I recently had to spend a couple of days in Nairobiwith my one and a half year old son on route to Tanzania. Not really because I wanted to, Nairobi does not have a reputation as being one of the safest cities in the world (it also goes by the name Nairobbery, and for a reason), but things just worked out that way.
Nairobiis a big city… polluted, noisy and expensive. I chose to stay somewhere familiar, at the Kenya Comfort hotel. There is no way this hotel could be described as flashy, but it is clean and has the basics – a bed, a tiny bathroom, and if you pay a little extra, a TV on top of a wardrobe. At $70 it is not cheap by African standards, but it is one of the cheapest places to stay in Nairobi.. and they also have free wifi, a 24 hour restaurant, a bar, and a good breakfast for an extra $10. Another plus is that right across the road are the shuttle buses to Arusha, Tanzania, my next destination.
So to make the most of half a day I had free, I decided to hire a taxi and take my son on a little adventure. Close by to each other are the Giraffe Centre and the Elephant Orphanage, both around the outer Nairobi suburb of Karen. The taxi to both cost 3000 KSH return.
First stop was the African Fund for Endangered Wildlife, commonly known as the Giraffe Centre. Here is where a long running breeding program for the endangered rothschild giraffe is in place, and you can even get up close and personal with some friendly giraffes. You can hand feed them, and if you’re lucky, even score a big sloppy kiss. Be warned, giraffe tongues are very long and icky! My son just loved meeting the giraffes, and even held up some of the feed pellets to feed them himself. The centre is very small; there is a café, a souvenir shop, a giraffe viewing platform, an education room and a small tortoise display. Because of the small size, you only need to allow about half an hour to visit here, and a bit longer if you want to get something to eat. There is a low entry fee, and with all proceeds going towards the running of the centre.
Next stop for us was the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, also known as the elephant orphanage, which is a wildlife conservation charity dedicated to the protection and preservation of endangered species such as elephants and rhinos. Orphaned baby elephants are found in the wild are brought to the centre to be raised in a ‘family’ of other orphaned elephants. The babies are mainly orphaned due to poaching, and would otherwise not survive in the wild alone. Visitors are welcome at certain times each day to see the elephants being fed and to hear the story of how the orphanage came about. The elephants are fed in an open setting and the only thing between the spectators and elephants is a single rope, which I discovered does not keep them in! During our visit when it was time for the elephants to be walked back to their private area, some of them managed to walk straight under the ropes and through the small crowd of people. Scary, even though they are babies some of them are very large! The ground is uneven and not paved, so I was very grateful for my Ergo baby carrier here. There is a small range of gifts on the way out, with all proceeds going to the orphanage, and also a small display of baby elephants looking for sponsorship.
There is a saying “this is Africa”, meaning be prepared for anything.. which I was reminded of on our taxi ride back to the city. We got stuck in some unexpected traffic, two to three lanes of cars going nowhere, but cars, mini buses and bikes weaving in and out of each other trying to get ahead anyway. Over an hour later we found out the reason why – a broken down truck, that was it! And as a result, I missed my bus to Arusha and had to stay in Nairobifor another night.
|I was more than a bit shocked to see this pull out in front of the taxi! Look closely! Turns out it was a tame cheetah being moved from one part of Nairobi National Park to another.|