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Navigating the Green City

From the muddy roads of the Mara back to the bustling streets of Nairobi, Dan's life has changed but one thing remains as strong as ever — his love for nature
Above: Where Nairobi gets its nickname

Guiding is in the family. My uncle had his own company and three vehicles so it was easy to jump in and go with him on his adventures. He would go all over the place; my favourites were the Mara and Nakuru because of the beautiful birds there. That inspired me and three of my cousins to be guides.

When I finished school, I went straight to tourism college for three years. During this time, I also became a member of the National History Museum in Nairobi and part of their birding department where I would spend my time after lectures — we used to ring birds, check their migratory routes, identify where certain species live and so on. It was very interesting, especially for me who loves birds. You’ll see that people love nature in Nairobi, it’s everywhere and it’s important to us.

A young Daniel, in the early Angama Mara days

I had been working in the Mara as a guide for eight years when I found out about Angama’s opening. An old friend of mine, also called Dan, was going to be the head guide and he convinced me to apply to work there. The problem was that I had already been offered a job in Nairobi and I was very interested because I wanted to be closer to my family and friends. Long story short, I couldn't say no to the opportunity and the other friends I already knew who were working at Angama.

Some of Daniel's longstanding friends; Titus, Ken, Jackson and Lemaalo

Working in the Mara was amazing, and there were so many things I loved about it. Firstly, the birds! They were my number one favourite part. And then, I had so many friends; after spending so many years in the Mara, it had become a place where I felt truly comfortable. And, oh, the scenery! Especially in the southern part of the Mara, where it's quiet and peaceful. The Mara is just a place that works so beautifully, the roads are perfect, and the game is varied and beautiful. It was the perfect place for guiding because I was so familiar with it.

But change is good and it was eventually time for me to move back to Nairobi so I came to work as a city guide here in Nairobi for Angama. On my off days though, I try to spend as much time in nature as possible. The one thing that took me a long time to get used to was the noise here, that’s something you definitely don’t have in the Mara and sometimes I just want to have quiet again.

Step into my new office

My parents have a house up country that is very special to me. Previously, it was my dad looking after it but now he’s 72 and he's saying, 'Now it's you. You do the hard work.' So I'm the one who goes and makes sure the cows, goats and chicken are okay. I give them medicine and make sure the crops are growing nicely. I've got three children now and the oldest girl, Shanice, is the most like me. Every time I go up country, she cannot be left behind. She wants to come and spend time in nature, no matter what.

The city skyline in a sea of green

One of my favourite spots in Nairobi is the top of the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) building. When I look out over Nairobi, it's a reminder of my dad’s childhood, where the city eventually encroached on his farming hometown. He was forced to get more space for his farm but even he loves the city and the way that it is still green. You look out in every direction and you see buildings and cars but, most importantly, you see nature. Even more special, on a clear day, I can look out and see the land upcountry that I love.

Sharing the leafy-green secrets of Nairobi, including a coffee in the shade of Tin Roof Café

Nairobi is as much a part of me as guiding is. Even though it’s very different from the Mara traffic of elephant herds or lions in the street, the biggest tip I can give for driving in Nairobi, and in life, is don’t let the fear take control — if you fear, you’ll be in one spot the whole day, just keep going with courage.

Filed under: Inside Angama

Tagged with:

Angama Team , Angama Travel , Nairobi

About: Daniel Njiriri

Browse all articles by Daniel Njiriri Meet the angama team

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