We were able to sleep in until about 6:30 AM (I know, but that is sleeping in on this trip) before heading to breakfast. The breakfast was fantastic with an omelet / egg station, bacon, potatoes, and other breakfast staples. As we were wrapping up, out of nowhere I heard a Swahili song that greets tourists nearly everywhere we went and, the staff of the hotel came out with a birthday cake. They circled the table a few times before putting it in front of me to cut! It was such a great surprise that our trip manager, Haron, arranged with the help of the hotel staff and the rest of the people I was traveling with. My birthday had turned into a birthday week and it was such a nice way to start the day! The cake was so good and, I later learned, was supposed to be the night before but people dropped like flies so it became a morning birthday celebration the following day!
After the cake, we boarded our vehicles for a long day of driving from Lake Elementaita to Nairobi to Amboseli National Park. After a few hours on the road, we arrived in Nairobi at our first stop – the Giraffe Center! This center is the same location as Giraffe Manor, a famous hotel where you can stay for ~$750+ a night and giraffes come right up to your hotel room window and or your breakfast table and stick their head in for you to feed them. This was the much more affordable way to feed giraffes and learn about the center. After feeding some giraffes, we learned the history of the center and how it is intended to support the growth of the giraffe population in the wild.
After the giraffes, we went to a similar location for elephants. While we did not get to feed elephants, we were very close to them and some people were able to pet them. I had already had this experience in Southeast Asia when I was able to go to an elephant sanctuary and feed / bathe the elephants, so this was not the first time I visited a similar place. It was great to see so many elephants in one place and to also hear about the amazing work the elephant orphanage is doing to help the animals. When a mother is killed, they come in and bring the elephant to the orphanage until it is able to survive on its own and introduce it back into the wild. They monitor its progress and, should it have trouble adjusting, they bring it back and take care of it at the Nairobi Wildlife Park. The elephants being so close allowed me to take some awesome pictures!
Finally, we had the most fun part of the day – our COVID tests, which were required for people ending the trip in Kenya to transit back home and the rest of us going to Tanzania to cross the border. We met the COVID tester at the offices of the tour operator where we had lunch and our COVID tests were taken. Unlike the ones in America, they do a nasal swab and a mouth swab, something I was definitely caught off guard by! It was over before we knew it and we hit the road for our four hour drive to Amboseli National Park.
About three hours into the drive, we got to see “it”. By “it” I mean, the mighty, majestic Mount Kilimanjaro. Rising above the clouds, Kilimanjaro became more visible as we drove closer and closer to Amboseli. Finally, just as the sun was about to set the clouds burned off and we were able to get a great picture of Kilimanjaro with a giraffe in front of it!
Then, we arrived at our accommodations for the evening, grabbed dinner and hit the sack!