Saturday, April 28, 2012

Vacation Of A Lifetime...Nairobi

We departed from Istanbul and arrived 6 hours later at 1:30am Sunday morning in Nairobi, Kenya. Getting through customs even at this time of day was as slow as molasses. And having a woman in our group in line ahead of us giving the customs agent an American attitude did not help the situation.  Once we passed through customs, we made our way downstairs and outside to see our new friends waiting for us with our driver and guide for the week, Simon.  Simon was one of three drivers for our group. They were with a company called Vintage Africa. According to Simon our group had lucked out and has been upgraded to Range Rover safari vehicle like this:

This was our actual vehicle. Each vehicle was named for an animal you might see out in the bush.
Ours was named Kifaru. This is Swahili for Rhino.

When we were supposed to have something like this and were very grateful we did not.

We were driven to the Intercontinental Hotel in Nairobi where we checked in and slept for about 5 hours. After breakfast and a brief welcome from Vintage Africa where we got these:

Our official Vintage Africa safari hats as modeled by me in this photo.

The first stop on our day tour in Nairobi was at the Langata Giraffe Center.
The Giraffe Centre is a Non-Profit making organization whose main objective is to provide conservation education for school children and the youth of Kenya. All our education programmes are offered to them free of charge. The Giraffe Centre derives 90% of its funds from the entrance fee collected and from the sales in the gift shop and teahouse. Therefore, by visiting us and/or making purchase from our shop and teahouse you have contributed towards conservation education to the Kenyan youth.

While at the Giraffe Center, we were able to feed three Rothchild Giraffe. You can see in this video featuring Todd and his new friend.

They were just too adorable

Daisy is a giraffe and resident at the Giraffe Center

There was educational programming at the Giraffe Center. This is a giraffe femur bone. We learned one kick of the leg to a lion will definitely kill it.

Did you know there are three different species of giraffe?  The Reticulated, the Rothchild (endangered) and the Massai.
How can you tell the difference?  The markings.
Girl from our tour. Did you know a giraffe's saliva has antiseptic properties in it?

Bet you don't see a sign like this in America
The Giraffe Center is also home to many other animals such as these adorable Wart Hogs

See the baby in the bottom right corner?  There must have been 6 of them all following their parents, one by one.

We were then off to the Karen Blixen home and museum.  Remember the movie Out of Africa?  Well, it was based on her life.  You can learn more about it here. Or you can buy the movie here.
But just to prove we were there, here are a few photos.

The house in the distance.

The house up close. 

The grounds surrounding the house were stunning

Because several people in our 7 person group were already foster parents to several elephant calf  and rhino orphans, we asked Simon if he would take us to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust for a special foster parent visit.  This was not open to the public as I had prior to leaving America to reserve a time to visit with the elephants, keepers and rhinos. Out of everything we were able to do on this trip, this visit was what I was looking forward to the most.
Simon drove us there, we checked in and then were able to visit with our foster elephants and rhinos, ask questions of the keepers and hopefully adopt more!
After reading to much about the DSWT, I just could NOT believe I was actually here

Stockages/Enclosures as we enter the nursery

Another visitor

In this enclosure is Solio. One of the two black rhinos who have perminant residence.
It was around 5:00pm and I was so thankful we were there to witness the keepers leading the elephant orphans in for the day from the bush.


The keepers are truly dedicated people.  They live, eat, breathe and dream elephant. Each keeper sleeps in an enclosure with one of the calfs and they rotate every 3 days so as to not get too emotionally attached to the elephant and vice versa.  If you weren't aware, elephants are extremely emotional and satiant creatures.

Most elephants have their own enclosure. Only a few shared an enclosure. As we walked in I turned to the right and saw what you see in the photo below. 
A lone elephant trunk scoping out the scene.

Someone has an itch

Each orphan has his/her name on a placque on their enclosure. It states their name which is determined typically by the geographical location in which the calf was rescued, an estimated month and year to their
birth and where they were rescued.

This is Rombo, he is one our foster kids

This is Kasigau.  We stayed together for quite some time.
With Kasigau's 'foster' papers in hand, I posed for a shot at Rombo and Layoni's enclosure.
Rombo and Layoni have both since been re-released into a protected wildlife area where there are still keepers but where they will be in the company of other elephant orphans who have
graduated out of the nursery along with a few wild elephants.
Todd made a connection with this little one, Sasab. Unfortunately, he was quite ill and passed away in early December 2011. We hope and pray he was met in heaven by his mother, who perished by poachers.

And this is Maxwell, a blink, black rhino who will live his life at Sheldrick.
He is also one of our foster kids.

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