It was a journey I was NOT looking forward too … Why? Well the first time it was a real adventure back in 1994. But now in 2013 …

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The most blissful part of the day … MP3 player in ear; sitting on truck, dust blowing a storm behind, hot-ish but cooled by the breeze of movement, under big skies …

Repeating this route – there’s no choice because of the lack of other viable border crossings – travelling across remote northern Kenya, from the Ethiopian border in Moyale to Marsabit and then onwards to Isiolo, was a rough journey over 500km that I knew, would not be easy nor fast.

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Stopped for lunch at one of the few settlements along the route to Marsabit

Back then in 1994 I recall it being hot, dusty. Riding for days on top of bouncing cargo trucks; the only public transportation. And adding to the drama, was the threat of Shiftas – Somali bandits attacking vehicles.

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Just beyond the Ethiopia border and the grasslands are parched by an on-going drought. Many villages have been abandoned. The morning started overcast and cool.

But the same journey (going north to south; last time it was the opposite direction) in 2013 is not as arduous or as dangerous as yesteryear. (Although on the bus from Marsabit to Isiolo we had number of soldiers as an escort as inter-tribal warfare in the north has been threatening this route).

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Chinese road construction teams will eventually seal the entire route – but at the moment only tiny sections are completed. Meantime we drive alongside recently-graded gravel section.

Now, it’s just one day to Marsabit – by truck is the most likely transport but a daily battered-bus also crashes along the still rutted dirt track. I arrived too late to get the bus and so by 9am I was again on top of a truck for the journey.

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The second stage – of what was once one of the worst “highways” in Africa – was onwards to Isiolo. Now the Chinese have resurfaced about half the distance, so these days a few buses service the route.

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Approaching the highlands of Marsabit – but we wouldn’t arrive until well after nightfall

It was a crazy adventure riding trucks from Isiolo to Moyale last time (that story will emerge eventually in an e-book) but this trip in 2013 was without drama and straight-forward, if still a bit long and uncomfortable.

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Women with caravans of donkeys going to collect water from a pump station

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Samburu woman on route to Isiolo. RIGHT: pics from the journey in 1994. On truck + hiking amid the highlands of Marsabit (when there was rain; now, a drought for some years has turned the area brown).

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Camels across road – towards the distant highlands of Marsabit in northern Kenya.

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The Moyale-Isiolo trip – #2 – is nearly over. Samburu males hovering by the roadside.