‘Hello Mr. Macharia. I trust that you are all set and ready for the ultimate road trip. We shall be meeting tomorrow at 6am so that we can be well on the road by 6:45am. Kindly, keep time.’ This call from Mukhtar Sidi of (http://www.bunduz.com/) who was to be the road trip Captain kept ringing in my head as I slept on the night prior to the safari. Needless to say, I was up by 5am and on my way to the meeting point by 5:45am. I was excited about the trip! I found a few of the other adventurers already boarded onto the truck. The Bunduz.com staff was at hand to receive me and pack my luggage into the truck. It was actually nice being in the middle of the city Nairobi so early in the morning. The air was so cool and fresh. The skies were clear, and the streets appeared so clean and beautiful without the mammoth crowds that ‘invade’ them during the day. I couldn’t help it but take a few shots with my newly acquired ‘baby’ Nikon D5200 that I christened Nicki.
Some of the adventurers sadly did not keep time, and this did not go down very well with the trip Captain who is quite strict about the itinerary schedule. One actually had to catch up with us while well on our way out of the city!
The overland truck smoothly growled it’s way out of the city. It felt sturdy, just as it looked with it’s large all terrain tyres and the compartments that swallowed into storage all our supplies and luggage for the eight days journey. It’s angelic white body created an impression of cocky confidence like that of a matador who chooses to wear a white suit into a dusty bullfight arena. On both sides of it’s belly were the words ‘Life On The Wild Side’ that stood out like tribal tattoos on the arms of a mighty wrestler. These words quietly promised us an adventure of a lifetime. From how it gracefully handled bumps and bends on our way out of Nairobi, to how the gears shifted smoothly in silence, and also how cushy the seats felt; I was certain we were in the vehicle right for the job! A rugged wrestler, that moved with the grace of an angel, and gave the comfort of a mother. I named the truck ‘Beast’.
As we made our way further out of the city, I learnt from Mukhtar that my good old friend Ali Said would be joining us on the safari. He would however not be with us in the truck, but on his motorbike! I thought he was insane to conjure up the idea of riding on two wheels over 3,200km, but being a biker myself I secretly envied him as I knew he would experience the adventure with all his senses on alert. No chance to snooze or booze!
We needed to travel from Nairobi all the way to #Jinja in Eastern Uganda. A distance of about 580km. This seemed like it was going to be one long day, noting that no one was quite speaking to the other. I knew that something had to be done to break the ice. Usually, the camera sort of does the trick and so shortly I was clicking away on Nicki. Taking shots of the truck occupants at random. This sort of shook up things a little bit and I started getting a smile here and there.
The best ice-breaker however came when one of the adventurers (Shakeel) left the truck, boarded Ali’s motorbike and came back with bags of ‘Bhajia’ (an indian delicacy prepared by frying slices of potatoes in a spicy paste and served with chilli). He threw a potato party and invited everyone to it! Going by how the adventurers dug into the food, I could bet my money on that few if any, had taken breakfast that early morning 🙂 Food certainly got people talking! From then on I baptized Shakeel as the ‘Bhajia Hero’.
Conversations started, laughter was audible and people started moving around in the truck. Friendships were being formed and this clearly indicated that we were on for an awesome trip! I was drawn into the beauty that our land Kenya is, as we drove further up country and Nicki did not disappoint in capturing this for your viewing;
On this day, we were in a race with time. We needed to make it to the Malaba border between Kenya and Uganda. The aim was to get to Jinja before dark. Packed lunch was served in the truck. A well balance meal of sandwiches, an apple and a packet of juice which I really enjoyed. The sandwiches were made with love, thanks to the Bunduz.com team. We made it to the border, and I really wanted to test the new pass-card that allows Kenyan, Ugandan and Rwandese citizens to cross into any of the three countries by just producing an identity card and not necessarily having a passport. I was issued with the pass immediately I availed my Kenyan ID card and conveyed my intention to cross into Uganda. I can confirm that this works efficiently and it is an indicator that the East African Community is making paces in the right direction. It is however sad to note that Tanzania is yet to sign up to this!
Soon we were in Uganda and headed to Jinja. By now, most of the adventurers knew each other by name and were already talking and sharing drinks which they had certainly not carried in short supply 🙂 Some of us were slowly being soothed to sleep by Beast’s clam and steady growl. Then suddenly someone shouted out , ‘Mash, look! Calvary is in Uganda!’ I immediately jumped up and instinctively grabbed Nicki ready to swing into action. I managed to get a good shot of the cross on the hill. I however still do not what it’s all about. Kindly anyone reading and knows what the cross on the hill is, feel free to share.
Time seemed to fly past and eventually the sun hid behind the hills as darkness crept onto the land. It would soon be dark. Unfortunately we wouldn’t make it to the camp in Jinja early this evening as it had been planned. The several stops along the way delayed the intended schedule.
We eventually got to the Nile River Explorers Camp where we put up for the night. The place was dark, and I could not quite explore much since I was quite tired. The Bunduz.com team quickly set up our kitchen and prepared us a sumptuous dinner which was served underneath the stars and beside our faithful Beast.
Event: The Ultimate Road Trip Period: #Day 1 (28th Dec 2014) Distance: Nairobi (Kenya) – Jinja (Uganda) Approx. 580km Organizer: http://www.bunduz.com/ Documentary (photos & writing) by: Macharia Njuguna (https://adventurewithmash.wordpress.com/)