“With its raised wooden boardwalk that allows for uninterrupted views of the animals, the Safari Walk is a show case for Kenya’s Parks and Reserves, allowing visitors to discover what they can expect to see across the country. Visitors can see a sample of the country’s rich animal life including the rare bongo, white rhino and albino zebra as well as big cats, antelopes and primates. It is also home to some 150 species of local trees”.
That’s what the KWS site says about the Safari Walk located along Langata Road. If like me, you approve of the incredible pictures they’ve posted enough to think of seeing it for yourself, you’ll want to take a Rongai-bound matatu from the Railways terminus. You’ll need to ask the conductor to drop you off at KWS, or else he’ll keep playing loud music and take you past your stop, because you know how much most of our conductors like loud music, silver chains and girls with ample bottoms.
After the security check at the gate, you’ll notice that the park and its surrounding are tidy, like a military academy. The charges are Kes 250 if you have your Kenyan ID with you, Kes 350 for residents, (or if you forgot your ID), and USD 25 for foreigners. You can carry your camera, (and take as many photos as you’d like), and the only thing they don’t allow is food from outside, which I assume is to prevent you from assuming a slow-moving baboon is hungry and you give him the remaining pieces of your thick yoghurt, chicken and chips, next thing we know the baboon population can’t climb trees because you know, the wildlife service provides everything but a gym and zumba lessons.
I started off at the rhino’s cage, a heavy animal that looks like it costs the service a lot of money just to feed and keep happy and healthy, and I was shocked that it’s the lions that stray and not the rhino. It looked so depressed if an animal could ever look the part. Face burrowed into the ground, shuffling his feet, leaving a trail of dust, it made the enclosure look like what it really is, a cage. I felt a bit sad for him really, no company, no wandering about, just two-legged beings pointing contraptions at you..then I thought about the flipside, and the poachers who saw off the horns and leave the animals to die a slow, painful death, and I thought a cage isn’t too bad..
After that, I went to the wooden walkway, which is a long path-on-stilts that snakes its way to the outer-most part of the park. The view is spectacular, especially if you go when the sun is high up on the sky, and the sky is the correct shade of blue. So many people have scribbled their names on the sidewalk, it’s almost impossible to get space to add yours. I thought of how people lock little padlocks together in Paris, and how this could very well, be our own version of having a little bit of your affection for someone, or yourself, out there. The view down isn’t scary btw, if you have a fear of heights. It’s one of those things that makes you think about just how advanced we would be if we run our country like we run this park.
A while later, I walked into the nature trail, and the KWS ranger, with his big gun and his even bigger muscles, told me to stay on course and resist the urge to veer off-trail. I laughed and said sure thing, quietly, I told myself that my ranger friend does not know me if he thinks he has to remind me to stay away from savage animals. I stayed on trail the whole time, you don’t even need to resist any urge to stay on trail, if you are observant, you’ll notice a couple of gates open in the animal’s cages..yes, they are for the rangers to place food in the cages, but still, you do not want to go off trail, not with your unfitness and some carnivores hitting speeds of up to 122 km/h.
The vantage point at the end of the nature trail is a good place to be. It’s so tranquil, the woosh-woosh sound of water running over the rocks in the riverbed, you’ll probably think about how lucky you are to be standing here, taking in the sights and sounds of what makes this country so beautiful. Plus you can see motorists on Langata Road, driving by, unaware of the scenes ad sounds that lie on your side of the highway. You feel a bit sorry for them really,
Unfortunately for me, the lions were hiding, probably staying away from the blazing sun. Then there are buffaloes and ostriches and giraffes, grazing side by side, makes you feel like humans could do a better job living with one another. It was a sad thing to see litter even when there are so many empty bins though . Good thing they don’t allow smoking, you know, bush fires and everything.
Carry lots of water, because it gets hot walking around in the baking sun, and there are no shops to re-stock inside the walk.
Make sure your batteries are charged, phone and camera, so that you don’t miss a shot. There are a lot of instances where you’ll see photo opportunities .
Wear comfortable shoes, the distance to cover if you intention to see all the animals is quite a lot. Unless of course, you like blisters, plantar fasciitis and aching calves.
Nairobi Safari Walk is one of those places that you visit for the first time, and the things you see make you feel like you’ve been living your whole life wrong. Clubs, events and lounges are a lot of fun no doubt, but sometimes walking and feeling the leaves beneath your feet, breathing the fresh, unpolluted air and feeling the sun’s rays on your face is what you need after a rough week. Also, you know how it’s the little things that matter? The park has wi-fi that actually works, (in case you ever feel a need to document your story on snapchat), the payment process is easy, the toilets are surprisingly clean for a public facility, (you get in and think you are in a lounge somewhere and the only thing that’s missing is loud music, the smell and sight of sheesha smoke, and those people who manage to stagger into a bathroom that’s not of their gender).
Nairobi Safari Walk is easily accessible, affordable and well worth your time. Plan a visit soon and enjoy a sample of what this beautiful country has to offer.