Being in Nairobi National Park reminded me of the African Lion Safari back home. We saw lots of animals and got some great photos. This park is the closest protected park to a large city in the world. It was really perplexing to see these animals so close to the city without being caged up in a zoo. The park is purposefully only 2 or 3 quarters closed off so it can facilitate the animals continuing with their natural migrations to and from the park lands. It’s actually quite cool to see the animals with the city skyline in the background.
However, this being said, we spent the first hour in the park’s interior pulling a matatu out of the mud with our jungle truck. We almost got stuck once too. Our wheels were spinning and there was nothing happening but mud flying all up the side of the vehicle. I loved it!!! Everyone else was concerned but this was exciting and dirty, just like climbing through Bronte Creek when Andrew and I were little. Ahhh, the good old days!
It’s crazy how close we were to the animals. Zebras are just like donkeys and horses, and the lions reminded me of dogs. Part of me wanted to reach out and hug a lioness around her neck the way I used to do to my dog. She looked so strong, majestic and soft. Really, really soft. Don’t worry, I would never actually try to touch a lion, but I will dare to say that I think the film the Lion King did a good job capturing the lions’ characteristics into animation.
We saw many animals, some of which were endangered. There were zebras, lions, giraffes, African buffaloes, the white rhinoceros, the black rhinoceros, ostriches, different types of gazelles, impalas, baboons, and I think one waterbuck. There are so many other animals that live and migrate within the park; however of the animals in season we missed only the leopards and cheetahs. Hopefully I’ll see those when I go to the Maasai Mara.
It was cool to see how the landscape could change so dramatically within the park, accommodating so many different types of animals. While some areas are covered in rocks others are full of long grass for as far as one can see. Some places are dry and dusty, while others places are considered swampland and could only be crossed using flooded and thick muddy roads. There were cliffs, areas thick with trees, and other areas where one could drive quite some time without seeing a single tree. At this point there would suddenly appear a picture-perfect watering hole with plenty of animals grazing nearby.
Now, I had heard that Nairobi National Park was home to many bird species – apparently more bird species than there are in the UK – but I did not think much of it until I saw some of the birds, which were in fact, really cool. One kind in particular had really long tails and a stripe of colour (I think it was yellow or red). It was fascinating to see them land on a branch and tilt their tails in sharp, abrupt movements trying to keep balance. My favourite, however, are the blue ones with the golden crown. How comical and majestic all at the same time!
All in all, it was a good day. Definitely something Nairobi is known for and as long as I’m spending time doing none-tourist things, I don’t mind embracing being a tourist for a day.