Rakesh Young: Bike-packing to Kenya’s Equator and Beyond

Rakesh Young

Nyambari, Uplands to Mogotio is approx 154km from Nairobi. I had planned to only ride to Nakuru but when I got to Nakuru at 3.30pm, hungrier than a hippo, I realised it was too soon in the day to end my ride – the sunset still three hours away. I tried looking for some kibandasky (street eatery) to eat at but found none,. so I rode to Naivas supermarket and went straight to their food sections. I got cashew-nut rice and two chicken drumsticks with some stew. The damage is five times what a typical Kibandasky meal would cost and it was a little on the spicy side. But I was full.  

By this time, it was 4.30pm and according to google maps, I had 42km to Mogotio. I’ve been on this road before, so I remembered the long climb out of Nakuru towards Kabarak. But with cashew nut, rice and chicken in my system, there was no stopping me. Some school kid on a black mamba tried to catch up and overtake me…bad idea!

So I get to the Equator crossing at Mogotio with the very last rays of the sun. There’s a way sunsets make everything look ever more beautiful – the wheat, sisal and grass fields. Even I, with my salty face, looked very beautiful! 

Since my phone was already off, I took photos with the camera. Then I went into the Baringo County Tourism Information Centre where they have a metallic globe depicting the world and how it spins on its own axis. Took more photos here with no one in sight and started contemplating pitching my tent right under the globe for the night, but there were two problems:
1. There was no place to shower
2. The nearest restaurant is in Mogotio town, probably 2km back.

Enter Kirui, a young boy, probably 14 – 15 years old. Well spoken, respectful and knowledgeable. He laid down the options for me: behind the globe is a slaughter house with tap water but no one in sight (so I can bathe there and still camp under the globe); 2km down the road is Lozich Bar & Restaurant with well kept lawns – I can possibly pitch my tent there and eat at the restaurant. I chose Lozich. I’m yet to get a hang of this wild camping thing.

I rode down the remaining stretch in partial darkness to Lozich. Sam Kibiko calls me wondering if I made it to Mogotio and after a few minutes I cut him short promising to call back after I’m settled in my new home. I went straight to the butchery section which is also the reception and put across my needs: a place to pitch my tent, water to bathe and food…please! (of course I’m prepared to pay but I don’t say this just yet). The lady in charge goes towards the back to look for the main man, Alex, who makes the decisions around here.

Enter Alex, a bespectacled gentleman – humble and soft-spoken but stern in his own way. His first reaction is that, it is not possible for me to camp here. Why? There are a number of reasons: he doesn’t know me, there are dogs wandering the place, what will his boss say if he sees my tent there.

I sensed that he was a little scared of something but couldn’t spill it just yet. So I tried to calm him down telling him my name (doesn’t always help in these situations), how I’ve cycled from Nairobi and I’m possibly going to Iten, I’m a Christian boy (not), all I need is a 4 by 6 space on the grass, a bucket of water and I’ll buy my dinner and drinks from them. Still undecided, he excused himself to discuss further with his colleague. I take this chance to stretch my sore muscles. Stretching after a long ride sure helps with recovery, just as much as a warm shower, good food and rest.

He returned after ten minutes with some good news and terms and conditions. He’ll allow me to spend the night here but not outside, in a room (there goes my camping dream again but I don’t complain). He will also go through all my stuff, thanks to the latest bombings in Nairobi where I have come (thanks a lot terrorists!!). He will also store my bike away from where I will be sleeping. I will also have to give him my National ID (I added him my High School ID just to prove my genuineness). 

I obliged to all the terms and took his bed (he said he’ll make other arrangements for himself). The entire time he kept apologizing for the above terms, but I understood. I took a lukewarm bucket bath under the stars – it was magical…and reminded me of why I hated bathing when I was ten. They shared their dinner with me so that I save my money for future expenses on the road.

Rakesh Young is a Kenyan adventure cyclist who uses his bicycle(s) to traverse the East African region connecting with people of different cultures and lifestyles. He is the founder of www.baiskeliadventures.com.


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