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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