Thursday June 4, 2015 (Africa, Kenya)
What a fantastic day! It’s the first day in quite a while that Sandra and I have actually worked up the courage to go out and really do something! Actually, it’s more about finding the cheapest things we can do to keep ourselves entertained. But this certainly fit the bill!
To start off, the first picture you see is actually from our hike to Themi Waterfall near Arusha, Tanzania. We just loaded that in today, so it’s a total red herring. Enjoy the picture of a forest. It’s completely unrelated to all of the others. Sorry.
Both of our destinations (the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and the Giraffe Centre) are within about 6km of each other. They’re both near the Nairobi National Park on the west side.
The first stop was the elephant orphanage at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. Although the tour gave us a heap of information, Sandra and I found it very difficult to pay attention with all of the ridiculously cute baby elephants running around! I didn’t realize elephants came this small. You could have told me these guys were born five minutes ago and I would have believed you, but apparently the youngest elephant pictured is about ten months old. And the oldest ones are less than three years old, so these guys go through a serious growth spurt around the one year mark!
The elephants at the wildlife trust are all rescues. They are generally found by rangers alone as babies, having lost their parents to poachers (or rarely, to natural causes). Some of them had fallen into wells and their parents were forced to abandon them. All kinds of sad stories. But the elephants are brought here and rehabilitated. After three years of age they’re transferred to another park for several years before they are eventually released back into the wild. The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust have released over two hundred elephants back into the wild, so it’s a pretty amazing thing they’re doing!
The elephants all seemed to have a blast hanging out with the crowd and being bottle fed. At times a whole bunch of them would roll around on the ground like they were having a big elephant breakdance party. Highly entertaining. One of the babies stepped on my foot. It didn’t hurt at all: that’s how manly I am. Also, they’re very muddy and petting them frequently causes your hands to also be muddy. Care must be taken.
After reluctantly departing the elephants, it was time for the Giraffe Centre!
It certainly seemed like there was bit less of an educational program involved in the Giraffe Centre. You arrive and are thrown directly at the giraffes to start feeding them little snack pellets. Not that we’re complaining, because just hanging out with them is the highlight. The giraffes at this particular location are all Rothschild’s Giraffes, which are one of the three subspecies of giraffes found in Kenya.
The big money shot at the Giraffe Centre is obviously placing a food pellet in your mouth and thereby requiring a giraffe to lick you all over to obtain the treat. We both gave it a shot! I suppose it’s a bit of a dirty trick – trading snack pellets for kisses. But we all know I’m not above that.
If you wander into the central hut, you can take a look at a massive giraffe tibia, mandible, and even a warthog skull (pictured). There are some leopard tortoises on-site, and a little nature walk trail where you can scope out some different plants and trees native to Kenya.
And that was about it for the day! We met a super-nice Canadian named Chelsea who’s just headed back to Canada after teaching in Tanzania. She was on the same cancelled flight as Benji, a South African guy who was also great to chat with. We sweet-talked their driver into bringing us back to downtown Nairobi after finishing up with the attractions. And what does one do once one finds oneself in downtown Nairobi? Why, visit Steers for ice cream, of course! Sandra wouldn’t have it any other way.
Our plans include a night of dancing on Friday and a board game party Sunday! Monday we pick up our visas to India and Tuesday we leave to Chennai! It’s almost scary to be leaving a city we’ve gotten so used to, but the show must go on!