If you’re flying to Nairobi the chances are it’s for a quick pit stop en route to the Masai Mara or one of the many national parks Kenya has to offer. A modern and busy city, Nairobi is often seen as a place to get in and out as quick as possible.
But with an abundance of places to stay, including rural retreats on the outskirts of the city, and activities to connect you with the amazing animals of Africa, Nairobi is the perfect warm-up ahead of your Safari.
Now to answer the important question; What to do in Nairobi to make sure I make the most out of my time?
A must to do in Nairobi; Get down to the Elephant Orphanage and support the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust
If we had to choose just one thing to do then this would probably be it! Feeding of the baby elephants takes place each day at 11am. Providing the perfect opportunity to get up close and personal with these amazing creatures.
You’ll hear the upsetting stories of how each elephant was taken in by the orphanage. Mainly due to the poaching of their mothers. But you’ll leave inspired by the amazing work these guys do.
At only 500KSH (5$) per person, it really is an absolute must. Definitely worth arriving 20 minutes before feeding for a spot at the front of the enclosure and ensure maximum opportunity for stroking the elephants!
Visit the Giraffe Centre to get up close and personal with Rathbone giraffes
The rathbone giraffe has been on the decline in Africa but the giraffe centre has done an excellent job in protecting and breeding the Rathbone giraffe to ensure the future of these beauties.
Whilst an overnight stay at the Giraffe Manor was far beyond our budget the centre is all part of the same grounds. Entrance is slightly more than the Elephant orphanage at 1000KSH (10$) but definitely still worth it.
Stacy is the friendliest of the giraffes and always up for a smooch with unassuming visitors. And with giraffe saliva known to have the most antiseptic qualities of any animal, why not give it a go…
Take a day safari in Nairobi National Park
Whilst the days of spotting a lion stroll down Nairobi city centre may have passed, it’s still remarkable to consider just how close in proximity this national park is to the modern bustling city. It became Kenya’s first designated national park in 1946 and paved the way for the protection of animals in Kenya.
We didn’t actually visit the park ourselves but our friends and hosts in Nairobi who have lived there for 30+ years tell us it can be a great day out. And particularly good for anyone tight on time or not planning a trip to the larger national parks.
You can still see a huge array of wildlife including; black rhino, leopards, giraffes, zebras and cheetahs. (Worth noting our friends do have the ability to take their own safari jeep into the park as opposed to using a guide – how cool is that!).
The only thing to be careful of here is the park entry fees which are $43 for non-residents. Still cheaper than the Masai Mara but slightly more than some like Hells Gate National Park at nearby Lake Naivasha where you can actually cycle alongside Africa’s wildlife!
Set free your inner Merly Streep or Robert Redford with a trip to the Karen Blixen Museum and Ngong Hills
If, like us, you’re a fan of the Out of Africa books and movie then this has to be on your Nairobi itinerary!
The Karen Blixen museum is a little pricey for what you get, but it’s a great way to spend a relaxing afternoon (think tea and cakes in the garden). Whilst also learning more about Karen’s life and the history of Nairobi under British colonial rule. You can also take a seat in Karen’s back garden and romanticise whilst overlooking the Ngong hills.
A trip to the Ngong hills is also a great way of getting out of the city for views over Nairobi and can be enjoyed either hiking or with a private taxi. You’ll also be able to visit Denys Finch’s grave to complete the Out of Africa tour.
Before we arrived we weren’t sure what to expect of Nairobi but once we’d settled into its rural suburbs with its plentiful lush green trees and wildlife we could even picture ourselves moving there!
We extended our stay and a big part of that was due to our location in the Karen area. With easy access to all of the main attractions, it made much more sense than staying centrally as well as feeling safe and at home.
Whilst we focused mainly on the wildlife side of things we also heard Nairobi was a great choice for fair priced fine dining, museums and art gallery’s – it really has something for everyone.
Russ & Fi x