Sometimes I have to pinch myself and remember just how lucky I am to have not only a job I love, but also get paid to travel the world at the same time. When I got my roster last month and got sent a swap for Nairobi, there was little doubt in my mind about accepting it.
Africa is a continent that I’ve explored so little of, and it’s been a dream of mine for a long time now to be able to go on a safari. I was really hoping that there would a be a few more crew on the flight who were also up for it, as I was a little apprehensive about potentially exploring Nairobi alone.
Luckily for me, I wasn’t the only one who wanted to see some animals!
After a nice flight that was just under 5 hours, we arrived in the capital of Kenya. A few of us arranged with the concierge what time our safari driver would pick us up in the morning, and headed up to the bar for a drink before calling it a night.
The next morning we were up at sunrise. The drive to Nairobi National Park was a short one, as it’s only located around 7km from the city centre. The park itself covers an area of 117km2, which is actually relatively small in comparison to most of Africa’s national parks.
Since we were only in Kenya for 24 hours, there wouldn’t be time to cover all of the ground, but we were hoping to see as much as possible.
The first animals we saw were a flock of guinea fowl, which made me laugh a bit as I’d just served them up with roast potatoes as a main course on my previous flight!
Our driver took us through the “roads” of the park, navigating through some pretty muddy patches where I was holding my breath hoping none of us would have to get out and push the car!
It took us a while of driving through the park until we spotted any more animals, but soon enough we managed to spy some antelope in the distance. Our driver was great and managed to get pretty close to the animals, without disturbing them.
We managed to drive right up close to the watering hole that they were all at, which was such a wonderful sight to witness.
Next up on the animal sightings was an ostrich!
He was just relaxing in the long grass, pecking at the ground and fluffing up his feathers. Totally not interested in us driving past!
Soon after we were lucky enough to spot some of the bigger animals. There aren’t actually any elephants that roam the park, however there is an elephant orphanage just at the edge of the park, called the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, which looks after orphaned baby elephants and rhinos. I was hoping we would spot a rhino in the park, but it seems luck wasn’t on our side.
What we did see next though, was by far my favourite sighting of the day – giraffes! One of the girls spotted them from her side of the car, and we immediately pulled over to marvel at their beauty.
Once we saw one, they just kept on appearing! They were happily grazing from the trees, with little birds perched on their backs.
Such beautiful, majestic creatures, and I’m so glad we managed to see them in their natural habitat.
As we drove around some more, our driver spotted his friend who was also driving a safari car, and he mentioned that there had been a lion sighting a little way away. Before we knew it we were speeding off behind him, in search of a lion!
There he was – lying in the grass fast asleep, while antelope roamed around him. He must have had a tiring day, as unfortunately he didn’t get up at all and it was pretty hard to see his face, even with a good zoom on my camera, as he just wasn’t interested in moving.
Nevertheless I was happy we managed to spot one of The Big Five (African lion, African elephant, Cape buffalo, African leopard & white/black rhino) in the wild.
Our driver continued along the muddy paths, and we spotted quite a few more animals, mostly more giraffes, warthogs, antelope and springbok, before continuing on to our next destination, the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust.
The Wildlife Trust was founded in 1977, and is the most successful orphan-elephant rescue and rehabilitation program in the world. Most of the baby elephants that arrive have lost their mothers due to ivory poaching, and the trust also looks after baby rhinos.
They only offer visitations for one hour a day, between 11-12. We made it slightly after 11 as we had to avoid a couple of tracks in the park which were too muddy to drive through, so the talk had already started. Instead of letting people ride the elephants, the keepers show them off and explain a little bit about each one. They also bottle feed the babies, which was certainly a sight to see!
The elephants were so sweet, and it was lovely to see them looking so healthy, especially as most of them are rescued having been through a very traumatic experience.
They slurped each bottle of milk down so quickly, the keepers could hardly keep up with the feedings!
If you adopt one of the babies, you have the possibility of feeding them yourself at a designated time, which is something I’d love to be able to do if I ever get another trip back to Kenya.
On our way out of the Wildlife Trust, we were greeted by a “Maasai” man. (I’m not sure if he was a genuine Maasai tribe man, or just dressed up to get the attention of the tourists – hard to tell!)
He encouraged us to try out the traditional jumping dance; luckily we didn’t have to sing along with it!
Our driver took us back through the streets of Nairobi towards our hotel, stopping off to buy the most enormous avocados and mangoes I’ve ever seen. Three huge avocados and two mangos cost me less than 5dhs (£1) total, incredible!
There was just time for a bite to eat (in fact all of us were starving by the time we got back to the hotel since we’d had such an early start) and a quick snooze before the flight home.
Isn’t it crazy to think that my job lets me wake up on a Wednesday morning, fly to Africa, go on Safari on Thursday, and be back in my own bed by Friday morning?!