Nairobi

Nairobi Elephant

After a few days in Uganda’s capital we crossed the border back into Kenya, where we had an uneventful transit stop near the town Eldoret, before finally arriving in Kenya’s capital Nairobi. We somehow avoided the worst traffic and reached our campsite – Karen camp – in the afternoon. The campsite was okay, but had clearly seen better days. At least the wifi was great, so we got a chance to catch up with family and friends.

The next morning we booked some taxis and headed out to the Elephant Orphanage in Karen. There was a mix up with the taxis so we had to wait a bit for ours to arrive, but in the end we made it on time for the daily feeding of the young elephants, which takes place from 11am to 12pm. We paid the $5 entry fee and walked down a small path to the area where they were feeding the elephants. When we arrived most of the youngest elephants were already there and being fed. Some of the elephants were only a few months old and very cute! We were only separated from the elephants by a thin rope, so various times they came so close we could even touch them. We had to watch out not to get splashed with mud when they were taking a bath in a little mud pool. Watching them playing, rolling around in the mud and trying to get out of the mud pool, sometimes with the help of their fellow elephants was amazing.

Nairobi Elephant
A baby elephant trying to get out of a mud pool after it finished playing.
Nairobi Elephant
Another young elephant playing in the water. This one is slightly older than the babies and was spraying itself over and over to cool off.

After the first group of very young elephants, another group of older and already quite big elephants came in and were pushy and demanding their food impatiently. The elephant orphanage takes in elephants from all over Kenya that become orphaned for various reasons. Sometimes they get separated from their mothers involuntarily, sometimes their mothers die of diseases, and unfortunately on some occasions they get killed by poachers or by local villagers. In a few cases the little ones were hurt or attacked in the process, but luckily could be rescued in time. Every elephant had its own story and some were very sad. After a few years in the elephant orphanage they get released and reintegrated into the wild again. They can’t be released alone in a national park, so the helpers monitor them and try to integrate them into a family. Sometimes this process takes a few years, but we were assured that it always works out in the end.

Nairobi Elephant Orphanage
A young elephant grabbing the milk bottle it was being fed from.

The hour past by really quick and we were reluctant to leave the cute elephants. We headed back to our taxi and drove a few minutes to a local giraffe breeding center. We paid our $10 each and headed in. The sanctuary had a two story wooden building with a balcony where we climbed up and were as high up as the giraffe’s heads. We were given a handful of pellets that we could feed to the giraffes. We put a pellet between two fingers and held it close to the giraffe’s head, then they would stick out their blackish blue tongue and snatch the pellet from our fingers! That was a very interesting experience, and far less gross than someone would think, plus their saliva is actually an antiseptic. It could only be topped by taking the pellet between your lips and then they would grab it from there, while getting slobber all over your face. David couldn’t be convinced to try it, but I did and it wasn’t half as bad as it sounds!

Nairobi Giraffe Center
David posing for a picture while his giraffe friend licked the food from his hand.
Nairobi Giraffe
I had fun getting a kiss from this handsome giraffe, although he may have only wanted the food.

The giraffe center is a breeding center for the endangered Rothschild giraffe, and serves as conservation and education center. The majority of the giraffes are born in the center and the most get released into the wild when they are two years old. The center is on 120 acres so the giraffes have plenty of space and they only come close to the people if they want to.

Nairobi Giraffe Center
One of the many giraffes with it’s black tongue sticking out.

We could have spent the whole day there, but since we were sharing a taxi we slowly made our way back to the exit. We headed back to the campsite where we spent the afternoon working on our blog and cooking food for the evening. We were preparing a big barbecue for everyone in our group after finding out that the restaurant everybody originally wanted to eat out at, Carnivores, charged $35 dollars per person. We ended up with huge amounts of delicious food and spending only $7 dollars each! The next morning we moved on to the next country on our itinerary, Tanzania. There we would get to spend three days in the famous Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater before getting some beach time and going scuba diving on Zanzibar!

Highlights

  • The national parks like Nakuru and Samburu National Park with their incredible wildlife!
  • Visit the elephant orphanage and the giraffe center in Nairobi to get really close to the animals and even touch them!
  • We saw 4 of the Big 5 in Kenya, but with a little more luck you can get to see all of them there.

Advice

  • Don’t bother visit the Menegai Crater close to Nakuru, even if it’s cheap, its not really worth visiting in our opinion. It’s hard to tell that it is crater and the hike up there would go up a relatively trafficked dirt road.
  • Be careful in Nairobi, our campsite had a sign stating, “Walking outside is dangerous, walking outside at night is crazy!” We were staying in Karen – one of the nicer areas of the city.
  • Apply online for a Kenyan visa before showing up as their visa laws have just changed. It takes about a week to be approved and needs to be done in advance as of three weeks prior to this article being written. If you plan to travel to Uganda or Rwanda then apply for an East Africa Visa through any of the three countries embassies before you arrive to save a lot of money.