Giraffes and the Karen Blixen Museum

Karen Blixen Museum and the Giraffe Center
- 16 March 2013 -

Before the day started we (Zima and I) were excited to go see the highlights of Nairobi, and our first destination was actually supposed to be the Nairobi National Park. When we arrived and queried the price we were shocked to be read a list of costs (people, cars, guide, tax.etc.), besides this everything was quoted in US dollar, we had a brief discussion between ourselves and decided the day will be better spent with smaller (shorter) activities. 

So our next option was an activity right next to the main national park gate... "Safari Walk". It is a smaller version of the park converted into a nature walk, where I suspect you would see some wildlife. Something like a zoo in bush. When we queried the price for this, we were quoted KES 2000 per person (+- R200 or USD20), which I guess is not that bad, not the cheapest.... but fair. But in the same sentence they mentioned that if you are Kenyan you only pay KES 150 (+- R15 or USD 1.5). Now this is where they lost me... because I'm a visitor to their country I am penalised for seeing it. I'm not sure what they trying to achieve with this, is it to discourage visitors and toursits into their national park / zoos or to purely just to rip the visitors off. I mean if you come to my country, lets say the zoo in Pretoria (which is massive and truly a well run establishment) you are NOT asked "can I see your passport, so we can decide how much to charge you". Whether you are a tourist or a local resident you pay the same amount. I assume the price has been determined based on the operating costs off the center and plus some margin, which is a fair way to run a business. Not in Nairobi with their most highlighted attraction. 

Paying the R200 was not the problem and I would of happily paid over the amount if it seemed fair, but out of principle I turned to Zima and said "I have a problem with this and they can honestly keep their Safari Walk". The animals in South Africa are pretty much the same and when you go to see them, you pay the same amount regardless of where you are from. The world belongs to us all and if you a visitor to my country please come see the magnificent creatures and sights I have the luxury to live next door too, and I will happily pay the exact same fair price as you. The only benefit I have for living in South Africa is my proximity to the beauty, it's not my nationality. So we headed off to the elephant orphanage and anything else that is more reasonably priced and where I actually feel welcome.

They have truly made an experience at the Giraffe Center. Ok, it's not exactly the "raw wild" here, but nowhere else that I have been to, allows you to get this close and intimate with our tallest mammal.

When you climb the stairs to the platform the keepers give you a hand of pellets to feed the Giraffes. I spent my entire time photographing, between the high range of light it is quite difficult getting a good shot. So I never got the chance to feed them myself... I gave all my pellets to Zima...

Although the giraffes get treats from the visitors, they actually appear to have a big yard to play in... and can come over for the treats when they feel like it.

When you done patting and feeding the animals they have a stall with some well made curios which you can buy for a very reasonable price...

The experience is a relatively short affair but well worth it. After purchasing some curios we set off again, this time towards the Karen Blixen Museum.

For the readers who don't know, Karen Blixen is the main character in the movie "Out of Africa".... and this is where she stayed back in the day.

As we arrived, the parking area was deserted, not a car to be seen but the gate was open so we climbed out and headed for the house. We were welcomed by a man who explained that they are busy with renovations and all artefacts were not on display. He continued that we were still welcome to go into the house and walk around. On a normal exhibition day I wouldn't be permitted to use my camera in the house, but because everything was packed away they didn't have a problem.

Unless you interested in old houses, it's not so interesting. I liked the wooded walls, floors and windows though. 

The guide who was showing us around obviously referred to many features as "this is where Karen.....". I wonder if this is indeed the fact, but either way some features are charming... like the archway leading out into the backyard.

It is a nice backyard.

In the front yard there is an old tractor and coaches used for coffee farming that Karen was busy with in her time. Due to the condition of the equipment, I could believe this to the actual equipment.

To be honest I still have not watched the whole movie "Out of Africa", my mother loves it, but I have never really watched it through... maybe I should.

It was time for lunch so we headed down the road, to a restaurant. The whole area is called Karen... Karen School, Karen Road, Karen Park, etc... so the restaurant was also called "something Karen something".... can't remember exactly.

This part of journey was over, so Zima and I spent our lunch discussing what to do next, after a pointless drive around we eventually landed up at a surprisingly hidden feature of Nairobi, something not even our guide / driver knew about, but more about that in the next post...

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