Sunday, 9 September 2012
Howard Headbutts a River
... with a Land Rover.
We picked up Bink from the airport this morning and headed out towards the Mara. From Nairobi to Narok the road was nice and easy, with not much traffic, being a Sunday. Filling up, we asked the guy to check the oil and he pointed out that the vehicle did not have a cap on the oil filler. They didn't have a spare but he looked at the soundproofing on the bonnet and suggested that virtually no oil had leaked out, so we should be ok. We told him we'd already been driving the vehicle all around the Tsavos and he shrugged.
We had a short stop at the Rift Valley viewpoint and headed on, eagerly anticipating what the Mara would bring.
From Narok, the first 5 miles or so was reasonably good tarmac, then the bumpy, rutted mess of a road started. It;s a bone-shaking drive and that leaves you wondering if you'll have any teeth left by the Mara! About half-way along this road, the rain started and got heavier and heavier, with thunder and lightning. At the bottom of every road was a stream of water gushing across that we had to ford.
About half a mile past the turning for Siana Springs Tented Camp, we came across another flow of water. We looked for the fastest flowing area, which usually indicates the shallowest and edged the Landrover forward. The water did not seem too deep, so we edged a little further and all of a sudden the bonnet plunged forward and the engine died. The water then began to rise rapidly and we quickly abandoned the vehicle, wading through waist-deep water with the aid of a passing Masai Elder, who summoned help. At one point half of the Vehicle was under water but ten minutes later it had subsided to the point where we could see what had happened.
This was not just another low-lying bit of road where flood water flowed across! We had actually nose-dived into a stream! The area of relatively still water we had avoided as likely being too deep, was actually the bridge, which held the water back with its side-walls but the whole lot had been under water and the fast-flowing area we had aimed for was the stream turned to a raging river butting against the bridge.
The couple who run the Masai Dental Clinic at Siana stopped and their driver used his winch to pull the Land Rover out and we popped the bonnet. The water had flowed in through the open oil filler and flooded the engine, washing all the oil out all over the engine bay. They gave us a lift back to the Siana Springs, who found us rooms for the night. Their drivers then recovered the Land Rover and have spent the night working on it, to try and get the engine running again.
Not the best first day in Kenya for poor Bink!
We have decided that we will head back to Nairobi and find a hotel, spending the last few days in Nairobi National Park instead.