It’s about 1AM. Nature is dancing to the tune of one of its own, wind. Busy brushing past bushes, knocking on our tents. Mosquitoes are also out to play, you can hear them humming outside the tent almost trying to serenade me to let them in because the wind is too strong. The ground we pitched tent on is consuming my back. I use my sleeping bag as a mattress but it only holds for about 30 minutes or less. One of the hooks Kitots and I planted on the ground with so much trouble unhooks and the tent is now almost being blown away. “Steve, amka bana. Tent inaenda”…. “Mmmmmm… lala boss” he mumbles back and switches into snoring gear. I grab a stone from outside while desperately trying to dodge mosquitoes and plant it on the corner that unhooked. In the next tent, Pau shifts into gear 4 of snoring. It’s like a perfectly choreographed surround sound system I never paid for. Steve and Pau compete, unknowingly. The wind continues knocking on the tent. Mosquitoes step up their soprano game, a sniffing sound near the campsite, I’m shook. I pray. Why do I do this to myself? Last time was crocs and a lion, what could it be? I picture the wildest creature my imagination can come up with. The wind stops, but it doesn’t stop with Pau and Steve, they pick on from where it left. Lord. What did I do to deserve this? They all tone down one after the other. Then I finally get some shut eye. After what seems like 10 minutes, I’m up, grumpier than I’ve ever been but sunrise called. This was the view next to camp.
We wanted to see Lake Natron but couldn’t get a good view from our campsite, so Jose our guide insisted on showing us another route that we’d use to get to it. Sounded quite simple, however, the success of that decision lie on the mechanical behaviour of Obuna’s legendary Mazda.
The trail was extremely dusty, and as long as it was, the car couldn’t take it any more. It choked. Something else happened, but at this point I really wasn’t paying attention, I was scarred by the noises I had heard the whole night. How do these guys sleep at night? How does one just lay in a tent in the wilderness and get comfortable? Maybe I’m from another world, or maybe they are. Whatever it is, I might never find out.
The decision was then made. We had to turn back to Magadi to go fix the car instead of risking it for another treacherous trip. Great! We had driven all the way to see a lake that until now I only have memories of myself imagining how it looks…. Absolute disbelief. We later got to a small village where the car was partially fixed so as to survive the few kilometres back to Magadi.
Back in Magadi, the trip wasn’t over. Mutua would be joining us for the second night. And he would be riding into the lake almost akin to how meticulously Jesus rode in to Jerusalem, only that in the 21st Century, he’d ride in on a motorcycle. One that proved to also be very problematic on the way.
The road to our campsite was quite wet as it had rained during the day, even after Jose had vehemently denied of any existence of rainfall in Magadi. My friend had previously visited Magadi the week before we did and he had been rained on while there. I challenged Jose on the existence of rain, backing up my point with my friend’s testimony to which he rebutted with, “What is the name of your friend?”. I could see no correlation whatsoever so just as we Kenyans do, fashionably, I accepted and moved on.
It will surprise you not, that the legend, as proved to us before, broke down again. Right next to lake Magadi. But we weren’t shocked so we all got out to shoot.
The next stop after fixing (temporarily) the car was at the Hot springs. Time for the heat to soothe down our woes as we pitch tent and set up camp for the night.
Mutua ended up arriving a little after a rough downpour which had him stuck somewhere in the lake. Shani’s Ubar was the rescue car sent out to get him and after a frantic 40 or so minutes, he rode in to the campsite being escorted like one of the queen’s messengers albeit roughed up and muddy. This time, the night was calmer than the previous one despite the heavy torrents of rain outside. I guess it was the roasted chicken we had for dinner that calmed me down. We’ll never know.
Sunrise called. Woke up energized and drove off to a spot we had scouted the previous day. What follows is our flamingo encounter by the lake.
The return leg of the trip was probably the most fun I’ve had on the road. The Mazda broke down again, quickly picked itself up but unfortunately passed the baton to Mutua’s bike. Let’s just say we left Magadi at around 2 PM and got to Nairobi at around 11 PM. 8 or so good hours were spent poking fun at each other, playing 3 sticks on the road, drinking hot tea and eating mandazis at a local kibandanski on the way.
Looking forward to another adventure soon. Thanks for reading!