Transiting in Nairobi, Kenya and have a few hours to spare? Don’t like crowded airport lounges? Go on a mini- safari! That’s right. Nairobi is the only capital with its own National Park, 117 sq km of protected area situated only 10 kilometers (about 6 miles) by road from the city center. So if you are on a short visit or even in transit, you can still enjoy a short game drive!
Some years ago we were transiting in Nairobi for about a day or so and decided to check out the National Park. After having lived in Africa for many years and having enjoyed many “real” safaris in deep wilderness where one can totally relax into the embrace of nature, I did not have high expectations of such a small tour. In fact, I thought it would be more like a “large zoo”. But I didn’t get it quite right. You can see an amazingly large variety of mammals – there are about 100 species – and even more birds in a couple of hours! And the more time you have the more you can see…
Of course this national park is not large or far out in the wilderness, and you don’t feel that you have entered a domain that belongs entirely to the wild, but surprisingly you really don’t see or even sense the city that much. The landscape is hilly, and once you travel on the savannah and start spotting wildlife, your focus shifts completely. You enjoy what you see – and your mind transports you away from the city.
We saw giraffes, buffaloes and several groups of lions. We also saw a cheetah running really fast in the high grass. I guess she was in the middle of a chase, moving too fast for us to even snap a picture. The park also houses black rhinos, leopards, zebras, wildebeests and hyenas and many other smaller species.
Of all the birds, I was most fascinated by this large Secretary Bird. I had not spotted one before and this one was kind enough to calmly pose for us not far from the trail.
This park is connected to other, larger national parks in Kenya in the sense that it has an “orphanage” for the small ones left without parents and also functions as a major sanctuary for breeding black rhinos, an endangered species, for other parks.
All in all, I thought this mini-safari was a great experience, definitely worth doing if you visit Nairobi and have limited time available, or even transit through with a few hours to spare. Refreshes you nicely, and beats the airport lounges hands down!
I enjoyed peaking in there again…even if virtually, I hope you did too…Have a good weekend – kuwa na wikendi njema!