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City: Nairobi / Country: Kenya / World Region: Africa

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      24.01.2002 18:51
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      Hello! I've just spent five weeks in Kenya working in and around Nairobi in the firstly slums of Kibera and secondly on holiday - which was nice... but enough of such small talk and onto the info! Nairobi is a huge city - I know this to be true having walked backwards and forwards across it on various errands relating to work and it is fairly easy to find your way around. Served by two airports: Jomo Kenyatta International (about 20 mins. drive away and a taxi will set you back about £25.00) and the much smaller Wilson airport just outside town which serves internal destinations such as Mombassa and the Maasai Mara Game Reserve. The city itself is bustling with activity during the week and is extraordinarily quiet on Sundays and during public holidays as most of the population of the city leave to visit relatives ‘up country’. **THINGS TO DO AND TRANSPORT ISSUES!** TAXIS. There is so much to do in and around Nairobi so it is good to spend a few days there to get the most out of the experience. The best way to get around all the various tourist places is by taxi and taxis are fantastic. They are not hailed on the streets as here in England but are found in ranks outside hotels. It is important to notice though that before getting into a taxi you will need to make a price for the journey(s) you are going to be making. If you like to haggle (highly advised) you can always get a good price for what you want to do. I had a taxi for three people, visiting three different locations over the course of about 3 and a half hours for only £30.00! The driver will wait for you as you visit each attraction and payment is made at the end when you are finally dropped off. We had an experience where a taxi man wanted £15.00 to take us somewhere before finally settling for £7.00 as we walked began to haggle and walk away! This included the driver waiting for an hour and a half for us. It is advisable to use taxis as it
      is relatively cheap and safer than most other forms of public transportation. This is especially so in the evenings and at night when it is not safe to be out on the streets. Haggle away and be safe. **MEETING (and eating) THE ANIMALS!** Just outside the city centre is Nairobi National Park home to a number of different species of animal including lion, cheetah, rhino and giraffe. Whereas the park is not as good as the Maasai Mara Reserve it is still worth a visit if you’re budget will allow. Make sure though that you leave early in the morning as this is the best time to catch the animals before it gets too hot for them. Our friend there kept us waiting most of the morning and we didn’t make the park until midday and therefore saw very little. It is costly to get in if you are a tourist but there are a number of firms you can contact in Nairobi to try and get a good deal! The park fee alone is in the region of £20.00 and then add to that car, driver etc and you can see how the cost increases. Within the park however, there are various places to visit to get close to the animals. There is the Nairobi Animal Orphanage (£4.00 approx) which is just like a glorified zoo, but gets you closer to the animals than in most British zoos. There is also the Safari Walk which is highly advisable to do. Newly opened it takes you through some lovely scenery bypassing some waterholes and then up through the treetops. On the way you see some animals – behind bars! – but close up. This may be you’re only chance to get close to a Leopard as there are difficult to spot in the wild. Also highly recommended is Sheldrick’s Animal Orphanage at the Langetta Gate. This is only open for an hour a day (11.00am – 12.00pm) as the main objective of the centre is to rehabilitate orphaned animals to the wild. There are a number of elephants here that are brought out for a mud and dust bath and you can also touch them as they are brought p
      ast you. The centre doesn’t charge for the visit but there is a donation box towards the cost of rehabilitating the animals back to the wild. Well worth a visit to get this close to the animals. A visit to the Giraffe Centre is also a must and can be easily combined with a visit to Sheldrick’s. The griaffe centre is home to a number of giraffe’s and has a specially built tower that is at giraffe head height to enable you to feed them as they come close. A great visit for all the family and the kids will love being so close to the animals. Again this costs around £4.00. Also worth a visit is ‘The Carnivore’. Not a place to see animals, but a place to eat them! The Carnivore is a massive brightly lit tourist trap with an adjoining night-club offering live entertainment. The restaurant itself is huge but also very popular so make a booking at peak times to avoid disappointment. The recommended meal is the buffet which at £12.00 for three courses may seem steep but is well worth forking out for. The first course is soup of the day – I think we had peanut! Was nice though! The main course is what most people go for. You are presented with a very hot plate, a salad bowl and a huge variety of sauces. You also have a little white flag – the purpose of which will become clear later! Then meat, cooked over a traditional Swahili charcoal pit, is brought to your table on a skewer and carved onto your plate. There is a huge choice. Of course there is the traditional beef, lamb, pork, chicken, spare ribs and sausages but there is also a choice of game meat. On the night we went we were treated to zebra, ostrich and crocodile – the latter being the nicest of the lot! The meat keeps coming until you remove your little white flag from its prominent position on the table – I think it is the white flag of surrender!! Following this is pudding served with freshly ground coffee. Drinks are not included in the price of the meal so
      be aware of this. Fizzy drinks are all called Soda and if you want it cold ask for it cold as most places serve it at room temperature. Say ‘Soda Baridi’ and your waiter will be impressed! **OTHER PLACES OF INTEREST** There is the Karen Blixen museum – based around the woman that the film ‘Out Of Africa’ was based on but don’t visit unless you really are a fan as there is not much to see here at all. The national museum is fair and free so may be worth a visit. There is also the Snake Park where you can see snakes and randy tortoises! It must have been the season for them – they were all at it! But be aware you pay separately for the snake park and the museum so if you don’t want to be stung with an extra cost visit only one! There is also a huge Maasai Market which only takes place on a Tuesday – this is well worth a visit especially if you want souvenirs and enjoy bargaining. Don’t be afraid to haggle a lot, the price quoted to you is so outrageous you can usually get a good deal. For example, I want to buy a Maasai Mask but was quoted a price of about £60.00 for one. I got two for £12.00! Haggle it will be worth it! **PLACES TO STAY** There are many good hotels in the city, but we didn’t stay in any of them! They range from the Hilton (looked very nice) at around £79.00 for the cheapest room for one night B&B to some rather dodgy looking local ones! We stayed at Nairobi Backpackers for a fraction of the Hilton price as we were on a tight budget. The rooms there are basic but comfortable and rang from dormitory style through to twin and single rooms. There are communal showers and toilets and breakfast is included in the price of the room. I paid £5.00 a night B&B for a bed in a dormitory room. They also organise trips out to some of the tourist places around the city and also to the Maasai Mara game reserve. It is a short walk into the city centre and is in a safe are
      a of the town. Bargain if you’re on a limited budget. **OTHER INFO** This is probably the most important piece of information I can give you – ALWAYS CARRY TOILET PAPER WITH YOU WHEREVER YOU GO! I cannot stress that enough as most public loos don’t seem to have any in them when you need them! It is better to be safe than to be sorry! There are plenty of places to eat other the ‘The Carnivore’ and again, a taxi driver will be able to help you get to the nicest places! It is all part of the service! Local guides are available for hire to take you around the town and into places tourists are not advised to go to on their own. If you want to get out of the tourist traps do it safely and ask at a travel agents about a guide. We were working with a local minister there who took us into Kibera (the world’s largest slum with over 2,000,000 inhabitants) just outside the city to work with an AIDS orphan centre. Don’t let your visit just be fun – my life has changed after seeing and working in Kibera. Make sure you see as much of the life of the country as possible. Otherwise you may well have missed out on so much more…

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      Nairobi Province, Kenya.

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