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Published: February 16th 2010
After going to the barbers for a shave in Cairo which felt enormously civilsed I quickly packed my stuff (except my plug adapter which has been forgotten but would have been packed if retrospective packing had been invented) and headed in my last Lada trip to the airport. At this point I'd like to say thanks to Tom and Andrea for a most excellent time in Cairo, as I think I've seen the best of a place which many tourists have come off on the wrong side of. I had the great privilege on an overnight flight to Nairobi stopping off in Khartoum thus preventing any sleep, although this was outweighed by two meals.
I arrived in Nairobi at 7 in the morning where my airport transfer to the backpackers hostel was disappointingly absent. However, a nice lady sorted me out with a nice taxi driven by a nice friendly fellow named Edward. I didn't quite know what to think upon my arrival in Nairobi as Lonely Planet rather unhelpfully described it as 'the most dangerous city in Africa' and simultaneously 'not deserving of its reputation'. I've heard of many people just staying in their hotel room of of fear of being mugged but I had two full days so was determined to find the truth for myself. Upon my arrival at the hostel, (which turned out to be an absolute steal at $15 a night relative to the $80 hotel where Acacia advised me to reside in Nairobi) I met a few of the other guests one of whom was heading into town. I tagged along into the City centre to find a suprisingly clean and pleasant environment; there's a beautifully well tended park in the city centre with the Parliament to the east which gives St James' a run for its money in terms of pleasantness. Crossing the road was genuinely pleasant compared to Cairo's idiosyncratic traffic customs (where flashing, rather than meaning 'after you sir' means 'get the fuck out of the way because I'm not stopping'). Unfortunately after getting no sleep on the plane I wasn't in any state to do anything so went home to bed.
I awoke in the early evening to meet two lads, one Danish, one German who were keen to go eat at the 'meat buffet' mosre commonly know as Carnivores, which has previously been included in the top 50 restaurants in the world. The place did not disappoint as the whole time we were there we were constantly served a vast array of various meats (including ostrich, camel, crocodile amongst others) from waiters carving it onto our plates from swords with machetes! I would definitely recommend this place to anyone going anywhere near Nairobi, although its considerably more expensive than stated in Lonely Planet.
The following day I had a late start and then headed into town with my German friend Christophe and we went off to the top of the Jomo Kenyatta Conference Centre (50% of things in Nairobi are named after him) which had amazing panoramic views of the entire city, also there was a very knowledgeable guide who helpfully pointed out the key sites. After this we headed to the weekly Masai market in Nairobi, which was the worst thing I've been to in Kenya, from the moment of entry we were immediately vigorously pursued by some very pushy people trying to force us to buy unwanted goods. After a short time my patience inevitably ran out and I informed him that there was no way I was going to buy anything with him hassling me the way he was. Sadly this seemed to encourage him even more but I left to the sound of his relentless complaints in the background. That evening I had to meet my group at my pre departure meeting, annoyingly I had remembered the time incorrectly and arrived just after it had finished. Fortunately, however, the Acacia woman was still there and I was able to offload my $1720 local payment which was an immense relief, as anyone who has had to carry that amount of cash around such places will testify.
Outrageously early the next morning (which was made even more outrageously early by the receptionist mistakenly waking me up a full hour earlier than requested) I took a cab to the start point of the tour and met the group of people I'd be spending the next 6 weeks with, a really nice varied bunch of people who I'm slowly getting to know well. We set off immediately to the Masai Mara national park in our 4x4 driven by our trusty driver Jackson. The first game drive was amazing, we saw elephants, lions, warthogs, gazelles, and a pair of cheetahs which made for some excellent photos. That evening we had a nice meal cooked by our Masai hosts and sat round the camfire drinking beer. The day after we had a full day game drive which started at 07:30 which started off very well with another lion sighting, the sheer beauty of the great planes are something in themselves, no photo could do the place justice with the sweeping grass and gentle rolling hills stretching further than the eye can see. The next stop was at the Mara river where we saw some hippos and crocodiles, this also involved an interesting duel between a crocodile, a baby hippo, and its very concerned (huge and angry) mother, sadly we couldn't stay until the end. As we neared noon the day became immensely hot and all the animals buggered off. On the way home we caught a glimpse of the rare black rhino. That night we again sat by the fire drinking beer, which was great fun, also the views of the stars here are incredible, perhaps the best I've ever seen as you can clearly see the milky way.
Today our game drive departed at 06:30 (this trip is starting to sound like something from the four yorkshiremen sketch). However, our early start was rewarded by seeing some cheetah, some very cute baby elephants, all topped off by a proper sighting of the black rhino. Apparently there are only 50 of them in the 150KM square park. We left after lunch and headed back to Nairobi. Tanzania tomorrow! Hope all is well back home.
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