Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Nairobi, visit 2

With our return to Nairobi being unplanned, we did not have time to arrange our hotel. Late the night before arriving, we sent an email to the guest house we had previously stayed at, requesting a room. Without having internet access during our transport, we headed to the guest house without knowing whether there was room or not. Of course, there wasn't, which was a bit awkward, but we were easily able to find somewhere else. //. We spent most of the first two days dealing with the tourist police over the safari tour issues, running errands, and shopping, but we did a little bit of sight seeing in downtown Nairobi. The main convention center has a rooftop observation deck which we visited for a view of the city.

While shopping we visited an outdoor sports store. They had a limited selection of the brands we are used to, like North Face, Teva, Hi-Tec, but generally it was other brands. One store had a lot of Tatonka, a brand we had never heard of before, but it was unusual and noteworthy; after all of the brand and place names generated from Masai, Swahili, Arabic, and other African languages, to see a brand that uses a Native American word for it's name. //. The following day we went back to being a full time tourist, heading to Karen, a Nairobi suburb, named for the author of Out of Africa. (I am going to interrupt the story to mention that the iPad may be a cool device but the spell check function makes the most ridiculous corrections). The Sheldrick Wildlife Trust operates an elephant orphanage that has been quite successful in saving and returning elephants back to the wild. For the late morning feeding, tourists are welcome to come and watch.

After being fed human baby formula, the elephants like to roll in the mud and push each other around a bit.

We then visited the Giraffe center, where they are helping to breed and raise giraffes. We learned that there are 9 subspecies of giraffe, and since we've only seen 4 of them, apparently we have more countries to visit. We watched a young giraffe nurse from its mother, which with their long necks, looks quite awkward. Tourists get the opportunity to feed the giraffes, and if you hold a pellet in your lips, they will be happy to take it from you.

We also had a mini safari in Nairobi National Park, where Kenya was able to create a preserve for wild animals just on the outskirts of the city. We were able to see lions, zebra, antelopes, giraffe, etc, and often with views of the city skyline or jumbo airplanes coming in for a landing at the nearby airport.

The next day, we headed to the Lake Naivasha area where we went hiking on Mt Longonot. We were starting to get concerned about our Rwanda trip coming up in less than a week, as we will be trekking in the forest and apparently there is the possibility of it being quite difficult. We haven't been exercising that much and so felt the need to be a bit active in preparation. Mt Longonot is a dormant volcano, and looks just like a stereotypical crater would, with the crater floor now covered in a forest. There are still some steam vents coming out of the ground, with many more in the surrounding area. We had hired a guide, mainly because we needed a driver to take us there and back, but James turned out to be the best and most qualified guide we had in Africa. Normally, he guides mountaineering trips up Mt Kenya or Kilimanjaro, and was trained by NOLS, a leading American mountaineering company that used to have a training center in Kenya and had provided very low cost training to some locals, like James. If James could guide people of Mt. Kilimanjaro, we felt more than confident that he would be good for our day hike. Unfortunately, there was a lot of litter in the park, so after lunch, all three of us filled our empty plastic bags with trash on the way down.

We saw two giraffe on the way down in what appeared to be some sort of mating ritual. The female would walk slowly in a circle, followed closely by the male. When she would pause, he would get close and look like he was going to jump up on her back, but then he would stop. I think they knew we were watching and maybe they needed some privacy. //. Our first trip to Nairobi, we spent huge amounts of time sitting in traffic but everyone said it was unusually bad because of the international trade fair going on in the city. Well two weeks later and it's still just as bad. Even in the suburbs of Karen, you sit in traffic. It is not uncommon to sit in traffic for 30 to 60 minutes, or longer, when simply trying to go to different areas of Nairobi. We have met many Americans who live here in Nairobi and love it, which amazes us because we don't know how they have the patience for the traffic on a daily basis.

Location:Nairobi, Kenya

1 comment:

  1. That's a great picture of Hugh with the giraffe!