African Safari – Day 1 – October 24th in Nairobi
This is Day one of our tour and is billed as an arrival day. For us it is an arrival day after traveling from Ottawa, Ontario through the night and a good part of a day. As calendars go we have lost one day in travel and are arriving after dark in Nairobi.
Our starting hotel:
Silver Springs Hotel
Junction of Argwings Kodhek Road / Valley Road
PO Box 61362 – 00200
Tel: +254 20 272 2451/2/3/4/6/7
Fax: + 254 20 272 0545
According to their website, they offer internet access.
Our Gap Adventures itinerary describes this day as follows (but this doesn’t apply to us as we will be arriving at the end of the day and won’t have time or energy for much more than getting our bearings and getting some sleep):
Take today to wander the streets of central Nairobi, taking in old colonial architecture and the brightly coloured crowds to get a feel for Africa. The city’s best attraction is the National Museum, home to most of the great prehistoric finds made by the Leakey family in East Africa, from Ethiopia to the Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania. It also has sections on wildlife, art, geology, local history and a snake park.
West of the city, the suburb of Karen is named after Karen Blixen, author of “Out of Africa”. Her house is now the Karen Blixen Museum, complete with a garden and tea house, it tells the history of the famous author. Also in Karen is the African Butterfly Research Institute , a large magical greenhouse alive with native butterflies.
South of Nairobi, in Langata, are a number of the city’s best attractions. At the Giraffe Centre, you’ll have the option of hand-feeding the rare Rothschild giraffes, plus embarking upon a nature walk with 160 species of bird. The Sheldrick Animal Orphanage cares for young, orphaned elephants. The Bomas of Kenya is a living open-air museum of the tribes of Kenya, including regular dance performances. The Nairobi National Park is just south of the city, and covers 114 sq km. It has over 400 bird species of and populations lions, leopards, and one of the country’s few thriving populations of black rhino.
The name Nairobi is derived from the Masai word for cool waters, which the Masai people gave to a water hole known as Ewaso Nyirobi. In modern times, the sprawling, cosmopolitan city of Nairobi combines the first-world glamour of reflecting-glass skyscraper buildings with abject developing-world poverty. It originated in 1899 from a handful of shacks that marked the end of the railhead during the building of the Uganda railway. Due to big game hunting bringing tourists from Britain, the city expanded dramatically in the early 1900’s. A large number of British nationals settled in the area, prompting more growth and this angered both the Masai and Kikuyu people, as they were losing hunting ground due to the expansion of the city limits. The friction increased and, eventually led to the Mau Mau uprising, which saw Jomo Kenyatta, the future president jailed. Kenya was granted independence from Britain in 1963, with Nairobi as the capital.
Apart from being Kenya’s capital and the main centre of government and commerce, Nairobi is the most significant city in East Africa and an important player on the pan-African stage. It is the diplomatic base for many counties in Africa, with its broad spectrum of international embassies and headquarters for the United Nations, multi-national companies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and press correspondents. It’s also the center of the growing safari business of East Africa.
Given that we have traveled a long distance, and are arriving after dark, much of this information is of little value to us on this first day but might be more useful when we arrive back in Nairobi 6 days from now and prepare then for the second leg of out two week safari.