A bumpy four hours or so later we arrive at Lake Baringo, a stunning wildlife haven and are greeted by a limping Netta. We hop on a boat out to ‘Island Camp’ in the middle of the lake where the group are currently kicking back after a week of extremely tough riding up in the North of the country in temperatures of 50 degrees plus. Everyone has a few bumps and bruises but are all in good spirits and enjoying the relatively cool temperatures further south. Apparently the Island itself used to be a bit of a destination for celebs back in the 90’s with the likes of Tom Cruise and Naomi Campbell amongst others gracing it with their presence. And its easy to see why, it is a stunning and tranquil location with amazing accommodation dotted over it with a pool and bar up at the top. For some unknown reason I am given the keys to room no.1 which turns out to be the pick of the bunch with breathtaking views across the lake and my own plunge-pool outside the room. There are undoubtedly people who deserve it more after a week of hard riding but I sensibly don’t ask too many questions as I unpack my bag and soak up the surrounding landscape.
Early next morning I am treated to quick boat ride around the lake before breakfast and then we head back to the mainland where the bikes and my first proper day in the saddle beckons. After a bit of gentle roadwork we arrive at the first destination of the day, Bogoria National Park which contains another lake which is at certain times of the year home to a couple of million Flamingos. I should at this point make it clear than not just anyone can turn up and ride a dirtbike through a national park in Kenya. Netta is a born and bred white Kenyan with 20 years in the safari business and excellent contacts throughout the country, simply put she knows everyone worth knowing involved in any aspect of the travel industry out here, a fact I am to learn well in the following days of the trip. Africa is notorious for its mind-numbing and needless bureaucracy and unnecessary red tape and Kenya is no exception. The seemingly simple task of buying 9 tickets to enter the park becomes a drawn out affair, which Netta smooths over and resolves whilst we seek some shade and have a drink. Behind the scenes in this well-oiled machine is an incredible amount of forward planning and careful thought. Put simply, don’t try this at home, if something can be over-complicated in Africa, it very often is!
After finally gaining access we skirt around the edge of the lake, occasionally having to detour off the heavily flooded road and re-joining it a mile or so later.
I immediately see the advantage of 2 wheels over 4 in this situation. The hardiest and best driven 4x4 would simply not have been able to deal with sections of the tracks we encounter which is why Netta came up with the 2 wheel safari concept. And this is the point - you get to combine some challenging riding with scenery you simply can’t experience in Europe or North Africa.
We head on through the park and exit via seemingly endless Cecil plantations by way of long straight dusty tracks with varying degrees of rocks and ruts which allow you to keep a good pace up. We are being guided by Noel with the faster riders up ahead and the injured Netta bringing up the rear in her pickup. This format works well, the quicker riders can push on a bit and then take a few minutes out to soak up the surrounding landscape, take a few snaps and have a drink whilst the rest of the group catch up.
Everyone can ride at pace that suits them and no one gets left behind.