Saturday, February 8, 2014

Winter Escape 2014: Nairobi Kenya

Nairobi is my hometown where I was born and raised. I now live in Toronto, Canada. After 40+ years, I decided to visit Nairobi with my spouse, Tim. We are on a 10-day tour organized by Goway Travel.

Atop a hill, we capture the skyline of Nairobi
The drive from the airport takes longer than usual; Nairobi is known for severely long traffic jams; a normal 10 minute ride takes two hours and hence I am able to observe the surroundings as we drive to the Hotel Intercontinental in the centre of the city. It feels familiar but different as Nairobi is now an urban centre with its crowds of people and traffic jams. The cluster of new buildings takes away the sense of spaciousness that I remember. The next day we start our city tour.

Feeding the giraffe at the Endangered Wildlife Facility

Our first stop is the African Fund for Endangered Wildlife Kenya facility. Here we see how the giraffe are cared for until they are ready to be sent out to the wilds. Under a tall canopy we stroke the giraffe as they come up close to be fed.

Our next stop is the Elephant Orphanage. Below is a picture of the young elephants playing with each other, rumbling in the red mud that changes their natural grey colour to a reddish brown. After a memorable experience of watching the baby elephants and then observing them play in groups or in pairs, we are ready for lunch.

Elephant Orphanage
Lunch at Carnivore Restaurant

We are taken to a unique restaurant where we are served a sumptuous lunch. The picture on the left tells the story of a variety of meats that are carved up on our plates as we munch and chew each delicacy with an accompaniment of vegetables and sauces.

Karen Blixen's Ranch

Another highlight is a visit to the Karen Blixen Ranch in a suburb of today's Nairobi. We are told the amazing story of Karen's dedication and commitment to the Kenyans during her time there. Every evening she would sit in her back patio in full view of the Ngong Hills. She would gather all her employees around her, talking to them, solving their problems and assisting them in any way she could. When she left Kenya she gave back the lands she owned to the Kenyans. Karen Blixen donated the ranch to the Danish Government who in turn donated it to the Kenyan government on the condition that the Ranch remain a destination for visitors and tourists to enjoy.
MacMillan Library

As a child and young adult I frequented the MacMillan Library which is still in its old form. Those stone lions bring back many memories of me sitting on their backs reading my book whilst waiting for my brother to take me home. 

To end our city tour, we visit the Nairobi National Museum which brought back many memories of my school trips here. We take a quick drive by Norfolk Hotel, still in his colonial glory, and other sights that include the Parliament Buildings and the Catholic Basilica directly opposite from our hotel.

Whilst Nairobi is moving fast into the 21st century there are many sites that retain its historic past.

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