Flying past Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, which borders the amazing country of Kenya.
Kenya. First phrases that come to mind -“Africa”, “the big five”, “Lupita Nyong’o”, “The Lion King”, and “Hakuna Matata” to name a few.
Oh, and of course for most people these days – “Ebola”.
There is more, so much more.
When I think Kenya what pops into my head first is Nairobi. A vibrant city, full of life in the dry heat of the east-African sun. I emphasize ‘east’ as Ebola is nowhere near this gorgeous country, for anyone with hesitations. Populated by 3,100,000 warm, hospitable Kenyan’s Nairobi stands out as one of my top five cities I’ve visited (sandwiched between New York and Amsterdam and followed by Venice and LA). People that don’t hesitate to let you into a closed bank on a Sunday so you can use a proper toilet (all they ask is you buy them a coffee). They highlight and advise on the where the markets are, describe the history of the city (both dark, courageous, and democratic) and pick you up in their Land Rover to drop you off at a tasty restaurant expecting absolutely nothing in return (thanks Chriss!). Nairobi is simultaneously busy and laid back all at the same time. I leave my road rage behind (the cause being hesitant way-to-nice Nova Scotian drivers) and applaud the traffic circles, lack of road signs, aggressive driving and umm zero markings on most roads. Drive where you like (keeping to the left during oncoming traffic) and keep up with that guy driving faster than you. Also look out for the occasional goat, donkey, zebra or impala. My first five minutes driving in the dark from the airport we seriously had to slow down to avoid driving full on into an entire herd of Zebras casually munching grass on the side of the road. A few strays from the huge national park that borders the city. Totally blew my mind.
We negotiated a taxi for our entire first day in Nairobi. Our driver was Sam, who had never caused an accident and had only been rear ended once in eight years. It’s called defensive driving for a reason my fellow Canadians. Kenyans drive like crazy and the only destruction I saw was three donkeys that had been hit by a truck. Sam is from a tiny town in Kenya and moved to Nairobi for a better life, living in Africa’s second largest slum for two years before he had enough money to move into his own place. He took me and Jonelle past it, showed us where he had started and at that moment I knew a part of me (the part that loves to buy something new every week) was never going to be same.
In Nairobi there were a few bucket list items I needed to check off – Giraffe Manor, the iconic Maasai Market in the city center and Carnivore restaurant.
These purple flowered trees were all over Kenya, covering the ground in lovely silky petals.Our first hotel, the Kivi Milimani. No hallway – an outdoor patio with a ornate cover down the corridor to each room.
The famous markets in Nairobi – intimidating sales tactics but wonderful and filed with colors, blankets, scarves and life. If you are as lucky as I was to go right into a Maasai tribal village and enjoy their market you wouldn’t need to come here to buy anything – just visit to experience the intensity!The elephant orphanage outside the city on the edge of the national park is only open for one hour daily – from 11:00AM – 12:00PM usually. These babies were orphaned from wild fires, mothers dying of natural causes, poachers, and falling into wells among other things.These tiny babies had been burned in a fire days prior, so the blankets were to protect their healing skin from the mid-day sun.Incredibly playful – Sam had recommended we go here and I’m so glad we didn’t miss it!In front of the elephant “stables”Giraffe Manor! I have wanted to come here since Pinterest was inventedThe Giraffe Manor Hotel – it was completely booked when Jonelle and I were accepted for the Intrepid Travel agent famil in March 2014 and it is off limits for those visiting the sanctuary.Tusker beer! A Kenya classic.
Eating lunch at Makutano Grill. This is between the elephant orphanage and Giraffe Manor – it is a tourist trap. The food is tasty but not authentic and super overpriced. If that’s your game stop by. If not stay hungry, do yourself a favor and wait until your back in Nairobi. This was spiced vegetable and red snapper soup, inspired by Zanzibar and some potato croquets.Some incredibly wealthy neighborhoods in Nairobi – surrounded by stone walls, security systems and electric fences…On our way out of the city we stopped by Intrepid’s Peak office which was really neat!Love this girl!We stopped at Tuskys Supermarket’s throughout this adventure to stock up on snacks and I tried smoky delicious whole camels milk – and talked a few of my fellow adventure seekers into giving it a go.The amazing Sarova Panafric Hotel – I would spend an entire week here.The touristy but truly unique Carnivore restaurant in NairobiOstrich meatballs – of course we gave them a go!This huge charcoal pit slow roasted dozens of different types of meat – I loved the lamb liver and whole turkey as well as the spicy chicken. Mmmm!
Next stop, Lake Nakuru!