Fun things to do in Nairobi

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  • CatherineReichardt's Profile Photo

    The most expensive bonfire in history?

    by CatherineReichardt Updated May 19, 2012

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    Was this really the most expensive bonfire in history?

    Well, most probably not - although it was too good a title to pass up - as I am sure that equivalent (or higher) values of books, works of art and historical artifacts have perished in an endless string of shameful bonfires that have lit up the skies during cultural and religious purges over the centuries. However, never has there been a bonfire whose financial impact was easier to quantify than that ignited by Kenyan President Daniel arap Moi in the Nairobi National Park on July 18 1989, in which a 6m high pile of 2,000 illegally poached elephant tusks (with a value of 60 million Kenyan shillings) was incinerated.

    It may seem counterintuitive that a substance as hard as ivory would burn, but after all, it is simply compressed keratin, which is chemically equivalent to human hair or nails. Still, ivory is tough stuff, so it doesn’t give up without a fight, and people like me who love irrelevant statistics will be fascinated to know that 60 tons of firewood and 40 gallons of gasoline were required to get this particular bonfire going!

    The tusks burned on this bonfire were confiscated from the illegal ivory trade and the towering inferno was a powerful statement of Kenya’s zero tolerance towards ivory poaching. It was a breathtaking piece of propaganda masterminded by the charismatic Richard Leakey (the father of Kenya Wildlife Services) and predated the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) declaration -which outlawed trade in ivory - by a few months. Several further bonfires - burnign both elephant ivory and rhino horns - have since taken place on the same spot, which is now marked by a small memorial stating, “Great objectives often require great sacrifices”.

    Visitors may be surprised to know that the international ban on ivory trade is still a contentious issue, with respected zoologists and conservationists positioned on both sides of the moral fence and vocal in their defence of their respective stances. The CITES convention was ratified to prevent ivory poaching that was endangering elephant populations, but over 20 years later, elephant populations in certain Southern African countries have become so large that they are inflicting severe damage on their host ecosystems, thus undermining not only their own sustainable existences, but also that of many other species. Countries who have healthy and rapidly expanding elephant populations (such as Botswana, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Namibia) argue persuasively that if a well controlled ivory trade were allowed, the funds generated from the sale of tusks generated by natural death and culling of animals (another highly contentious issue) could be ploughed back into conservation. It is interesting to note that these countries have twice successfully petitioned CITES to authorize ‘once off’ ivory sales (the last of which was in October 2008 and netted US$15 million).

    However, if the CITES convention were to be modified to allow a controlled ivory trade, the challenge would be how this would be effectively implemented. The often vaunted template is the Kimberley Process (which is a self-regulatory initiative on the part of the mining industry intended to control the provenance and sale of diamonds, thereby eliminating the ‘blood diamond’ trade), but frankly the success of this initiative has been less than encouraging. The sad truth is that any relaxing of CITES is likely to reopen the door to poaching activity, particularly in countries where regulations are poorly enforced and the elephant populations are more vulnerable. A thorny problem, and one for which there is sadly no easy answer.

    Update (July 2011): It seems that no sooner had I written up this tip than the next ivory bonfire was ignited, this time by President Mwai Kibaki! This time, US$16 million worth of ivory tusks and ornaments, which had been recovered by the Singaporean authorities in 2002 were incinerated. DNA testing indicated that the ivory was sourced from Zambia and Malawi.

    To put the situation into perspective, the Mail & Guardian quotes the director of the Kenya Wildlife Service, Julius Kipngetich, in noting that "while East Africa's elephant populations are still relatively strong, West Africa's elephants are likely gone for good. Senegal has only eight left. Liberia lost its last one last year. Nigeria hasn't had elephants since 2005". Truly a tragic state of affairs.

    Click here for more detail on the most recent ivory bonfire.

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    Nairobi City park

    by explore_discover Written Jan 26, 2012

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    This Park was established in 1921 as a zoological garden on a 91 hectare area, and formally declared a public park in 1925.

    Much like the other green spaces in the city, it was not spared encroachment by land grabbers who, despite all efforts by conservationists to protect it, progressively hived off over a third of its area over the years. A ray of sunshine finally broke through the clouds hanging over this Park when the government Minister of State for National Heritage and Culture, through a legal Notice declared the remaining 60 hectares of Nairobi City Park as a protected area.

    The forest trails in Nairobi City Park are a favourite with nature lovers, who come to get away from the city’s noise and congestion. Runners too love to jog on the Park’s trails.

    The open spaces in the Park get a lot of picnic lovers on weekends who often bring enough food to share with the troops of Sykes Monkeys milling around this area. Some hawkers like to set up shop in this area, armed with snacks and other items of interest to visitors.

    There is a bar and restaurant near the Nairobi City Council’s offices, providing a more conventional fare in this natural setting.

    Not to be missed is the magnificent sculpture garden whose pieces include the Bird of Peace by Elkana Ongesa, at the Murumbi Memorial Park.

    Free Enterence

    Sign Board at the Enterence The Park The Jogging Track Friendly Monkeys Close up
    Related to:
    • Budget Travel

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    The National Archives of Kenya

    by croisbeauty Updated Aug 28, 2011

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    The National Archives of Kenya is one of the few colonial styled buildings left in the city centre of Nairobi. It is situated right opposite to the Hilton hotel and can't be missed when strolling around.
    In the ground floor is a public gallery containing drawings and very amateur art, as well as the collection of etnography; weapons, musical instruments and domestic articrafts. The first floor is collection of photographies from the history of Kenya.
    According to what my Kenyan friends told me, it is located at the edge of so-called safe city area, mzungu (whites) tourists shouldn't cross its line. It is where Downtown starts and evil reputed "Tea Room" with Mungikis rule.

    National Archives National Archives

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    Politics in Kenya

    by Mushurira Written Aug 27, 2011

    After the promulgation of new constitution that was voted by Kenyan people, The country is back to election next year. Everybody hopes that no repeat of 2007/08 election violence, because this country is a great destination to many. I'm putting this because it is important to visitors and friends of Kenya. i wish to tell VT readers that there's is a new {Barely one month} website www.come2kenya.net for those who would to know much and what is going on in Kenya.

    A Leopard in Loisaba convervancy

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    Jomo Kenyatta Conference Center

    by sphynxxs Written Aug 22, 2011

    As the name hintsd, this is mostly a conference and convention center (you will also see it as the motive of a 100 KSh bill) but the top floor has a platform where you have a good view of downtown Nairobi. The centre is also surrounded by a small park with fountains etc so might be a good place for a short break from the hustle and bustle of the city center.

    Kenyatta conference center, Nairobi Kenyatta conference center, Nairobi

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  • Pasquello's Profile Photo

    Visit the city through a trustable way.

    by Pasquello Updated Jul 15, 2011

    Entering the 4* Sentrim Hotel Boulevard Hotel at Harry Tuku Road (next to the Fairmont Norfolk Hotel) you will find a desk near the reception. There you can ask for information about things to do in and around Nairobi, book a trip or book a taxi. Tou simply ask for Daniel Nyangweso and his company Xpol Tours will lead you the way. The prices were always cheaper than others, the service was perfect but most of all, Daniel is a brilliant driver/guide who knows his way in town as a topguide should. What's even more, he gives you plenty good advices and seems to know a lot about the kenian history and politics, the corruption, the new colonisation, the better places to have a drink or meal. His service is a welcome heaven of trustable rest in a chaotic and sometimes dangerous city. For everyone looking for nice and fairlypriced, well-organised trips in and around Nairobi he's finally the man !

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    The Rift Valley -Lake Magadi

    by greekcypriot Updated May 11, 2011

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    A day trip to Lake Magadi to visit Olorgesailie in The Rift Valley for its prehistoric campsite.

    You will find a great variety of birds here.
    The shallow pools here prove to be therapeutic, and you can camp in the free campsite next to the springs.

    The Rift Valley

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    Kitengela Glass of Art

    by greekcypriot Updated May 11, 2011

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    Kitengela is a small community supporting local artists and disabled artisans.

    It is the village that I visited where the Academy of the orphans study and live at the same time.

    If you happen to come to this poor community, ask to be taken to these workshops here.
    Recycled glass is made out to different artistic designs.

    If here, why not ask to visit the Kitengela Academy with the 150 Orphans.....the orphanage that I came here to help and teach!

    Work of Art made of Glass

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    Buy some Kenyan Art and Craft

    by greekcypriot Updated May 11, 2011

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    Go out and look for the Kenyan art and craft.

    I bought mine however from the duty free shops in Nairobi because I was on a mission trip and did not have time for purchasing anything myself.

    Mostly they are wooden crafts or things they create with colourful beads.

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    Soweto

    by greekcypriot Updated May 11, 2011

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    Soweto is one of the poorest neighbourhoods in Nairobi.
    Safe if you pass by car.
    It is the place where you get a full picture of what poverty means!

    You will see happy and smily faces, people here are satisfied with what they have.
    You will appreciate what God gave you and your families....and probably become an even better person.

    Watch how people communicate here, how simple life is.
    You see meat hanging through small windows and you think that it will be bad by the next day.
    However this meat will be purchased for sure till the evening comes.

    If you want to take photos or a video do it without being noticed behind the window of the car.
    I am sure you would not want your camera to be picked or your arm hurt.
    People will be tempted if they see your digital or video camera in this area. So be alert and respect what you see and don't call out!

    The swoveto area Swoveto in Nairobi

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    Pass through KIBERA by Car ONLY!

    by greekcypriot Updated May 11, 2011

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    Kibera, the largest slum in the capital, and you have to be careful here.

    You can pass only by car as it can be quite dangerous!
    Most of the people living here lack access to basic services like electricity and running water.

    A slub neighbourhood

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  • The Nairobi Snake Park

    by RblWthACoz Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    If you like reptiles, there are plenty to view here. Especially all the numerous snakes that inhabit the areas. From mambas to cobras to crocodiles, they have a very extensive collection. The only complaint I have is that it costs 800 shillings to get in! 800 shilings??? Gimme a break! Though for that price you do get a guide that walks you around and tells you about everything (the guides when I were there were both very attractive women).

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  • Hazina - Traditions, Trade and Transitions...

    by RblWthACoz Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    ...in East Africa. In conjunction with the British Museum, the Nairobi Gallery is presenting a very unique and well put together (though small) collection of items from the Eastern Africa region until September 2006. I was very impressed by how well everything was put together and how clean and meaningful the collection was. The displays were very professionally done as well, which helps to enhance the experience. If you are in Nairobi and love culture, art, or both, then I think you should make the effort to check it out. It's a small collection of items and the price is a little bit high, but if you haven't seen a lot of African artifacts of quality, then it would certainly be worth your time.

    I'm not sure what they have planned when the Hazina exhibit (Hazina means treasures by the way) is finished, but hopefully they will keep it going with something just as good.

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    Put a Mark in a Life

    by Nebbs Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Believe me or not, life is all about putting marks on a needy life so when you go back to your country you will be able to boast and show the people how much it touches to create a smile on a poor kid's face. I have travelled to a remote place in the countryside and what i did will never leave my mind. There are people out there who live without any hope at all on a next possible meal.

    These people have no one else to look upto besides you and me.

    As "Ravens Mueller Foundation, the Director Mr. Peterson N.Kigutu has been a key man in supporting each one of us to make sure that every possible effort is made to feed and cloth these dear lives.

    On the way to Mbeere
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    • Theme Park Trips
    • Religious Travel

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    Bomas of Kenya

    by grets Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    A cultural park which offers “Kenya in miniature”. Each of Kenya’s major ethnic group is represented with their own traditional boma (homestead) where they display their crafts, living style, music and dancing. Traditional dances are held daily in an enormous theatre – Africa’s largest – which holds 3500 spectators.

    Taita village boma
    Related to:
    • Arts and Culture
    • Theater Travel
    • Museum Visits

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Nairobi Things to Do

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