What would it take to travel more than 600 kilometres northwest of Nairobi into Lodwar town…on a motorbike?
Derrick Wesonga wanted to find out, and he did. One Monday in March 2021, he woke up to start the long-planned adventure. It was just him and his motorcycle.
Derrick, the Digital Channels Tech Lead for Enterprise at Safaricom, had taken leave for this much anticipated trip.
He had initially planned to make 2020 his year of travel but like a lot of other people in the world, he put his plans on hold because of the pandemic.
However, when most restrictions lifted in April, he revved off.
“I was really looking forward to this. I had also seen a documentary on a local TV station of how one could drive all the way to the North thanks to improved infrastructure. I tried to rally up my friends in different WhatsApp groups and as usual as the day drew nearer people dropped out. So it was a solo trip for me,” says Derrick.
And it was a beautiful journey. Him atop his two-wheeled companion and guided by Google Maps, he cut through the highs and lows that is the Rift Valley, all the way into Baringo County and then past the scenic Kerio Valley.
“The roads were truly beautiful and finally I got to Lodwar. One of the things I really wanted to do was to go to Eliye Springs, a resort by Lake Turkana. Some friends had stayed there and they really hyped it,” he says.
Eliye Springs was a gem tucked at the shores of the lake. The only way there was through a rough road and deep sand dunes. Derrick and his motorbike were cut out for this.
He got to the beautiful Eliye Springs. But Eliye Springs was not the only place Derrick wanted to see when he got to the shores of Lake Turkana. He wanted to go to the picturesque Central Island on the lake, that was an hour and a half away…
“After settling in, I slept, and the following day, a private boat I had hired for the day—not owned by the resort—was available. I left with the boat operators, Osama and Bobo, and an intern from Eliye springs, Simon,” he says.
The trip to the island was the adventure he anticipated and more. He took photos to show his friends and family.
“I was feeling fulfilled. I was happy. Then it was time to get back to the resort before it got dark,” he says.
Unknown to Derrick, though, he was minutes away from the scariest boat ride and a near-death experience atop the waves of Lake Turkana.
Back home in Nairobi, his wife Janet Wesonga had just completed a 20-kilometer run on the treadmill when her phone rang. It was her husband, she figured he was about to tell her about his adventures of the day.
“J. Niko Lake Turkana na hii boat inasink. (J. I’m in Lake Turkana and this boat is sinking).”
The phone call set off a series of events as Derrick and his wife Janet share in this video.