Nairobi - Sheldrick elephant sanctuary, a museum, and some shopping
Hello again! It is Sunday May 11 and I had a really amazing trip to British Columbia. I just returned yesterday even though I was supposed to be home on Friday. The Friday flight had mechanical issues and after Zoe and I got off of the plane, went through customs, got our bags, and then sat on the floor in line at YVR to get hotel and and meal vouchers for the airport Hilton, we explored some of the Richmond, BC area, specifically, here and then left without a hitch yesterday and arrived home. I really have spent a lot of time sitting on airport floors in the last six months between the Norwegian Air disaster and rebooking with American two days ago. I have so much to say about that trip and how it affected me and I will get to that next week, but right now, I need to wrap up Nairobi!
As mentioned in my previous post, we embarked on a half day safari and we’d also learned of an elephant sanctuary weeks before we left for our trip and we planned to visit it by adopting an elephant at the cost of $50 per person/animal so that we could spend an hour at the sanctuary. Normally, visitors are allowed to come for 30 minutes during the feeding time but we wanted a longer visit, the opportunity to pet the elephants, ask questions, and wander the grounds. I fully intend to renew my adoption in November of this year because the money goes to the upkeep of the sanctuary, the care of the animals, and administrative fees and services. I know that the employees work hard and love the animals and I want to do my small part to help. By paying the adoption fee, you’re entitled to show up at a specific time in the early evening and watch the elephants come in from their day wandering in what I can only describe as their play area on the grounds. Here’s a bit of the action, recorded by me on my phone. Even though the elephants were babies, they’re large and still made me a little nervous because wild animals are unpredictable!
We had such a fun time watching the animals, asking questions about them, and petting them. They really are gentle giants and super sweet. We got to spend an entire hour here and there were probably 50 or so other visitors but there were also 30-35 elephants (if I recall correctly) so there was a lot of time to visit and see them. I highly recommend this place if you’re in Nairobi, especially if you have kids! I don’t think you’d get the opportunity to do such a thing anywhere else. For information’s sake, we got an Uber from our hotel, and then when it was time to go, we summoned another Uber and it was a challenge to get someone to come get us. Perhaps a rental car might be a good idea for a Nairobi visit OR have a local taxi number on you or hire a driver/hotel car of some sort to drop and pickup. We did get our car after walking all the way down a dirt road to meet him and when we got in the car he told us we were brave because we were technically inside of the wild animal park and walking around.
On our very last day in Nairobi, we did some shopping and visited Nairobi National Museum, which was a really interesting museum because it had so many artifacts, especially early human remains and it was fascinating to see all of Lucy’s contemporaries. There were also unique art installations, sculpture, and some artwork, all representing Kenya and East Africa in general.
Finally, in Nairobi we knew we wanted to purchase some unique artwork, crafts, and gifts and we found two places to shop thanks to good old Google. On our last day we visited the Utamaduni Craft Centre, which was right outside of the city in a suburban area and the fresh air out there was a glorious break from the city center. We shopped here for a few hours and then ate lunch outside at their restaurant. The food was great and I had a glass of South African wine because it was our last day (we departed that night for the US) and we just enjoyed the sunshine, warm, dry weather, and soaked in the last bit of Africa. This particular craft market had everything from jewelry to handmade paper cards to really expensive statues and lawn sculptures.
The other place we shopped at and where I bought the bulk of my gifts and souvenirs, was Spinners Web. This place was located right outside of the main part of the city in a neighborhood called Kitisuru, it also had a cafe and required an Uber ride to and from. Also, beware the mosquitoes were RUTHLESS out here at dusk. They were so tiny and we could not see them but Zoe and I sat outside for 5 minutes waiting while Karlie paid for her purchases and had about 40 mosquito bites between the two of us. Moving on!
We spent about 2 hours at Spinners Web because it was that large. Some items I purchased were locally made shea butter lip balms, a woven straw basket, a lightweight wool blanket, soaps, handmade earrings, and straw coin purses for gifts. Either way, we had a great time wandering around this place and seeing all of the goods that were for purchase. I recommend visiting this place and Utamaduni Craft Centre if you’re in Nairobi, if you can only visit one, I think I’d pick Spinners Web because it is bigger and Utamaduni if you want a leisurely meal too.
And that’s it! I have a special guest post on Wednesday, Friday I’ll wrap up Africa impressions and thoughts with my Friday Favorites and then next week, I’ll dive straight into Vancouver and Whistler, BC. I was really so relaxed on this last trip even though we DID ALL THE THINGS. I also know that somewhere in the next month, I’ve got to write about my quick trip to Birmingham and London in the UK. As for what is coming up, I have a quick birthday trip to Toronto in June for a long weekend, a trip to Lake Tahoe in July that is part work and part fun, and then Ecuador in November. Whether I add anything else to this schedule remains to be seen but 2019 is the year I stick a little closer to home in my travels. That was planned from the beginning of the year.