Thursday July 29th

Day 2 - Nairobi



From the airport, we got a taxi to the start of the Kuoni holiday, at the Holiday Inn Mayfair Court in the centre of Nairobi. Set in attractive gardens with covered walkways, this reasonable standard hotel was a good start to the trip.

Overall, the hotel was satisfactory. The rooms were relatively basic, and the service at the front desk was dreadful, but the food was good and other service acceptable.

The highlight of the hotel was its setting, with a series of two storey buildings set among trees and flowers. This striking specimen was near the pool.
The hotel also provided the very first glimpse of wildlife on this safari holiday, and unidentified bird eating the crumbs under the tables of the poolside restaurant.

We wondered what we would do for the rest of the day, but should have realised that tour operators have all that sorted out. After a leisurely cup of coffee by the pool, we were invited to the Kuoni welcome meeting. Apart from providing us with details of the safari to come, he was very keen to sell us local excursions to use up the rest of the day in Nairobi. 

We were served drinks during the meeting, but found out later that we were actually supposed to pay for them!

We signed up for the afternoon tour of Nairobi. There was a tour of the highlights of the city itself, culminating in this panoramic view from a hill overlooking the city centre, but most of the time was actually spent at three rather unusual destinations.

Kenya National Museum

The first stop was at the Kenya National Museum, fairly close to the hotel itself.

Despite being very tired, we managed to fill about an hour looking at stuffed animals, geological specimens (including early hominid fossils discovered in the rift valley) and some less traditional museum items like a Noah's Ark and a map of Africa shaped entirely from butterflies.

Giant Leopard Tortoise

Nairobi Snake Farm

The next step was just a hundred yards down the road .. a snake farm.

There were snakes, mostly safely behind glass, especially the King Cobra and Black Mambas, but some were to be found in open pits, such as this one which was sharing with lizards.

Most people's favourites seemed to be the Giant Tortoises.


The Market

The indoor market was an unscheduled stop as we drove around the streets of central Nairobi. The driver tried to warn us, but the impact of the young teenagers in the street and the very insistent traders inside was a new experience. We did not venture to the meat market and rapidly retreated to the safety of the tour van.

The Railway Museum

Railways have been important to the development of East Africa. Kenya Railways runs an important link between Mombasa on the coast and the border into Uganda.

The railway museum, which sadly is a collection of old locomotives gradually rusting in the open air, reflects back to the heyday of steam. It is very much a hands-on museum with no barriers to prevent visitors climbing all over them.

The "stars" of the show are the magnificent British built Beyer-Garratt articulated locomotives designed to provide sufficient power for the heavy trains and steep gradients on narrow gauge tracks. 

The Safari Club

Apart from staying in the hotel, Kuoni offered us two very similar options for dinner. One, the Carnivore restaurant, had been recommended to us; unfortunately it was full, so we joined the organised trip to the Safari Club.

The focus of the meal is meat, and meat from a wide variety of game animals, including Impala, Zebra, Warthog and Ostrich, all barbecued over a charcoal grill in the centre of the restaurant.

We were offered everything off the extensive menu. The Impala sausage was very dry, but the Warthog, was very tasty and very similar to pork.

The evening culminated in a rather mediocre and not very authentic floor show. The acrobats were excellent, the tribal dancing less so and it was not easy to see. 

Unfortunately, the restaurant was less than half full and so the atmosphere was not very exciting.  

The menu

The barbecue

The floor show

So, it was back to the Holiday Inn and preparations for an early start to the real safari.

Last updated: December 23, 1999 10:50 -0000