Weekend Travel Challenge: Nairobi via O’loitoktok

Thinking of Nairobi always excites me. I have fond memories of the city, spent a big chunk of my childhood there. I have been hearing of the Tarakea route to Nairobi via Loitoktok but I have never really explored it.

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Boot on; day - pack on; off I go.

Having had a stressful week I decided on a solo trip and the only place that I could think of that would rejuvenate my mind was of course Nai; packed my day pack and headed for the bus stop soon after I was satisfied with my day’s work.
Having left Moshi at sunset, I had no idea where I would sleep for the night; it was raining and darkness was fast approaching, I knew that it would take about 2hrs ride and would be in Rombo by 8 pm or so. I have been on a number of solo trips and the one trick I have learnt is to keep an eye for other travellers going your way. Luckily an older man whom I assume was Kenyan based on the accent was on the same journey as my self with the exact same itinerary – sleep over in Rombo and head to Nairobi the next day; he would be sleeping in a good hotel, not soo far from the border- I overheard his phone conversation. I  wasn’t eves dropping,  he didn’t mind sharing his info since he was loud enough for the whole bus to hear.
When he disembarked, I disembarked and followed close behind. Without knowing, he led me to the best budget hotel I have ever slept in, Unique hotel. For 15,000 Tshs only, for a single room breakfast not included ( it costs Tshs 1500  for 4 slices of bread with margarine, an egg and black tea).

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Single room at Unique hotel, Rombo.

Well, this is not a post on the hotel so am going to resist the temptation of reviewing it and skip to the journey from Tarakea.

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Saturday morning at Mashati - Mkuu, Rombo.

I took a bus from Mashati to the border town for Tshs 1000 then a motor bike to the migration offices for another 1000, the driver took me straight to the mini buses in the Kenyan side, Loitoktok, past the migration  office and I wasn’t stopped at all.

I did have a long wait ar the bus stand because it was nearly full. Less than an hour after the minibus started it’s journey we arrived at the migration check point and Alas!

I was asked to disembark the bus and follow the migration officer into the office.

My offence was that I had a passport with no exit (from Tanzania) and entry (to Kenya) stamps. I wasn’t  alone, two other women were called in, one of them had no passport at all. The other two must be smart in the ways of migration because I was booked for the first time in my life and sent back for the stamps while they were for some reason allowed to continued on with the journey. The back and forth cost me time but I got the stamps without any trouble and arrived at Nairobi at around 5 pm.

There is soo much I can say about Nairobi, it’s like my play ground and it is always a pleasure to be there . I loved seeing the places I know are still recognizable and that there are more buildings, businesses and order.
Luna park, Uhuru park, National museum, National archives, KCC,Kenyatta hospital, Yaya center, Java house – the memories I have.

So what have I learnt in this journey?
1. I can end the dispute of Mt Kilimanjaro – is it in Kenya?
No, it’s not. Every Tanzanian knows that.

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The view of Mt Kilimanjaro from a point in Loitoktok

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A clearer shot

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View of Mt Kilimanjaro from Tarakea

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View of Mt Kilimanjaro from the road to Holili

But as a Tanzanian, I have to admit that the best view of the mountain is on the Kenyan side. It took my breath away. I could see it from its foot to its top, thanks to the fact that Loitoktok is more of a plain compared to the highland that Tarakea is.

2. Ujirani mwema (I don’t know how to translate this into english but it’s a concept of Mwalimu  Nyerere which meant that people had to develop good neighbourliness) – the people at the border live like there is just one nation with various tribes. It’s  something to uphold and be proud of.

3. Don’t  let fear of not knowing stop you from going.
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