Nairobi Cities and Towns
Nairobi is usually your gateway to Kenya. While it's often just for 'passing through', it has some excellent lodges and hotels, as well as a lively, interesting shopping precinct, especially at the informal ‘Masaai’ markets, It also has several worthwhile attractions - like the Nairobi National Park – right on its doorstep.
* Nairobi Highlights
- ∞Gateway to Kenya, and often, many other East African safari destinations
- ∞Great shopping, especially at informal Maasai markets
- ∞Nairobi National Park on city's outskirts
- ∞Excellent choice of hotels and lodges
- ∞Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage
- ∞Bomas of Kenya, cultural village experience
- ∞Westlands bustling nightlife district
Nairobi seems to be overcoming its bad press and reputation as the “Nai-rob-me” capital of Africa. Yes, there are areas best to avoid (which your lodge staff will be happy to advise you about), but Nairobi is a city worth seeing. It does have notoriously bad traffic and at peak times (7h00-9h00 and 16h30-18h30) most of the city’s traffic grinds to a halt; drivers can be appallingly bad, especially the matatus (local mini-buses) and buses. If you plan your trips to avoid rush hours and have a local guide, you should be able to enjoy the city at leisure.
Nairobi is usually your arrival point in Kenya and it has some excellent lodges and hotels, as well as a lively nightlife and interesting shopping, especially at the informal ‘Masaai’ markets. There are several worthwhile attractions - like the Nairobi National Park – right on its doorstep.
One of its more famous and popular restaurants is “The Carnivore” which serves a banquet of game meats (everything from warthog and wildebeest to zebra and crocodile), hot-off-the-grill onto your plate from oversized metal skewers.
There’s plenty to see and do in Nairobi – from wildlife to culture, sport, adventure, shopping and entertainment. Here are some of our favourites;
Nairobi National Park, situated just a few kilometres outside the city. It’s home to large herds of plains animals like zebra, giraffe, wildebeest, buffalo and rhino as well as predators like lion and cheetah. Over 400 species of birds have been recorded here. You can go on the ‘Nairobi Safari Walk’. The park also acts as an educational centre to make the local people and school children aware of wildlife conservation and its challenges. The Nairobi Animal Orphanage is also within the park and well worth a visit.
Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage, not far from the Nairobi Park. The orphanage takes in elephant and rhino babies from all over Kenya that have been orphaned by poaching. Showing is only in the mornings from 11am-12pm and gives you the chance to get up close and personal with baby elephants.
Giraffe Centre, situated in Lang'ata on the outskirts of Nairobi. The centre breeds the endangered Rothschild Giraffe and offers a conservation/education programmes for Kenyan children. You will be allowed to feed the giraffes by hand.
Mamba Village is a pleasant park which is home to ostriches and crocodiles. The guides are very knowledgeable and will allow you to interact directly with the crocodiles, even to handle the babies if you are there at the right time.
Kenyatta International Conference Center (K.I.C.C), in the city centre. Go to the top of the flying-saucer shaped top of the tower and you’ll get a great view out of the sprawling, congested city. On a clear day, you should be able to see out over Nairobi National Park.
Nairobi National Museum, recently celebrated its centenary in 2010. Visitors to the museum can learn all there is to know about Kenya, its rich culture and history. A live snake park is next door for more intrepid visitors.
National Railway Museum, details more about the history of Kenya’s railroads and the Kenya/Uganda railway, featuring some of the engines and rolling stock from the country’s colonial period.
Karen Blixen Museum, ([email protected]) showcases much of Karen Blixen’s book "Out of Africa" and the building was her actual home. It’s on the outskirts of Nairobi, accessible by bus or taxi.
Bomas of Kenya, gives insight into Kenya’s culture. Here, you’ll be able to see exhibits of traditional Kenyan homes, artifacts and dances, and listen to traditional music and songs.
Uhuru Gardens was built in remembrance of Kenya’s struggle for independence, which was granted in 1963. A triumphal column of 24 m (79 ft) supports a pair of clasped hands and the dove of peace, high over a statue of freedom fighters raising the flag, set in beautiful, landscaped gardens.
Westlands, is the bustling nightlife district of Nairobi. Many restaurants and bars line busy Woodvale Grove and Mpaka Road. A popular option for first-time visitors is the Treehouse Club, patronised largely by ex-pats. Some of the local clubs can become overcrowded. There’s generally good security about.
If your itinerary or travel plans include a stop-over in Nairobi, please chat to us about some day trip options and local excursions and we’ll be happy to provide you with some ideas and recommendations.
Related LocationsMaasai Mara National Park
It's said that you won't find a greater abundance of game anywhere in Africa, as you will at the Maasai Mara. Apart from the Big 5, you're likely to see a bigger variety and sheer numbers of wildlife - like the annual wildebeest migration, involving over 1,5 million animals.
More about Maasai Mara National Park