Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Shopping in Eldoret

Sounds simple, I know. Only 20kms of gravel and the remaining 40kms are tarred. Mmm. Take a look at the GPS screen below...

This is the first part of the trip (we left home at 6:45); only 20kms. But it's 20kms of bone-shaking, teeth-rattling corrugated dirt. Now during wet season, we've had torrential rains and the surface sand has been washed away; what remains are exposed rocks, stones and pot-holes. And yes, that is how twisty the road is. You can see what we've covered by the purple squiggle on the left of the screen. Two kilometers and a series of small corners and already four hairpin bends behind us. This road is reknowned for it's sharp corners. There are 24 hairpin bends on this stretch of gravel. (I ticked them off in my notebook on the return trip). They are so sharp that as the vehicle approaches one, the GPS lady instructs the driver to turn sharply left or right!

We always meet trucks (many transporting fluorspar) on this pass. All are crawling up or down the mountain !

Grant's procurement manager, Christine and her eight-year-old daughter, Theresa travelled with us. They were going to spend the weekend at their family home in Eldoret. I asked Christine to show us the monkeys along the way. (I've posted about these before)

Near the top of the pass where the large trees were still intact, Christine called excitedly for Grant to stop. And there was the first reward of the journey!

A small troop of Blue monkeys. They are very shy and we were blessed that Christine was with us. We, the mzungus (Europeans/foreigners)  would never has spotted this monkey in a tree about four-deep inside the forest .  I apologize for the poor photo but I couldn't get the monkey in focus with all the branches and foliage between us. You can read more about the Blue monkeys here

We continued to crawl up the mountain pass. (Note the speed that we were travelling.) Although the road formation is visible, I wish the picture was in 3D. On the trip to Eldoret you climb and climb to the top of the mountain.

About three kilometers before the tarred road, Christine - now the self-appointed game guard -  squealed for Grant to stop again. She had spotted the other monkeys I'd asked her to look out for. (I must add here: Christine is a self-confident, friendly outgoing lady; she chatted non-stop on the trip!) 

A Colobus monkey (above) Even though I managed to get a clear photo of this monkey, who also sat in a tree deep in the bush, I couldn't capture the long white tail. You can read more about this [endangered] monkey here and here.

In Eldoret, Christine and the little girl left us and Grant and I continued with our shopping. Afterwards we had lunch at our favourite Indian restaurant and then it was time - time to venture down the mountain again.

Rutted, stony and hard on the body but even going down the trip had its rewards. Apart from many little brown birds, which I would have loved to stop and check properly, we saw Robin-chats, a Beautiful Sunbird,  a White-fronted Go-away bird, an African Paradise-flycatcher, a flock of Rufous Chatters, a variety of pigeons and, for both of us,  a lifer!
 A White-eyed Slaty-flycatcher

Heading south and east down the mountain into the valley

Hairpin bend no 18 on the way down the pass. There are 24 hairpin bends along the 20km mountain pass

One of the last hairpin bends before we reached the boom gate entrance to the camp

We arrived home at 2.15. Another shopping trip to Eldoret behind us!

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  1. Wooooo Jo.... That road looks like some of the back mountain roads that George and I take sometimes when we are waterfalling in the mountains... ha.... BUT--we've never seen any MONKEYS.. ha

    Great pictures... Bet you were tired when you got home.

  2. As I've said before, you live an amazing life, Jo!

  3. Wow, Jo, that is quite the trip. I haven't had a chance to do that one but having been on such roads, I can imagine how much this trip is physically taxing. It was great you had Christine with you to help spot the monkeys!

  4. I love those kinds of roads. But Wow, you have a more challenging trip to shop than I do even at the canyon.

  5. Sounds pretty hectic - but exciting. I have never seen monkeys like that either. Take care on those roads! Caroline xx

  6. Wow, that looks like a crazy road and a bit hairy. Nothing like our shopping trips here. I love the monkeys and the bird, Jo! Congrats on your new lifer. Thanks for sharing.

  7. This is not a good road to travel for the week at heart. You did a good job showing us what you went thru travelling on this road. Thanks for sharing.

  8. This must be so hard on your tires! At least I didn't see any precipices (a la Bolivia). You really have to have your shopping organized, so you don't say, "Oh, dear! I forgot the ........!"
    Thanks for the wonderful photos!

  9. Love the monkeys!
    Thats a lot of twist and turns too!

  10. That is one adventurous path. Great shots taken.

  11. Sounds like an adventure and also an interesting trip. Love the GPS shots and the nature shots in between. A nice respite from the bumpy ride. :)

  12. That road is incredibly windy, Jo. Probably quite nerve wracking, too with all of those trucks and when it's wet, no doubt potentially treacherous. So pleased you had a safe trip and got to enjoy seeing so much wildlife.

  13. My bones still rattle after reading this post ! fortunately I didn't loose my false teeth, lol !
    How cute that the monkeys are hidden along the street, when I can only see them in a zoo.

  14. Jo, I've traveled over some of the Kenyan roads in conditions like you describe here but I've never been down into Kimwarer Valley. I wish you could meet some of our friends in Eldo at the Discipleship College - and then you would have a place to rest for a night before you had to make that awful trip back down the mountain. Betsy - it's much worse than anything in our mountains, I assure you!

  15. Monkeys and birds make it worthwhile, I guess. It's been a long time since I've driven on a road like that. We used to have some in British Columbia, and there are probably some left, but I'm not going there. Not a single monkey to be seen in BC.
    Luv — K

    Kay, Alberta, Canada
    An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

  16. Such a beautiful place. Looks like it was an interesting trip. The road remind me of my hometown. Beautiful photos. Thank you for sharing, Jo. Have a wonderful day always.

  17. What a beautiful place and thanks for sharing.

  18. Great post! That sounds like some of our mountain roads where you need a 4x4 to make it. I clearly remember one where my right tires were knocking rocks off a tall cliff as I was (very slowly) driving forward with a 4x4 full of people, including a young child - a couple of folks were quite pale by the time we got to the bottom. I remember another where I saw a 4x4 overturn right in front of us because it was so steep and he didn't get it quite right!


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