It’s now been a year and a half since we moved to Nairobi. We aspired to visit the country more than we have. We seem to spend less time touring around than most of our peers. There are reasons for this. One of which is that I’m frequently off to Somalia. The second is that we generally spend two rather long holidays per year in the US. This is a choice, mind you, so that we remain close to our families and our daughters connect with their cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc. Family is important and we feel that this lifestyle shouldn’t get in the way of what is important to us if at all possible.
As such we end up with less time to invest in travel within Kenya. We’ve done a few things, some of which were actually before we moved here, but we hope to see more of this amazing country over the coming months and probably years.
In March we were able to sneak away for a day in Nairobi National Park. If you think that it shouldn’t be considered that big of an investment, you would be right. It’s just on the outskirts of the city and we simply should have done it sooner. I expected it to be a bit more ho hum but the place proved me wrong.
|giraffes are simply beautiful|
In fact it did start out somewhat less than exciting. We were in an arranged safari vehicle with some friends of ours. The guide seemed knowledgeable enough but early on there wasn’t a lot of excitement. We did see a couple of female lions on the hunt but they proved to be less than enthusiastic about their prey. It could have been the dozen or so safari vehicles swarming around them that was a bit distracting. Hard to say. It certainly would have distracted me.
|in case one is worried about being alone...lioness to the right|
This was a holiday weekend and it's a particular challenge when visiting a park so close to a major city. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be (the park seems to be able to absorb fairly large crowds quite well) but there were moments when I would have preferred to be in a remote part of a most distant park.
|finally convinced them to pose|
Gradually it felt to me that things were picking up. We saw a surprisingly diverse assortment of animals with the highlight being the number of lions. Again, pretty amazing for a park so close to noisy Nairobi. There were times where you really feel that you are in a remote location and then you come around a bend and see tall buildings and/or houses in the background.
|had to wake up early on a weekend|
We saw cape buffaloes, baboons, gazelles, zebras, Coke's hartebeest, hippos, lions, elands, impala, Masai giraffes, ostriches, vultures and waterbucks. Besides the lions, we saw two pairs of eastern black rhinos. Such cool looking animals.
|you forget that nearly 7m people are not far away|
There are supposedly cheetahs and leopards but they tend to be a bit more elusive than other animals. We didn’t see any. There are no elephants in the park though there is an orphaned elephant sanctuary nearby (which we’ve been to a couple of times).
I’m not sure why there are no elephants but it likely has something to do with the history of the place. The Brits, who had colonized Kenya, used the place as their playground. The area where the park is was undeveloped and had lots of animals prior to the 20th century. This fact gradually became apparent and early conservationists set out to do something about it. The first big step was establishing it as a game reserve where hunting was not allowed. By 1946 it became Kenya’s first national park. Though the park is bigger than one might think given its proximity to such a big urban area (117km²/45m²), it’s relatively small compared to other national parks. Elephants require a certain amount of space and they tend to be more destructive compared to other creatures (they break fences, trees, smash crops, etc.). My guess is that they would be a bit much for NNP.
|books and phones came in handy|
I don’t remember how long we spent on the game drive but it was certainly shorter than if we hadn’t had five children in the safari vehicle. Overall they did well but you can get a sense when it’s time to cut your losses and go grab some food. Fantastic that we have such an opportunity on our doorstep. We’ll be back.
|visit to the giraffe sanctuary afterwards|