Never before, in a million years, did I ever think I would find myself in Nairobi, Kenya. This was my second ever African layover (the first being Lagos, Nigeria…not my favourite destination but an eye opener nonetheless) and I didn’t know what to expect. My Greece trip had been cut short because of it, so I was hoping the layover would be so good I’d forget about all the drama. Nairobi, you did not disappoint!
The flight was mostly full, but on a smaller aircraft so therefore the passenger load was minuscule compared to my multitude of A380 flights lately, so that was great. The Kenyans onboard were so lovely and friendly, it immediately brightened my mood and shaped the layover to come. Once we landed in the teeny airport (actually a re-converted carpark, as the real airport burned down in a fire some years ago) we were scanned for Ebola (a necessary evil) and whisked away to the hotel…almost an hour’s drive away! By the time we reached the hotel, we were all dying of thirst and hunger (not really) but all decided to meet up and have some drinks and nibble food. A plan was formed, and I sent a message to the “animal man” aka Maxi, a guide who would pick us up from the hotel and take us to various animal encounters throughout the day, all for what ended up costing $36 AUD :O
The next morning, Maxi picked us up from the hotel and our first stop was the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, where orphaned elephants are hand raised and, when possible, assimilated back into the wild. The elephants are adorable! Some of them are about 4 weeks old, and are barely knee height! Whilst the calves are gorgeous, it was really disheartening to see why these beautiful creatures had become orphans. Most of them were less than a year old in the “nursery”, as a result of human interference with their habitat, poaching or human conflict within the area causing wars that drove the elephants out of their territories. I was so moved by the speech that I vowed to adopt one of these little cuties myself.
As soon as I had a spare moment (a rarity, it seems, this month) I adopted Mbegu, a calf who was separated from her mother in a stampede, because one of her herd injured a villager and the community turned on the elephants for payback. Mbegu struck a cord with me, as she is known for being sociable, but a little shy…and she has also experienced air travel! The same cannot be said for most elephants, so naturally she was my first choice as we have so much in common 😉 for a small amount, I get to see her progress, receive updates and reports on the Trust and also the next time I have a Nairobi layover, I get to put her to bed and feed her! I cannot wait 😀
The next stop on our day trip was the Giraffe Centre in Nairobi (which a friend later told me is actually a resort! I am dying to stay there, now!). We got to feed a mother and her two little sons. They were by no means “little”, but compared to their mum (her head was half the size of my body) they were tiny! We fed the babies pellets and they slurped them right out of our palms. It was a very cute/ disgusting experience. Some little kids next to us were putting the pellets between their teeth and having the giant giraffes french kiss them…safe to say I did not partake in such activities, due to the fact that my own giant would probably never kiss me again!
The third and final stop for the day was the Mamba Village, an animal sanctuary for crocodiles, tortoises and ostriches. We got to hold a real life (5 month old) baby croc, who was in no way drugged or restrained. It was scary good! Then the little tortoises too were so cute, and then finally I got to lay an ostrich egg! (Haha).
The day ended with some vegetable curry from the restaurant, an attempted sleep (did not work) and then the flight back to to Dubai. We landed in the early hours, and I proceeded straight to bed as I had minimum rest before my lovely Hyderabad turnaround that evening….oh, the cabin crew life! It’s not all cuddling African animals and sampling world beers (although it is a lot of it), sometimes we have less than 12 hours between our flights! So the next time you’re bored out of your mind travelling as a passenger, and constantly walking around and generally envying the amount we get to move around…sit back down, relax, but a movie on (don’t press the call bell!), we’ll give you another drink and just relax! Please, we want you to! That’s all from me for now, must try and get to sleep at a decent time, seeing as I am hideously jet lagged after my first US flight to JFK! xxx