We started our first full day in Kenya with a delicious breakfast at the Sarova Stanley with a nice variety of European and Kenyan dishes and a tour with Eva, our charming guest services ambassador. Founded in 1902, Sarova Stanley was Nairobi’s first luxury hotel and is the oldest hotel in the city. It’s an oasis of Victorian charm in the midst of bustling downtown Nairobi.
We spent the morning with baby elephants at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust’s Orphans’ Project. The orphanage fosters elephants and rhinos who have lost their mothers to poaching, abandonment or conflict with humans. It is currently caring for one rhino and about two dozen elephants 2 years old and younger. The elephants sleep at the orphanage, then spend the day with the human caretakers in Nairobi National Park learning to forage. Once they’re old enough, the orphans are released into wild herds in national parks and adopted by the adults there.
Close to the animal orphanage is Ngong House, a boutique wildlife lodge just outside Nairobi. Guests can stay in one of six luxury tree houses, a private cottage, a 2-bedroom log cabin, or a suite off of the main house. The accommodations sound rustic, but are anything but – each unit has a private bathroom, full electrical, and wifi. Ngong House was created by Paul Verleysen, a Belgian engineer and artist who retired from more than 20 years of diplomatic service in Africa to start the hotel. Guests experience the seclusion and serenity of being in the bush without sacrificing comfort or style.
We then headed to the former home of Karen Blixen, the Danish writer who also wrote under the pseudonym Isak Dinesen and was best known for her memoir Out of Africa, about her experience turning a section of the bush into a working coffee farm. We had lunch at the Karen Blixen Coffee Garden and, as one might expect, the coffee was excellent. The area is no longer in the wild; it is now the vibrant suburb of Karen and part of greater Nairobi.
Just a few hundred meters down the road from Blixen’s home is the House of Waine, an 11-room hotel that melds traditional Anglo-African design with a modern aesthetic.
We then went to the Giraffe Centre, where visitors can feed giraffes by hand. Watch out, or you might get slobbered on by one of those blue tongues! (One of the docents at the Giraffe Centre told us that getting licked by a giraffe is known locally as “the kiss of life,” because giraffe saliva has natural antiseptic and antibiotic properties. This helps their tongues heal quickly from scratches they may get while noshing on thorny acacia bushes, their favorite delicacy.)
After a long but enjoyable day, we checked into Tribe Hotel for some much needed rest and relaxation.