Did you know;- Nairobi is the World’s ONLY Wildlife Capital; meaning it’s the only City in the world that hosts a National Park in the City! Pardon my repetition but let that sink in.
If you are on a short stay in Kenya; say 2 days and you would like to have a wildlife experience you should stop by the Nairobi National Park. Its only maximum minutes; an hours drive from the airport or from the city center depending on the traffic.
The irony is (and am sure many Kenyans can attest to this) most of us have never visited the park since birth whereas foreigners save up and travel for miles just to visit and experience the wildlife. This is quite a shame for anyone who considers themselves patriotic. I think we dwell a lot on the assumption that the park is always there and can visit anytime when we feel like; which I find quite ignorant on our part. The government even reduced the park fees to encourage locals to tour; so we literally have no excuse.
NNP has three sides to it. There is the Orphanage, Safari Walk and the Game Drive. The Orphanage is ideal for people who would like to view the animals on an up-close basis. These includes the Lions, Cheetah, Warthog, Hyena, Monkeys, Peacocks, and Wild Cats etc. The entry fees to Orphanage and Safari Walk are very affordable ranging from approximately 2 Dollars for Citizens, 3 Dollars for Residents and around 25 Dollars for Foreigners / Non-Citizens. However, the prices may vary depending on the season. Proof of Identification is required. As for the Game Drive, the fee depends on your choice of transport into the open park where animals are not caged. You can use your own private means – where every occupant has to pay a per head fee; or you may use vehicles provided by the Park. All this information is available at the reception on arrival where you get to pick the best option that works for you. They even have local Maasai Morans ready to serenade you with welcome songs and dance.
My best time at the Orphanage was that breathtaking view of the Lions, Ahh it was so surreal! There was this particular Lioness that had a certain aura about Her. The way She stood, Her posture; it was all done with Elegance! Animals too got an edge! The Lions can also be found at the Safari walk but can only be viewed from an observation deck reinforced with glass as they can attack anytime.
The Safari Walk is a tad bit different in that unlike the orphanage where the animals are caged, they are in a controlled park. Here you get to see a wider variety including some of the Big 5 which cannot be caged. Examples include The Giraffe, Rhino, Hippopotamus, Buffalo, Zebra, and Leopard etc. They even have an Albino Zebra. The Monkeys on the other hand are quite mischievous as the saying goes. They chase people around mostly to ransack their bags for eateries.
Abdi, our tour guide for the day was very helpful especially when it came to giving us “good to know info” about the animals. One that stuck with me was the difference between leopards and cheetahs. He said that Cheetahs do have a black tear line running from the eyes all the way down to the mouth while the leopards don’t; that’s the major striking difference between the two. Their skin tone/spots are also different if you look closely. He also managed to call out the hyena from its hideout for us to take pictures. Can you imagine? That chemistry I didn’t understand. That was a special moment to witness.
There was a recent incidence in Kenya where a stray Lion was shot dead by a Wildlife Ranger after it attempted to attack a civilian. Shooting of animals, rather poaching is an illegal activity punishable by law. This however was an isolated case and the wildlife rangers are authorized to shoot them in such scenarios that result in fatalities . In cases like this or when they die out of old age, Abdi informed us that they are usually preserved and kept in the Museum.
We ran out of time to take the Game Drive since it was almost 5pm when its NNPs closing time; and it also being the rainy season didn’t help. Besides I think it’s best to experience that thrill at the main park Maasai Mara which is ranked as the best Bush / Safari experience in the world with Serengeti in Tanzania. And that’s just an eighth of what the country has to offer. Magical Kenya Indeed!
Below are some of the animals we managed to take shots of. Enjoy and Peace Out; from Abdi & I.