Nairobi National Park, more than 100 square miles of it, is only five miles from the city centre. It's quite possible to be there as the park opens at 6am, have a drive round and spot some memorable wildlife, and be back in the city for the start of the working day.
I didn't see any lions or rhinos, but got incredibly close to this elegant giraffe grazing by the trackside. We later spotted a small herd of giraffe, and larger groups of antelope and buck - probably four or five different species - as well as buffalo, ostrich and a rich mix of bird life, from vultures to delicate birds with long trailing tails.
The park landscape has an elegance to it, and sometimes on the skyline you can see high rise Nairobi not all that far away. Coffee table Africa and the new Africa in the same vista.
The only down side was the mud. There had been a lot of rain over the previous few days, and although the guidebook says almost all tracks in the park are accessible by ordinary car, that not so when it's muddy.
Our car got stuck in the mud. 'Everybody get out and push'-type stuck. Gloopy mud which sticks to you and weighs you down. So yes, I got to my first morning appointment on time - but I just hope they didn't notice my shoes.
Just back from a 72-hour work trip to Nairobi - and spotted this sign within the grounds of the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation. At least it's a statement of intent.
KBC is situated in a beautiful corner of the city - lots of space and trees - and just opposite is the Norfolk, the most colonial of Nairobi's top hotels, which trades off the 'White Mischief' reputation of Kee-nyah between the wars. I had a banana smoothie (well, it was too early for a GnT) on the Norfolk's "Lord Delamere Terrace" - which, as far as vices go, comes, I would contend, fairly low down the list (#48 gullible sentimentality for the least palatable aspects of colonialism).
What I liked most about Harry Thuku Road - home to the country's main university as well as the KBC and the Norfolk - was the storks. Commanding birds with a massive wingspan, who preside over the area from their perches on trees and rooftops. It was awe inspiring to see these magnificent birds right in the centre of one of Africa's busiest capitals. (The traffic was also awesome - I've never quite encountered such gridlock. The airport isn't far out of town, but it took two-and-a-half hours to drive there - and that was in mid-evening).
As the sun started to set, the storks would come to roost on the tree tops, offering a really sensational silhouette. These photos are taken on a iPhone, so not the highest quality, but you can get a sense I hope of why I took to the place.
I didn't see anything of the city apart from the centre - and a glance from a main road of Kibera, reputed to be Africa's biggest shanty town - but I liked what I saw: a confident, modern, friendly city which feels like it's going places.
This was my first visit to Nairobi, and I really want to go back and see more.
Andrew Whitehead's blog
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