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Moyale

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East Africa : Kenya : Eastern Kenya : Moyale
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Moyale is a town in Eastern Kenya

Understand

This town is at the main border crossing between Ethiopia and Kenya. Technically one could say there are two towns; Ethiopian Moyale (north) and Kenyan Moyale (south), with the border running between them.

Get in

To the north, buses run on the tarmac road all the way to Addis Ababa. To the south, only private vehicles - in particular, cattle trucks - go along the unmade track to Marsabit, and then Isiolo - where public transport is available on the tarmac roads the rest of the way to Nairobi.

Get around

International crossing: Moyale (Ethiopia) to Nairobi. A power cut sometimes stops the passport machine from working and can cause delays which are significant. Ethiopian police advise to 'drive on' if hailed when crossing the desert, and call in for assistance ASAP if the person you see has had a vehicle breakdown on the road. The road conditions can cause significant damage to vehicle suspension. Some desert roads are impassable in the wet season. Ensure adequate fuel and water as the service gaps are vast. Recent alert: beware of carjackers in Nairobi. Keep your doors locked and do not open them for anyone! Much of the road in Nairobi is down to crawling pace and traffic jams.

See

In the afternoon you go for a walk or visit a cafeteria. Moyale (Ethiopia) has a very nice atmosphere.

Do

In Moyale (Ethiopia) there a diffent kinds of offices and schools. The people are very friendly and there is also a boutique.

Buy

Banking

There are banks on both the Kenyan and the Ethiopian side. The KCB on the Kenyan side has an ATM. Only money exchangers will buy or sell birr for shillings--the rates are horrible. Equity Bank is also available in Moyale; this has greatly changed the lives and livelihoods of north Kenyans. Try stores on the Kenyan side for currency exchange. Be wary of street touts.

Eat

Ethiopian cuisine characteristically consists of spicy vegetable and meat dishes, usually in the form of wat (also w'et or wot), a thick stew, served atop injera, a large sourdough flatbread, which is made out of fermented teff flour. Ethiopians eat with their right hands, using pieces of injera to pick up bites of entrées and side dishes. Utensils are rarely used with Ethiopian cuisine.

Drink

Sleep

Each side has cheap hotels. A police station is near a favored street money changer spot (illegal but tolerated). Note the proximity of each to the other - beware. This means that runs are made on these regularly enough by police to discourage it. This means it may be presented as 'legal' as it is 'right next to the police station'. It's not. Go figure (elsewhere)!

  • Hotel Abreham, (Ethiopian side), main road near the bus station, rooms from 10 Birr, bucket shower and drop toilet, but friendly and excellent value for the money.

Get out

The most important information regarding Moyale as that it is a border town, and not usually a destination of choice. As is the case for all public bus transportation in Ethiopia, you must get to the station by 5:30 AM for the typical 6-6:30 AM departure. Seats are on a first come first serve basis here and remember that any baggage handlers are usually freelancers, but 2-4 Birr will suffice. There is no direct bus to Addis Ababa, so take the Shashemene bus and change buses there. Unfortunately, Shashemene bus station is a very inconvenient place to change buses (it is known for its muggings and pickpocketing), so you might prefer to disembark at Hagere Maryam, stay for the night, and take an early bus to Addis Ababa.

As for its sister city across the border in Kenya, for destinations south, it's typically best to get over the day before and start asking around about trucks heading south. It is certainly a much nicer ride to arrange a spot in the cab of a truck heading south. As of June '05 there is a bus running all the way to Nairobi taking over 24 hours. This is by far the best transport option so ask around as soon as you arrive in Moyale. As of March 2010 there is no longer any bus and the only way to reach Nairobi is by truck. Both the trucks and buses like to leave very early in the morning so remember to set your alarm clock! For a truck, in June '05 the going rate was 1500 Kenyan Shillings for a cab spot or 1000 Kenyan Shillings for an adventure in the truck bed. Sometimes this covers the cost to Isiolo (as was the rate in April '05 from Isiolo to Moyale) and if you are lucky it will cover the cost all the way to Nairobi (or anywhere along the main Isiolo to Nairobi highway that you want to be dropped off). As of March 2010, the going rate from Moyale to Nairobi is 2000KSh. Some trucks go directly through to Isiolo and Marsabit, and some go via Wajir and Garissa, a trip which takes 2 or 3 days through beautiful yet desolate countryside (with a good chance of seeing Rothschild's giraffe around Wajir).

Bandits or Shiftas are an on and off problem in Northern Kenya, so best to keep advised of the current situation before heading off. However, for the most part they are uninterested in Westerners, as attacks on Westerners have a higher chance of initiating a response from the military police forces. Many people have used the Isiolo to Moyale route to enter Ethiopia. There is also some recent ethnic fighting between the Gabra and Borana, such as the Turbi massacre, and the situation remains tense between Moyale and Marsabit. Again this violence shouldn't be directed at foreigners but it is good to inquire about the local situation and pay attention.

Stay safe

Security in the area has improved. However, check to see if you need to worry before leaving for the south. Go to the office of the district commisoner for information, or go to the Red Cross branch, located above the KCB, and they can call the commissioner for you and give you their opinion.




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