Exploring & Escapades

bits & pieces of my travels

Category: Kenya

Nairobi National Park

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Not a National Geographic Documentary, my real life. 

Nairobi National Park is the only place in the world where you can see animals and distant skyscrapers in the same scene. It’s absolutely, totally incredible. One minute, you’re in the city; next, you’re in a safari jeep, off-roading next to a sleeping lion (yes, we saw a wild LION!). So I’ve since learned that this is not technically a “real” safari as far as safari-ing goes – apparently, people usually spend at least a few days deep in Masai Mara, which is several hours from Nairobi. Still, what an experience! Especially if you’re like us and don’t have a few days to spare; we were, after all, in Nairobi to work

Driving across the savanna, in total stillness and quiet – it was beautiful. It was the Earth. I felt so small, but in such a wonderful way. If I could visit here every day, I would.


Also, I’d like to give a special shout-out to our guide, George, who we originally met on our day trip to Naivasha. George was kind enough to personally arrange this National Park excursion for us one day before the trip AND upgrade us to a safari jeep at no cost. We had another great trip with him and, again, I highly recommend his services. I can share contact info with anyone interested. 

Giraffes & Elephants

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Hi, everyone, YES, that’s ME being BFF with all kinds of giraffes and baby elephants in Nairobi!!! Yes, it was as amazing as it looks!

These photos are from two different places, the Giraffe Centre (British spelling of “center”) and the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (aka the Elephant Orphanage). Both are right on the edge of Nairobi – you can do them both in a morning, back-to-back, but plan ahead, because the Elephant Orphanage is only open for one hour every day. 

Honestly, I don’t even know how to describe this. It was so special to be able to interact with the animals that closely. Zoos are wonderful, but this was just something else. I’ll always remember it. 

((P.S. Yes, I kissed that giraffe!!! No, it was not gross!))

Lake Naivasha

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Surreal. If you asked me to describe Lake Naivasha in one word, that’s the word that I’d use.

We came here for a boat ride, bird watching, and hippo sight-seeing. I was quickly mesmerized by the colors, the contrast of everything. Vibrant greens, the tall, dead trees. Quiet and stillness, suddenly broken by fishermen wading. Hippos lurking, watching, disappearing. 

Surreal. Magical, even.

Gorges

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Part two of our Naivasha day excursion: hiking through the Hell’s Gate Gorges (recap of part one, here). First of all, it was absolutely beautiful. There were hot springs, giant clay towers, greenery everywhere. Meanwhile, this was all basically in a giant dried out riverbed canyon. Not the sort of place you’d want to be caught when a herd of stampeding wildebeast come through… RIP Mufasa. This is a good place to note that, for most of the trip, I pretended I was in the Lion King. 

Again, another incredible experience, and no, the pictures do not do it justice. 

Hell’s Gate

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Biking. With ZEBRAS, GIRAFFES, PUMBAS, ANTELOPE, OH MY! I will let these pictures speak for themselves. 100% real life and still pinching myself to realize it wasn’t a dream. 

This is Hell’s Gate National Park, which is about an hour and a half north west of Nairobi. For us, this 16 km bike ride was the first part of a full-day tour, which I HIGHLY recommend (and would be happy to provide our tour guide’s contact info to anyone who would like it). We booked through a popular tour website, but learned that by contacting the guide directly, you can save at least 20% – protip.

By far, this was one of the major highlights of my trip. Seriously, biking with zebras?!? Stopping for a giraffe to cross the street?! Where else in the world can you do that? Loved, loved, LOVED it. 

Nairobi

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Real, raw Nairobi. What a city. What a place. 

You can probably see a big gap in my blog. That’s because, last month, I had an INCREDIBLE opportunity to travel to Nairobi for one of my Master’s classes (Business Model Innovation at the Base of the Pyramid) and work with an equally incredible organization called, Nairobits. They train vulnerable youth in ICT skills (IT, for all my American friends), and you can read more about what they do, here

These are pictures of where I worked every day, The GoDown Arts Centre. They’re from my phone, very candid, not very planned or always pretty. I couldn’t bring my Canon around here; it would have, quite frankly, been rude. But even though they might not be the most perfect photos of my trip, I wanted to post them first. Because this is real people Nairobi. 

Yes, I have safari pictures. I have animal pictures and hiking pictures and absolutely stunning rift pictures. And I’m going to post them too. But know that image, that is only half of Nairobi. Tourist Nairobi.

Creativity, dust, beans and chapati, sitting in two hours of traffic to go to work, students leaving at 5am every morning for the opportunity to learn, art, opportunity: that is the other half of Nairobi. Human Nairobi. 

Real, raw Nairobi. 

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