I stayed at the Ole Sereni hotel for my last two nights in Nairobi. It was much closer to the airport than the first hotel I stayed at. The Ole Sereni’s backyard is the Nairobi National Park, an endless expanse of African savannah.
Nairobi National Park, giraffes in the distance
We woke up at dawn to meet our driver Wushira, and headed out on safari. We drove around the corner from our hotel and entered the National Park. Unbelievably, we were suddenly in the midst of African wilderness, though we could still make out a few buildings of downtown Nairobi in the distance.
As we entered the park, the wild animals were just waking up. Our first spotting was a group of 6 giraffes, gently meandering a few feet from the road. We drove cautiously by them and snapped pictures.
As we drove further into the park, we were lucky to notice a male lion resting no more than 20 feet from our truck. We alerted Wushira who quickly cut the engine so that we could observe the lion with the least disturbance. It was a breathtaking. He was so big and powerful, and fortunately not overly interested in us or our van. After several minutes he got up, and slowly sauntered away from us. We drove on.
We saw a range of antelope and dear type animals including impalas, hartebeest, bushdeer, Thomson’s gazelles, and eland.
As we came over one hill, we we stunned to find ourselves confronted by a large gang of water buffalo. The buffalo are stern animals. One simply stared us down, not moving an inch or looking away from our truck until we moved.
We passed through a wooded area, and a large group of baboons and blue monkeys came out to play. They wrestled with each other, swung from trees, yelled, chased, and posed for our cameras.
The “Big 5” animals in Africa are lion, water buffalo, elephant, leopard, and rhino. There were no wild elephants or leopards here in the Nairobi National park, so our last remaining hope for one of the Big 5 was a rhino. We noticed a couple other cars parking on another road in the distance, so we drove down to them and saw a group of 4 rhino off in the distance playing hide and seek behind the bushes and trees. We weren’t able to see them up close, but did get a good clear view of them and their fierce horns from the safety of our truck.
Of all the animals we saw, my favorite we definitely the zebras. Maybe it’s the graphic designer in me, but their bold style is spectacular. We crossed paths with two different large herds of zebra. They’re really beautiful animals, and I ran out the battery on my camera trying to capture a good video of them up close.
After the safari, we visited the Elephant Orphanage, which takes care of orphaned elephants found in the wild. They stay at this orphanage with round the clock care from a few months old to approximately 2.5-3 years old. When they’re ready, they are sent in groups back to the wild, where it will usually take almost 5 years to become accepted into an existing elephant family.
Last stop was at a giraffe farm, where visitors can go up on a high porch and giraffes will come over and eat out of your hand. The giraffes were beautiful, and among the family was a baby giraffe, maybe 6 feet tall.
We ended the day with beers on the patio of our hotel overlooking the park where we glimpsed a few more giraffes and a couple ostriches running around as the sun went down. We enjoyed a great meal and called it a night.
I fell asleep easily, ready for an early flight out of Nairobi in the morning.