Monday, February 6, 2017

Nairobi, Kenya- Africa Adventure Continued

We arrived in Nairobi, Kenya very late at night and after being on a plane for 12 hours and having a layover for 9 hours in Ethiopia + another 2 hour plane ride, we had the best nights sleep. We woke up early and our guide Kevin greeted us with an awesome popup van and a full day set of activities. First up we were going to the Nairobi National Park for some Safari watching. This was our first safari experience and we were loving it. It was definitely fun to see the animals in their natural habitat. It is called a national park but it mainly is just a vast environment where they roam free, and are protected by poachers. 







We came across a burial area for elephant tusks (Ivory). There are still poachers active in Africa. (People who kill the animals to take their tusks to sell on the black market. Some people believe that the ivory has medicinal properties, such as aphrodisiac, since these animals often roam unprotected, people come to kill them for their parts. It was legally banned in 1973, but some people still practice this. Because of the poaching, in 1989 the elephant population in Kenya went from 250,000 elephants down to 20,000. It was so sad to hear about. We were told that people still patrolling specific sites in parks and reserves to protect the elephants. So, what is with the burial pit? This is a tactic used by governments to deter the practice of poaching. Their thought is that it shows the poachers that their practice is futile. They also believe that this will help them think that ivory is not valuable, and convince them to stop. It also is said that it puts the people who buy, sell and trade the ivory to shame. This burial site that we saw was the first ever ivory burning pit. They are now down all over the world. It definitely made me feel more connected to these animals and see how the world is trying to take such a beautiful creature from extinction. It was interesting to learn about, and sad to hear. 


Next we stopped at an elephant sanctuary, called The David Sheldrick Wildlife Conservancy. You can learn more about it here; David Sheldrick Convervatory. The project goes into parks and areas where there are wounded elephants and rhinos and takes them back to the conservancy to nurse them back to health. Some of the elephants are orphans whose mothers were killed due to poaching. Some of them were lost in barren lands, where they were not able to fend for themselves without a tribe. The conservancy accepts sponsors and donations so that they can provide for the elephants, and the best part is that they release them back into the wild when they heal, joining them with a new tribe that will take care of them. It was fun to see the baby elephants and watch them drink a huge 4 gallon bottle. 






Next we headed to Karen Blixens house for lunch. You may recognize her name from the movie starring Meryl Streep. She was an author who decided to move to Kenya after she got married and started a coffee farm. It was fun to have lunch at her house, it was made into a restaurant and museum dedicated to her after she passed away in 1968. I honestly have no idea what we were eating, something with creamed spinach and I believe a white fish with an african sauce. It was pretty good. 




The last thing we did before heading back to the hotel to sleep was to visit the Giraffe Sanctuary. Here we listened to presentations about the giraffes, like, did you know they only sleep for about 2 hours a day, in 10 minute increments? And, their tongues can reach 20 inches in length? Fascinating, I tell you. We were able to feed them some pellets of hay. Also, some people at the sanctuary were putting the pellets between their lips so the giraffe would give them a kiss to retrieve it. Ew, ew, and ew. No thank you. 



Nairobi was very fun and I would definitely go back. It was a great introduction to safaris and animal sighting. Now off to my favorite location in Kenya, the Masai Mara!