Paris to Doha to Nairobi; In which we escape Nairobi unscathed; Meeting up with the overland tour; Giraffes!

Our flight out of Paris was late in the evening, so we collected our bags and took the train to Charles de Gaulle airport. Checkin was a breeze. We were flying with Qatar Airways and the plane was nothing short of luxurious. I’ve never flown like that. The seats were big and there were screens in each seat, free drinks - free alcoholic drinks, even Scotch. The washrooms were little spas, with bottles full of moisturizer, perfume and things. I’m a bit spoiled for the budget airlines now, sadly.

We had two hours in Doha, so only time to make the transfer to the next flight. My overall impression of Qatar is of sand - the airport is in the middle of the desert, I think. There was free wi-fi in the airport (shocking!) so I used the time to call my brother. The next flight from Doha to Nairobi wasn’t luxurious, but was still quite nice. Paris is a less important destination that Nairobi, I guess.

We landed in Nairobi after five hours, just past noon local time. We got our visas, a $50 cash grab, and breezed through customs. Getting a taxi involved negotiating and playing off two so-called “tourist agencies” against each other. I managed to get them down to 1300 Kenyan Shillings (about CAD$21) to get us to our hotel. I was concerned, though - Nairobi is a very rough place and very dangerous, and not the least of the dangers are unlicensed cabs that take you to some alley and knock you on the head. Our driver seemed okay - he was certainly friendly and nice. I still took some pains to casually mention how we hadn’t gotten the money for our overland tour yet - a blatant lie, but these guys all know how the overland system works and they know you need huge amounts of cash for it. Anyway we got to our hotel without mishap. My impression of Nairobi is one of dust and traffic. There was lots of both, despite it having rained the day before for the first time in two months, our driver told us. Lots of dust, lots of black traffic fumes, and lots of traffic. We were stuck in a traffic jam for awhile with people trying to sell us the usual junk. Traffic jams must be constant because they were weaving through the stopped cars to their windows with every sign of having done it a million times. We didn’t need any maps, sunglasses or unidentified fruit, though, so we passed.

The hotel was nice. It had a pool, but we were most interested in the beds. We hadn’t slept for a couple of days (couldn’t sleep on the plane) so after showering we lay down “just for a minute” and woke up five hours later feeling a bit more human. It was dark, though, and everyone from the hotel to the tour company to our cab driver had told us not to walk around in Nairobi after dark - anywhere in Nairobi - so we were stuck with the hotel restaurant for food. It was edible, I can say that. We inhaled it, took a quick walk around the hotel grounds, and crashed again.

In the morning after breakfast we went to the meeting for our overland tour. There are 14 people on the tour, and they all seem nice. Five Canadians (including us), four Danish, two Irish, two English and an Australian. I’ve only learned a few names so far. The guide seems nice, though it’s his first time doing the tour - we’re meeting up with a mentor for him some time in the next few days, which makes me happy.

The truck is… a truck. Big truck. Bench seats and a canvas top, with a locker for packs and not much else. We’ll be spending an awful lot of time in it, so I’m glad those seats are padded. It has 4 spare tires on the back, which tells you something about the state of the roads we’ll be on. Otherwise there are water tanks and fuel tanks. None of the duties have been split up yet, so we don’t know who’ll be working with whom for cooking, shopping, etc.

First night of the tour is at a campground outside Nairobi. It’s got an internet connection, so I’m going to try to post this dispatch before bed, since I have no idea when the next opportunity will be. The tents look fine - canvas tents with mosquito netting. They’ve seen better days, but there are no holes in the walls or the netting, and it rained today so I know they don’t leak - ours doesn’t, at least.

This afternoon some of us went to a giraffe park! You can feed the giraffes and pat them. There were half a dozen (and a bunch of warthogs for some reason) including a couple of young ones. Giraffes are so cool. You can feed them from your hand, or for the more adventurous, your mouth. I’m not that adventurous (or that in love with giraffes) but Sheryl got a big lick across her face from one - their tongues are very long. It was a lot of fun. So Heather, I got you a picture of a giraffe like you asked - maybe later I can get one in its natural habitat.


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3 Comments on this Dispatch:

October 19th, 2008

Welcome to Africa!

Enjoy every minute of it! :) Miss you guys!

¬ Nicola
October 21st, 2008

giraffes…SO jealous…the tongues are also prehensile…ewwwwwww

¬ jer
October 21st, 2008

Great! I still can”t believe that I did not see one giraffe in 3 weeks of camping in Africa. Have fun and let me know if they give you Spam for lunch like they did to us.

Love to both of you

¬ heather liberty
Chris Liberty - Dispatches from a Gentleman Adventurer
Being the internal dialog of a vagabond who chased his own tail across five continents for 4 years and 2 days from May 2008 to May 2012, in search of something that never really became clear.
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