READING TIME: 5 MINUTES
I am sitting in a crowded hall, at the Kenya/Tanzania border. I went through immigration pretty quickly, but some guys from my group are stuck because of some system issues.
It might be the right time to sum up the couple of days I spent in Kenya.
I landed in Africa for the first time in my life at the Jomo Kenyatta airport, in Nairobi, in the early morning of the 28th January.
I was lucky enough to enjoy a magnificent sunrise from the plane.
I arranged transport with the agency I booked my trip with, but after 20 minutes of wait, I started to think that something was wrong. My Australian phone number was inactive, that means I could not make phone calls or use the internet. One taxi driver approached me a kindly asked if he could help. I explained him the situation, and he set up a hot spot with his phone to check my e-mail, and that’s how I found out that the driver was going to pick me up at 8 pm and not 8 am. Shit happens, but fortunately, one thing that never lacks in airports are taxi drivers. That kind guy, his name is Nicholas, drove me to my first stop, the Wildebeest Eco-Campground.
During the ride, Nicholas gave me an insight into Nairobi’s life and explained to me the history of the suburb I was going to stay, which is Karen.
The land was once a coffee plantation owned by a Danish family, and it is believed that the name comes from one of the owners, Karen Blixen. The suburb hosts a wealthy population of European ancestry.
The Wildebeest Eco-Camp was an oasis in the hustle and bustle of the city. A beautiful garden with permanent tents surrounded a bean-shaped swimming pool that faced a two storeys terrace, where guests would have their meals. That peaceful and zen atmosphere, together with the kindness of the local staff, made me fall in love instantly with that place.
Check their website here.
I love to wander and explore places by myself, but even if Nairobi is not the safest place in the world, I didn’t have any issues. I asked the staff if it was safe for me to wander around by myself, and they assure me it was ok during the day but discourage to do so after dark.
Said so, I wandered around for the rest of the morning and spent the afternoon by the swimming pool. I felt in a sort of 5 stars resort.
DAVID SHELDRICK'S ELEPHANT ORPHANAGE
While having dinner on the beautiful terrace, I started a conversation with a guy who was camping there. It is unbelievable the amazing people you meet in this sort of travels: his name is JD, a middle-aged Canadian man full of energy and full of life. He owns a whale-watching company in Québec. He worked in Africa for several years in his early twenties for a tour company and has been coming back to travel around the continent with his Land Cruiser for six months a year.
I love Canadian people; they are all so polite, chilled and laid back.
We planned to visit together a couple of attractions nearby the day after, so after a good night sleep under the starts, we headed for breakfast first thing in the morning. He knows the neighbourhood pretty well and took me to a small deli where we had bread and cheese, and with a full belly, we drove to our first stop, the Elephant Orphanage.
The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust is an organisation founded in 1977, and although best known for its success in rescuing and rehabilitating orphaned elephants, the Trust works closely with Kenya WildlifeService and Kenya Forest service for environmental and wildlife conservation.
For $5 you can join the keepers for the orphans’ feeding every day between 11 to noon.
The costs that the organisation faces are very high, but everyone can donate a small amount to the Trust and can also adopt an orphaned calf, for $50 a year. If you want more info on how to help a baby elephant, rhino or giraffe, visit their website.
Our second stop was the Nairobi Safari Walk. Closest to a zoo than a national park, this site is popular amongst families with kids that do not want to engage in a proper safari. It is the closest you can get to wild animals. The raised boardwalk takes you through three different eco-system, wetland, savannah and forest, where you can encounter species like lion, cheetah, leopard, zebra, white rhino and so on.
The entrance was $25, which is a fair price, but JD and I went there during the hottest part of the day, that means the animals were eighter sleeping or hiding in the shade.
THE DRIVE TO TANZANIA
We went out for dinner in an Indian restaurant and said goodbye, given that I had to leave early the morning after.
At 6 am Nicholas picked me up from the camp and drove to a Hotel in the business district where I boarded a van with other people directed to Tanzania. We drove through Kibera, the largest slum in Africa, and the third in the world. The population is estimated to be between 500.000 and 1 million people. It is practically impossible to have an accurate census. People leave in extreme poverty; access to basic services like electricity and running water are scarce. It was heartbreaking to see that part of the city, and I felt small and impotent. When I travel to developing countries, I try to take a glimpse at the real life of locals, and every time I end up feeling like crap.
The drive continued, and Nicholas dropped me off at the hotel. The van picked me up shortly after, and in a couple of hours, we reached the border with Tanzania.
And here we are, waiting for the visa for two of the guys in our group.
In the meantime, I walk around and look at the pictures I took during these first two days. I enjoyed my time in Africa so far. The two hours drive from Nairobi to the Tanzanian border was quite pleasant, and I had the chance to see the Kenyan countryside.
Now I need to get ready for Kilimanjaro.