My family and I went on safari in Kenya this past August. I wanted to share this post with you now because of the recent events in Nairobi, Kenya.
I feel strongly that Kenya remains a safe travel destination even after the horrific terrorist attack that occurred at the Westgate Mall in Nairobi from Septemeber 21-24. The four posts that shall follow will describe our safari experiences in Samburu National Reserve, Lake Nakuru National Park, Masai Mara National Reserve, and Amboseli National Park. In Kenya, the difference in a national reserve and a national park is that the former is not fenced to allow animal migrations, and the latter is fenced to help protect the animals in a smaller space (see Correction below).
We arrived in Nairobi on August 15 after 19 hours of travel time from Washington’s Dulles International Airport, just days after the fire at the international terminal in the Nairobi Airport. Operations at the airport for international arrivals was remarkably smooth under the circumstances. We stayed at the Fairmont The Norfolk Hotel west of the Nairobi city-center.
It turns out our hotel is about 2 miles from the ill-fated Westgate Mall. We never visited the mall, instead opting to rest the first day and do an optional tour the next day to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust’s Orphan’s Project for orphaned elephants and the African Fund for Endangered Wildlife(Kenya) Ltd. (A.F.E.W.) Giraffe Centre, both near Nairobi.
The photo above shows the smallest elephant at the Orphans’ Project. The video below shows an older baby elephant drinking milk from a bottle.
In all, we saw probably 50 orphaned elephants here. Elephant poaching remains a huge problem in Kenya. Our safari guide later told us that there have been over 130 elephants killed in 2013 through mid-August in Kenya. Other sources put that number over 200. This senseless slaughter of elephants for their ivory tusks is an ongoing issue in all of Africa. Tourism in Kenya helps to fund the Kenyan government’s efforts to fight elephant poaching.
Our next stop was the A.F.E.W. Giraffe Centre; its main objective is to provide conservation education for school children in Kenya. We saw warthogs and were able to feed Rothschild giraffes at this facility.
Our final stop was at the Carnivore, a restaurant in Nairobi known as a “Beast of a Feast,” where a variety of meat plus exotic meats like ostrich and crocodile are roasted over charcoal and carved at your table. Here’s the menu:
The crocodile was chewy – and did not taste like chicken – but the meal was fabulous.
We were thrilled to see elephants, giraffes, and warthogs on this day prior to the start of our safari adventures!
Little did we know what was to come. Next time: Samburu National Reserve.
Correction: a Kenyan commenter notes:
“Just a minor correction about national parks and national reserves in Kenya. Actually the main difference is that in national reserves, some level of human activity is allowed, whereas in the national parks the only activities allowed are tourism and research. National parks are managed by the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) on behalf of the national government, while the national reserves are managed by the county governments. Not all national parks are fenced – Amboseli National Park for example. In fact, Lake Nakuru and Aberdares are the only fully-fenced national parks. Most of the others are partially fenced, leaving the key animal migration routes untouched.”