Nairobi, Day 10: Giraffe Kisses and Elephant Handshakes

My final (full) day in Nairobi took me to the national museum, a giraffe sanctuary, an elephant orphanage, and ended with a delicious meal and a cold, local beer.

After a very productive meeting with a mentor, we headed over to the Nairobi National Museum.

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It’s been fun going to the museums on this trip because I am rather woefully ignorant of the culture and history of the places that we’ve been visiting. In addition to the evocative and informative tour at Cape Coast Castle, they also had a museum exhibit that was very well put together and gave a pretty detailed and broad history of Ghana from it’s earliest days as The Gold Coast all the way up to present day and the diaspora.

The Nairobi National Museum was a good mix of information about Kenya’s culture, wildlife, and history.

After the museum, we also stopped by a few shops, where I picked up a bunch of gifts to bring home! I’m very pleased about these gifts and excited to bring them home to the recipients. We even stopped by a local crafts store and I tried my hand at haggling for two Maasai woven blankets. I did alright, but I did dearly wish that my mom were there. Her haggling skills are legendary! The minute the shopkeeper said that all the money goes back into the community, I was pretty much suckered and he knew it. Ah, well.

From our souvenir sojourn, we headed out to the Giraffe Center and the David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage.

For a scant ten dollars (1,000 Kenyan shillings), you got to get up close and personal with some very friendly giraffes.

After the giraffes, it was finally off to the elephant orphanage.

Here’s the thing about the elephants – I’ve probably mentioned it at least once a day since we got to Africa. I was very, very excited about these baby elephants.

So the thing about the elephant orphanage is that it’s open to the public for exactly one hour (11 to noon) every day. You get to see all the 26 elephants come in and watch as they play and the keepers feed them. Which sounds amazing on its own. However, for a one time charge of $50, you can ‘adopt’ an elephant. Obviously the money goes towards caring for the orphaned baby elephants which is so very not cheap. However, as a ‘foster parent,’ you also have the opportunity to visit the elephants at 5pm without the general public there and watch the elephants as they come in from spending time out in Nairobi National Park and visit with them as they settle down for the night.

Best $50 I ever spent!

Not only do the elephants all seem very well taken care of, but you get to get up close and personal with the baby elephants!

The first thing you do is all stand out beyond the elephant orphanage and watch as a parade of baby elephants heads in for the day.

It is amazing and adorable and the elephants are so incredibly cute. Unfortunately, I didn’t spring for the premium wordpress account, so I can’t upload videos, but you can check out the video of the elephants parading past here on my instagram.

Then, after all the elephants are in their respective pens, you get to go and visit with them and just generally marvel at how adorable they all are.

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One of the younger elephants with a blanket to keep her warm

Some of the elephants stayed towards the back of their pens, but some came right up and didn’t mind nuzzling your hand a bit.

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My new elephant friend

Now, unfortunately, I did not get this on camera – you can’t plan for magical moments! – but I want everyone to know that not one, but two different elephants reached out with their trunks and held my hand for a bit. It was magical and wonderful and I loved every moment of it.

After the lovely time with the baby elephants, we headed off to a local restaurant for some authentic Kenyan food. Our driver, Bernard (who has been really, really wonderful and I would fully and enthusiastically recommend if anyone ever heads off to Nairobi), ordered a dish for us that was roasted chicken, greens of some sort, and ugali. We also had his beer recommendation of Tusker, which was a good way to end the day (and wash down the bitterness of the Trump Inauguration that I somehow couldn’t escape even all the way in Nairobi).

I initially picked up my fork and knife to tear into the meal, but then Bernard informed me that the meal was usually eaten by hand and asked if that would that be okay with me. Little did he know that Filipinos are nothing if not pros at eating with their hands, and I tore into my meal with gusto. It was super delicious, very filling, and cost a mere $19 for the three of us.

Tomorrow (actually, later today since it’s 3:10 in the morning because I don’t think I’ll sleep normally ’til I’m back stateside) we just head out to the airport and are off to Johannesburg. All in all, I’ve really enjoyed Nairobi. I do wish that we’d had more time here – especially so that we could’ve seen places outside of the city – but I’m still really glad with what we’ve done and all that we’ve seen. It was a successful trip both personally and professionally. On to Johannesburg!

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