Nairobi, Kenya Travel Guide: Top Things to Do and See in Nairobi
From endangered species conservancies to vast culture, nightlife, hiking trails to urban indigenous forests Nairobi city is packed with treasures. It is no secret that this East African hub has some of the most spectacular sceneries.
Here Are the Top 10 Things To Do In Nairobi
Nairobi serves as a major transit getaway for many tourists visiting and leaving east Africa due to the availability of international flights connections and affordability. Here are must-visit bucket worthy destinations in Nairobi, Kenya.
1. Enjoy The African wildlife Experience at Nairobi National Park And The Animal Orphanage
Kenya is truly magical just right in the capital city you can spot game animals. Here you can see four of the big five including the lions, rhinos, leopards, cape buffaloes. Other wildlife includes giraffes, tortoises, monkeys, zebras and ostriches.
In addition, the reserve has raised walking trails [Nairobi Safari Walk] to give visitors awesome views of animals, landscape and city center.
2. Sample The Kenyan Cultural Diversity At The Bomas Of Kenya
Kenya is a multicultural country with over 44 tribes and many sub-tribes. At Bomas of Kenya you can watch traditional songs, dances, and performances from different tribes.
3. See The Adorable Baby Elephants At David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust
Open for just an hour [11.00 am] for public viewing this elephant orphanage takes care of abandoned baby elephants. You can watch them being fed and playing.
4. Learn About Kenyan History at Nairobi National Museum
For history and art lovers, the museum has different exhibits on display such as archeological findings and history of early man, tribal artifacts, and history of Kenya dating back from the colonial era, east African birds and wildlife
On the same ground, there is a snake and aquarium exhibit.
5. Visit the Karen Blixen Museum
Are you a fan of Karen literature and art? If yes then a tour to her museum should be high in your list. The movie Out of Africa was shot here. You can enjoy food in the Tamambo Karen Blixen coffee plantation overlooking the beautiful Ngong hills.
6. Take A Nature Stroll At Karura Forest
This lush green scenery is a perfect spot for communing with nature and picnic. You can cycle, jog or walk along nature trails lined with indigenous trees and rivers as you watch monkeys and birds. It can be crowded during the weekends as many Kenyan families go there for picnics.
7. Hike The Ngong Hills
To explore off the beaten path destinations you can visit Ngong hills. On the way, you can have an amazing feel of the Kenyans way of living. Occasionally you can meet Maasai crossing Ngong road with their herds of cattle. There are seven hills of varying difficulty. Depending on how many hills you decide to hike it can take 3-5 hours.
The serene environment offers tourists stunning views of nature. The panoramic view of Nairobi city from the top of the Ngong hills is breathtaking. Carry some warm clothes the place can be quite windy.
8. Have A Date With The Gentle Giants At The Giraffe Manor
Ever dreamt of kissing a giraffe? At this giraffe sanctuary, you can feed and interact with towers of giraffes. If you are on a budget you can visit the Giraffe Centre just next to the manor. The center is equally good and way cheaper.
9. Hold Baby Crocs At The Mamba Village
This family-friendly destination offers tourists a chance to see crocodiles, ostriches, snakes and monkeys. A kid play section is available with boats and different rides.
10. Eagle’s Eye View of Nairobi City At Kenyatta International Conference Centre [KICC]
Relax at the KICC rooftop as you view Nairobi city and its suburbs. It is a nice place to watch the African sunset and take photographs of the city center.
Best Local Cuisines in Nairobi
Enjoy some Ugali and fish- you can never have enough baked cornmeal served with fish. It is a popular dish and widely available. I can recommend Mama Oliech Café in Nairobi.
Try Barbecued meat “nyama Choma”- Kenya is a meat inclined society nothing beats the taste of nyama choma.
Where To Eat And Stay In Nairobi
You can never run short of accommodation and eateries in Nairobi. Depending on your preference there are plenty of budget-friendly and high-end facilities.
For authentic coffee taste, I recommend Java Coffee House outlets spread all over the city.
Take a delicious safari dinner at Carnivore Restaurant. It is a popular nyama choma joint for tourists.
For accommodation, Millimani Backpacker’s Hostel and Wildebeest Eco Camp Nairobi are great options.
Where to Shop
Basically, there is no shortage of places to go shopping in Nairobi. There are many malls available. For the best shopping experience you can check:
Two Rivers Mall and Village Market - both are located off Limuru Road. This is by far one of the safest and serene locations in Nairobi. In fact, many international embassies and UN offices are found here. Also, there is less traffic jam compared to the rest of Nairobi.
Other major shopping outlets include Garden City Mall along Nairobi-Thika Highway and Yaya Shopping Centre.
For Best Souvenirs;
Visit The Maasai Market within the Central Business District [CBD]. There is a wide variety of beautiful African handicraft from locals including beaded jewelry, baskets and painted artwork.
Tip: be ready to bargain the stated price is usually twice or thrice the selling price.
Other Interesting Places Near Nairobi
If you plan to spend a little more in Nairobi you can visit the nearby areas to interact with locals such as the Kibera Slum tours, Fourteen Falls in Thika, Kiambethu Tea Farms tour, Kazuri Beads and Pottery Centre, Maasai Ostrich Farm or the mau-mau caves. Like in every major city be careful Nairobi can be wild, be street smart and vigilant. Always trust your instincts and avoid exposing expensive variables.
Insider Tips: Dos and Don’ts
Traffic is crazy. If you can, avoid rush hour during early morning hours and late evenings or stay closer to your destination of interest. In cases when it is unavoidable remember to factor in 1-2 hours spent in the traffic jam.
Beware most Public Service Vehicle [PSV] literally fly. Follow traffic rules
Avoid Downtown Nairobi and Eastlands- the prevalence of crime rate and petty theft is higher
Go green- use of plastics carrier bags is banned in Kenya. Breaking of this rule can attract fines of up to USD 40,000.
Don’t fall prey of “medical emergencies” scam- if in your stay in Nairobi you come across any person by the roadside appearing to be having an severe asthmatic attack and a ‘friend/s’ pleading for help do not stop or offer any assistance. You can be sure these cons have perfectly mastered their skills, the attacks appear so real. This is a scam that has been going on for several years now. Many tourists, as well as locals, have fallen to this money mincing trap. This is mostly in high-end estates which are famous with tourists but can be found any place where there is human traffic.
Avoid exposing your phone when seated near the vehicles’ windows especially in bus stations. It is likely to be snatched.
For taxi apps- you can use Uber, Little Cab and Taxify
Learn a few simple Swahili words -it will go along way and locals love it.
Habari?- how are you?
Before you raise your camera to capture the beautiful moments and buildings remember -It is against the Kenyan law to take photographs in prohibited areas and government landmarks such as the parliament buildings, Army Barracks, Central Bank of Kenya, State House and lodges, Supreme Court, foreign embassies, consulates, military ships, Jomo Kenyatta Mausoleum, Harambee House, Times Tower, and some private premises.
Although USD and other major currencies are acceptable in most hotels you will still need Kenyan shillings to pay for transport and some parks charges.