Private homepage – Hans-Georg Michna

Global Positioning System

Hans-Georg Michna

Global Positioning System Information and Data for Germany and East Africa



Nature Reserve Mapping Project


This project began as the Nature Reserve Waypoint Project and asked contributors to send in waypoints of track or trail junctions. However, nobody came forward, so the project existed only in the form of two of my own waypoint collections.

However, meanwhile a technical detail changed. Newer GPS receivers, now usually smartphones, have a much larger track memory, and so there is a new opportunity to revive this project under a new name with some decisive advantages over the old one:

  1. It is now even less work, namely almost no work at all, to collect the data. Just record the track while you drive or walk. But load the track from this page first, to benefit from the information.
  2. The result is much more useful, because it does not only record arbitrarily chosen junctions but entire tracks or trails.
  3. Smartphones can be used (see below).

The New Project Uses Tracks

So please join a new project to gather nature reserve GPS information. This is a collaborative project that aims at achieving a maximum of usefulness with a minimum of effort. The idea is that travellers record tracks. The names of all contributors will be mentioned in a list here, provided anybody volunteers.

You can take part only if you have a smartphone with suitable software, like Locus Free or My Tracks, or a newer GPS receiver with a big enough track point capacity.

Please send me an email when you need the tracks in a different file format.

Currently present are 7 nature reserves in Kenya, East Africa, namely Amboseli National Park, Lake Nakuru National Park, Masai Mara east of the Mara River, Samburu und Buffalo Springs game reserves, and the Tsavo East and West National Parks.

Currently available tracks

The links on the left side lead to incomplete, but convenient Google Maps renditions of the tracks for occasional, quick use on smartphones. The GPX File links on the right side can be used to download GPS files. They are complete and should be preferred not only for offline use.

Country Area GPX File
Kenya Long-distance driving (updated 2015-05-31, load for driving between the nature reserves.) kenya_driving.gpx
Kenya Amboseli (updated 2015-05-31) kenya_amboseli.gpx
Kenya Lake Nakuru (updated 2015-05-31) kenya_nakuru.gpx
Kenya Masai Mara (updated 2016-06-14) kenya_masai_mara.gpx
Kenya Samburu (updated 2016-06-14. Note that Google Maps, with or without its satellite layer, shows most tracks in this area and may be preferable.) kenya_samburu.gpx
Kenya Tsavo East (updated 2015-05-31) kenya_tsavo_east.gpx
Kenya Tsavo West (updated 2015-05-31) kenya_tsavo_west.gpx

In some areas, particularly Samburu, the Google Maps satellite map also shows many tracks, so check that as well, provided you have a sufficiently good Internet connection. If the tracks are clearly visible on the satellite map, they are, of course, much more complete.

To contribute actively, install Google's My Tracks program, Locus Free, or any similar program that records GPS tracks, then send the recorded tracks to me, preferably in GPX format, but I can probably use any other common format too.

Procedure for smartphones in areas with Internet connection

These tracks are incomplete and not recommended, but they are a quick and convenient partial solution.

To use these track maps in Google Maps, even on your smartphone:

  1. First make sure you have Google Maps installed. If not, install it from the Google Play Store.
  2. Open this web page on your smartphone in your favorite web browser.
  3. Tap on the area name in the Area column in the table above, which is the Google My Maps link.
  4. If you get a choice, add it to My Maps or My Places or enable it permanently.
  5. Repeat this procedure with other maps, if you like.

Please send me an email if this does not work for you or if these instructions need to be amended.

Procedure for smartphones in areas without Internet connection

Download and install Locus Free from Google Play Store or install any other mapping program that can show recorded tracks and waypoints provided as GPX files.

If you know a very good one that runs on the iPhone, please let me know by email, so I can add a recommendation here.

Import or open the files you need and make sure they are visible on the map. For Locus Free put the files into the Locus/import folder and import them into the program's database for intensive use. Alternatively put them into the Locus/mapItems folder and activate them in the data menu for automatic import every time the program is started. That is a bit slower, but easier to handle. It is suitable for occasional or temporary use.

Procedure for Garmin GPS receivers

If you have Google Earth installed, you can open the Amboseli 2005 example file to have a look at the GPS tracks.

  1. Download the track file.
  2. Delete the entire track memory of your GPS receiver.
  3. Use a recent version of MapSource or the newer BaseCamp (download from to upload the tracks into your Garmin GPS receiver or, if you have a different type of GPS receiver, discuss the technical side with me.
  4. Set your GPS device up suitably, i.e. set the number of displayed trackpoints to the maximum. Set the track recording method and the track display to Auto and Wrap When Full and the track point density to Least Often to be able to store many more trackpoints.
  5. Drive. Enjoy.
  6. Before you leave the area, please contribute by reading the tracks from your GPS receiver and emailing them to me. Do not drive too far from the area before you do that, because that could overwrite the oldest relevant tracks.

I will replace the oldest ones here with your fresh ones and mention your name in a list of contributors.


  1. No contributors. Please contribute to alleviate this problem. Meanwhile I'll keep feeding it with my own tracks.
  2. I don't know yet how the various GPS receivers deal with the track segment names, but I hope it will just work. I'll test this as soon as I get to it.
  3. Different GPS receivers. I don't know how the different track memory space of different receivers will work in the framework of this project. We'll see.


GPS (Global Positioning System) is one of the technical marvels of our time. See for the best source of general GPS information plus a very good collection of Web links and see for an excellent illustrated and animated explanation of how GPS works. More info can be found at the following sites.

GPS Tutorials

NAVSTAR GPS User Equipment Introduction

Also see

www.Colorado.EDU/geography/gcraft/notes/notes.html (Very good, detailed article on the GPS fundamentals in German language)

Books and Technical Documents

Waypoints, Maps & GIS

On May 1st, 2000, the US made a surprise move and switched off the dreaded Selective Availability (SA) distortion of the GPS sattelite signals. This instantly makes all existing GPS receivers much more precise without requiring any changes or upgrades to the devices. With good sattelite reception we now get a position error of less than 15 m with a probability of 95%. The altitude error remains bigger than the position error by a factor of roughly 1.5 but has now become usable for many more purposes for which it was too imprecise in the days of SA. There are no plans to switch SA back on.

The best GPS receiver for most purposes is a smartphone, Android or iPhone.


In the descriptions and sometimes in the names of the waypoints you may occasionally find the following single or two letter abbreviations.

Abbreviation Meaning
N North
E East
S South
W West
NE Northeast
SE Southeast
SW Southwest
NW Northwest
L Corner, approx. 90°
O Roundabout
T Turnoff, approx. 90°
U U-Turn
V Pointed Turn
X Crossing
Y Branch, other than 90°

When both direction and graphical depiction are present, the graphical depiction always comes last.

Some of the approximately 350 east African waypoints may be inaccurate. Please do not rely on them too heavily and please try to verify or remeasure them and email me your results.

In addition, some of the east African waypoints are taken with a lower numeric accuracy or from unreliable sources. Many of the airport waypoints are up to one mile off, for various reasons. I found a few that were some 5 miles off until I corrected them. Sometimes the waypoint designated an airfield but was really positioned in a nearby town or lodge. In one case (Mt. Kenya Safari Club) an airfield waypoint turned out not to be an airfield at all but the mountain lodge itself. (Of course I have already corrected these, but some others will certainly still be inaccurate.)

Below you can download GPS-Waypoints for Germany and for East Africa with emphasis on Kenya and the surrounding areas. Most waypoints are intended for flying, and most of them are airports or airfields.

The Germany information was valid in the year 2000 and has been superficially checked, but not fully updated in 2002. There may have been a few changes meanwhile, so check at least those airports that you plan to use before you fly.

The Kenyan and East African waypoints contain some useful driving waypoints and routes (see description further down). The East Africa file is Kenya-centric, but contains a lot of airports farther from Kenya, reaching into the area E 25° to 45° and S 15° to N 15°.

The airspace files are for pilots and were apparently updated in 2010. Cross-check with current information before using them.

Area GPX (GPS eXchange format, XML), zipped
Germany germany.gpx
Kenya driving kenya_driving.gpx
East Africa flying east_africa_flying.gpx
Kenya airspace kenya_airspace.gpx
Rwanda airspace rwanda_airspace.gpx
Tanzania airspace tanzania_airspace.gpx
Uganda airspace uganda_airspace.gpx

Specific information for the Kenya and East Africa waypoints


Airport = airport or airfield (Driving routes bypass the airfield, sometimes at some distance. The airfield is often not visible from the road.)
Telephone = reporting point
Short Tower = other significant waypoint, useful for routing
Skull and Crossbones = prohibited, avoid

All other symbols are not related to flying.

Nairobi area

All airports around Nairobi begin with NAI, e.g. NAIWILSON,

NAI-X = waypoints around Nairobi, such as access lanes, points on the control zone boundary, etc., in particular:


NAI-E1 = NE Access Lane Control Zone Boundary
NAI-E2 = NE Access Lane turning and reporting point
NAIEASTLEI = Nairobi Eastleigh airport
NAI-MO = Monastery reporting point
NAI-N = Control Zone Boundary north
NAI-NDULA = Ndula Marker
NAI-NW = Control Zone Boundary northwest
NAIORLY = Nairobi Orly airport
NAI-P3 = P3 prohibited area
NAIROBI = Nairobi International Airport
NAI-S = Control Zone Boundary south, area corner
NAI-S1 = SE Access Lane marker near Control Zone Boundary
NAI-S2 = SE Access Lane turning point, marker, reporting point
NAI-W = Control Zone Boundary west
NAIWILSON = Nairobi Wilson

MOM-NE = Mombasa control zone boundary near Mombasa Road

You can use Excel to load the text files and save them in different formats, like CSV. You can also use an editor, like the simple Windows editor, after that to replace commas with semicolons or vice versa for different national versions of Excel, because the data doesn't contain any commas or semicolons---these are only used as separators.

The following table defines the use of the symbols on the Garmin GPS devices. You can use these to delete waypoints by symbol on a Garmin GPS device or in the computer and thus separate the flying from the driving waypoints.

Garmin Symbol Use Description
Airplane Flying Airport, airfield (Note that the cross symbol is originally meant to designate a medical facility, but is used here only for airports.)
Danger area Flying Prohibited areas, airports in prohibited areas; military airports (East Africa only, since military airports in Germany are usually open to civilian use), some unusable airports
Telephone Flying Listed, mandatory reporting point. For example, NAI-MO is the Monastery reporting point for the approach to Wilson Airport Runway 07.
Short tower or medium city Flying Orientation or navigation point, like some orientation points on control zone boundaries, for example, NAI-NW is a point northwest of Nairobi on the control zone boundary. Although you may have to report crossing this point, I do not count it as a mandatory reporting point, as it is an arbitrary point on the control zone circumference, not a listed reporting point.

In MapSource files the medium city symbol is used only for medium sized cities, of which a few are useful as waypoints to navigate VFR corridors between controlled areas. Other navigational points have the short tower symbol.

Car Driving Branch, turnoff, road crossing, roundabout, car track, river crossing, gate, any other point that is important for driving
Gas station Driving Petrol station. Also sometimes used for lodges if they have a petrol station, because that is usually the more important information.
Residence or hotel Driving Building, for example a hotel or lodge
Campground Driving Camp site
All other symbols Driving Occasionally other symbols are used. They are only used for driving, never for flying.

Special reporting points are available for the Nairobi Wilson northeast and southeast access lanes and some other places.

Northeast access lane inbound: NAI-N1 – NAI-N2 – NAIWIL
Southeast access lane inbound: NAI-S1 – NAI-S2 – NAIWIL
Prohibited area north of Wilson airport: NAI-P3
Points on the control zone boundary: NAI-N, NAI-NW, NAI-W
South corner of area 2 (if not using the southeast access lane): NAI-S

Mandatory reporting points for some German airports are similarly arranged, with the digit 1 always designating the outer reporting point of an access route. Occasionally, when an access route is curved and you have to turn at a point that is not a reporting point, I have inserted a waypoint at the turning point. Example: The Hannover departure route “Lima” uses the waypoints HAN – HAN-E2 – HAN-LX – HAN-L.

HAN is Hannover airport. HAN-E2 is a mandatory reporting point. Flying outbound, at HAN-LX you have to turn right (south) towards the next mandatory reporting point HAN-L, but HAN-LX itself is not a reporting point, only a course change point. Thus HAN has the + symbol I use for airports, HAN-E2 (like HAN-E1) and HAN-L have the symbol I use for mandatory reporting points, but HAN-LX has the symbol I use for other flying navigation points.

Here is the Nairobi Control Zone:

Nairobi Control Zone

The following table explains the east African driving routes. The routes beginning in Nairobi all use a shortcut from the western part of the city. If you start on Uhuru Highway in the center of the city instead, then you can simply drive north on Uhuru Highway through Westlands and continue straight in the direction to Naivasha and Nakuru until you meet the route. All routes use the turnoff to the old road down into the Rift Valley to Mai Mahiu, because this road is currently in a good state and more beautiful than the new road to Naivasha.

Route Name Description
NAI-AIRPORT This is a very simple route leading you from Nairobi city to the international airport. It can be useful when you are there for the first time or have to drive this route at night, because the turnoff from the Mombasa road can be missed.
NAI-BARINGO This route leads you from Nairobi via Naivasha – Lake Nakuru to Baringo.
BARINGO-SAMBU This route leads you from Baringo to Samburu Lodge through the Samburu West Gate. From there you can use the next route to lead you back to Nairobi (or you can, of course, drive along any of the straightforward routes on either side of Mt. Kenya that are not represented here).

Note that this route bypasses Maralal. Unless you want to drive the entire distance from Baringo to Samburu in one day, you should turn off to the north in Kisima and spend one night in the Yare Camel Club or in Maralal Lodge. The Maralal Lodge waypoint is still missing in my database. Please email it to me if you were there and got a waypoint.

SAMBUL-MWEIGA This route leads you through a shortcut in the direction of Mweiga, suitable especially when you want to visit The Ark or Treetops. It continues to Nairobi.

The waypoints SAMBU2 through SAMBU7 show a shortcut out of Buffalo Springs National Reserve, bypassing the gate, which is only drivable when it is dry. Do not try to shortcut this route by bypassing SAMBU2. It appears easy, but there doesn’t seem to be any suitable track there.

If you don’t want to reach Mweiga, you can still use this route, but ignore the branch towards Mweiga and instead continue to drive on the main road until you rejoin the route.

The route ends on the fifth roundabout in Nairobi, avoiding the difficult and possibly unsafe areas further south. The last bit has no waypoints, but you can simply drive towards the end point of the route as you like, and you will end up on that roundabout.


NAI-AMBOSELI1 is the normal path, usable after moderate rainfall, but quite rough and partly corrugated.

NAI-AMBOSELI2 is a much nicer and also a bit shorter track through Maasai country, but it is usable only when it has not rained heavily for at least one month.

NAI-AMBOSELI3 leads through Lake Amboseli, is even shorter and faster, but is only usable when it has not rained for at least one month and when the lake is totally dry.

NAI-AMBOSELI4 is a slower (6 h), but beautiful and interesting route via Kajiado – Imaroro – Mashuru – Osilalei (Selengei River) – Lenkisim Mission into Amboseli and then inside the nature reserve to Meshenani Gate. (There is no gate on this road. You have to turn right inside the Amboseli nature reserve and drive to Meshenani Gate to pay your entrance fee.)

In 2004 there were deep gullys on the last bit that leads almost straight to Meshenani gate, requiring a relocation of that route further to the north. If these gullys grow, you may either have to drive even further to the north or avoid the shortcut and drive straight south until you hit the main road, then turn right for Meshenani Gate.

I would like to know what happens if you drive this route backwards, but do not take the steep turn into the loop leading back to Osilalei. I expect that you will hit the main road somewhere near Selengei. Please write me if you tried this and please send the missing waypoint.

NAI-AMBOSELI5 is the preferred route since 2010, if you want to reach Amboseli as quickly as possible, as much of it is excellently paved, and the remaining gravel track is still relatively good.

However, you end up at Iremito Gate, where you cannot purchase or load the KWS smartcard. On arrival, you probably have to drive to Meshenani Gate inside the park over a rather poor, stony track to solve this problem, then back again the same way, unless Lake Amboseli is dry enough to drive right through it.

MAASAIMARA FI This route leads you from Nairobi along the new road (shortest way) to Masai Mara Fig Tree Tented Camp.

Don’t miss the turnoff at waypoint NAINAR onto the old Naivasha road to Mai Mahiu. You have to turn off to the left and drive down a spectacular road into the Rift Valley.

When you go from Nairobi to Masai Mara, ignore the waypoint MMARA4. It is only useful on the way out of Masai Mara if you want to use a shortcut to bypass Sekenani Gate, because the track through this waypoint leads to the little village just outside the gate. This way is shorter and allows you to save the time spent at the gate. It is not useful when you enter the Masai Mara National Reserve, because you have to pay the entrance fee at the gate. (Do not try to sneak in. We want to support Kenya’s nature reserves, and the tickets are often checked inside the reserve.) MMARA4 is a river crossing, which may be too deep and not usable after rain.

The normal way between Sekenani Gate, waypoint MMARAS, and Fig Tree, waypoint FIGTRE, is a slight arc to the west, as the straight line may cross into somewhat difficult terrain. Besides MMARA4 there are currently no waypoints in the area, but unless you are very short of dailight time, you can always get out of difficult areas by driving further to the west.

AITON1 is a turnoff into the bush from which you can drive northward to AITON2 (not in this route) on the Aitong road. The first part of this route is very beautiful and leads through pristine bush land with many animals (albeit shy), suitable for camping before you enter Maasai country, if you are careful and avoid camping too close to the Maasai.

However, this is a long detour, and the Aitong road from AITON2 to Fig Tree has been destroyed by rain during the El Niño years up to 1999, thus the way is even longer and now extends close to the river Mara through another beautiful area used for game drives from the nearby lodges and still outside the Masai Mara reserve.

If, against all odds, you want to try this track, plan for 6 extra hours and never try to go anything but north on average until you reach the Aitong road, because all westerly tracks end near unpassable rivers.

For Pilots: GPS Emergency Approach

Here are some thoughts on an emergency that can happen in a light aircraft when flying VFR and have a handheld GPS on board. Assume, for example, that you are flying VFR on top and your single engine fails. Another case in which a GPS can help might occur if you get trapped in clouds, but there you still have your engine at least, which makes it easier. Still the GPS can help.

In IFR-equipped aeroplanes you have very nice things like a big screen GPS, a flight director, etc. In a single engine plane with just a handheld non-aviation GPS you have much less, but with some ingenuity it should still be possible to fly some kind of workable approach.

Obviously, if you have a moment of time, you should declare an emergency immediately and keep telling the controller what you’re up to.

Assuming that you loaded at least all airfields near your planned route into the GPS receiver, you can quickly find the nearest airfield.

For simplicity the calculations and examples assume a (slow) gliding speed of 60 kt, because at this speed the numbers are very simple. If you really fly 70 kt, don’t worry. All our calculations cannot exactly account for your particular case anyway, so we are calculating roughly correctly and assume a sink rate of 800 ft/min. All heights are above ground, so with the common QNH altimeter setting you always have to deduct the height of the airfield from your altimeter reading.

Use the suitable special features of your GPS. For example, the Garmin GPSMAP 60/76/96 C/CS series has display fields for sink rate and sink rate to destination. Have these activated before you even take off. If you clicked on your desired emergency destination, then on Go To, and see that your required sink rate to destination is lower than your actual sink rate, you know you won't make it, so you have to do something.

Assuming that you don’t have much spare distance to soar and therefore have to try to make it to the airport without flying around aimlessly, but you still want to fly at least a short, straight final approach, one method could be this:

  1. Airfield—Point your aircraft straight towards the nearest airfield and reduce your speed to no more and not much less than the maximum gliding distance speed. Don’t worry too much about the runway direction now. It is better to land anywhere, in any direction inside the airport, like diagonally on the runway or on the grass, than out in the bush.
  2. Engine—Try to restart the engine. If this fails and if you have some more miles to fly, try to stop the windmilling propeller by setting it to maximum RPM if it is a constant speed propeller on a piston engine, then raising the nose and flying very slowly, but only for a short moment. Don’t lose too much height though. Don’t overdo it. Give up when you come too close to stalling speed, which is the end of green line minus some correction if you’re light. A windmilling propeller is an unwanted brake. If you still have the time, use the starter to rotate the propeller into a horizontal orientation to make propeller ground contact during the landing less likely. Switch the ignition off. 2003-10-06 – J. Carlos Goncalves sent the following hint: "If you have a constant speed propeller use coarse pitch—low RPM—to try to stop it. It did work, and seemed to be the only way, on the North American Harvard T-6 and Dornier DO-27. Otherwise it was very difficult to stop the propeller." Thanks, Carlos.
  3. GPS Goto—Enter a Goto command for the airfield waypoint into your GPS, so you see the distance. Be sure to know the quickest method for that, which may involve pointing at the waypoint on the map display. On some GPS devices like the Garmin GPS 12 it may be enough to select the waypoint. And of course you have set your GPS to nautical miles before you even started, right?
  4. Gyro—Quickly check and adjust your gyro compass.
  5. Height—Calculate whether you have more than 800 ft of height above ground for each mile still to fly. Example: If you are 2 nm from the field and 2,000 ft above ground, you have 400 ft to spare (2,000 ft - 2 x 800 ft) and can use these to maneuver towards the actual runway direction and threshold. Remember though that you have only 2 minutes for this maneuver. When you have only 1,600 ft altitude above ground left, then you have to turn towards the airfield, otherwise you may not make it. 1 nm from the field is about the latest to fly any significant maneuvers. Any closer and you can only make some small, gentle turns, because you cannot fly any significant turns so short before the unavoidable landing. As usual, it’s the extra, spare height that counts. If you have much less than 800 ft per nm of distance, for example less than 500 ft per nm, you will most likely not reach the airfield. It may still be a good idea to fly towards it, because the area around it may be flatter than other areas.
  6. Radio—Declare an emergency. Explain the situation briefly, but flying and navigating have priority.
  7. Runway direction—Compare your flying direction against the runway direction. If the difference is much more than 90°, you’ll have to fly past the airfield and turn. You need extra height for that maneuver. Consider using the opposite runway direction.
  8. Approach fix—Now you have to calculate a little. You want to know where the runway threshold and a suitable final approach fix is. Look at the directional gyro and find the runway direction. For example, if the runway is 24, look for the figure 24 on the gyro. That’s the far end of the runway. On the opposite side is your runway threshold. Change your flying direction a little towards that side. Look at the GPS map screen and imagine the runway on the waypoint in the same orientation it has on the directional gyro. 1 nm from the waypoint on the threshold side is your final approach fix, some 800 to 1,000 ft above the ground, depending, of course, on the wind as well. Look at the zoom factor, determine the (invisible) point on the GPS screen, and steer towards that approach fix.
  9. Height—Check your height. Do you have height to spare? Depending on whether the runway direction is favorable or not, you need extra height for the maneuvering to your final approach. In the worst case, when you have to land from the opposite side, you need about 1,600 ft extra height from overflying the field to touchdown, because that’s 2 extra nm. Determine whether you have enough spare height for that. If you don’t, forget about the runway direction, fly straight to the airfield, and land, even if the direction is totally wrong.
  10. Shortcut or detour—When you have flown some of the distance, like half, to your final approach fix, check your height again. If you have more height than you need, move the final approach fix out to, say, 2 nm from the field. In any case, turn further away from the direction to the field to lengthen your flight and lose height. If you're low, turn towards the field and move your final approach fix closer to the field, but if you’d have to move it closer than 1 nm, it’s better to give up on the approach fix altogether and aim for reaching the field in a gentle curve (or straight, if you find yourself too low).
  11. Descent—When you reach your final approach fix, check your height again. If you have any more than 800 ft per nm still to fly, lower the flaps half way and trim. Check again quickly. If you’re still staying too high, don’t hesitate to lower the flaps all the way and trim again. Keep checking your height and, of course, speed. If you’re still high, sideslip. If even this is not enough, push the nose down a bit and fly to the side and back. If you’re 2,000 ft too high, fly a 360° rate 1 turn which should get you down almost 2,000 ft, but be very careful to end the turn when you’re flying towards the airfield again, which you can see on your GPS map display. If, however, you are too low, i.e. less than 800 ft per nm still to fly, immediately bring the flaps back up all the way while letting the nose drop a bit to gather the required speed, then fly directly towards the airfield at the optimal, longest distance gliding speed.

During all this quick maneuvering never forget to keep your speed at the proper approach speed. You don’t want a stall-spin accident now. And keep in mind that 1,000 ft too high is pretty bad, but still better than 10 ft too low.

If your directional estimate turns out to be inaccurate, you will notice after turning in that your flight direction is not exactly equal to the runway direction. If you have some extra height to lose, turn again to compensate for the discrepancy and fly an S-like course that ends again in the runway direction. Of course, as soon as you’re no longer perfectly sure that you can make it to the airfield, immediately turn in and fly directly towards the airfield.

You should never need this procedure when your engine is still running, but in the unlikely case that you do have to make something like an instrument approach on a handheld GPS, lower the required heights above ground to some 600 ft per nm of distance, which corresponds roughly to a 6° glide angle.

That’s a rough plan, but you may find that the mere thinking about it will prepare you for such an occasion. Let’s hope it will never happen, but be prepared anyway.

Virtual Geocache on the Equator

For general information on geocaching please see The listing of this geocache on that site is here. For more information on travelling in Kenya please see For travel reports please see and others.

This is a description of the first equatorial divine (a fun abbreviation of “dividing line”) geocache, i.e. the first geocache placed where an integer meridian crosses the equator, which is at the same time the first virtual geocache. The coordinates are N/S 0° E 36°.

Due to the people who live in the area, it is not possible to actually stash away anything. Thus we have the first virtual geocache now. Approx. 40 m to the south of the meridian-equator crossing there was a tree, unfortunately now felled.

Whoever sends me an email with a credible description of the place will get entered into the virtual logbook for that geocache, which is published right here.

A small hint—at first I went there the hard way, by pointing my jeep straight towards the point, off about 90° from the nearby main road, and driving straignt towards it. It’s only a few kilometers, but it took me hours of rather difficult driving including turning back once and crossing a river, where I had to drive through the water, then up a steep slope such that I was seriously worried about the jeep falling over backwards.

After finding the place, it turned out that there is at least one easier way to get there. Getting back to the road took me much less than an hour. A good map would help. So don’t do it the hard way. The shortest way is not always the fastest.

Twice I found it impossible to reach by car after it had rained.

But then I don’t expect this geocache to be found all too often, if ever. (Now that it has been found already several times, my preceding sentence, of course, looks overpessimistic.)

The virtual geocache logbook is here:

When Who
2000-06-15 Hans-Georg Michna created the first virtual geocache.
2002-02-27 First finder: KLifeDad, alias Dan, along with two missionaries and one visitor from the US.

Finder’s email with my comments added in cursive text in brackets:

Date: Wed, 27 Feb 2002 12:55:30 EST
Subject: Kenya virtual cache HAS BEEN FOUND!!!
To: Hans-Georg Michna

YOUR CACHE HAS BEEN FOUND!! The team that visited the site said the message was [text of marking withheld, it was correct]. The team also wanted to be sure to tell you that they spent time carving on the message to make it deeper. There were some additional scratches at the bottom of the tree but they don't think it was a message. [Indeed I didn't add any further markings below, just the obvious one.] They took a picture just in case. We'll forward photos to you -- hopefully this weekend! Thanks for a GREAT adventure. Following is the write up that Dan (KLifeDad) composed for the adventure:

This find is dedicated to KLifemom who has been the driving force behind our family getting into geocaching. Due to the remoteness of this site there was substantial effort involved. Because Klifemom wasn’t able to come along I thought it would be appropriate for me to put a picture of her on the tree –thus the world’s first virtual geocache had the world’s first virtual visitor.

Accompanying me were two missionary friends, and another visitor from the US. We left Nairobi and traveled to Lake Naivasha to spend the night. We had reservations at a place called Crater Lake. The last 8 KM were VERY rough. The road had deep ruts (6-10 inches) and was thickly covered with volcanic dust. The only directions were a hand lettered sign about 5 KM from the entrance. When we got to the hotel there was another hand painted sign pointing to a Snake Farm. Several Africans materialized to take our bags and we began along descent into a crater. The surroundings were just amazing. There was a 5 acre lake with flamingoes on it, and about 15 huts that were very luxurious. The setting was just breathtaking, and the service was impeccable. One of the things they asked us before we went to bed was what time we would like to have coffee set out on our patios. The only warning was that we should be sure and get the coffee, otherwise monkeys would grab the bowls of sugar and make off with them.

The next morning we took off and stopped at Lake Nakuru for lunch. Based on the warning of the difficulty of reaching the site I had pored over maps, and we were able to get quite close. There is a huge sisal (hemp) farm around this cache so we got within about 2 miles of the site, and then began driving down rows of plants. We passed an African who just stared at us (4 white men in a 4 by 4). The African asked us in Swahili where on earth did we think we were going. My missionary friend knew enough of the language to understand the question, but didn’t even attempt to explain geocaching.

We got within ¼ of a mile and finished the journey on foot. They had been burning grass around the tree, and we had no trouble finding it. On the way back we were walking through grass that was about a foot high. I stepped near a snake and saw the grass rippling as it took off. Since we had just seen a green mamba at the snake farm I was very paranoid the rest of the way back to the car. We continued our trip up to Lake Bogoria where we spent the night at a nice hotel. That evening hippos came up to within 100 feet as they grazed on the grass. There was no fence between us and the hippos, so it was quite an experience.

I bought the missionaries a GPS of their own as a gift, and one of them is going to be planting some caches, look for Kenya to have more caches in the future. This was an awesome trip, incredible scenery, and the opportunity for old friends to reunite.

Thanks to Hans for the great cache, thanks to Klifemom for encouraging me to make this trip.

[And KLifeMom, alias Dee Anne, later wrote:]

Thanks again for an incredible journey. I can't wait to hear Dan's stories, and see photographs! Your creativity and the cache you placed impacted the lives of 4 men in a very positive way. They renewed friendships, tested adventure and courage, and created wonderful memories.

2002-05-12 Second finder: Carlson in Kenya. He writes:

I was one of the venerable four who found this site. Our powerful 4-wheel drive vehicle was not even challenged with destruction as we parked it and walked the last 1/2 mile through the thick grass and towering hemp plants. Maasai with their herds of cattle milled around. The air was hot but clear and clean. The intense equatorial sun made its presence and power known. There at the esxact spot designated, we found the mark. After due photos and water vortex experiments we walked back to our trusty vehicle and drove North for a delightful stay at the nearest hotel (not too near).

Check out what is going on up there before you go as the local tribes are frequently at war over the land and whose cattle is whose.

Howard Carlson

2003-06-16 Third finder: BumBum (Jörg Müller) from Germany, riding a bike through Kenya. Please see (German language web site) for more information.

He writes that he found the cache on the shortest way directly from the junction, cycling the mud road towards Bogoria. Where the river was near, he went right into the sisal plantation. But the whole area was flooded, and he had to cross a stream. The area around the cache was completely, 30 cm, under water. There were a lot of cattle around, but no herders.

I admire his persistence—I had given up twice in similarly wet situations.

2004-11-11 Fourth finder: Jurjen & Mike, Nightfire, from the Netherlands. One of them writes:

The last cache that I wanted to do in Kenya. I found this cache yesterday around 11:30. We took the matatu to Mogotio and from there we walked to the cache. It's a walk from 6 km, a very nice walk. It was a long time ago that somebody make the message better visible. This was the reason that we could not see the whole message. We make the message more clear for the next customer.

The idea of the cache is really good! We enjoyed the cache. Thank you very
much for this cache.

Jurjen & Mike


The Netherlands

P.s. I took a lot of pictures, I will put them on the internet on the 16th of november (then I am back in the Netherlands). The site is

2009-01-19 Helmut Resch and Babs Coleman were only the third regular visitors to the 0°N 36°E confluence, but apparently were not aware that the tree only 40 m south, which they apparently even photographed in their photo #4, hides this virtual geocache.

I'm no longer absolutely sure about the tree photos, because this one looks different from the one in the geocache listing, which somebody else took. Anyway, the nearest tree bears the cache.

2011-07-30 Fanny – Toppluvsmonstret from Sweden, the fifth finder, wrote:

Found the tree! After a long car drive we got there. All the othters were really excited. It was my taxi driver, three of my kenyan friends and one other friend from Sweden. we didn´t see the inscriptions first and looked at some other trees but then my friends screamd that they have found it. When we got back to the car we had get a flat tire but Titus our Tixi drivers fixed it quite quick =)

TFTC /Toppluvsmonstret (Sweden)

2012-01-28 Ondřej Beránek, the sixth finder, wrote:

I have planned the acces route according Google Earth and it looks almost like a drive in cache (see attached pisture). I got by car cca 350m close and then i walk straight to the cache between the sisal plants.

2012-06-15 cache bonus came close, but did not quite get to the actual confluence, because he was in a tour group and because there had been a lot of rain. Read his log.
2012-08-02 Klara&Werner also came close. They wrote:

We went to the Rift Valley on 2.8.2012 and we really tried to reach the cache and drove into the sisalplantations, but the road became so muddy, that our car was just sliding. So we finally returned back to the main road as we could not really reach safe. To go by foot, we didn't have the time, as we still wanted to reach Nyeri the same day. We will add a picture to proof it when we will actually log the cache—but now it is up to you to decide, this is a Found or a DNF.


It is an almost-found, I would say. Unfortunately this one is really hard to get to when it is wet. Your effort is appreciated anyway.

2015-02-15 DuneBuddy found it and published his story and photos here. Please read!

Unfortunately he found that the landmark tree near the confluence had been felled, so the place is now nondescript. I will see what I can do when I will pass by there again.

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Please measure the waypoints again if you pass by and let me have your coordinates, so the accuracy can be improved. Of course I am always interested in more good waypoints and routes. Please click on the E-Mail symbol below to send me mail.

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