When you think about Africa, what images come to mind? Is it the vast plains dotted with acacia trees? Perhaps it is the migration of the wildebeest? Lions, hippos, elephants? I bet it isn’t a major cosmopolitan city! Let me paint you a picture of Nairobi. Kenya’s biggest city is one of stark contrasts. It is a concrete jungle that is filled with the hustle and bustle of a populous city. However amidst the chaos, Nairobi is also home to an abundance of wildlife. The city itself is very unique in that it neighbors a National Park. I don’t think you will find a game reserve and a city hand in hand anywhere else in the world. This is why if you ever fly into Nairobi, I highly recommend setting aside at least one day to take in a few of this city’s spectacular attractions.
Below is a one day itinerary that highlights a perfect day in Nairobi:
Start the day off early with a game drive just a mere 7 km south of Nairobi’s central business district. The park was established in 1946 and is home to the world’s densest concentration of black rhinos. The park is only fenced on two sides, which allows free movement of the wildlife from the nearby Athi Plains. It truly is a jaw dropping sight to see the wildlife standing there in front of you with the back drop of the sky scrapers in the distance.
The park entry fee is $43USD for adults and $22USD for children.
There are a few ways in which you can get around the park. Because I didn’t have my own vehicle (and frankly I would never suggest going into a national park without someone who is knowledgeable) I hired a driver through my hotel. It seemed like it was a common thing and I only needed to booked the day before. The other way is to take the shuttle bus provided by the park. The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) bus leaves the main gate at 2pm every Sunday for a 2 and a half hour tour. It is suggested to book in person at the main gate at least a half hour in advance, but this may change so I would definitely contact the Park if this is the way you want to go.
We spent 4 hours on our game drive and I have to admit that the time just flew by. On our way out of the park our driver took us to the Ivory Burning Site Monument. Although this is not a happy place I feel like it is worth making a short stop. It is enraging and eye opening to see how much ivory is confiscated from the poachers in Kenya. Here at the site, large piles of debris are what remain from the ivory and rhino horns.
Occupying a plot within the National Park, this next stop on my itinerary is an absolute must! The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust is a nonprofit that helps raise orphaned elephants and rhinos (as well as a few other random animals) and reintroduces them back into the wild. From 11am-12pm every day the orphanage is open for public viewing. During this time the baby orphans arrive for their midday mud bath and feeding. Visitors are able to stand around a roped off area where the elephants play while one of the Keepers explains each elephants plight and what situation brought them to the orphanage. Elephants are free to roam where they’d like so it is not uncommon to be able to touch the rough skin of the baby elephants. Entrance into the orphanage for the visiting hour requires a minimum contribution of $7USD/500KS per person.
There is also the opportunity to ‘adopt’ an elephant, which I was more than willing to do in a heartbeat. Adoption is $50USD and with that you will get monthly updates about your elephant for a year. Obviously the fee is to help the DSWT do the amazing work that they do. For those who do adopt a baby you will also have the opportunity to come back to the stockades around 5 pm which requires a pre-booking to secure your spot.
To date the DSWT has successfully hand raised over 150 infant elephants and has accomplished its long-term conservation priority by effectively reintegrating the orphans back in the wild herds of Tsavo East National Park. It is absolutely inspiring to see the work of the many men and women at DSWT and I highly recommend following their Instagram account as they give you daily updates on so many of their current babies and those who have successfully moved on.
The last activity on my must-do Nairobi itinerary is visit the Giraffe Centre. The Giraffe Centre is located next to the famous hotel, Giraffe Manor Hotel and is both an educational centre as well as a 60 acre sanctuary. It is open to the public from 9am-5:30pm every day and fees are $10USD/1000KSH per person.
There is the browsing area with a feeding platform where you can get up close and personal with the tall beauties. Educators are on hand to give you pellets to feed the giraffes and there are plenty of opportunities to have photos with these gentle giants. There is also an Information Centre where you can learn about the different species of giraffe and how the efforts are yielding success in breeding the depleting Rothschild giraffe species. The Giraffe Centre also is home to a nature trail where you can take a stroll at no extra fee. The trail snakes around the Gogo River and is about a 1.5km walk.
If you are like myself and love animals this one day itinerary will be right up your alley. It is almost overwhelming because each activity is so amazing that by the time you return back to your bed at night you will shake your head and wonder if it was all a dream. There is nowhere else in the world that you can do all this in just one day! Enjoy and take lots of photos!
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