Nairobi, or “The green city under the sun” is Kenya’s capital city and the largest center of business and trade in East Africa. Nairobi is also the regional location of headquarters for various international companies and organizations. It is safe to say that Nairobi is one of the most significant cities in Africa, both politically and economically. Jambojet flies daily between Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu, Eldoret, Malindi, Diani (Ukunda), and Entebbe (Uganda).
The name Nairobi was derived from the Maasai phrase ‘Enkare Nyrobi’, which translates to "cool water", a reference to the Nairobi River which flows through the city. Nairobi is a city filled with a rich tribal and cultural history. It can be described as a city of contrasts. Old enough for you to feel its culture and yet modern enough to be adorned with skyscrapers and world class restaurants. Alive and Bustling with fast paced city life and yet home to a serene animal sanctuary. It also has an intriguing blend of people from all cultures and walks of life.
Nairobi is the gateway to explore Kenya and it is bound to capture your attention. There are exciting places to visit ranging from informative museums to Ice rinks.
Exotic African wildlife
You don’t have to go to the Mara to watch exotic African Wildlife, you can get your animal fix right in the city.
- Nairobi National Park
The city of Nairobi is the only place in the world where you can find a national park right in the city. The Park is located a mere 7 kilometers from the city center. The park is home to giraffes, lions, cheetahs and an abundance of bird species. The Nairobi Safari Walk is a major attraction to the Nairobi National Park as it offers a rare on-foot experience of the animals.
- The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust
The trust is a sanctuary for animals who have been orphaned. The baby elephants and rhinos are rehabilitated and introduced back into the wild. The center located just outside the Nairobi National Park and is dedicated to caring for the young abandoned animals. It is a place where visitors get the rare experience of watching the baby orphans getting fed and taking their daily mud bath. Watching the ecstatic baby elephants splash around in the mud is guaranteed to melt your heart.
- The Nairobi Giraffe Centre
It is located on the edges of Nairobi’s National Park. This center was founded to educate the children and the public about the Rothschild giraffes which are facing extinction. These Giraffes can only be found in the open grasslands of East Africa. The best part about visiting this center is that the visitors are allowed to interact and feed the animals. Don’t forget to bring your camera, these majestic animals are very photogenic.
- The Karura Forest
This is an Urban forest located in Nairobi. The forest is a great place to escape from the busy and noisy city life. The forest contains many attractions from a beautiful waterfall, sacred caves and beautiful indigenous trees. It sits on a bed of volcanic rock and is home to many indigenous animals such as the cute big-eyed Bush Baby. It is a nice place to walk, jog, and ride bicycles or simply to sit quietly and experience the serenity of nature in all its diversity.
As you make memories in Nairobi, don’t forget to get souvenirs. Take a piece of Nairobi, and Kenya, with you! The Maasai market in Nairobi is a great place to buy beautiful souvenirs. The local artists produce creative and original art, functional kitchenware, curios, clothes, fabrics, bedding and much more. You can expect to do a little haggling with the vendors but you can be assured of getting some worthy bargains. It is also recreational to actually watch the artist at work, you can view women threading beads right in front of you. The market moves around the city so it is wise to have a schedule.
Tuesday: Westgate Shopping Mall in Westlands
Wednesday: Capital Centre on Mombasa Road near the airport
Thursday: Nakumatt Junction Shopping Mall on Ngong Road
Friday: Village Market in Gigiri (the upper car park)
Saturday: The High Court parking lot in the city center (behind the Hilton)
Sunday: Yaya Centre in Hurlingham
History is who we are, and why we are the way we are….. Learn a bit of history and get to meet “The turkana boy” one of the oldest Homo erectus.
- Nairobi National Museum
Spend a few hours at the National museum to view all the information about Kenya and its history. You will find cultural and history exhibits, a splendid collection of minerals and rocks, bones, fossils and the full remains of a homo erectus popularly known as the Turkana boy. The National museums also has a snake park with an impressive array of SNAKES! They won’t let you pet them, for obvious reasons but you can view them up close with only a glass cage between you and the venomous reptiles.
- The Karen Blixen Museum
This museum tells the story of the colonial era in Kenya, through the eyes of the Danish author –Karen Blixen. Her memoirs tell of the events that took place in the years of 1917 to 1931 and were made famous by the movie, ‘Out of Africa’
- Bomas of Kenya
This is a collection of cultural villages built like exact replicas of ancient villages and a live museum that showcases the colorful and diverse tribes of Kenya. You can learn more about the culture, music and lifestyle of each Kenyan tribe by touring these villages. The whole complex is a recreated traditional village where you can also find a theatre showcasing all the local dances and songs. A visit to these villages takes you back a century and gives you a really authentic peep into life in ancient Kenya
Go Ice skating!
Yes, in the middle of sub-Saharan Africa and Yes, with real ice!
Nairobi is home to the largest ice rink in Africa. The Solar Ice Rink at the Panari Hotel's Sky Centre. The rink, opened in 2005, covers 15,000 square feet (1,400 m2). It can accommodate 200 skaters and offers quite fair prices for this exceptional experience. The rink also has trainers who assist beginners.
Party in the city
If you'd like to party in Nairobi, then Electric Avenue is the place to go. Electric Avenue is a nick name for the upmarket westlands area which is popular for clubbing spots. Nairobi's night life is popular with tourists, young and old. The city's nightlife is mostly centered along friends and colleagues meeting after work especially on Fridays commonly known as "Furahiday" (Happy Day). Most party joints host theme nights, events and concerts, and barbeques to go with the alcohol. The locals generally go out every day of the week with the party coming to an invigorating peak on Fridays. Most establishments remain open till late every night (morning).
Nairobi boasts of a collection of gourmet restaurants offering local and international cuisine, Nairobi has something to offer to every taste, age and pocket. For those more discerning travelers, one can choose from a wide array of local cuisine, Mediterranean, Brazilian, Ethiopian, Indian, Chinese, Vegetarian and much more. We compiled this list together with our friends at EatOut Kenya.
Nairobi is home to “nyamachoma” which is a local term used to refer to meat roasted over a grill on open coal. This delicacy can be found in many restaurants in the city and is often coupled with Ugali, Irio, Rice and even French fries. The Carnivore restaurant is another famous Nyama Choma joint and it promises to deliver the ultimate 'beast of a feast' with a variety of meats including ostrich, crocodile and camel. The meats are roasted over charcoal and carved at your table. For locally inspired and skillfully made cuisine, a visit to ‘Nyama Mama’ will leave you full and delighted.
Several world class restaurants offer various international cuisines but a few stand out with exceptional service and mouthwatering delicacies.
- Le Palanka – African food
Their menu draws influences from across the continent. From Kenya to Mali and Cameroon to the Ivory Coast and more. Popular favorites are the DJ curry, West African jollof rice and sweet potato and plantain mash.
- Habesha - Ethiopian
Habesha has earned its reputation as the best Ethiopian restaurant in Nairobi through a combination of great service, a homely atmosphere and delicious food.
- Chowpaty - Indian
Traditionally Indian and strictly vegetarian, Chowpaty is immensely popular and championed by locals as offering ‘the best Indian food outside of India
- Talisman for a fusion
Talisman is undisputedly the best food joint in Nairobi. Talisman promotes itself as an elegant gastro lounge situated in affluent Karen. The food isa fusion of European, Pan-Asian and African cuisines.
- Soi for Thai food
Meaning ‘street’ in Thai, Soi is possibly Nairobi’s most gleamingly sophisticated restaurant. It offers expertly cooked dishes by the resident Thai chef.
- Swahili plate
For authentic and sumptuous Swahili dishes and their famous Biryani!
If you are into Brazilian style steaks and style, you have to visit Fogo Gaucho or Pampa Churrascaria. Fogo Gaucho has two branches, in Kilimani and Westlands. They serve 15 different cuts of charcoal grilled meat, including red meat, prawns, grilled fish, crocodile and much more. There are 20 different salads on the buffet, 6 hot dishes and 2 side dishes served on the table. They are a perfect choice for large group dining either for birthdays, family outings or even office parties.
Pampa is a haven for meat lovers and vegetarians alike; it encompasses an authentic Brazilian rotisserie steak house. The meats are grilled on spits above a charcoal keeping the characteristics taste of each cut and served in succession to each diner individually right at their table. Pampa house style is known as ‘Rodizio’ (eat as much as you like) and embraces a variety of different cuts of beef, chicken, goat, pork, lamb ,fish; exotic meats such as crocodile, camel, guinea fowl ,turkey and ostrich. In addition diners can choose from more than 16 different kinds of salads including, hot and cold vegetables, cold cuts at their leisure from salad bar.
Apart from sit down meals, there are very many to- go options around Nairobi. There are several fast food joints, fruits and juice stalls, bakeries, pizzerias and supermarket cafes in all of Nairobi’s major streets. Most restaurants also offer delivery options, the orders can be made from their websites or from online delivery services.
The city under the sun has a lot of accommodation options to offer each specifically tailored for your needs and budget. Luxury for instance, is not hard to come by. Among the most prestigious hotels is the Hemmingways Hotel Nairobi. It is located 31KM from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA), 2KM from the Karen Blixen Museum and 10KM from the Langata Giraffe Sanctuary. It has spacious, air-conditioned rooms and suites which all have elegant decor, a seating area, balcony or terrace, and en suite bathroom. The suites also include a dining area and well-equipped kitchenette.
Another lavish hotel that is just 19KM from JKIA is Villa Rosa Kempinski which boasts a variety of world-class restaurants, featuring local and International cuisine. The plush and grand Norfolk Hotel features a modern-style American steakhouse, a classical furnished wine bar and a poolside restaurant. Other luxurious hotels include Nairobi Serena Hotel, Sankara, DusitD2 and Radisson Blu.
They say that the best way to double your money is to fold it and put it back in your pocket. It is possible to save a few notes by checking into one of these favorably priced accommodation options in Nairobi. Pearl Palace Hotel Nairobi is one such hotel. It is located in Pangani Nairobi and has 58 Rooms featuring Standard, Executive and Deluxe Rooms, a Restaurant, 24-Hour Front Desk and a Sun Terrace.
There is an extensive listing of affordable accommodation in Nairobi with all the hotels offering good value for money with a slight difference in their services and prices. They include, Hotel Riverview Westlands, Hotel Metro in the city centre, Kima Hotel and Appleton hotel just to mention a few.
For need specific accommodation like hostels, self-catering apartments, camping tents and cottages, Nairobi is not lacking. Severine Cottages & Lounge has the most beautiful farmhouse style cottages with a warm homely appeal. Karen Blixen Coffee Garden & Cottages is a nice place with a quiet setting that is perfect before or after a safari or as a home base for exploring Kenya. It also offers airport transport for its guests.
If you are looking for a genuine wilderness experience, then Nairobi tented camp is the perfect place to go. It has nine guest tents deep in the forest each with accommodation for two people. It is minutes from Jomo Kenyatta Airport and the City Centre. Another great outdoorsy place is the Giraffe Manor where you just might have a surprise morning visit from a giraffe as they poke their long necks in your windows hoping for a treat. The special accommodation options vary greatly with the services they offer each of them being unique and just specifically tailored for different needs.
You can find a comprehensive list of accommodation options in Nairobi on Booking.com
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