Nairobi, Kenya - wow! Crazy city, but so much to offer a traveler, even for just a short time! It's popularly referred to as "the green city in the sun". This, partially due to the fact that they have the expansive Nairobi National Park on its doorstep. It's actually only fenced on three sides of the park, enabling animals to roam freely in and out of it.
The game viewing is surprisingly good too with most animals present except for elephants since there's not enough room for them. You can even position yourself at a rooftop bar or restaurant across from the park and the highway to view the animals!
Nairobi has been on my more recent bucket list due to 4 unique experiences located there including the wonderful Sheldrick's Elephant Sanctuary, The Giraffe Center, The Karen Blixen Museum and the Kazuri Beads Factory.
We visited all 4 in just one whirlwind day and had a fabulous lunch in between a couple of them nearby that was also special unto itself.
Let me start with the very special baby elephant sanctuary. I must start by saying that I had a bit of a concern with this particular project in that I was skeptical initially as to whether it was a 'staged' way to make a living. What I soon discovered was that it is a very legitimate enterprise in that they truly do save baby elephants mostly from human intervention including largely the poaching of their mothers for their ivory tusks.
We actually even happened upon a dead elephant ourselves during our time in Botswana whereby a poacher had attempted to get the tusks from this elephant. Fortunately, as I mentioned in my previous blog, they failed with this attempt although sadly the elephant was killed. This is the sort of situation whereby Sheldrick's sanctuary steps in to save the young if they happen to have been separated from the herd and left alone after their mother has been killed.
They're very careful at the sanctuary to not have these young elephants subjected to being 'on show' for any longer than one hour and are kept separated from the people watching for their own health and safety. Obviously, they're able to raise a good deal of money through their 'adopt an elly' program that costs as little as $50.00 per year and with this you are able to stay in touch with your very own orphan. They provide a personalized adoption certificate, a monthly email update on your orphan and the project, a monthly water colour, and access to special content including the latest Keeper's Diaries, videos and photos.
The other very important aspect to this orphanage project is that they make every attempt to enable these elephants to be released back into the wild if at all feasible. Every orphaned elephant's story is so very touching and if you're interested in considering this adoption yourself or even want to give it as a special gift, here's the link to review it for yourself: Orphans / Adopt an Orphan (sheldrickwildlifetrust.org)
I have to admit that when the 17 orphaned elephants came happily trotting out when we visited this orphanage, I cried and was so very touched by the stories that they shared with us as we watched them play and interact with each other. There also happened to be a 16 year old blind black rhinoceros, Maxwell, being cared for there as well although we didn't actually get to see him. Interestingly, one of the stories included an elephant with liver issues who's 12 years old and will never be capable of being released. All in all, it was a very touching experience being in the presence of these lovely, majestic animals who are being given a second chance and certainly seem much loved by their care givers as well in this wonderful sanctuary.
Our next stop was at The Giraffe Center, not too far away, where we were able to be up close with a few of the giraffe from this Environmental Conservation Centre. It's a non-profit organization with a purpose to educate Kenyan schoolchildren about the importance of their country's wildlife and environment. The Rothschild Giraffe are an endangered species that are thriving at this sanctuary and they're also enabling the movement of these giraffes to other areas thereby helping to increase their numbers in spite of the challenges with the threat of their extinction.
Next, we proceeded to a lovely place for our lunch called Tamambo Karen Blixen Coffee Garden Restaurant, also located nearby. It's located on the site of the original Blixen farmhouse property. The food was excellent, the setting serene and the service very friendly and efficient. We truly enjoyed it!
Next, we were delighted to visit the Kazuri Beads Factory, also nearby all of these other great places to visit. The name kazuri, in swahili means, 'small and beautiful' and they truly are! It began in 1975 as a tiny workshop experimenting in making beads by hand and has grown to a huge factory employing 300 single Mothers in Kenya. A truly worthwhile place to visit and spend some time learning about, donating to and shopping at.
Our final stop was visiting the Karen Blixen Museum - last, but definitely not least! It was such a delight with the most wonderful guide who happened to be a young Kikuyu studying tourism in school and volunteering at the museum. He indicated how much Karen Blixen was adored by fellow Kenyans and Kikuyu people for all she has ultimately done for tourism considering the respect she had for Kenya and her people. Just the fact that there's a very substantial district named after her, to this day, called Karen. Such a tremendous legacy.
Overall, Nairobi has so much to offer and it's the gateway to the rest of this phenomenal country, Kenya. Kenya really is the epitome of being "Out of Africa", considering that was where this movie was filmed although Nairobi itself has certainly grown leaps and bounds since the time represented in the movie. There are even non-stop flights now from the U.S. to Nairobi making it that much easier to get from North America to Kenya.