As I go from one website to another looking at all the things to do in Kenya, I’m developing analysis paralysis. There’s simply way too many things to do and even two weeks isn’t going to be enough. Especially considering I want to make sure to spend as much time with Nduku’s family as possible not knowing when will be the next time we’ll meet.
The most important goal is for Najwa to meet her family in Kenya. They’ve seen photos, videos and heard stories, but I’m not sure if they know what they’re getting themselves into. Then again, Nduku was their child and I know she wasn’t an easy one!
But in between the family time, I’m hoping to see as much of Kenya as humanly possible. Some of what I want to do I know isn’t going to happen [Turkana anyone?], but there’s still going to be too many wants to fit in the two weeks. Here are just a handful in Nairobi with more things to do coming.
Masai Mara National Park
Of course on the list is Masai Mara National Park, partly because it’s an experience not even National Geographic can match, but also because it’s the first thing people recommend who’ve been there.
Maasai Mara (Masai Mara) is known as Africa’s Greatest Wildlife Reserve, situated in southwest Kenya. Famous for the abundance of lion, the Great Wildebeest Migration and the Maasai people, well known for their distinctive custom and dress, it is without a doubt one of Africa’s most famous safari destinations.
Maasai Mara National Reserve stretches 1,510 sq km (580 sq miles) and raises 1,500-2,170 meters above sea level. The terrain of the reserve is primarily grassland and riverine forest with clumps of the distinctive acacia trees. It’s about 270 km from the capital city Nairobi and takes about 5-6 hours by road or 40-45 minutes by flight.
The Maasai Mara Ecosystem holds one of the highest lion densities in world and this is where over TWO MILLION Wildebeest, Zebra and Thomsons Gazelle migrate annually. Its hosts over 95 species of mammals and 570 recorded species of birds.
Tamimi’s Giraffe Manor
Now who can resist feeding the cute, little giraffes? One of the most majestic, and weirdest looking, animals in the world is the giraffe. As huge as they are, they’re gentle beasts that you can hand feed, if you can reach their mouths. At Tamimi’s Giraffe Manor, the house is designed for the giraffes to poke their heads in the window leaving you eye-to-eye. I wonder if they drink Mountain Dew, too?
Giraffe Manor is set in 12 acres of private land within 140 acres of indigenous forest and is only 20 kilometres from Nairobi city centre. Built in the 1930s, this luxury boutique hotel has maintained all the charm of the era and is now famous for its resident herd of Rothschild Giraffe. Giraffe Manor offers you an unparalleled experience of the giraffes, with them vying for your attention at the breakfast table, the front door and even your bedroom window.
Giraffe Manor is also home to many characters including warthogs, bushbuck, dik dik and more than 180 species of birds and has a striking view of the Ngong hills.
Though I’m not Muslim, I’m a sucker for mosques. The architecture for mosques mesmerize me. When we were in Dubai, I was taking photos of your everyday mosque as if it was a landmark. When I had the chance to go inside the Islamic Center in Washington, DC, I was thoroughly impressed and awed.
Built between 1902 and 1906, Jamia Mosque in the center of Nairobi is one of its most important and prominent mosques. It may not be on a lot of must see lists for Kenya, but it is definitely something I want to visit.
Located on Banda Street in the city centre, the Jamia Mosque is perhaps Kenyas largest and most influential Islamic institution.
It is also one of Kenya’s most prominent religious structures being easy to recognize by its silver domes, and two twin minarets.
As well as providing a place of worship, it also has an extensive library (including audio visual department). It places a strong emphasis on education and community issues.
Prayers are held on Friday and at other times.
Tom Mboya Statue
Whenever I travel, and even while living in Washington, DC, I am drawn to statues, sculptures and monuments built in honor of historical figures. They’re markers for a time before us that would be lost to the annals of time if it wasn’t for these structures reminding us of who we are, how we got here and who we should aspire to be.
Outside of the National Archives is on such memorial of Tom Mboya. I learned more about him while reading about the Airlift to America program he helped spearhead to send Kenyans to America to study in preparation for independence.
Located outside the National Archives, the Tom Mboya Statue remembers an important political figure in Kenya’s history. You can read about Mboya inside the archives, where a display chronicles his life. The statue is small and simple, a circular base around a pillar with the statue on the top. Locals line the benches nearby, although more as simply resting their feet than admiring the statue, I suspect. Combine a trip to the statue with a visit to the National Archives – both are very interesting.