In my Lonely Planet guide book of Kenya I constantly find helpful tips and recommendations that impress and help me out in several situations, and for instance this time, I was looking for an easily accessible break, something different. When you feel tired of the crazy dusty roads and noises of Mombasa and Bamburi, the dust, the rubbish, the shouting, the buses honking, the harsh African sun, you can take a stroll into a marvellous place, Haller Park, for 1400 Kenyan shilling.
In Haller Park I met this cute Mongoose that had been kept as a pet, and then the owner had gotten bored of it and needed to get rid of it. It’s initially a wild animal and shouldn’t be kept as a pet in the first place, but has now become tame and can’t make it in the real world. So Haller park took him in and are slowly adapting him to an independent life. This is what they do. Troubled animals, a sanctuary. But the park is such a brilliant eco system, and has become a haven for the animals and has attracted several animals, that have come, and stayed. Loads of wild birds, monkeys and other creatures. The amazing story of the Park is that in fact it was an unused quarry, filled with crap, partly caused by the cement factory; Bamburi cement. Out of this they created and carved out in cooperation with the factory itself, this beautiful park. They made such an effort to create a glorious thriving eco-system that they imported huge old trees from other countries such as India and up-country. The park looks centuries old but it’s only a few decades. Plants thrive there, and the circle of life is regular as clockwork. This plant for instance cleans the water. The park allows you to daily witness and take part in feeding of several animals including a bunch of happy, sniffingly curious giraffes. They are so beautiful and know when it’s time for feeding, an don’t hesitate to come super close to people. The friendly vegans are calm and gentle, as they lick your hands with their giant purple tongues. One of the downside to being so close to the factory is for instance the storage of all these tires, at the moment they don’t have anywhere else to put them, but one of the par assistants assured me that none of the animals have been hurt there, and never really approach them, and are free of snakes and scorpios, and that they are to be removed within two weeks. They keep some reptiles, that again, have been in trouble, for instance they had fount a huge snake down at the docks that had swallowed a GOAT! It was clearly in trouble and has spent the time in Haller Park healing. They keep crocs there of all ages and sizes ad I learned crazy things about them that I didn’t know before! They can go a YEAR without eating! That’s crazy that they can survive that long! They feed them 400 pounds of meat once a month because that is what is usual out in the nature, and some of the biggest ones there were 30 years, and the smaller ones were 13! Because it takes them a long time to grow, and when you see huge ones in a zoo it’s usually because they feed them too much, which is not healthy or natural. The tour guide said that they live pretty long because they have such small brains, which means they don’t stress…hahah. AND, they don’t taste anything! Because they don’t have tongues, so they eat any shit and rubbish really, but they can’t resist the smell of meat. Now these huge beasts are so fascinating to watch eating.. They knew exactly when they were going to get fed (and so did the monkeys), and came slowly up from the water. The food they give them is only supplements (all the vegetarian animals get the same supplements) because they get what they need in the fantastic nature in the park. And they think it’s really tasty, so they are very happy chowing down. As soon as the big hippo mouths were off the ground and closed, the monkeys jumped a little closer and grabbed as much food as they could muster.
The Zebras are so like horses, – Well, of course! You say, but to me it’s fascinating. They are a bit like groups of grumpy ponies. Kicking each other and making almost piggy grunting noises. They are so beautiful in real life. So is the Gazelle.
So if you find yourself in Bamburi Mombasa, needing a little something different.. I highly reccomend Haller Park, and to ask for a guide (I’ts free but considered nice to tip) because I learned a LOT and you get a lot out of it, and they wait for you and you feel like you can take your time and enjoy. Support a good cause and breathe some fresh air!