Nairobi is the capital of Kenya, formed back in 1899 by British colonialists who used it as a hub for the Ugandan railway. It is one of the most prosperous cities in Africa, with a thriving industry, a developing cultural scene and a number of different activities to enjoy including a safari in the Nairobi National Park.
Most tourists visiting Kenya use Nairobi as a gateway to their safari, and it’s worth spending a day here at the beginning or end of your holiday if time allows.
During its early years the city was a hub for Kenya’s booming coffee and tea industry. The name Nairobi derives from the Maasai phrase ‘enkare naitobi’ meaning ‘cool waters’, which refers to the Nairobi river that flows through the capital. The river also inspired the city’s nickname ‘green city in the sun’. Today the nickname has greater and meaning, as Kenya was the first African city to completely ban single-use plastic bags.
A visit to the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust will get you up close to adorable orphaned elephants. The trust works to rehabilitate the elephants for reintroduction to the wild, and there are two visiting slots per day where you can watch the young calves bring fed. A short drive away from here is the Giraffe Centre. It is located in the grounds of the famous Giraffe Manor and visitors can hand feed the giraffes while learning about one of Africa’s most recognisable species.
Nairobi is the only African city that is located immediately next to a national park, where giraffe, zebra and wildebeest are all common. There are also lion and both black and white rhino, making this a great option for an introduction to safari in Kenya.
There are a number of museums to visit on your Nairobi stopover, the most popular being the former home of Danish author Karen Blixen. Blixen was the European aristocrat immortalised by Meryl Streep in the 1985 film ‘Out of Africa’. Nairobi’s suburb of Karen is also named after her. Local empowerment projects make an interesting visit in the Karen area too, including the Kazuri bead factory which sells items across Kenya that have been made by local women. The project has experienced great success in creating jobs for the community and the crafts are a beautiful reminder of your Kenya holiday.
There is a wide variety of hotels in Nairobi and making the most of your time here usually depends on the accommodation chosen. Flight schedules often mean a night in a Nairobi airport hotel is unavoidable, and selecting the right place to stay can mean the difference between a five minute drive to the airport, or two hours stuck in traffic. Whether you’re jetting straight off for your safari or spending a day taking in what the city has to offer, your hotel needs in Nairobi are likely to differ.
Take a look at our recommended Nairobi Hotels for a bit of inspiration to get you started.
To discuss your Kenya safari holiday, Nairobi day trips and tailor-made itineraries, speak to one of our Kenya experts today by contacting us here.