-west of Kenya, bounded by the Serengeti (Tanzania) to the south. It is the northern-most section of the Mara-Serengeti ecosystem which hosts the largest terrestrial mammal migration in the world. The annual migration of wildebeest, zebras and other antelopes is one of nature's biggest spectacles. Up to two million (!) animals are roaming around clockwisely year after year and covering more than 500 kilometres in search of better food availability. In January we have seen them in the southern Serengeti, and now we can watch them in the Maasai Mara again! 

20. September 2013

On Our Way to the Maasai Mara / Auf dem Weg in die Maasai Mara

 
If necessary, Momo even looks into the camera - at least sometimes...

Wenn's denn sein muss, schaut Momo auch gnädig in die Kamera - zumindest manchmal...
At the Lake Victoria, here in Kisumu/Kenya

Am Viktoriasee, hier in Kisumu/Kenia


This time we decide to take a tarred road back to Kenya from “The Haven” and Jinja. The border crossing point in Busia would be chaotic, we were warned by other travellers. Due to the mixup there they paid the road toll for Uganda even twice, though they were leaving the country, and they did not even get the money back. Well, what shall we say…

On Ugandan side there are indeed just two counters, being in charge for the entry and departure at the same time. The queue of people standing outside is already long when we arrive. A bus full of travellers entering Uganda has come just shortly before us. Alas these people don’t keep the physical distance we are used to. Quite the contrary: apparently the closer the better is what they like. Well, then at least I can start getting used to it for Ethiopia. It seems to be common practice over there.


"Welcome to Kenya" - always a nice greeting


On Kenyan side it is more relaxed again. No stress. We are warmly welcomed – same as every time when we entered Kenya so far. That’s fun coming back!

We take the B1 to Kisumu on the shores of Lake Victoria. There are road works on the first section, which means it is dangerous to drive, and quite time consuming. If you want to take this road too, you better make sure the road works are finished before you go. We are driving southwards and actually missing the equator although looking out for the sign-board. Oh nooo, I wanted to log each of our equator crossings by a picture – what a shame…


Road works on the B1, miles long

Baustelle an der B1, kilometerlang

Lake Victoria: You will get your 2. chance


In Kisumu, the third biggest town in Kenya, I urgently want to see the Lake Victoria, since we have already been close by for such a long time. One and a half times bigger than Switzerland, the world’s third-largest freshwater lake, that sounds promising, doesn’t it? But, to be honest: I am a tiny little bit disappointed. Somehow I thought it would be much more spectacular. Well, but I am generous: It will get its second chance, one day…

Lake Victoria in Kisumu, panorama view

Viktoriasee bei Kisumu, Panorama Blick
Momo at the Lake Victoria

Momo am Viktoriasee
Victoria perch? At least fish from the Lake Victoria

Viktoriabarsch? Zumindest Fisch aus dem Viktoriasee


Via Kericho, the center of the most important tea plantation area of Kenya, we are moving on towards the Maasai Mara. Shortly after Bomet we leave the B3 and carrying on the C14 in the direction of Talek, a little village located directly at the same-named gate of the national reserve. We knew this road would be in poor condition. However, we did not expect that on the last kilometers the path is hardly to see. Bad bumpy track, no fun at all.


Tea plantations in the Kericho region...

Teeplantagen in der Gegend um Kericho...
... and staff quarters close by

... und Mitarbeiterunterkünfte direkt nebenan


Maasai Mara within our reach

 

We are glad to finally arrive at the Aruba-Mara Camp in Talek. The owner Gerdi from Bavaria has built her lodge & campsite directly at the border to the Maasai Mara National Reserve. The complex is quite nice, yet the ablution block is not in mint condition any more. Hence once again we are more than happy about our own bathroom. However Gerdi has already announced to modernize the sanitation. Moreover the camp is ideally located as it is just a few meters away from the gate. After one day of just relaxing we cannot wait any longer to finally, finally see the Maasai Mara.


Auf dem Weg in die Maasai Mara



Für die Rückfahrt von "The Haven" und Jinja nach Kenia nehmen diesmal eine geteerte Straße. Der Grenzübergang Busia sei chaotisch, wurden wir zuvor von anderen Reisenden gewarnt. Diese hatten beim Durcheinander hier tatsächlich noch einmal die Straßenbenutzungsgebühr für Uganda gezahlt, obwohl sie aus dem Land ausreisten, und bekamen sie auch nicht zurück. Tja, was soll man dazu sagen...

Es gibt auf ugandischer Seite wirklich nur zwei Schalter, die zugleich für Ein- und Ausreise zuständig sind. Die Menschenschlange ist schon lang, als wir mit unserem Camper gegen Mittag über die zahlreichen Schlaglöcher vor das Immigration-Gebäude fahren. Ein Bus ist kurz zuvor angekommen, voll mit Einreisenden nach Uganda. Leider halten diese nicht allzu viel von dem uns gewohnten körperlichen Abstand. Je näher, desto besser, so scheint es. Nun gut, dann kann ich ja schon mal ein wenig üben für Äthiopien. Dort scheint das gang und gäbe zu sein.

 “Welcome to Kenya" - immer wieder schön zu hören

 


Auf kenianischer Seite ist es wieder viel relaxter. Kein Stress, wir werden herzlich Willkommen geheißen – so wie jedes Mal, wenn wir bisher nach Kenia eingereist sind. Da macht die Rückkehr richtig Spaß!

Rice fields on the way

Reisfelder an der Strecke
Hello, hello!
Cleaning the classroom...

Das Klassenzimmer wird gereinigt...
... yet lessons are given outside under a tree. The kids are so quite and disciplined - amazing

... doch der Unterricht findet draußen statt. Die Kinder sind so ruhig und diszipliniert - erstaunlich

Wir fahren über die B1 nach Kisumu am Viktoriasee. Der erste Teil der Strecke ist Baustelle und entsprechend gefährlich und langwierig. Wer dort herfahren will, sollte sich besser vorher erkundigen, ob die Strecke bis dahin schon ausgebaut ist. Wir fahren gen Süden und verpassen doch tatsächlich den Äquator, obwohl wir nach einem Schild Ausschau halten. Also das mir so was passiert, ich wollte doch jedes Äquator-Crossing dokumentieren…

Viktoriasee: Du bekommst deine 2. Chance


In Kisumu, der drittgrößten Stadt Kenias, will ich unbedingt an den Viktoriasee, nachdem wir uns nun schon so lange in seiner Nähe aufgehalten haben. Drittgrößter Binnensee der Erde, eineinhalbmal so groß wie die Schweiz, das klingt doch vielversprechend, oder? Aber ehrlich gesagt bin ich ein klein wenig enttäuscht. Das hatte ich mir irgendwie spektakulärer vorgestellt. Doch ich bin ja nicht so. Er bekommt eine zweite Chance, später einmal.

Über Kericho, Zentrum der wichtigsten Teeanbauregion in Kenia, geht es weiter Richtung Maasai Mara. Kurz hinter Bomet verlassen wir die B3 und fahren auf der C14 nach Talek, einem kleinen Ort direkt am gleichnamigen Gate des National Reserves gelegen. Wir wussten, dass diese Strecke in schlechtem Zustand ist. Dass sie auf den letzten Kilometern allerdings kaum noch als Weg auszumachen ist, haben wir nicht geahnt. Schlechte Holperpiste mit tiefen Auswaschungen, no fun.


Maasai Mara, zum Greifen nahe


Wir sind froh, als wir endlich in Talek im Aruba-Mara Camp ankommen. Die Besitzerin Gerdi aus Bayern hat ihre Lodge & Campsite direkt an der Grenze zum Masai Mara National Reserve errichtet. Die Anlage ist recht nett. Die sanitären Einrichtungen der Campsite sind allerdings mehr als einfach und schon in die Jahre gekommen. So sind wir einmal mehr froh über unser eigenes Bad. Gerdi hat jedoch angekündigt, den Sanitärbereich bald zu erneuern. Außerdem ist die Lage ideal, da nur einige Meter vom Gate entfernt. Nach einem Relax-Tag kann ich es nicht mehr erwarten, endlich, endlich in die Maasai Mara zu fahren. 

Shame: three little frogs from Uganda are joining us as stoaways. 

We have to release them back into the wild in Kenya,

hoping they will make it in their new environment.

Ohjee: drei kleine Frösche aus Uganda begleiten uns als blinde Passagiere. 

Wir müssen sie in Kenia aussetzen und hoffen,
sie überleben in ihrer neuen Umgebung.