Our return from Nairobi was scheduled next Sunday morning. We had one more Saturday left with us to explore nearby.We decided to go to the Giraffe Centre and have a walk around the Nairobi Town.
The Giraffe Centre is located at Karen, some 5 kms from Nairobi City Centre.
The course to Karen and to the centre is calm, you run pass a couple of localities experiencing the suburb life of Kenyan people. Drive slow, and if you observe their lifestyle, there are a lot of similarities between outskirts of Kenyan city and that of India. Almost same traffic chaos, shops and stalls at the roadside blocking the lanes, hawkers banging your car windows, over peopled colonies, homeless families – somewhat coinciding images.
As you make near Karen, surroundings pleasantly changes. Posh houses, clean roads, well maintained lawns, big branded cars (Toyota is the single-most leader in Kenya. They say, most of the people use second hand cars imported from Japan).
The Giraffe Centre is a sort of non-profit organization that runs mostly on the entrance fees collected from the visitors and monies mustered from the gift-shop inside. Even then, quite admiringly, visit to the centre is free for school children and for all educational purposes.
During 1979 late Jock Leslie and his wife late Betty Leslie founded the African Fund for Endangered Wildlife Kenya. The vision was to create an educational institution along with rescuing the endangered Rothschild’s giraffes. Referring Wikipedia® (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rothschild’s_giraffe), these giraffes are one of the most imperilled subspecies. This foundation, informally known as The Giraffe Centre, is into captive breeding of these giraffes; thus trying to save at least of those nature’s beauties.
Upon reaching there, you purchase your entry ticket (don’t forget to carry your passport, almost all the proper tourist places here requires your valid identity); and climb a few stairs to meet those tall and striking guys.
One of the engaging and delightful thing you can do there is to feed those animals with your own hands. Of course you cannot just make them eat anything of your choice, the volunteers roaming around there distribute the food that are only allowed. For me, even though I have visited a few similar places, it was a totally new and riveting experience.
Lots of people are coming and feeding them, they walk in unhurriedly and majestically, eat from people’s hand, and walk out leisurely. Not at all bothered by the shouts and non-stop shutter clicks over their faces. The stand to feed them is more than a standard floor in height, in order to match their long zenith. There are a few boars also roam around, however, seems nobody is interested in them anyways.
The place is a must visit if you love animals and enjoy a close encounter with those regally innocent creatures. At least to contribute to the foundation’s cause.
While coming out from there, we visited the gift shop. A few souvenirs are worth to purchase. Had a drink there, and met a guy from Canada. Came to know that there is a small trail just opposite to this Giraffe Centre. I am instantly interested.
We entered into the trail, and was enchantedly amazed. Deep bushes and trees around, thin but strong and frequent water flows, no sound except of the birds and the winds kissing on the leaves… Alluring.
All the pathways are very neatly designed and maintained. Even the stairs are evenly built and modelled. We crossed a number of slow, calm, peaceful waterflows. Seats are conveniently built besides the pathways, waterflows. Markings for directions erected here and there, but strategically.
We found absolutely nobody roaming around there. Probably the place is not known to a lot of people, thus the serenity of the surroundings are virginally intact.
However, you are not supposed to go anywhere and everywhere. Giraffes are the main inhabitants there, and you are just a guest. We encountered a number of warnings and boards remembering this fact.
We spent a couple of hours there, unknown about the reality that the sun is going down. Nickson, our trusted companion, was with us; we sensed he was feeling some sort of responsibilities on us to make sure that we are safe and sound wherever we go.
We came out of the trail, and searched for something to put into our empty bellies for a while. Found one local restaurant (means, no continental cuisine). To a charming surprise, there was a marriage going on in that premises and people gathered to celebrate the occasion. The ceremony was peaceful, organized and well coordinated; we wonder why we call ourselves more “civilized”.
We returned from Karen, still having the evening left with us. Decided to have brief visit to the Nairobi town. Once you enter in that area, it looks strikingly different – unlike to the neighbourhood, unlike to the other areas you might visit in your entire itinerary.
Lots of options to hang around, almost all big brands, to satisfy your shopping hunger, if you fancy. Lots of places to eat, all types of international cuisines are at your disposal. We, however, wanted to have something more original. Landed up into Simmers Restaurant (https://foursquare.com/v/simmers-restaurant/4d89cdd2f607a0931bfbf086).
At first view, you would feel the place clumsy and gauche. But however, we have chosen it precisely because of that. Open kitchen for most types of African preparations, beer bottles lying around, people wandering aimlessly. However, the preeminent attraction is the live music and dance.
Grab a beer. My suggestion, without any question, Tusker.
Order some local dish. My suggestion, Nyama Choma (not for vegetarians, sorry). The name means “Roast Meat” in Swahili, the local dialect. It also includes Kachumbari salad and Ugali.
The live African music and dance, along with the drink and food will evidently make your evening memorable. The service is responsive and caring, food is amazing, the ambience electrifying. Avoid bringing kids here though.
Finally, that day also came to an end. Nickson left us at our apartment, promising to come back tomorrow morning to get us to the airport. We are leaving Kenya tomorrow.