Adventures at Matheran Hill Station
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Matheran is a Hill Station located near Mumbai, Karjat.   It is located 800 meters above sea level in the Jambol Forest of Maharashtra.  It was found by Hugh Poynts Malet in May 1850.  It spreads over an area of 8 square kilometers in Sahyadri Mountains.  It is one of the best places to spend a two-day holiday if you are in Mumbai or in the vicinity of Mumbai or its suburbs.  To reach Matheran,  [...]

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Home » Fascinating Cities

Beyond Just A Safari Base

Posted on November 17, 2009 | Fascinating CitiesNo Comment


Nairobi is truly a cosmopolitan city with people from varied ethnic backgrounds and their culture, shopping malls and the local markets, cultural centers and art galleries, museums, and nightlife complete with musical nights at pubs and bars that blend to give the city the tourist edge that it has.

The suburban areas with a National Park add dimension to the city along with a much needed break that people of a busy city need. Other centers for wild life such as the snake park too are good to enthrall the tourists, especially the animal-lovers.

1.The Nairobi National Park

nairobi national parkAt about 15 minutes away from the city centre is the Nairobi National Park, home to about 80 species of mammals and about 550 species of birds. Most of the birds here are the migratory ones, found in the wetland area of the park. Some of the animals found here include the gazelles, buffaloes, cheetahs, warthogs and ostriches.

With about 50 rhinos that were moved here, the Nairobi National Park has recently gained recognition as a designated rhino sanctuary.

A very interesting concept that’s executed at this park is the Animal Orphanage at the main gates where young animals that are abandoned are taken care of.
The Nairobi National Park also serves as an Ivory Burning Site. The former President Moi burnt about 10 tons of ivory that were caught to condemn poaching of elephants for the tusks. Rhino horns and ivory too have been set fire on here.

The far end of the park is bordered by the Athi River, and there are fences that keep the wildlife away from the communities of Karen and Langata that are in proximity to the park.

2.The Snake Park

Close to the National Museum of Nairobi is the Snake Park that was built in the early 1960s as an information centre onsnake park nairobi snaked and other Kenyan reptiles. About one hundred reptiles inhabit this park. Some of the deadliest snakes like the Black Mamba and the Puff Adder are the part of the Snake Park collection.
Crocodiles too are found here in the lake of the park and there are fishes that have been collected from lakes like the Tanganyika lakes, the Victoria Lake and the Nyasa Lake.

3.The National Museum and other city museums

Just outside the city centre, reflecting the culture and natural history of Nairobi is the National Museum of Nairobi. Among the interesting displays are more than 900 hundred stuffed birds and animals, pr-historic artifacts discovered by the Leakyes, fossils from Lake Turkana, ethnic displays that belong to the various tribal groups of Kenya and the exhibitions by local artists. For instance, there is an entire floor dedicated to remarkable display of contemporary East African art.

national museum nairobiThe Geology Gallery gives the visitors information on tectonic plates, life cycle of volcano and displays a good collection of rocks and minerals. There is good information on Swahili culture and society through coast-related historical exhibitions.

Historical exhibits relating to the coast give a good overview of Swahili culture and society.

  • The Railway Museum:
    This is a privately owned museum with photographs and memorabilia from the time when the railway line was laid for the first time between Mombasa and Kampala and was named as the Lunatic Express. There are collections of old locomotives and other models and remnants that speak of the colonial history of Kenya.Among other major museums of the city, two important ones are the Ramoma Rahimtulla Museum of Modern Art with gallery for exhibitions and also works on sale by Kenyan artists; and the Karen Blixen’s House and Museum. The latter is the farm house and the residence of author Karen Blixen who wrote the famous novel ‘Out of Africa’. The Danish government presented the farmhouse to the Kenya n government when the country got its independence.
Kenyatta Conference Centre4.The Kenyatta Conference Centre

This thirty-three storey tower overlooking a large amphitheatre is in built in a way that reflects the shape of a traditional African hut. It is located in the business district and is equipped with an exhibition hall, a conference hall and restaurants. For a good view of the city of Nairobi, you could get on to the platform on the roof of the building that is a fusion of traditional and modern style of African architecture.

5.The National Archives

The National Archives in Nairobi is in the old Bank of India building and is home to a wide collection of paintings, tribal photographs and other exhibits. There are exhibitions of handicrafts from Kenya as well on display at the National Archives. Telling the story of the struggle for independence and reflecting the history of Nairobi, the Archive has fascinating collection of tribal weaponry, instruments, masks and other such things.

6.Religious places in Nairobi

Being a hub of people that come from various ethnic backgrounds, the Kenyan Capital City is home to a number of religious places of worship. The Swami Narain Temple, a Hindu temple on Forest Road, has a huge temple complex with a noticeable collection of statues. A number of churches can be found in this city such as the All Saints Church which is a gothic style Anglican Church that was founded in 1917.

Jamia MosqueFor followers of Islam, there is the Jamia Mosque in the city centre along with other mosques.

7.The Jamia Mosque

Among many other mosques, one major mosque of the city is in the city centre. The Jamia mosque here has an attractive Arabic Muslim style of architecture with twinned minarets, domes and other such features. There is a row of shops around it whose rent goes for the maintenance of the mosque. It’s difficult for the Non-Muslims to enter the mosque and that would require special permission. Nevertheless, it’s worth a watch even from outside.

Another landmark of Nairobi is the Khoja Mosque that was built by the followers of Aga Khan. This mosque is located right beside the main city market.

8.Riuki Cultural Centre

A traditional Kenyan village, the Riuki Cultural Center provides information and a glimpse onto the Kiluyu (the largest Kenyan Community) way of life, architecture, food, dance, and other practices. Some ways to present these are lectures, story telling and theatre.  For the visitors, there is also the invitation to drink Muratina, a locally brewed drink filled in a horn!

uhuru gardens nairobi9.The Uhuru Gardens

On the Langata Road near the Wilson Airport is the Uhuru Gardens, marking the spot where the freedom, which is what the word Uhuru means, from the British was declared at about 12 at night on the 12th of December in 1963. There is a statue of freedom fighters as well raising a flag. The Uhuru garden also has a musical fountain.

10.The Parliament House

One of the historic buildings of Kenya that comes with a clock tower as well, The Parliament House was built in the 1950s. You can tour the building with a guide and if you want, you can also sit in one of the sessions here.

Just beside the Parliament is the Mausoleum of Jomo Kenyatta, the first President of the Republic of Kenya.

AFEW Giraffe Centre11.The AFEW Giraffe Centre

A little away from the city, at a distance of about 18 kilometers from the city center, is the Giraffe Centre. The center is run by the African Fund for Endangered Wildlife (AFEW) and aims to preserve as well as increase the number or the Rothchild’s giraffe, wild species of giraffe that’s rare now. There are tall observation towers that are just apt to observe these giraffes closely.

Touring the city

There are plenty of guides and travel agents around that can arrange walking tours for you in the city. There are bird-watching walks as well that you could pitch in for. These are weekly walks and start from the National Museum and you have a fair chance to see Black Kites, Hornbills, Marabou storks and other precious species of birds.

You could even hire a bicycle to roam around the city.

With a vibrant and lively energy, this developing southernmost metropolis in the East African country of Kenya has an appeal that you can not ignore. Making it a base for your safari around East Africa won’t be enough and that in fact would leave you missing out on a great deal of things. This city is definitely worth a visit and an experience in itself.

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