Tuesday, February 9, 2010
Last time I was in Nairobi was exactly four years ago. I came with two girlfriends and stayed with the parents of one of their classmates from Georgetown. It was a lovely trip, complete with a safari in the Masai Mara and a four day mini break in Zanzibar. I had no idea when I would return, but when I moved to London I figured it was only a matter of time.
That time has come. Tired of the snow and cold in London, my boyfriend and I chose Africa for our annual February escape from Seasonal Affect Disorder. We figured that seventeen days in Kenya, Mali, and Senegal would have us in high enough spirits to last the rest of the long London winter.
We arrived at Nairobi airport late last night, where we were picked up by our hotel’s driver and taken to the Miti Mingi Guesthouse in the Westlands neighborhood. The hotel’s owner, Carla, gave us a warm welcome and a tour before letting us fall into bed for the night.
We woke up this morning to a beautiful sunny day and a huge breakfast on the garden terrace. After the meal we found ourselves a driver who agreed to take us around Nairobi for the day.
We left Miti Mingi around noon and headed to the Giraffe Centre, a conservation trust in Nairobi where you can feed the giraffes. I had been there on my previous visit to Nairobi, and couldn’t wait to take my boyfriend.
We pulled up during a convenient lull in tourist activity, and had the giraffes all to ourselves for a few minutes. We held up our hands and fed them pellets that were a mix of molasses and grains, for which they eagerly reached our their long purple tongues. Distracted by the pellets, they didn’t care that we took the opportunity to pet their soft faces, which were almost as big as our entire bodies.
After feeding the giraffes, we walked around the center’s learning area, then explored the rest of the grounds, including the turtle enclosure and the outdoor cafe and shop.
Leaving the giraffes behind, we headed to Mamba Village, a wildlife park with a crocodile farm. We spent the next hour watching the adult crocs sunbathing lazily in the afternoon heat and the babies running and swimming around their enclosure. When we had seen enough prehistoric reptile action, we headed to the large lake on the other side of Mamba Village.
Our first stop was the ostrich enclosure, where we got close to four rather ornery ostriches. Dodging their darting beaks, we took photos of them as they tried to eat everything from the metal food bin to the wooden railings of their pen.
From there we found some random rabbit hutches with bunnies of every color, and then walked on to the giraffe area. The lone giraffe saw us coming from quite some distance and seemed as interested in us as we were in it. Quite the prima donna, it posed for a number of photos and kept very close to us the whole time. I would like to think that I am a giraffe whisperer, but I think it was just hoping for food.
From Mamba Village we went to Karen Shopping Centre to get some lunch and pick up some of the same Kenyan tea that I had bought on my previous visit to Nairobi. I bought the biggest bag I could fit in my suitcase, happy to no longer have to ration the last of the box I bought four years ago.
After eating lunch at one of the small cafes in the shopping center, we walked along the street to the other half of the mall. Along the way we passed a market where Masai women were selling brightly colored cloth, slender wooden carvings, and other souvenirs. We made our way past them and into the other part of the shopping center, which was much more of a local market than the half we were in before. We walked around for a bit and then made our way back to our driver.
Jet lag and fatigue from staying up to watch the Super Bowl before our flight had fully caught up with us at that point. We headed back to Miti Mingi Guesthouse to take a nap and relax before dinner.
Tonight we headed to Talisman Restaurant in Karen for our evening meal, which was rich with international cuisine and local Tusker beer. In the morning we head to Bamako, Mali for the second of our seventeen snow-free days in Africa. We’ll be back in Nairobi twice before our Africa adventure is over, though, so there are more stories to come about Kenya’s capital city.