By this point I was starting to forget that we were in the middle of a category III humanitarian response. Having had the whirlwind trip from Canada via Costa Rica and a week in Ethiopia, time was moving. Following the week of Hostile Environment Awareness Training, it seemed only fitting to go on a Nairobi Safari!
Most of the OCS training team had already left Kenya, departing immediately following the course. I guess there was no “Mission Love” to be found for them. Doug did stay, however. I knew he would be staying an extra day, so during the training we planned activities before his flight. Doug did not have to be at the airport before 9pm the day after the course. This gave a full day to take in some of what Nairobi had to offer.
We had planned several activities that would consume a better part of the day. Our itinerary looked like this:
- 0620 – Pick up at Southern Sun
- 0640 – Start the game drive at Nairobi National Park
- 0940 – Visit the Animal Orphanage
- 1040 – Visit David Sheldrick
- 1200 – Depart for Giraffe center
- 1330 – Lunch at local restaurant – cost for lunch not included
- 1430 – Visit Bomas of Kenya
- 1600 – Depart for the hotel
- 1630 – Drop off at Southern Sun hotel
Nairobi National Park
Doug and I were picked up promptly at the hotel in a small van. The driver would be our guide for the day. Bang on with the itinerary timings, we arrived at the gates of Nairobi National park a 0640. We paid for our tickets to enter, $40 per person and the driver raised the top of the van. This meant we would be able to stand and look over the van during the tour.
It was not long after we entered we came across the White Rhino’s. These beautiful animals, if they wanted to, could completely demolish our van. But instead, they were quite peaceful and enjoying the early morning graze.
A short drive down the road and there were Zebra, Wildebeest and Gazelle. We stopped and had opportunities to take pictures along the ride. At the bottom of a ravine we found a pride of Lions, and they looked hungry. We noticed that the Lions were making their way up the ravine to where we had seen the Zebras not 15 minutes earlier.
Immediately, we returned to the top of the ravine and parked not 50 yards from the herd of Zebra. Here we sat and patiently waited. Other vehicles began to approach and find a place to park. We all seemed to know the Lions were on the hunt, and the Zebra the prey.
The wait was about 30 minutes, but well worth it. About 100 yards in the distance we could see the Lioness’s begin their approach through the long grass. Initially we spotted two, then a third appeared. What we did not see was the Lioness approximately 100 yards on the other side of the herd of Zebra.
The Lioness’s slowly started to box in their prey, a lone Zebra that had separated from the herd. The Zebra seemed to have a cautious air about her, but continued to graze nonetheless. We had anticipated that the Lioness that was closest to us would push her back to the other waiting Lioness’s. But to our surprise, the Lioness on the opposite side made the push and it was game on!
It all happened so fast as we watched with great excitement. The larger herd of Zebra bolted across the road to a safe distance, leaving the solo Zebra behind. Making a mad dash herself, the Lioness closest to us pounced onto the back of the Zebra. This was a lucky day for the Zebra as the Lioness could not get her claws into her back and fell off as she escaped.
Following the attack, it seemed that the Zebra were laughing as they just watched the dejected Lions look around in confusion. This was not the breakfast they were looking for, and as they regrouped, they wandered back down the ravine.
Continuing in the Park
After witnessing the attack, there was not much more that could top this day. We easily could have finished our tour here, gone home and been satisfied. But we continued on through the park for another hour, seeing a wide range of other exotic animals.
There was one point where we parked the van and met an armed guide. We got out of the van and with our guide, we walked a path down to a small river. Along the way, we met some monkeys that were quite friendly. It was nice to get out of the van and stretch and see some wildlife from the ground.
Back in the van, as we departed the park, we found a pride of Lions who had found a meal. They were relaxing and licking their chops after feasting on this Giraffe. No attention was made to the Giraffe’s friend who was just watching from a safe distance.
Baby Elephant Orphanage
We then proceeded to the baby elephant orphanage to see the daily show. This is where baby elephants who have been rescued are cared for. Generally, the parents have been killed by the ivory poachers, leaving the calves to fend for themselves. In most cases, the calves, if not rescued, will die.
It was fun to watch how fast a baby elephant can drink a 4 gallon jug of milk.
After the baby elephant orphanage, it was off to see some giraffes. At the giraffe center, some of the wild giraffes from the park (that have not been eaten) will come for some free food. For a cost, one could purchase food pellets and feed them to the giraffes. Some people get adventurous and put the pellets in their mouths. This way, one can get a “kiss” from a giraffe.
Bomas of Kenya
After a good lunch, we went to see the Bomas of Kenya. Bomas of Kenya is a tourist village in Langata, Nairobi. Bomas (homesteads) displays traditional villages belonging to the several Kenyan tribes.
The main activity here is to watch the traditional dancing.
By 3:00pm we had been pretty much toured out. It was hard to top the lion attack of the morning. Doug needed to start preparing for his journey back home as well, so we called it a day. Back at the hotel, just before Doug headed to the airport, we enjoyed a steak dinner at the Golden Spur. This is a restaurant that tries to emulate itself to the old American West. Notwithstanding, the food is actually pretty good.
Once Doug had departed, I was back to my apartment, for only my second night since being in it. I had to remember that we were still in a Category III Humanitarian Response. But, as we found out, this was no ordinary response. It turned out this was considered a “Slow Onset Response”, meaning nothing happened fast.
Next Story – Spain R&R