Top 9 Things to Do in Nairobi, Kenya
Popularly known as the “Green City in the Sun,” Kenya’s capital city of Nairobi is a popular first stop on Kenyan safaris. In Nairobi, visitors can receive a crash course in Kenyan culture, history, and even wildlife—just a short drive from the business district lies Nairobi National Park, home to many of the Big 5 and more.
Although Nairobi is just 87 miles south of the equator, its 3 million residents enjoy a comfortable year-round climate. Temperatures rarely fall below 50ºF at night or rise above 77ºF during the day.
Looking for ways to make the best of your time in Nairobi? In this article, we highlight Ujuzi travelers’ nine favorite things to do in Nairobi. Whether you want to see nature, experience a different culture, or enjoy local foods, Nairobi has something for you!
Lions are among the many animals visitors may see at Nairobi National Park.
Explore Nairobi National Park
One of Kenya’s most successful rhino sanctuaries lies right on the edge of the city! The sanctuary is part of Nairobi National Park, established in 1946 as the country’s first national park.
Nairobi National Park has an astonishing variety of wildlife and attracts antelopes, giraffes, and elephants in the dry season. More than 400 bird species have been identified at the park, along with hyenas, cheetahs, leopards, and lions. Large zebra and wildebeest herds gather here in July and August.
Shop at City Market
Nairobi is the largest city in East Africa, and shopping opportunities are everywhere—from sophisticated boutiques to pavement stalls. The City Market is well worth a visit for its colorful array of tropical fruits, beautiful flowers, and exotic vegetables. Try a tamarillo, which looks like a tomato but has a flavor reminiscent of passion fruit, or sample varieties of bananas and mangoes that cannot be found in the United States.
Nairobi National Museum is the flagship facility of the National Museums of Kenya, a public entity that manages museums, monuments, and important archaeological sites throughout the country.
Visit the Nairobi National Museum
The Nairobi National Museum was started in 1910 by naturalists who wished to catalog samples of the wildlife and plants of the region. Today it houses diverse collections to represent Kenya’s heritage through history, nature, culture, and contemporary art.
You could easily spend a full day immersing yourself in the collections, then strolling through the beautiful botanical and sculpture gardens that surround it.
See cool reptiles at Nairobi Snake Park
Near the museum lies Nairobi Snake Park, a wonderful stop for lovers of things that creep and crawl. Animals at the park include many species of snakes, amphibians, and marine and freshwater fish. It even has crocodiles!
Nairobi Snake Park rescues and rehabilitates Kenya’s indigenous snakes and educates the public about their practical benefits, such as rodent control. Staff help reduce human-snake conflicts by offering removal and rehoming services. They also teach people the differences between harmless snakes and potentially dangerous ones.
In addition to vertebrates, the Nairobi Snake Park’s residents include giant snails, baboon spiders, Mombasa train millipedes, and freshwater prawns.
Sunset illuminates Nairobi’s skyline.
Tour the landmarks
Many travelers enjoy a driving tour of Nairobi when they first arrive. It’s a great way to get acquainted with the city’s diverse architecture.
Towering above Nairobi is the Kenyatta International Conference Center, which is topped by a revolving restaurant that offers superb views of the city and surrounding country. Other interesting architectural sights include Parliament, the Law Courts, City Hall, the All Saints Cathedral, the Cathedral Basilica of the Holy Family, and the Jamia Mosque.
The Giraffe Centre in Nairobi offers learning, fun, and the occasional “kiss” from a resident giraffe. Photo by Deborah.
Get face-to-face with the world’s tallest land mammal
At the foot of the Ngong Hills, the Giraffe Centre is dedicated to rescuing endangered Rothschild giraffes. While the main focus is on protecting and increasing the wild population, injured or orphaned giraffes may stay at the center for care. A few that cannot return to the wild become life-long residents.
From the second story of the visitors’ center, you can get an eye-to-eye view of one of these gentle giants. But beware—long-term residents are so comfortable with people, they may want to “kiss” you!
This room in the Karen Blixen Museum was the renowned author’s personal library. Photo by Stuart Price, Make It Kenya.
Learn about history at the Karen Blixen Museum
Down the road from the Giraffe Center lies a farm that is a relic of Kenya’s colonial past. Built in 1912, the museum was originally the farmhouse for Karen Blixen, a novelist and coffee farmer who wrote as Isak Dinesen. She also inspired the Academy Award-winning film Out of Africa. Today you can tour the house and gardens. Afterward, enjoy a cup of Kenyan coffee at the Karen Blixen Coffee Garden.
The Sheldrick Wildlife Trust operates the world’s most successful animal rescue. Photo courtesy of Sheldrick Wildlife Trust.
Coo over baby elephants
The Sheldrick Wildlife Trust provides a temporary home for orphaned elephants and rhinos. The animals sleep at the orphanage, then spend the day with human caretakers in Nairobi National Park. There, they learn to forage and become familiar with the scents and behaviors of local herds.
The Orphans’ Project is open to the public during scheduled hours, when visitors can watch young elephants feed and play.
Stroll through Nairobi Arboretum
The Nairobi Arboretum has the finest collection of trees and shrubs in Eastern Africa, and a guided plant or birdwalk there before your safari can provide an excellent orientation to the local landscape.
If you’re lucky, you may even see a black-and-white colobus monkey!
Ready to plan your safari?
Ujuzi African Travel can help you plan your trip to Nairobi and beyond. Spending a few days in Nairobi is a great way to start or wrap up your African safari! Contact us to make your travel dreams come true.
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