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Week 3

Day 15 - Awassa (Ethiopia) to Moyale (Kenya)

Relatively dull day today. We left a nice hotel in Awassa and drove 500km to a much more down-market place in a town called Moyale on the Kenya/Ethiopia border.

There was a road section with a 106kph average and everyone made it. Border officialdom was minimal and we reached the hotel early afternoon. (ED: Moyale is the place David later described as a 'dump',and Mark said was 'the worst place he's ever been in').

The hotel (right) is clean but not big enough, they were asking some crews to double up, i.e. 4 per room.

Our room has a ¾ size double bed complete with mosquito net and a mattress on the floor. The bathroom has no light, a cold shower, and there is one towel per room only! Food was pretty good considering. I was refused entry when I tried to enter carrying a beer I had bought down the street. This is a Muslim establishment apparently.

Mark with the guys who guarded our cars overnight

Drinks at Moyale Prison Welfare Club (the warders' welfare, that is)

Our other issue was no fuel available. This had the organisers hopping for a bit and they eventually came up with the solution that we should seek local 'fuel brokers'. We walked outside and one soon found us. We asked for 40 litres. I think the price was exorbitant, but I'll have to do all the sums later. 

We spent 14000 Kenyan shillings on 40 litres. That's got to be expensive. 

Ten minutes after that a boy tried to extort more money from Mark telling him that he had carried the fuel and hadn't been paid. Mark politely told him to go away.

Day 16: Kenya: Moyale to Marsabit


Local market

Today was rough. Really rough. It started with 10km of rough which was really just getting us out of town. Then had 68km of slightly less rough which they had an average of 68kph on. All top cars cleaned it. The following 168km was untimed but was the roughest stretch I've ever done.

Mark reckons half the field will be out there until midnight. We have been in for an hour now and there are 5 4WDs and us in the camp ground.

Yes– camp ground. The tents are already up and we have been allocated tent 10. They have beds made up with sheets etc. Individual smaller tents are showers and toilets, (pit type, freshly dug). Locals are boiling water and fill the shower bucket when someone comes along for a shower. I asked for a bucket to wash a shirt and they took it off me and said they will bring them back to the tent when it's dry.

It's now about 2 hours since we got in and there are still no more crews in. Because the worst of the rough was after the stage and the organisers changed later controls to passage controls, penalties for those having trouble are minimal. This is not helping our cause.

Mark is not enjoying Kenya. Accommodation started bad and today is a tent! All roads have been extremely rough hard rock.

Tomorrow, we get to Nairobi and then there is a rest day. Jamie (Waterhouse) has organised a local rallyist and hopefully we can give the car a refresh. It did feel like a bucket of bolts by the time we got in today.

Day 17-18:Marsabit to Nairobi


Left the campsite at 7:48 this morning and we were soon into the extreme rough again.

Organisers up to their usual tricks. At the first control they add 20 minutes to the time allowed and changed later controls to passage controls. We didn't mind as much today as we were getting worried about the state of the car. Engine power seems down and the front end had some very loud bangs coming out of it. Yesterday using the headsets stopped us hearing the bangs too much, but today they are so loud they can't be ignored.

Wildlife today consisted of gorillas, camels, cows and goats. Nothing exotic yet. Some signs warning of elephants!

We went relatively slowly through the stages and eventually came to good tar road which was wonderful after the previous 2 days. We passed 3 cars but 5 4WDs passed us. They are most suited to these rough conditions. One of these, the BMW X5, was over on its side at the edge of the road 5 minutes after he had passed us. They waved us to keep going.

Traffic is extremely bad in Nairobi. We left the official hotel to take the car to a workshop and took the best part of an hour to do 10 Km. We left the imprint of our bullbar on the side of one little van which was intent on forcing its way in front of us.


The diagnosis of the car's problems was good.

The banging in the front end is likely due to the nut on the bottom of the strut coming loose. The engine problem is probably due to a loose distributor which has moved and retarded the ignition timing. This also explains why it has stopped pinging in the low octane fuel it's been receiving lately.

Bottom line, by the end of tomorrow car should be ready to start again and be as good as new. Oils will be changed, 6 new tyres fitted.

 We didn't venture back across town and stayed at the Crown Plaza which was near the workshop. Washing should be back tonight. Sleep in today

 Today, the 18th, was officially a rest day in Nairobi.  Spent most of the day at the workshop while the Datsun had its much-needed full service. Normally I'd go back to the hotel and relax while something like this is happening ,but Nairobi traffic is so bad that is easier to stay put until later!

The organisers did phone to tell us they were going to apply an hour's penalty for our non-period shock absorbers. This moved us from 7th or 8thback to 11th.  Not a massive change but now we are eligible for non-outright awards.

The reason all this happened is that other competitors were threatening to protest against another vehicle who is also using shock absorbers with gas canisters like ours. There are actually more vehicles using them, but they haven't come to anyone's attention yet.

Damaged shock absorbers from other cars.(

So after the car service it was back across town to the Safari Park hotel which was the official hotel accommodation and to sleep there,  ready for the start in the morning.

Next: Tanzania