Nairobi – East Africa’s most cosmopolitan city and Kenya’s beating heart

When people say Kenya, we immediately think safari, right? Or perhaps some romantic movies that have made us dream come to our minds. But dismiss both stereotypes and you will quickly fall in love by East Africa’s most cosmopolitan city. Nairobi is the youngest, the most modern, and the fastest growing place in Africa. It’s Kenya’s beating heart, a giant melting pot of locals, tourists and expats simply trying to find their way round this hectic but exciting concrete jungle. Nairobi is a city that demands your attention, and if you are not well prepared you might be surprised and not ready for all its challenges. To help you, we have compiled in this Mini Guide to Nairobi the essential you need to know before heading off.

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Table of Contents

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Highlights in Nairobi - do not miss them!

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Amazing Places to Stay

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Restaurants with Delicious Food

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Travelers meet Nairobians

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Sustainable With Love

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Insider-Tips

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Best Day Trip from Nairobi

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Practical Advice

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More Information

Highlights in Nairobi - do not miss them!

Nairobi’s National Park

Nairobi’s National park is the world’s only wildlife capital! Just seven kilometers from the city center, you will spot everything from antelope, to buffalo herds, lions, zebras and hyenas on the prowl.

Sheldrick Wildlife Trust

Established in 1977, the Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage is located near Nairobi National Park. This orphanage, for elephant calves and rhinos from all over Kenya was founded and still managed by Daphne Sheldrick, the widow of one of Kenya’s best known Game Wardens David Sheldrick, who was at the centre of the 1970’s ivory poaching wars in Tsavo National Park.
Today, the Sheldrick orphanage is best known for its elephant rescue project.

Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, Nairobi

Giraffe Centre

This centre, which protects the highly endangered Rothschild’s giraffe, combines serious conservation with enjoyable activities. You can observe, hand-feed or even kiss one of the giraffes from a raised wooden structure, which is quite an experience. You may also spot warthogs snuffling about in the mud, and there’s an interesting self-guided forest walk through the adjacent Gogo River Bird Sanctuary.

Giraffe Centre, Nairobi

Bomas of Kenya

The talented resident artists at this cultural centre perform traditional dances and songs taken from the country’s various tribal groups, including Arabic-influenced Swahili taarab music, Kalenjin warrior dances, Embu drumming and Kikuyu circumcision ceremonies. It’s touristy, of course, but still a spectacular afternoon out. The complex consists of a number of bomas (villages), each constructed in the architectural style of Kenya’s major ethnic groups.

Karen Blixen Museum

If you are a fan of the movie or book “Out of Africa”, then Karen Blixen Museum will be a treat.

Nairobi National Museum

Kenya’s wonderful National Museum, housed in an imposing building amid lush, leafy grounds just outside the centre, has a good range of cultural and natural-history exhibits. Aside from the exhibits, check out the life-size fibreglass model of pachyderm celebrity Ahmed, the massive elephant that became a symbol of Kenya at the height of the 1980s poaching crisis. He was placed under 24-hour guard by President Jomo Kenyatta; he’s in the inner courtyard next to the shop.

Amazing Places to Stay

Giraffe Manor

This is an exclusive boutique hotel with probably the most unforgettable bucket-list breakfast in the world.

Villa Rosa Kempinski

Villa Rosa Kempinski is a 5 Star hotel offering the perfect fusion of European luxury and Kenyan hospitality.

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Radisson Blu Hotel & Residence Nairobi Arboretum

Enjoy stylish retreats for business and leisure in this beautiful, green and safe space.

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City Lodge Hotel at Two Rivers

This hotel provides a tranquil home away from home. Decor reflects the lush vegetation of Kenya.

Restaurants with Delicious Food

There are plenty of great restaurants in Nairobi where you can find all sorts of amazing cuisine from all around the world. Some of the best restaurants are:

CJ´s

a fully fledged restaurant specializing in delivering a relaxed and memorable dining experience.

K’Osewe Ranalo Foods

for good, honest local cuisine. Fish is the speciality here, true to the restaurant’s Luo roots in western Kenya. The coconut fish stew with ugali or rice is also a popular choice.

Kulan Cuisine and Coffee

a great place with excellent food and relaxed ambiente.

About Thyme Restaurant

“Eat, drink and don’t think”. Late-night food, great cocktails and outdoor.

The Alchemist Bar

is great for both food, drink and live music. Outside is the Mama Rocks food court, serving up a variety of delicious African-inspired gourmet burgers.

Mama Oliech Restaurant

Wildly popular, the restaurant is considered one of Nairobi’s best – the sort of place that locals take first-time visitors to the city.

Travelers meet Nairobians

The great excitement of our travels is meeting people. That’s what makes our trips memorable and unique. Meeting people from different cultures and ways of eating, behaving and thinking makes us richer and more open minded. We are so happy to present you here some people from Nairobi who have become our friends. We have already learnt so much with them and hopefully them from us.

Our lovely friends from Nairobi

Our Nairobian friends are your local experts and some of them became travel-related partners.

Meet them here: Meet Kenyans.

Sustainable With Love

Ocean Sole Africa: unique and sustainable souvenirs!

If you are looking for something truly unique to remember your time in Nairobi, pick up a handcrafted item from Ocean Sole Africa, a Nairobi-based social and sustainable enterprise that turns old flip flops into colorful pieces of art. You can see a part of their great work in the photo below. Keep up the good job, Ocean Sole Africa!

www.oceansoleonline.com

Ocean Sole Africa, Nairobi

Photo: © Ocean Sole Africa

Insider-Tips

  • For a great view of the city: Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC). Take the lift (and stairs) up to the helipad. It is also a nice place to watch the sunset in the city.
  • For a glimpse of Nairobi’s nightlife, join J’s Fresh Bar and Kitchen for some live music (every Thursday) or if the timing is right, to the Wasp & Sprout for a lively pub quiz.
  • Or you can try Brew Bistro and Lounge, famous for its excellent craft beers (but they do lots of other drinks too). 
  • Find yourself a bargain at one of the Maasai Markets. The Maasai Market takes place at a different location around town each day, selling all kinds of African trinkets.
  • If you are looking to get into the Nairobi vibe, plan your visit to coincide with the fabulous Art Nouveau Festival, which takes place in February.

Best Day Trip from Nairobi

Amboseli National Park

A few hours outside of Nairobi you will find one of the world’s most visually iconic safari destinations: Amboseli National Park. This park is famous for having one of the healthiest elephant populations in Africa. And if you are lucky and it is a clear day, you should see Kilimanjaro as well.

Kenya - Wildlife (Elephants)

Practical Advice

Getting Around

International flights land at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. Some hotels and most safari companies offer a free airport pick-up service. If not, before leaving the arrivals hall, pay for a pre-booked taxi service!

Wilson Airport, in the city, offers domestic services and charter flights.

Don’t miss the incredible experience of getting on a matatu which provides access to the suburbs. It feels like a nightclub on wheels.

Alternatively: On the app you can pick from UberX, Chap Chap (smaller vehicle, slightly cheaper) or Boda (a motorbike, cheaper still but not always the safest – road safety isn’t always a priority here).

Nairobi

Health

  • Check out Fit For Travel or NATHNAC for advice, which is used by GPs to assess health risks abroad.
  • Make sure your hepatitis A, typhoid, diphtheria and tetanus jabs are up to date, while immunisation against yellow fever is recommended.
  • Malaria is widespread, so antimalarial tablets are essential, and an insect repellent containing DEET will help keep mosquitoes at bay.
  • Drink only bottled water.

Money

Kenya shilling (KES) is the official currency. Bring US dollars along as well because many hotels and larger restaurants tend to quote prices in US dollars. Money is easily available throughout the city from guarded ATMs accepting international credit and debit cards.

VISA

Visitors are required to pay 50 USD for a single entry visa that lasts up to three months. If Kenya isn’t your only destination in Africa, you can opt to apply for an East Africa Tourist visa for 100 USD, which will allow you to travel between Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda for up to 90 days.

Affiliate Links

Some of our recommendations contain affiliate links which means that we earn a small amount of commission from the sale (don’t worry, it doesn’t effect the price you pay). Thank you for your support!
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More Information

About Kenya on our website: www.oneworld2travelers.com

The Kenya Tourism Board welcomes you to Magical Kenya: www.magicalkenya.com

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