Sunday, February 3, 2019

Natural Nairobi

One of the best parts about living in Nairobi if you love the great outdoors is having so many options for quick nature escapes. This weekend, we decided to make a day trip to Karen, a well-to-do Nairobi suburb named for Karen Blixen.

We tried the much-touted Tin Roof Cafe, which lived up to its hipster and socially conscious reputation. We ordered main courses for lunch and served ourselves from a selection of salad side dishes. The food was both filling and light in the way that healthy fare always seems to be. My quiche and M's burger were both delicious.

Then, we explored Oloolua Nature Trail a few minutes away. It contains about 5km of hiking trails, but as we quickly learned much of those are quite poorly marked compared to Karura Forest or other trails we've visited in Kenya. As a result, we spent a lot of time "adventuring" - i.e., wandering around looking for the trail and hoping not to come across any deadly snakes. (We even found a trail map online but none of the paths or landmarks seemed to match it. Thankfully, we had budgeted a few hours!)

The forest is also home to the Institute of Primate Research, and we could see why. There were quite a few monkeys around even in the heat of the middle of the afternoon.

Oloolua was supposedly established to help people who wanted to get away from the hustle and bustle of Nairobi. The vibe we quickly picked up on was that it had become a Kenyan romantic destination of sorts: everyone we encountered seemed to be a couple, and we might have been the only foreigners. We enjoyed the view of the waterfall near the entrance, which was significantly cleaner than Karura Forest's falls but also featured an unsightly set of old pipes spewing water sporadically out their joints! After much deliberation, we couldn't figure out their purpose.

We also came across a cave that's supposedly 33m deep, but we weren't willing to wade through the guano and risk disturbing the bats to find out how accurate that claim is. Legend has it that Mau Mau fighters (i.e., those who fought for Kenyan independence) once stayed there.

Like our beautiful home state of Virginia in the United States, there's so much to do in Kenya and so many ways to enjoy nature in particular. Although we know we won't have time to discover every hidden gem in the months we have remaining, we're so grateful to be surrounded by such awesome and accessible natural beauty all within such a short drive.

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