Bicycling in Kenya

Three months into our around-the-world bicycle odyssey, we flew to Kenya from London. We landed at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi in the morning and rolled our bikes out to pump up the tires. We fortified ourselves with a sweet roll and tea with milk at the airport, clipped on our panniers, and biked ten miles into the city. Traffic was light on the two-lane road in the early-morning hours. We cycled past zebras and giraffes grazing in the plains. The view of those wild animals in their natural habitat felt like the authentic beginning of our adventure.

Photo by Carla Fountain

One night we camped near Lake Naivasha on a beautifully manicured lawn.

Fisherman’s Camp near Lake Naivasha, Kenya – Photo by Carla Fountain

Hippos swam in the lake during the day. The tips of their ears flicked at us as we boated by.

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But late that night in our tent, we found out how the lawn was maintained: large hippos came out of the lake to walk around and graze. We inched the zipper open and peeked out. The huge, black hulks of hippo bodies stood too close for comfort, with their red eyes reflecting back at us. We could hear them quietly munching the grass.

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Around midnight, I had to leave the tent to go to the bathroom! Shaking and scared, I gave the hippos a wide berth and got back into the tent as quickly and quietly as possible.

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Many years after our trip I found out that the hippo is considered one of the most dangerous and deadly land mammals in the world. They are aggressive and unpredictable, and they kill an estimated five hundred people a year in Africa. Their massive weight—an average of three thousand pounds for females and as much as nine thousand pounds for males—can crush a human to death. Had we known that at the time, we would have been even more terrified.

You can read about my life-changing around-the-world bicycle odyssey in my book.

Bicycle Odyssey An Around-the-World Journey of Inner and Outer Discovery

Available in print or ebook through amazon.com , BalboaPress.com, BarnesandNoble.com, or at your local independent bookstore. Ask them to order for you. Help support indie bookstores!  These independent stores now carry my book: Half-Off Books in Fullerton, California, Vroman’s in Pasadena, and Book Soup in West Hollywood. 

Falling in Love with Solo Bicycle Travel

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When did I fall in love with travel?

I fell in love with solo bicycle travel, when I took my first week-long bicycle ride down the Pacific Coast by myself. It was exciting and thrilling to plan a trip that would take me from Astoria, the northernmost city in Oregon, to San Francisco. I planned to ride alone the first 4 days and 230 miles, then meet my husband in Arcata, California and continue the trip together for 280 miles more. When I told my plan to colleagues and friends their eyes widened and they expressed fear for me, a woman, traveling alone on a bicycle. By the way, this was in the 1980’s before cell phones and the internet gave us instant communication, so I was truly disconnected and on a solo adventure!

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But I was confident and really wanted to embark on this challenge and exploration of new territory. Everyone I met on the road, in campsites, hostels or in the little coffee shops where I stopped for short stacks of pancakes mid-mornings to fuel up for the next 20 miles, was kind and generous. I passed the most breathtaking scenery of sea stacks on the wild Oregon coast. I pedaled over smooth roads with very little traffic.

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My main challenges were when one day, deep in the forest, lines of logging trucks rumbled by and shook my bicycle with their tail winds and when I crossed an long, narrow bridge in the rain alongside those enormous trucks.

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I camped or stayed in hostels and once I stayed in a little mom and pop motel. I loved meeting new people from all over the States and the world in the hostels. If I had traveled with a companion I wouldn’t have made many of those encounters and enjoyed their conversations.

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By the time I arrived in Arcata I felt strong, self-reliant, and comfortable on the road by myself. I had conquered the pouring rain, the threatening trucks, and reaped the rewards of deep forests and pristine coastlines the likes of which I had never seen. That trip made me fall deeply in love with solo bicycle travel. It also made me realize how much strength, both mental and physical, that I possessed and taught me to have confidence in my self-reliance.

What experience made you fall in love with travel? Please share in the comments. I would love to hear about it!

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You can read about the life-changing around-the-world bicycle odyssey I embarked on after this experience in my book.

Bicycle Odyssey An Around-the-World Journey of Inner and Outer Discovery

Available in print or ebook through amazon.com , BalboaPress.com ,  or BarnesandNoble.com .