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.
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.
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.
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
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!