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The promise of nature at Karen Blixen Museum

The nature trail at Karen Blixen Museum, Nairobi. [PHOTO: Brigid Chemweno

By Brigid Chemweno

Nairobi, Kenya: Having completed an assignment in the leafy suburb Karen about 10 kilometres from Nairobi’s city centre, we decide to make a stop at Karen Blixen Museum.

We are curious to discover who Karen Blixen is and why there is a museum named after her. Upon our arrival, we meet a guide, John Ngure, who gives us a brochure about the museum.

According to the brochure, the property was once a farm owned by the famous Karen and her husband Baron Bror von Blixen Fincke. After the release of the film “Out of Africa”, based on Karen’s autobiography, the farmhouse became famous and was eventually turned into a museum in 1985 by the National Museums of Kenya.

The museum displays various items from the colonial era including furniture, utensils and photographs and it is open to the public daily from 9.30 am to 6pm including weekends and public holidays.

But before we get a chance to go inside, we discover, to our joy, that the museum is surrounded by indigenous trees that are part of what was once a forest covering the area.

There is even a birding and nature trail, which is very exciting for us. It is a warm day and we prefer to spend the rest of our afternoon walking outside rather than inside a building.

As we start our journey into the trail our photographer asked if snakes and other dangerous animals are present.

Our guide, John Ngure, who is also in charge of the birds in the museum, informs us that the area is free from snakes and dangerous animals to clear doubts.

“One hundred and sixteen species of birds are found in this forest,” Ngure says.

The environment here is appealing. It is silent, save for the chirping of the birds and stridulating of the crickets.

The forest is a tropical dry forest. Ngure informs us that birds have found home in the forest due to the bushes to built their nests and accessibility to water.

“When I wake up every day, I make sure that all the water troughs for the birds are full of water because this will attract more birds to establish their nests in the forest,” he says.

Ngure says he has studied the behavior of the birds and records the migratory habits of the birds every two weeks in a nature book.

As we approach the middle of the forest, we notice that the birds are making a lot of noise and Ngure informs us that they are doing so because they have noticed intruders in their territory.

“If you are not keen you may not notice it. Other birds are honey guides and can lead you where the bees are so that you can disturb the bees, extract the honey and leave a little for them,” he says.

“When you take all the honey without leaving any for them, they will mislead you the next time,” he jokes.

Other animals that can be spotted inside the forest are chameleons and monkeys, which Ngure says pass through the forest when they are migrating.

We leave the place educated and refreshed.

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