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Volunteer trip to Africa

Volunteer trip to Africa

By
Trip Plan Tags: 
budget,
volunteer trip
Destinations: 
Africa + Middle East,
Kenya,
Lake Nakuru National Park,
Masai Mara,
Nairobi

I will be traveling to Kenya this summer for a volunteer trip. I will be joining a group of volunteers at a remote village fifty miles north of Nairobi.

ITEMS

See + Do

Nairobi

After years of heading the short list of Africa's most dangerous cities, Nairobi—one of the continent's busiest capitals—has taken a fresh turn. Energetic efforts to clean up the downtown area have paid dividends, and the streets that once earned this place the notorious nickname "Nairobbery" are safer than they've been in years. Youre still not likely to spend too much time around the capital, when Kenyas wildlife and beaches beckon, but Nairobi is the best place in East Africa to do a bit of splashy shopping—or sample some serious dining. Diplobrats, expats, and up-country sophisticates flock to the surrounding suburbs for the hottest nightclubs and haute-est cuisine, while luxe retreats like Ngong House offer a cozy oasis outside the city's spotlight.

The city itself was built on a swamp in the late 1800s as a railroad stop-off between Mombasa and Uganda, and later became the capital of what was then known as British East Africa. You can get a window into that history by checking out the National Museum, which houses cultural and geological exhibits as well as East African artifacts. Pick up artifacts of your own (or just regular old souvenirs) by trolling the sprawling stalls of the City Market.

For those who want to kick-start their safari, you can head to the Nairobi National Park on the outskirts of town to view lions, rhinos, and elephants against the backdrop of the city skyline. You can also get up close and personal with giraffes at the Langata Giraffe Centre, a sanctuary in a suburb of Nairobi for the rare Rothschild giraffe. Can't get enough? Then book a night at the grand Giraffe Manor (next door to the sanctuary), a historic bed-and-breakfast where the gracefully gawky creatures roam the grounds and pop their heads in the windows during meals. Also outside Nairobi, you can visit the farmhouse of Out of Africa author Karen Blixen.

See + Do

Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya

Masai Mara, Kenya
Website: www.maraconservancy.com

Spread across a savanna so vast it reaches into neighboring Tanzania (where it becomes Serengeti National Park), Masai Mara is Kenya's consummate game park. Lions snooze in the grass; wildebeest thunder across the plains; acacia trees spread their prickly parasols on the horizon. The wealth of wildlife and the accompanying high-end lodges have made the Masai Mara one of the most popular safari spots in Africa. While the park's popularity is off-putting to some—sometimes it can seem like there's a fleet of 4WDs around every last lion—those willing to spend a bit more cash can take advantage of prime locations deep inside the Mara (and far from the tourist tumult). The park's highlights—too numerous to list individually—range from guided game walks to Masai village visits to lodges overlooking crowded watering holes. Of course, the splendid spectacle of the wildebeest migration is not to be missed, with more than a million beasts rumbling their way from the Serengeti between July and October.

See + Do

Lake Nakuru National Park, Kenya

, Nakuru
Lake Nakuru National Park, Kenya
Website: www.kws.org/nakuru.html

"Pretty in pink" might not be the perfect advertisement for an adrenaline-charged safari, but Lake Nakuru's famous flocks of flamingos are one of Kenya's most celebrated spectacles. Skirting the lake's shores in a long, dazzling ribbon of pink, the birds are an ornithological marvel: a million-plus perched on slender pins, nibbling away at the lake's algae. You'll also see plenty of pelicans, storks, and cormorants keeping them company, while the surrounding woodlands, framed by green-cloaked cliffs, are a popular stomping ground for lion, leopard, waterbuck, buffalo, and the endangered black rhino. If you're looking to make Nakuru your base for a few days, stay at the Sarova Lion Hill Game Lodge. Though it may lack some of the glitz of the country's more over-the-top lodges, the location is ideal: The 67 chalets sit on a plateau overlooking the lake. It's bird-watching with a stylish twist (Lake Nakuru; 254-20-271-4444; www.sarovahotels.com/lionhill).

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.