Day 2 (September 11, 2013)   Nairobi


  The first part of this first day must be spent on a couple of tasks in Nairobi downtown, where we will go likely by bus: picking the rented car up and purchasing the tickets for Lunatic train.

   Once with our own car, we will come back to Langata Road, where we’re going to spend the rest of the day. There we will visit the Animal Orphanage, Bomas of Kenya, Sheldrick’s elephant orphanage and restaurant Carnivore for a good end of this day.

   We have some other tasks for this day which will do on the spare time, as the shopping of some goodies and a local SIM phone card. We also must get the KWS card to get into Amboseli and the card for Maasai Mara, which must be got in an Equity Bank office.
Map of Nairobi  

   Spots marked at map are:

 0- Bush House & Camp
 1- Shopping Mall
 2- Bomas of Kenya
 3- Sheldrick's elephant orphanage
 4- Animal orphanage and KWS office
 5- Restaurant Carnivore
 6- Rasul's car hire
 7- Nairobi train station
 8- Shopping Mall and Equity Bank office
 9- Nairobi National Park
10- Karen Blixen museum
11- Giraffe Center


   We’ve got a shot sleep today. We ask for a taxi for 10 AM while we’re taking our breakfast. The building and garden of this hotel looks great at daylight. We’re crazy about going out to explore this country.

Bush House gardenBush House

   The driver of our taxi is the same than last night, he is waiting for us at 10 o’clock and we leave directly to the car rent office. In the way, Langata Road looks chaotic, with its traffic where every car is driving at their own with the only rule of avoiding hit or being hit. When we reach the stadium we can see a lot of marabous, big birds feeding on carrion and here are making big groups over the trees with weird normality.

Marabous in Nairobi downtownNairobi downtown

   Before getting into the car rental office we buy the offer from our driver for taking us to the bank and the train station and then coming back to this office to take the car. He’s calling this “half day” and his price is 5000 ksh, which we bargain to 4000 ksh.

   So we fill the papers for the car and promise being there to taking it in one hour. We spend this hour in purchasing the train tickets for next week by 4400 ksh per person and going to the Equity Bank office in Harambee St. where we use the ATM we couldn’t use last night in the airport. Somehow, when we ask about the card for Maasai Mara they don’t know what it is and a man explains us we must pay in cash once there in the gate. We’ll see.
Nairobi train stationTicketing office in Nairobi train station

   Nairobi downtown is crowded and pedestrians mix with cars in the streets. We feel someone is looking at us in every moment – waiting in our queue in the bank would be the time we felt this most –as there are no more “whites” around here. We cannot hide we’re tourists in this country.

   With these tasks done we pick up our car, which we love, and follow the taxi until reaching the KWS headquarter, where we’re going to have our first visit.

Rasul's Car rental officeOur rented Suzuki Maruti

   This is a nice place, with a beautiful environment. We can see the money they’re getting from the parks. We go to the issue point for cards, just beside the Nairobi National Park gate, where we get the one we need for Amboseli: 80$ per person + 200 ksh by the car.

   It’s also in the gate, but after it, when we find the animal orphanage. We pay 15$ per person and we get change in dollars too. We’re here, in this sort of zoo, with a specific target: petting a cheetah.

Animal Orphanage entrance
Cheetah in Animal orphanageLeopard in Animal orphanage

   I know that wish can be accomplished here, but I also know it is forbidden. So I observe while we’re following a kind man who works here, dressed casual, to the toilet my wife needs. After a while I’ve found out how it works: the caretakers, which are wearing a green coat, are the ones can make it happens, looking for an extra; somehow, they must do it clandestinely, looking not being caught by the manager, precisely the man who was with us before. I’ve figured this out when seeing how they do some signs to a group of four young tourists and they go close to the cheetah place door. Some of these caretakers go to strategic points of the main way looking for a good chance. We, seeing this, go to the door too, looking after joining them when the door are opened for them, but the green light is never given and the caretakers come back to the group again. We keep visiting the animals. The only free ones are monkeys. The young group was still waiting for their chance when we leave the place several minutes later. It seems one can spend the whole day here without managing this wish, and one can be with the cheetahs a few minutes after coming if the manager is not here. It’s a kind of lottery.
Lion in Animal orphanageMonkeys in Animal orphanage

   We’re late to our next visit and we haven’t lunched yet. The tribal dance show in “Bomas of Kenya” is from 2:30 PM to 4 PM and we arrive there at 2:45 PM after fighting with the traffic through the works in Langata Road.

   In the restaurant we’re told we can lunch while watching the show and we find ourselves seated in the steps in a big and round place full with children with their colorful uniforms, enjoying the drums with our plate of food in our lap. This way we’re looked even by the tourists here.
Maasai dance in Bomas of Kenya

   When the show finishes we walk back to the car. We pay 1600 ksh for the two lunches with a Tusker – the local brad beer – and one coke. Before reaching the car we take the way to the huts from different tribes they have here. In the way we pass through some souvenir stalls which we leave with a big figure od two giraffes and two masks of wood by 4000 ksh.
Bomas of KenyaBomas of Kenya

   We take the car, but just for a ride of 2 or 3 kilometers to our appointment at 5 PM in Sheldrick’s elephant orphanage. There we can be exceptional guests in the welcome of the small elephants coming from their day in the park. A big bottle of milk is waiting for the most of them and we are free to look around at our will until 6 PM. Every baby elephant has a caretaker assigned who even sleeps with them, in a bed beside their place. I’m impressed too by the size of the blind rhino they have here, eating from a pile of bush. There are no adult elephants here because they’re returned to their place when they can be live by their own.

Sheldrick's elephant orphanageSheldrick's elephant orphanage

Sheldrick's elephant orphanageSheldrick's elephant orphanage

   We leave the place a bit sooner than 6 PM, back to Langata Road and meet the traffic jam and the works, leaving behind the Bomas and the KWS headquarters for turning in the road heading to the most popular restaurant in Africa: Carnivore. But we stop in the parking of the Uchumi supermarket to get the things we will need the following days.
Uchumi supermarket in Langata
   With just 3000 ksh we get bread, cheese, ham, tuna fish, tomatoes, bananas, coke and some containers of water. Somehow, when dealing for a SIM card I’m finding myself in a mess: I buy Safaricom SIM card in a phone store by 100 ksh but they send me to a kiosk inside the supermarket to get some credit for it, there I’m told to go upstairs for activating the line but there I’m told it’s worthless to activate the line for just two weeks of use and, back to the kiosk, they don’t manage to make my cell phone work. It’s finally a teenager customer who takes my phone and makes it work, which I check talking to my mother.

    At 7 PM is completely dark outside, but with the mess with the phone we’re leaving the supermarket at 8 PM. Now we’re going to the restaurant where we can eat all the meat we want and I get my first taste of ostrich, crocodile and the local cocktail Dawa. Such feast takes 7000 ksh off my account.
Entrance to Carnivore and Simba SaloonRestaurant Carnivore

   As end of this day we only have to come back to the hotel, but it is not easy at dark and, although we’re trying to remember the arrival to the hotel last night we cannot find the right door. All doors here are almost the same, with a black and white fence and security cabin. But none of them are answering to our calls, not even the phone, which returns a voice message saying I must activate the line. As there is nobody in the streets I stop twice in the gas station to get help from the same guy there. The street I’m looking at my map doesn’t seem to exist and tomorrow we will find out it is closed because of works. We finally get the hotel, but very late, around midnight, with all our Langata up and down. And with all the advices I’ve read about avoiding driving in Kenya by night!