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Kenya Safari Page 6 - Nanyuki - Mount Kenya Safari Club

Africa Kenya Nanyuki Bicycle Street

Africa – Kenya – Nanyuki • A typical street scene in the bustling town of Nanyuki

Africa Kenya Nanyuki New Bicycle

Africa – Kenya – Nanyuki • A new friend with a new bicycle – obviously chosen for another member of the family

Nanyuki is a busy and attractive town in the Central Highlands of Kenya which is perfectly situated to serve as a central hub for safaris to the many parks, reserves and conservancy areas located within a few hours drive.  Aberdare, Mount Kenya and Meru National Parks; Ol Pejeta and Lewa Wildlife Conservancies; and Samburu, Shaba and Buffalo Springs Reserves are all nearby.

During our drive from Nanyuki to Sweetwaters Tented Camp there was a noticeable increase in the number of people walking along the side of the road.  There had been several years of drought in the area, and many residents who derived at least some part of their income from agriculture were no longer able to pay for a ride on the ubiquitous mini buses which provide public transportation in the rural areas of Kenya.

In consultation with our guide, two members of our group devised a plan that was immediately approved by all.  When we left Sweetwaters the next day, we stopped our van to offer a local lady a ride to Nanyuki.  Once we were under way, she was informed that we wanted to buy a bicycle for her when we reached town.  She shed a single tear and thanked us for the proposed present.

We dropped off our new friend at a shop while they finished the assembly and added some accessories to her new bicycle, and continued on to Nanyuki Spinners and Weavers, a women’s cooperative and “self help project” promoted by Micato as part of their tour.  Tracing their roots back to the late 1970s, the weavers struggled through the drop in tourism which occurred after the embassy bombing in Nairobi in 1998. By the time of our trip in 2005, they appeared to be well on the way to recovery, with ladies working in every room and lots of kids in the day care center.  Our next trip in 2008 came after a political upheaval caused by a disputed presidential election, resulting in another collapse in tourism, and the weavers were once again experiencing very hard times.

The continued survival of the Nanyuki Spinners and Weavers into 2010 is very good news, though it is apparent that without continued or increasing support there is no guarantee for their future.  As the website says, “We appeal that in case you know of any organization or individual who can help us in any part of the proposal to please let them know of our need, and we will appreciate it very much.” If you like fine handcrafted woven goods (rugs, wall hangings, scarves, shawls, bedspreads) and are inclined to help those who help themselves, a purchase is also strongly recommended.

Africa Kenya Nanyuki Spinners Weavers

Africa – Kenya – Nanyuki • Left: A weaver takes a break and watches a visitor trying her hand at “carding” wool • Middle: Spinning • Right: Weaving

Mount Kenya National Park, like Aberdare a few days before, was a stop where we saw the accommodations and not the park.  The Mount Kenya Safari Club is known by the locals as “Hollywood”, a connection which is world famous.  Although the elegance was somewhat faded at the time of our visit, the dining was splendid and our night in one of the cottages was perhaps the most deluxe of the trip.  The Fairmont Hotel group has since taken over the Club, and the complete renovation which followed makes the pictures below interesting for their historical value.  More recent photos of the main building are barely recognizable.

Africa Kenya Nanyuki Mount Kenya Safari Club & Cottage

Africa – Kenya – Mount Kenya Safari Club • Left: The Cottages • Right: Main Building

Directly adjacent to the Club entrance is an animal orphanage which focuses on the preservation of the bongo, while also providing a home for numerous other animals both endangered and not.  However odd it might seem to travel to Africa to visit a zoo, the experience is wonderful and the work being done is essential.  Originally founded by William Holden as part of the Safari Club, the two entities appear to be entirely independent today.  The orphanage is the project of the Mount Kenya Wildlife Conservancy, and could be described as the world’s most exotic petting zoo – except that the director might object.

Africa Kenya Nanyuki Mount Kenya Wildlife Conservancy

Africa – Kenya – Mount Kenya Wildlife Conservancy • Clockwise from lower left: A shy bushbuck, a gregarious Pigmy Hippo, a proud ostrich, thoughtful Mantled Guereza Colobus Monkey, the endangered bongo and a tortoise of unknown pedigree

Our departure from the Mount Kenya Safari Club signaled the end of the road trip portion of our tour, and we were soon on a flight to the southwest corner of Kenya for the final stop on our itinerary – Masai Mara National Reserve.

 

Kenya Travel – Page One

Page 2 – Kenya Safari – Amboseli National Park

Page 3 – Aberdare National Park – The Ark

Page 4 – Ol Pejeta Conservancy – Sweetwaters Tented Camp

Page 5 – Kenya Safari – Ol Pejeta Wildlife and Scenery

Page 6 – You Are Here

Page 7 – Kenya Safari – Masai Mara National Reserve

Page 8 – Kenya Safari – Masai Mara Wildlife

Page 9 – Masai Mara – People and Trees

 

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