Taking a Trip to Nairobi

In the past several months, we have driven back and forth to Nairobi a total of 5 times, and we'll be doing it again this Wednesday. This time, it's to pick up Eric's renewed US passport, visit immigration, and try and find the elusive Burundian embassy, to procure a visa for upcoming travel there.

So, we've gotten to know this route well, and for those who might be interested, I thought I'd guide you through it, accompanied by some of my favorite signs.

We start by driving our van by the hospital, dodging a million matatus, who have parked there with impunity. This 100m stretch is by far the worst stretch of road in the whole trip. Next, we drive 10 minutes to Bomet, our nearest town, and I always hope to catch a glimpse of the matatu bus that bears a window decal that reads "Israeli Vibrations". Why? I don't know.

The next hour is all good road (since the recent pothole repair project), and we go through several small roadside towns, including one that boasts the "Hilarious Mascot General Stores" sign seen below.
After an hour, we come to the district capital city of Narok, which is a Maasai city (though most people think of the Maasai as semi-nomadic, some of them are quite urbanized). Among other things, this city boasts a little tea garden with killer samosas, and a couple lovely signs including the "Moran Driving School" seen below.
After Narok (which is, incidentally, the branch point for tourists going down to Maasai Mara Game Reserve), there is another 30 minutes or so before you open up onto the Great Rift Valley, a stunning landscape with several volcanic mountains. We wind down into the valley, and for the next hour, you have the best chance of seeing game animals. On a given trip, we usually see 1-2 of either giraffes, zebra, Thomson gazelles, or baboons. At the other end of the valley, there is a 20-minute drive up a steep escarpment, in which you will inevitably get stuck behind a truck going 5 kph, and might have to pass him on a curve.

Once out of the valley, there is a slow descent into Nairobi, passing first through a few outlying towns and roadside vendors selling local pears and roasted maize. Then the roads get busier and more well-established, even if there are more potholes. A weird sort of wealth and commercialism, unique within Kenya to Nairobi, creeps in, and there is an advert for the 2010 Ford Everest SUV. Eventually we make our way through some very treacherous multi-lane roundabouts and turn off to the Samaritan's Purse guesthouse (our preferred lodging), which is located in two apartments within a complex near downtown.

All in all, it's close to 3.5 hours, and almost the entire way is paved, which is a huge blessing, since this was just completed within the last year.


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