After picking up the girlfriend of the guy with whom I am about to go on a half-day safari, we get stuck in a traffic jam. The closest we come to seeing wildlife is the drawing of an elephant on a schoolbus. Then, we make a left, arrive at one of the gates of Nairobi National Park, where our driver opens the rooftop, and our safari starts. It does not take long before we see our first bucks, impala, ostrich, zebra, and other animals. There is not much high vegetation, and spotting animals is pretty easy here. The number of animals is surprising; especially given our proximity to the city. When we look north, we can see the skyline of Nairobi as a backdrop to our safari adventure. Between these animals and the city, there is an electric fence to prevent them from roaming the streets. On the other side, the boundaries of the park are defined by the Mbagathi river, and migration in and out of the park is possible.
We stop by a pond where three giraffes roam. One of them walks up right to the edge of the pool, stretches her legs sideways, and drinks. A great sight, showing the elegance and sheer size of the long-necked animals. Then, we spot our first rhinoceros; a few more will follow on our drive through the park. In many places, it is difficult or next to impossible to spot them; here, they roam free. But even so close to the capital city, they are not safe, and poachers manage to kill them and take their much valued horns even out of here. If protecting them is very difficult even in this small park, it is easy to see how in much bigger parks, this is a daunting task. After a brief stop at the shallow canyon of the Mbagathi river, where baboons linger, we continue our drive.
We come across various buffaloes, wildebeest, various birds, and more herds of zebra where some small creatures still with brown stripes, waterbuck, and more. On a small island in a pond, we see a fat crocodile lazing in the sun, with a small herd of zebra playing in the water in the distance. We come across another small pool, where suddenly, a big hippo emerges from the muddy water. All the while, we keep our eyes open: there are supposed to be lions, hyenas, too, but no matter how we look, we do not see them anywhere on our drive back to the entrance gate, and the skyline of the million-plus city emerges again. We wonder what the future of the park will look like: with a growing city (much bigger than when the park was established in 1946) and human settlement around its borders, visible effects like pollution and trash in the park, the habitat of the animals is affected in a negative way.
Around the World in 80 Clicks
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Nairobi National Park (Kenya). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Nairobi National Park. Read more about this site.