As soon as I saw someone had a picture of a lion in Nairobi National Park I decided I had to go immediately. It is a huge national park with animals living in the wild about twenty minutes from Nairobi. J agreed and we called our driver, David, the day before our planned visit to ask if he could take us. I had heard we want to get there “early” and he agreed. I said, “Okay so we will see you at 8?” He replies, “But I thought you wanted to get there early?” When I asked what early was the answer was 6am. J said if we are going to do the park we might as well do it right.
We woke up to a dark morning and were cold, cranky, and out of it. As soon as we got to the park David told us we had to try to find lions first because they hunt in the morning and then sleep the rest of the time. He said we would head to the savannah. As we drove through, I scanned the brush thinking that at any minute I might miss a lion. I felt like I was narrating a nature channel show. We drove for about twenty minutes or so and I started comforting myself in my head that it would be okay if we did not see lions, we would see many other animals for sure.
We were the first car of the pack, but let a few other cars pass us. We came to a crossing and saw other two cars stopped. David pleasantly said, “Lions,” and pulled over. We peered out J’s window and there they are right next to the car just walking along. There is a pride of about ten of them (I just learned this term). I am snapping pictures crazily, but have always had a fear that I will miss an experience if I am too focused on capturing it. I moved to the front seat and stared out the window and put my camera down to express several “Wows.” They pride of lions is just sprawling in the middle of the dirt road, mozying along. They don’t really seem to care about us watching them although one turned back to stare every once in awhile. After that I felt my experience was complete. We drove for another couple of hours and saw zebras, a passed out elephant, giraffes, gazelles, ostrich, birds that looked like a mix between a peacock and a turkey, buffaloes, and ended our visit by seeing a male lion right before his nap. He then proceeded to plop down next to two females and we watched them passed out in the grass. It was incredible that all of this wildlife was right next to the city.
Our next stop was the elephant orphanage. J and I almost skipped this because we were exhausted, hungry, and needed a bathroom (#phoebeproblems), but we pushed on. The baby elephants marched out and we watched them play for a half an hour while the guide told us their names, ages, and about how the “care keepers” have to stay with them each night and give them bottles every three hours. Every “care keeper” has to switch the baby they care for each night because the elephants become too attached. I got to pet the youngest baby elephant as it went past and its ears were hairy and rougher than I expected. J and I left after the first set of elephants but it was well worth a visit.