Nairobi is the capital city of Kenya with a rich history, dating back to 1899. Before the city become a popular tourist attraction, railway workers used to camp on the grounds. In 1907, British East Africa claimed it as their capital. The city has embraced their past and culture, giving tourists with a list of things to do in Nairobi.
From where on your list of things to do in Nairobi should start. Your first stop should be the Nairobi National Park. This is the country first and most famous national park where visitors will have close encounters with rhinos, warthogs, zebras, ostriches, giraffes, cheetahs, birds, and more. The National Safari Walk is a built-in attraction in the park. It offers people with an opportunity to see animals on foot. You should travel to the Karen Blixen Museum, which is a house turned into a shrine for Karen Blixen, an African author. Inside the house, you will find furniture, books, and pictures on display. If you have small children with you, take them to the Giraffe Center and David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, which are located near the Nairobi National Park. Even though you will have several things to do in Nairobi, your list will keep on getting longer as you add more places to it. Travelers who want to educate themselves on the culture and history of the country should visit the Nairobi National Museum. The Nairobi National Museum has on display over 800 stuffed mammals, fossils, local art, and ethnic displays. What are some other exciting things to do in Nairobi?
You should visit the living museum, the Bomas of Kenya. You will see live displays of their culture, involving the art, music, dance, and lifestyle of each different tribe in the country. Your trip will be a memorable one, as you will have several places to visit in Nairobi. Each day, you will find yourself coming up with new and different things to do in Nairobi. For instance, the Kenyatta International Conference is 28-story building constructed in a circular manner. You can stand on top of the roof to view the glamorous city in its entirety. If you want to see the true beauty of the city, you should go to Ngong Hills. The sight before you of beautiful green hills and valleys will captivate you. You can take one of the walking trails to admire the nature. Before you rush to make a booking, you should select a hotel. You can reside in the Hemingways Nairobi, the Fairmont the Norfolk, the InterContinental Nairobi, and the Hotel Central Park, depending on your budget. Now, that you know you will have numerous places to visit in Nairobi, you should make plans to head over to the country with your loved ones.
Nairobi National Park is one of Kenya’s most accessible and beautiful safari parks that tourists fall in love with at first sight. It is located on the southern most side of the city and spans over 117 square km boasting a range of wildlife that are indigenous to the country. Most of them can also be seen against a backdrop comprising of skyscrapers and airlines which they are completely unfazed by as well. It is also the only park which shares a border with the capital.
The park is also affectionately called Kifaru Ark due to its immense success as a protected sanctuary for the rare rhino. Besides the extremely rare black variety, it is also home to hyenas, zebras, gazelles, leopards, cheetahs, buffalo and ostriches but you will have to be on your toes if you want to spot any. The wetland area is home to almost 400 species of wild birds that outnumber those in the UK. You can also visit the Ivory Burning Monument which lies at the main Langata Road Gate and is known for being the site where the Kenyan President ordered the burning of 12 tons of ivory thus cementing the park’s reputation as a protected wildlife reserve.
The Giraffe Centre opened its doors in Nairobi and was created to respond to the crisis that was the endangered status of the Rothschild giraffe. The population of the animals had reduced to a staggering 130 in the wild due to agricultural practices that compromised their habitat.
However, after raising a significant amount of funds, several herds were introduced into the park and their successful integration has resulted in growing numbers. However, the most exciting part of the park is the chance to get an up close and personal look at these gentle giants. Visitors can also feed them with their own hands and the fees they pay goes to supporting the centre for these magnificent beasts.
The Giraffe Centre also offers educational materials and tours to the young to raise awareness about the plight of the Rothschild Giraffe and is open on a daily basis. The park is located about 15 km from Nairobi and you will probably have to take a taxi there if you don’t have a personal vehicle. It’s too far to travel to on foot and the fare can be a tad on the high side, but the experience you will get among these animals will be worth the extra expense.
This museum was actually a farmhouse and is located at the base of the Ngong Hills. It was owned by the famous author Karen Blixen who lived there along with her husband. The museum is situated about 10 km from the city and belongs to a different time in Kenya’s history. It gained international recognition when ‘Out of Africa’ was released which eventually won an Oscar for depicting the author’s autobiography in stark detail. The author lived in the farmhouse for close to 17 years and the lovely colonial structure has been preserved quite well. This includes the expansive gardens where you can wander around for hours on end with friends and family.
The museum is open every day and is open from 9.30 am to 6 pm in the evening which also includes public holidays as well as weekends. Guided tours are also available on a continuous basis and visitors can also purchase posters, postcards, crafts, the book based on the aforementioned movie and other souvenirs from the store. The grounds are also let out for special events such as a wedding, parties, corporate events etc. So if you have one coming up then the grounds surrounding the Karen Blixen Museum will not disappoint.
If you want to see Kenya in miniature then you have to visit Bomas of Kenya. It is a must visit for tourists and is located about 10 km from the main city centre and is just 1 km from the Nairobi National Park. The tourist village allows visitors to have a unique and closer look at the diverse cultures that make up Nairobi which includes several aspects of Kenya’s culture represented by traditional songs, dances, crafts and music. The name of the village was derived from the word ‘Boma’ which means an enclosed home and there are several different ones in the village with each representing different ethnic groups of the city.
If you don’t want to miss the traditional dances then make sure you are at the village by 2.30 pm. These will be performed for 2 hours straight and start at 3.30 pm during weekends and public holidays for the same duration. The resident artists perform all of the songs and the traditional dances that belong to 16 tribes which also include circumcision ceremonies and warrior dances. The location also served as a meeting point for the National Constitutional Conference back in 2003 when the new constitution was drafted.
The Ngong Hills overlook the Great Rift Valley and comprise of 4 summits that look eerily similar to a giant’s knuckle which is actually the basis for several Masai legends. The location offers grassy slopes where a hiker can spend hours trekking but if you are one of them then remain alert for signs of the native buffalo.
The animals run wild there and an encounter will not be pleasant. The main ridge of the hills offers amazing views of the valley and this includes spectacular sunsets. The main part of the hills is about 2000 meters high making it a prime spot as a training ground for amateur mountaineers before they can scale bigger mountains.
You can reach either end of the ridge in about half an hour give or take a few minutes depending on the speed of the private transport you hire. If you come from the south side the hills will lie 20 km from the turn off of the Langat Road. It will take you about an hour to trek to the hills if you head out from Ngon Town and it will be in your best interest to check safety conditions with the local police force before planning your trip.
The Uhuru Gardens have great historical significance for the people of Kenya as it is the location where former President Jomo Kenyatta came to office when the country gained independence back in the 1960s. One of the main attractions is the 24 meter high monument which represents the country’s struggle for autonomy and on one side you can also see a statue depicting the freedom fighters who struggled for that aim. Just a couple of hundred yards ahead you will see the fountain.
Besides its historical influence, the park is also a prime picnic spot and has several secluded spots that are a particular favorite with couples.
The gardens are located in the Langata area and can be reached through the Langata road surrounding Carnivore Restaurant. Lush fields and spectacular scenery are some of the ways the park is described to visiting tourists but before getting too excited, check when the best time to visit is. Weekdays are typically more peaceful than the weekends when the park can get pretty crowded by locals out for a breath of fresh air. The park is also known for being home to the Mugumo tree which was planted on the spot where the Union Jack once flew and which was replaced by Kenya’s national banner.
This national park opened its gates to the public more than 30 years ago and it owes its name to a narrow break in the cliffs. The park is famous for the spectacular scenery it offers which includes Central and Fischer’s Tower along with the famous Hell’s gate Gorge. Wildlife can also be seen roaming around the park such as zebras, giraffes and even warthogs but it would be wise to stay as far away from them as possible for your own safety. Trails are also accessible where you can hike, jog or bike to your heart’s content.
The Hell’s Gate Gorge can be quite slippery in some places so it would be wise to know where you can tread beforehand. The best thing to do to avoid injuries is to hire a guide who knows the area well. It will cost you but the expense will be worth it for the experience you will get. You will have to sign it at the Ranger’s post if you opt out of hiring one and wish to go solo or as a group. The Fischer’s Tower measures about 25m high and is a volcanic column and a starting point for a wider valley that you can also visit.
The Nairobi Arboretum is a forest and a national reserve spanning across 30 hectares of heavily forested woodland and home to more than 300 species of local and exotic plants and birds. Most of the flora is labeled for educational reasons and the fauna comprises of Sykes and Vervet monkeys. The location has become a prime sport for locals who wish for some peace and tranquility with a small picnic, a long walk under lush greenery or just to become one with nature in all of its glory.
Large groups are not uncommon several times a week and this includes couples who want to spend time together in the many secluded sports the reserve offers. Runners can also be seen running around the forest trails. The Arboretum is located about 3 kilometers from the main city centre so you can reach it on foot quite easily. In order to get to the main entrance you will have to take the State Road which lies near to Saint Andrews Church. Pass it and then pass the drive junction to reach the reserve. The main gate can be found about 300m ahead and there is also a car park if you come in a car.
Uhuru Park is a recreational park that spans across 12.9 hectares of natural forests and lies besides the main business district of Nairobi. The park opened its gates to the public back in 1969 and is home to an artificial lake along with a number of monuments and an assembly ground that skateboarders love to frequent. Besides this fun activity, the grounds are also used regularly for a number of gatherings, both political and religious. The large lawns are a feast for the eyes and calming to the senses with large, shady trees and well tended gardens making the park one of the most attractive in the city.
Uhuru Park attracts locals and tourists in droves every day during public holidays and during weekends making it a favorite spot for preachers. You can also hire a boat and take it out on the lake or stroll across the artificial island by spanning one of the many bridges that link to it in the lake. You can also take a picnic basket or buy some snacks from the many vendors wandering around. The park also features a number of monuments so if you want to take a picture besides them then you can hire one of the many photographers who will be more than willing to provide their services.
The Nairobi or the Kenya Railway Museum can be found in an old building that is located on the Uhuru Highway and stands as a testament to the region’s colorful history and development throughout the years. It features a Main Gallery, a resource center as well as a large auditorium and a collection of some vintage trains, wagons and locomotives that a true train enthusiast will give his eyeteeth to see at least once. It can be found at the North West end of the railway station of Nairobi and is also visible from the Uhuru Highway.
The railway museum opened its doors to the public in 1971 as a ‘reserve’ for the country’s railway relics and also comprises of a number of small scale models and exhibits. It is also still rail-connected as well as a way to provide restored trains access to the main line. The gates are open to visitors by 8.45 am all 7 days of the week but it may be closed during some public holidays. If you are planning a trip to the region and the museum is one of your stops, then it would be a good idea to check if it is open on that day.