Landing at the Jomo Kenyatta international airport in Nairobi Kenya is an experience met with unique thrill and anxiety. Even for those whose purpose of travel has nothing to do with wildlife viewing, there is always unavoidable wildlife encounters right from the first turn to the city.
Located on the south of Nairobi, the airport was in the ancient years a free land where wild animals roomed freely. That is no doubt the reason why up to date, there are occasional wildlife encounters around these area. Not enough, few kilometers from the airport is the world’s only urban national park which offers untold wildlife experience within less than half an hour drive from the city center.
Welcome to Nairobi, Kenya’s capital city, once known as a green city under the sun. Its perfect geographical location has turned it into a world’s cosmopolitan with great opportunities and international interactions. Interestingly, with all the diverse opportunities that Nairobi has to offer, it is unfortunate to note that many lay terribly undiscovered.
For many, Nairobi is either somewhere to arrive and quickly transfer to another destination or for a place for a brief – often reluctant – overnight stop before going home or heading for game parks. In fact, most visitors arriving at Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport afterward transfer immediately to nearby Wilson Airport for their short flight to the bush, or pick up their safari van for the overland trip to their lodge or camp. And they do exactly the same in reverse on their way home.
Not only does Nairobi have great hidden treasures, there are also great attractions within reasonable distances that can be explored within a day or two for a reluctant vacationer. Already mentioned above, the world’s only wildlife capital – Nairobi national park. Covering 117 sq km, it is also East Africa’s oldest game park. It is its influence that makes it common to see giraffe or herds of antelope on your drive into the city.
The park is host to number of innovative conservations efforts: Nairobi Safari Walk is Kenya’s new conservation based recreation facility. The combination of skilled and creative landscape design, unique wildlife species and detailed interpretation, renders the facility supreme in tourism and conservation education. With a combination of three simulated, forests, wetlands and Savannahs, you can have an opportunity to learn about their valuable resource and how they can contribute to its conservation.
Adjacent is the Nairobi animal orphanage the oldest animal orphanage in Kenya. Set at the entrance of Nairobi National Park with lush vegetation contrasting against the red dust and clay soil, this educational and training facility is often home to more than 20 different animals and bird species. It is a refuge and rehabilitation center for wild animals found abandoned or injured throughout Kenya.
David Shedrick wildlife trust is located on the southern part of the park. It is a small flexible and environmentally significance charity that helps save the lives of orphaned Elephants and Rhinos who are ultimately released back into the wild. You have an opportunity to see the orphaned and rescued elephants and rhinos everyday from 1100hrs to 1200noon and participate in feeding program.
Further down is giraffe center. Managed by African Fund for Endangered Wildlife, the center’s effort is to conserve the endangered Rothschild giraffe. Take part in feeding the thrilling and beautiful giraffes, learn more about them, take a nature walk in the nearby nature trail and stretch your arm in donating to this noble conservation effort.
Also along this area is where you find privately managed Mamba village – a fantastic experience with reptiles of all kinds such as snakes, monitor lizards and large African crocodiles. A few meters is ‘Bomas of Kenya’ where every evening from 1500hrs, you have an opportunity to experience diverse cultural feats and breathtaking acrobatic performances. You can also tour the cultural villages to feel the real taste of African culture.
As for Nairobi itself, this is a city of wonderful restaurants serving fine, locally grown food in convivial surroundings at the affordable prices.
For shopaholics, there can be no finer experience than a visit to the village market. This not only contains an excellent assortment of small shops and lager stores but is also the place to be seen at weekends. You can enjoy large cup of Kenya coffee and a light meal in the plaza. Village market is the probably the best place to buy locally made handicrafts and curios. On Saturdays at the city High Court Parking and on Sunday at Yaya Center, there are handicrafts markets too.