A day in Karen, Kenya (part 1)

Just to the west of Nairobi is a town called Karen. Home to the super rich of the greater Nairobi area, it also has some of the most exciting attractions in Nairobi. We headed out for a day last weekend and took in three of the main events all at once.

1- Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage
Before I got to Kenya, Layne visited the Elephant Orphanage and sent me photos that made me squeal with envy. The orphanage takes in baby elephants that have lost their mothers, some to natural causes but more often to poachers. They keep them until the elephant is about 3 years old, and then spend 5-10 years reintegrating them into the wild. Elephants live to be 60-70 years old, so with just a few years of care they are restored to long, healthy, happy lives. The orphanage is open to visitors every day from 11-12, and you get to watch as they feed the elephants.

Elephants can't survive without their mother's milk for the first two years of their life. The staff feeds them on a completely custom baby formula mixture that they spent years perfecting. Cow milk is too fatty for elephants to digest. 

Elephants can't survive without their mother's milk for the first two years of their life. The staff feeds them on a completely custom baby formula mixture that they spent years perfecting. Cow milk is too fatty for elephants to digest. 

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Have you ever seen a look of greater satisfaction? 

Have you ever seen a look of greater satisfaction? 

I was astounded to see how much personality all the elephants had. Watching them rough house with one another, or throw themselves down and roll in the sand was hilarious. Some elephants would even walk right up to you and allow you to pet them; all that is between you and the elephants is a line of rope. Being so close to these giants is absolutely breathtaking, and I was captivated the entire time. An hour is not nearly enough!

The happiest elephant in the herd. 

The happiest elephant in the herd. 

The elephants are actually the standard gray we're all used to, but they loved rolling around in the dirt and were completely caked in the brick-colored mud. 

The elephants are actually the standard gray we're all used to, but they loved rolling around in the dirt and were completely caked in the brick-colored mud. 

Freshly coated from head to toe and proudly prancing off to gloat to the other elephants. 

Freshly coated from head to toe and proudly prancing off to gloat to the other elephants. 

They had also recently rescued some ostriches, and the giant birds and elephants fed together in harmony. 

My grandma had an ostrich feather duster while I was growing up, and all I could think while looking at this guy's plumage was "oh - that looks EXACTLY the same." I can't explain why I was so surprised... maybe because something I was used to seeing inanimate was now up and walk ing around on its own. 

My grandma had an ostrich feather duster while I was growing up, and all I could think while looking at this guy's plumage was "oh - that looks EXACTLY the same." I can't explain why I was so surprised... maybe because something I was used to seeing inanimate was now up and walk ing around on its own. 

You cannot tell me that this ostrich isn't doubling as a villain in the next Disney movie. Just look at that evil smirk! 

You cannot tell me that this ostrich isn't doubling as a villain in the next Disney movie. Just look at that evil smirk! 

If you adopt an elephant for just $50, you are able to come at 5 p.m. and have even more interaction with them before they go to bed. Layne had gone the first time with someone who had adopted, and he was able to have the elephant drink right from his hands. So - yeah - I WILL be back.

Also - fair warning - warthogs run wild around the park. They look nothing like Pumba; those things are freaking scary!

Part 2 coming tomorrow. SPOILER ALERT: I hold a crocodile and feed a giraffe. You know, if that's your thing. (Have I convinced you yet that Africa is amazing?!?!)