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A Detour to Nairobi

Kenya’s capital is not high on anyone’s holiday list. But if you have to fill a day or two before a safari then read this. You might be pleasantly – or even frighteningly – surprised. The outlying suburbs of Karen and Lengata are Nairobi’s mink and manure belt – think expat smallholdings, the Karen Country Club (once part of the Blixen coffee plantation), baronial houses behind thick hedges and very visible security. It’s also the wildlife sector of the city and home to Nairobi National Park, the only Big Five park in a major city. The Giraffe Centre, a conservation success story in bringing back the white-socked Rothschild – a subspecies of the northern giraffe. There were just 120 animals when philanthropist Jock Leslie-Melville started the African Fund for Endangered Wildlife back in 1979. Now there are over 600 of these distinctive-patterned giraffes in Kenya, and I made close acquaintance with Kelly, a particularly robust and well-fed specimen, at the centre.