There’s no travel experience quite like the road trip. It’s a great way to connect with friends and family while looking out of your car window at the beautiful countryside. Unlike travelling by boat, train or plane, the road trip gives us control – to stop and gawp, get lost, pick playlists, pick fights with GPS, and one another. Kenya has an abundance of road-trip worthy locations from the infamous Rift Valley to Northern, Southern, Central and Western parts. One of the best and most classic Kenyan vacations is taking a road trip to Samburu, Northern Kenya. In today’s article, we embark on an 8hr journey from Nairobi to Samburu.
PHOTO BY Let’s Discover Kenya
I was travelling with a group of travel content creators like myself. We went over logistics the night before and decided that waking up at 4:30 am was a good idea. Waking up in the wee hours of the morning is part of the road trip experience. When the alarm rang at 4:30 am, the only thought that came into my mind was to snooze the alarm. It was pretty tempting to throw my phone away because I slept at 1:00 am. It was a struggle to roll out of bed, mainly because it was still dark outside. Nevertheless, I managed to get ready and leave the house at 5:20 am. The intelligent decision I made was to pack the previous night.
My friends and I were travelling in a BMW MX4 for the safari, which was quite a comfortable drive. We decided to use the Thika > Nanyuki > Isiolo route. We stayed at The Safari Collection’s Sasaab property, which was the hotel’s suggested route. Surprisingly, there were many cars on the road at 5:40 am. The playlists began. We didn’t have any coffee, so being the DJ, I decided to play some “punchy, feel-good” music for the journey. The essentials for the trip were sanitisers, masks, wet wipes, snacks, water, sunscreen, sunglasses, some toilet paper and our gear. We were ready for Samburu.
As travel content creators, we started working on our vlogs, YouTube videos, Instagram content and blogs. The spectacular sunrise at 6:30 found us past Juja. The dramatic colours of the sky made it a great start to an incredible trip. The hunger kicked in around 7:30 am because we didn’t have any breakfast. It was impossible to eat earlier than 7:00 am. I grabbed a pack of lentil chips while bopping my head to the music. The road from Makuyu to around Karatina was under construction. The County Govt plans are to expand the road, which will ease the traffic on this route.
As we excited Kirinyaga county, there was a lot of fog. We stopped by the roadside to get some videos and photos of the flower fields. As the skies cleared up and the sun popped out, the highlight of this part of the journey was sighting Mt. Kenya, which was surprisingly clear.We continued with our journey, and we needed a boost of coffee at the infamous Dormans in Nanyuki. I ordered a double shot espresso because it was my turn to drive us to Sasaab. We also stopped at Nanyuki Mall to freshen up and pick up some supplies. Before we embarked on the 4hr journey to Sasaab, we fueled the car at Shell. There are many petrol stations, supermarkets and restaurants in Nanyuki and I found that very convenient.
As we drove along the Nanyuki > Isiolo route, I couldn’t help but notice many black spots and “danger” signs on the road. One ought to be careful when driving on this road. The weather changed dramatically, and the sun was out shining bright as ever. My co-driver opened the sunroof, and I felt like I was in a movie. Driving on an empty, winding road, flower fields on either side, majestic mountains painted blue and green at the front, and the sun blazing above us whilst listening to Calvin Harris’s dance throwback music.
We reached Isiolo county, and we stopped by Royal Acacia Hotel for a break and freshened up. The washroom facilities are clean, and that’s important, especially for a road trip. We continued with our drive, and it was fascinating passing through Isiolo town. Many motorbikes, markets and people. The riders would drive in the middle of the road, and I tell you, there were many. It took us a while to overtake them, but we managed to. We passed the British Army Base and the bridge for Ewaso Nyiro. We arrived at Samburu when we saw Mt Ololokwe past Archer’s Post. We turned left for Sasaab at Archer’s Post and continued for another 2hr journey of rough road.
The battle with Google Maps and poor network connection began. The gut-feeling decisions that had to be made to either “turn left” or “right” due to lost signal were mind-boggling. The safari got riveting when we spotted reticulated giraffes, Grevy zebras, elephants and an abundance of camels. After an exhausting 8hr journey, we reached the destination. We were greeted with a washing station, cool towels and a cold ginger & lemon drink. It was indeed a great way to end a tiring yet fantastic road trip.