After three days of camping on the shores of Lake Naivasha, we packed up our stuff and headed to the Maasai Mara. Incredibly, despite the fact that the Mara is Kenya’s number one tourist destination, bringing in the bulk of the country’s tourism revenue, the region has received little government support. The road to Narok, the biggest Maasai town, is paved and a pleasure to drive. At Narok, we reset our trip odometer and buckled up for a painfully bumpy ride. The A-class highway gave way to a B-class tarmac road, which had some potholes but was still drivable. After about 20km, however, the B-class tarmac road became a C-class road, which was about equal part asphalt and pothole. In fact, some parts of the road had more potholes than tarmac left. After jolting our way across 35km of this hellish road, the tarmac ended altogether. The road the rest of the way to the Mara was described in our directions as “a very rough dirt road,” but it was actually easier to drive on than the atrocious tarmac/pothole mess we had left behind at km 55. Even with new shocks on the car, we got a healthy dose of what our Maasai hosts jokingly called “the African massage.”
To get to the camp where we booked our stay, we had to ford a small river and then follow a narrow, serpentine path for another few kilometers. We were happy that we decided to purchase a rugged car with high clearance, but we were even happier to leave it parked for several days and let the camp beat up their vehicle on the game drives in the Mara.
Unfortunately, our car did not make it through this trip completely unscathed. We were about ten kilometers from the highway on our return to Nairobi when a safari vehicle blew past us going the other way on the pothole-filled road. It kicked up a sizable rock that hit our windshield with enough force to leave a quarter-sized crack. If we had been in the States, chances are that we’d be paying out of pocket for a replacement. Luckily, our comprehensive international insurance covers these kinds of accidents, so hopefully we’ll be outfitting our car with a new windshield soon.