Friday, 22 January 2010

More thoughts on ... A Gentle Drive to Kenya

A gentle drive from home in the UK, through Europe, Asia, and some of Africa to home in Kenya, a total of about 6,500 miles.

I slept on this and I am still enthusiastic, although I can see a myriad of problems. Still, it would be no fun without problems.

First off, I need to choose a vehicle. I have decided that I should not spend more than £3,000 (not that I have £3,000 at the moment), which limits the newness.
It needs to be 4WD with hi-lo and probably diff.lock
It needs to be diesel, as I would like to use bio-diesel which I would make on the way.
So what are the options?
  • Toyota HiLux - very difficult to find a good one. they are too popular
  • Toyota Surf - ditto for models with the 2.8 litre engine
  • Toyota Landcruiser - too heavy, fuel consumption too high
  • Isuzu Trooper - fuel consumption is high, but this is one strong vehicle
  • Land Rover 110 - I am told they break easily and the diesels are underpowered
  • Discovery - Hmmm, nice, but a good one is expensive
  • Range Rover - thirsty
  • Mitsubishi Pajero/Shogun - with the right engine, this could be the one.
The route

I reckon the first leg across Europe (Calais to Ankara) should take about 5 days, allowing 8 hours driving a day. Of course, with an enthusiastic co-pilot/navigator, this time could be halved and that knocks almost 3,000 miles off the total.

From there on, I do not know the state of roads etc. through Syria, Jordan or Israel to Egypt, across the Suez canal and down the west bank of the Red Sea, then to Aswan, Khartoum, Addis Ababa. But I am fairly sure that south of Addis, into Kenya, down to Marsabit the road is pretty awful, and I am not sure about the road to Nyeri and Nakuru either, but from there to Kericho and eventually Kisii, it is not too bad. Any advice on this would be appreciated.

Would it be better to go further west and into Uganda?

Duration? Well, if it takes 5 days to get to Ankara, which is less than half-way, and the roads deteriorate from there on, the second leg could take 10 to 15 days, assuming we hit no snags. Then there are the border crossing delays. I have read that these can take anything from 10 hours to 36 hours. Oh boy!

So, 25 days would be the target, from Highclere to Kisii. That's a long time to be in a vehicle.

We will need sponsorship, so NGOs and charities with ongoing projects on the route would need to be contacted. I will be doing a lot of filming on the journey, and could highlight work done.

We could do with a high-profile patron as well. Within a couple of miles of where I am sitting, I have Lord and Lady Carnarvon (Highclere Castle would be a fantastic starting point!), Andrew Lloyd Webber, Keith Chegwin, and there must be others. In the past Mick Jagger lived not far away and Rod Stewart nearly moved here, too.

There is a lot to think about, but I reckon it is feasible for an old(ish) mildly disabled, grumpy old man can do it.

Happy birthday, Blog

When I started this blog, I thought that blogging was going to be one of those fads that disappears within a few months.

Well, this is the 2nd anniversary of the Baba Mzungu blog, so I guess I was wrong. This is the 287th post on this blog although I also write on the KCIS blog (89 posts) and Tool-Using Thing-maker (92 posts).

I didn't know I had it in me.

Anyway, thank you to all those who are following the blog.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

A Gentle Drive to Kenya?

The dream of a "gentle" drive from home in the UK, through Europe, Asia, and some of Africa to home in Kenya, a total of about 6,500 miles.

When I returned from South Africa, I wanted to go back. I wanted to drive the length of Africa. That was my dream.

Since my first visit to Kenya, I have dreamed of driving there one day - not in my present vehicle as I doubt it would get to Dover - but in a suitable conveyance, an old Landrover 110, for example.

Then, this Christmas, I got a Garmin GPS, into which I can enter Long/Lat. coordinates, so I did. I entered the coordinates for the Junction in Kisii and lo! A map popped up of the Junction in Kisii - brilliant.

So I told the Garmin to calculate the route from my home in the UK to Kisii, and it did, giving a distance of 6,497.2 miles. I love the .2 miles, how accurate is that? And I will arrive at 23:03 if I leave now. It doesn't tell me which day though, just the time.

So, could I do the trip, or will it remain a dream? Frankly, the logistics frighten me more than the trip itself, but then, I get nervous flying out to Kenya, and let's face it, when flying, virtually everything is done for me! It's not like I have to fly the plane. Actually, I wouldn't mind giving it a go, but I would need a navigator, unless I could fly low enough to pick out landmarks.

I had imagined getting sponsorship to cover the trip expenses and make some money for Twiga and KCIS, but people have done the whole of Africa, so a trip to Kenya is a bit tame really. Would I get sponsorship?

And then there's the vehicle. I don't have the funds to buy even the oldest and tattiest of 4x4s, let alone all the kit I would need en route.

I have just realised that I am being very negative, which is not allowed in my New Year's resolution.

So, keeping a positive frame of mind, of course I could do it, of course I can get a suitable vehicle, of course I can get sponsorship.

So, how long would it take, driving through Europe, around the eastern edge of the Mediterranean and then following the Nile (roughly)? 6,500 miles, 8 hours driving a day, at an average speed of ... 15? 20?

I reckon that driving every day, it would take about 54 days or nearly 8 weeks, almost 2 months.

I also reckon we would need about 800 gallons of fuel. At present UK prices, that alone would cost almost £1,000 - wow! That's two return trips to Nairobi by air (off-season, of course).

Next question, could I find someone who could put up with a grumpy old man to accompany me? How about a Kenyan wanting to return home from Europe? I might learn a bit more Swahili on the trip.

I have come to the conclusion that I don't have a clue about how to plan a trip like this, let alone have the ability to raise the money to put it into action.

So, if there is anyone reading this who has a fantasy of driving through Europe to Kenya, get in touch. Add a little reality to my dream.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Raising a Profile ... and Funds

I have just seen on Twitter that one of the people I follow promoted a fund to rehouse a couple of Vietnamese families, and within a few hours, quite a lot of money was raised.

Which got me thinking ...

What is the most pressing need at KCIS?

There are many, but I suppose that we need to build the planned dormitories so that we can offer a secure and adult-supervised home environment for a few of the Twiga Children who live alone with no adult.

Although these children are coping, more or less with help from us and other members of the community, they are not children - they are not leading the lives of children, even Kenyan children. they have no time to play or relax. Life is one relentless grind of cooking, washing, cleaning, growing food, as well as the more traditional child activities of school, homework and study.

When we build our home, these adult activities will be taken over by the resident staff (one paid "matron" and several volunteers).

In the diagram, the part in red exists already. It is made from traditional materials, which we intend to continue in building the two dormitories, to keep the cost down - we only need to buy cement, poles, steel sheet, windows and doors.

I am trying to get an estimate for quantities and costing for the materials and furniture, then I will have to start a big promotion. (if you want to pre-empt the promotion, [click here])

We have PayPal and MPesa accounts, so we can receive donations from anywhere.

All we need now is people to donate - a few bob each will soon add up to enough to build our home, won't it?