Bumper to bumper traffic welcomed us into the Nairobi, East Africa’s hub. And we were quintessential country kids who finally arrived at “the big city,” marveling at the 24-hr stores, cosmopolitan fare, and skyscrapers 10 stories high.
One of our first days here, we delved into Nairobi’s wild side and paid a visit Nairobi’s Giraffe Center, a success story amongst conservationists. The efforts of African Fund for Endangered Wildlife (AFEW) has more than doubled the population of Rothschild’s giraffes, and the center has successfully released these beautiful animals across Kenya’s national parks.
Hands full of food pellets, we stood face-to-face with the giraffes on a perch and fed them their afternoon snack. With tongues rough as sandpaper, big shiny eyes, and an unimaginable amount of slobber, the gentle creatures won our hearts. As evidenced below!
Two nights later, we checked Carnivore off our Nairobi bucket list. This restaurant takes nyama choma (the unofficial dish of Kenya, meaning barbecued meat) to new heights. With unlimited soup, salad, and 20+ meats brought to the table on swords, the food doesn’t stop coming until the white flag waves, literally. (There’s a flag on the table you need to knock down). Needless to say, we left satisfied.
The following day we visited the David Sheldrick Center, a foundation that takes in orphaned baby elephants and rhinos, rehabilitates them, and releases them back into Kenya’s wild parks. For one hour every day, they allow visitors to come and watch the baby elephants get their daily mud bath and lunch time milk bottles. We were smitten, and promptly adopted one of them–a baby girl named Sonje. As new foster parents, we received an invite to return in a few hours and see her bedtime ritual.
To pass the time before the private viewing, we made a stop at Kazuri Beads in the Karen & Langata neighborhood. (Kazuri in Swahili means “small and beautiful.”) What began as two women is now a workforce of 100+ single mothers and disabled women who commute daily from the slums to make a living for themselves. A tour of the facilities covered everything from clay making to molding to painting and glazing–it’s a well-oiled operation that provides opportunity and empowerment to a disadvantaged social group.
Back at the elephant center, we watched the keepers bring all 20+ babies from the bush. The young ones strutted (some ran) into their pens in anticipation of their milk nightcap. Walking around, we looked on as some babies were wrapped up in blankets, a few babies cried out for more milk, and one cheeky little guy chewed on his trainer’s coat (and then proceeded to chew on Eugene’s arm). Sonje, who will be released back into the wild soon, spent the entire time chowing down on dinner.
Last but not least, we can now add another home away from home to our ever expanding list: Jungle Junction. Popular amongst overlanders, the Nairobi house was packed the entire time.
We met a few couples headed the same way, and after careful consideration, decided to change our route north to follow the caravan. Instead of bumpy and bandit-infested Moyale, we are now headed towards remote and beautiful Lake Turkana, en route to Ethiopia.
The Jade Sea awaits!