After our journey on “The Lunatic Express,” I needed to learn more about trains in Kenya. I mean, more than 100 people were eaten by lions just trying to build the railway, surely there had to be more juicy history. That curiosity, plus the fact that I have a penchant for quirky museums, is how we found ourselves at The Railway Museum in Nairobi.
In some ways, the museum was a disappointment. It was one room of cluttered train paraphernalia. I saw antique serving dishes, and a map of the route. I saw old photographs of people riding the train, and a strange 3-wheeled bicycle that an official would ride to check the tracks. Train aficionados would probably love it; I mostly played with my camera settings and took photos.
Luckily, outside the museum was a train graveyard, ripe for exploring. And unlike at those stuffy museums in the U.S., with all their “rules,” we were allowed to climb into the trains. (I even saw a visiting school child climb on top of one of the trains.) It was fun, and I took many more photos.
The highlight of the museum was the bold display of the train car where a British man was eaten alive by a lion. The cocky Brit considered himself a skilled hunter, and opened all the doors and windows of his train car with the intent of shooting the man-eating lion that had killed many railway workers.
Of course, he fell asleep, and the lion came in, dragged his body out of the train, and ate him. As an avid voyeur, I was excited to be able to see the exact train car where Superintendent Ryall met his fate.
For a lazy Saturday morning or for train enthusiasts, The Railway Museum is a great stop. For those taking a whirlwind tour of Kenya, it’s something to skip.
If you decide to visit The Railway Museum, here are my tips:
- The entrance fee is 400 Ksh (Kenyan Shillings) for a non-resident adult, and prices go down from there. (Prices for tourist attractions in Kenya have risen substantially in the past decade, so these prices may not be accurate during the time of your visit.)
- Unlike museums in the U.S., you can feel free to take photos of all the trains and climb aboard any of them.
- You can take a matatu to downtown Nairobi and then walk to the museum. The road from the railway station to the museum feels a bit remote, and I wouldn’t recommend walking down it alone.