Your Trip To Nairobi : The Complete Guide : Nairobi is the nation’s capital, making it the obvious first stop for most travelers. There is more to the city than just its international airport, though, with a diverse population and a wide range of attractions and activities to suit all tastes and budgets. Visit the Nairobi National Park to see endangered rhinos and young elephants that have been saved, feed giraffes there by hand, or buy trinkets at the wandering Maasai Market. In this article, we examine the top activities to do in Nairobi as well as useful advice on what to eat and drink, where to stay, and how to stay safe.
PLANNING YOUR TRIP
Nairobi is a year-round vacation destination. However, we advise planning your trip to coincide with the annual dry season from June to September for the best weather and wildlife viewing in Nairobi National Park and other game reserves throughout Kenya. The short rains from October to November and the long rains from March to May are the two rainy seasons in Kenya.
English and Swahili are both recognized as official languages in Kenya. The more widely used of the two is Swahili.
The Kenyan shilling serves as Kenya’s official currency. KSh is a common abbreviation for it, and it is divided into 100 cents.
Getting Around: Nairobi offers a variety of public transportation options, including matatus, shared minibuses, and buses run by companies like KBS, City Hoppa, and Double M. However, using a private, licensed taxi or a ride-sharing app is the safest way for tourists to get around the city. In Nairobi, both Uber and Bolt are in use.
Travel advice: Although most tourists have a trouble-free stay in Nairobi, petty theft is widespread. By leaving flashy jewelry and expensive cameras at home and keeping your cash in a covert money belt, you can avoid becoming a victim. Never venture out alone at night.
THINGS TO DO
Nairobi is Kenya’s dynamic (and occasionally chaotic) capital and provides insight into both the country’s contemporary culture and its historical past. It also has a good number of nearby national parks and nature reserves, and the Central Highlands region surrounding it is home to numerous award-winning coffee and tea plantations. You can anticipate once-in-a-lifetime wildlife encounters, eclectic shopping opportunities, and a wealth of international dining and drinking options during your stay in the Kenyan capital—and that’s just to start with.
Nairobi National Park: Nairobi National Park offers a completely distinctive safari experience. It is only 7 miles from the center of Nairobi and encompasses over 45 square miles of wilderness. In close proximity to the city’s skyscrapers, you can see black and white rhinos, lions, leopards, buffalo, giraffes, and many other animals. The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust’s Orphans Project, a sanctuary for young elephants and rhinos that accepts visitors once per day, is also located within the park.
Giraffe Centre: Visit the Giraffe Centre, a breeding program and education facility devoted to the preservation of the imperiled Rothschild’s giraffe, in the Nairobi suburb of Langata. On an elevated platform, visitors can pet and feed the giraffes, listen to talks about giraffe conservation, and walk the center’s Nature Trail to see local wildlife. Having giraffes on the brain Spend some extra money on a stay at the 5-star Giraffe Manor.
Karen Blixen Museum: Don’t miss the opportunity to tour the original farmhouse owned by the book’s author, Karen Blixen, if you are one of the many tourists drawn to Kenya by the book (and later movie adaptation) “Out of Africa.” Numerous items on display once belonged to the Blixens themselves, and the bungalow-style home has been meticulously preserved. There is a lovely garden at the Karen Blixen Museum as well.
WHAT TO EAT AND DRINK
Nairobi has a thriving culinary scene because of its multicultural population, which includes immigrants and expatriates from all over Africa and beyond. Want some haute cuisine from France? It is located here. The best restaurants in the city’s capital include Japanese sushi bars, Brazilian churrascarias, Mexican cantinas, and many more. However, you should also save room for some local cuisine. Nyama Mama, a regional chain with three locations in Nairobi and a menu bursting with delicacies like goat curry, chicken and cassava, ugali chips, and Chapati wraps, is the place to go for a mouthwatering introduction to Kenyan cuisine. In street-side eateries all over the city of Nairobi, flame-grilled meat is a standard menu item.
With a wide range of drinking establishments, from cocktail bars to rowdy nightclubs with dance floors that are packed until sunrise the next day, Nairobi has also established a reputation as a nightlife hotspot. If spending the night in Nairobi is your top priority, Westlands is the city’s nightlife hub and the best place to stay. For an upscale champagne bar experience, visit Champagne & Fishbowls or go to Brew Bistro Rooftop to try the best craft beers from Kenya. K1 Club House, Simba Saloon, and Black Diamond are a few of the best nightclubs. Order a Dawa, a mixture of vodka, sugar, and lime stirred with a stirrer coated in honey, for a distinctively Kenyan beverage.
WHERE TO STAY
The area you stay in while visiting Nairobi can make a big difference in how enjoyable your stay is. Eastleigh and township areas like Kibera are some areas of the city that should either be avoided altogether or visited with extra caution.
The best areas are in the suburbs, like Karen and Langata, where you can easily access many of the city’s most popular tourist attractions. Another excellent option is Westlands, especially if you want to take advantage of Nairobi’s vibrant dining and nightlife scene. The capital also offers a number of interesting hotel options. These include Giraffe Manor, which is well-known for the resident giraffes that roam freely throughout its grounds, and Nairobi Tented Camp, an eco-style safari camp located within Nairobi National Park.
Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NBO) serves as the primary point of entry for tourists from outside Kenya (both to Nairobi and Kenya generally). The busiest airport in East Africa is about 10 miles from the city center. If there is no airport shuttle offered by your hotel, use a licensed taxi or ride-sharing service to get from the airport to your accommodation. At the Nairobi airport, there are locations for a number of foreign car rental companies, including Avis and Europcar. Kenya requires an electronic visa for travelers from the majority of non-African nations, including the United States.
CULTURE AND CUSTOMS
Tipping is optional, but between 10% and 20% is generally considered a good amount for waitstaff, bartenders, and tour guides. Depending on how much you appreciate their assistance, give coins or small bills to porters, housekeepers, and car guards.
Be sure to observe any signs or other instructions that specify where smoking is and is not permitted because Nairobi has strict smoking regulations.
Kenya is primarily a Christian nation. However, Muslim communities do exist (especially along the coast), and it is advised to dress modestly there to avoid offending anyone, especially in public areas. While hissing at someone to get their attention is acceptable, pointing at someone is regarded as an offensive gesture. Both homosexuality and homophobia are prohibited in Kenya. Despite the fact that many LGBTQ+ visitors have reported having safe and enjoyable experiences, it is advised to keep romantic relationships private to avoid unwanted attention or harassment. Keeping valuables hidden, using authorized taxis or rideshare apps, and never walking alone at night are some important safety tips.
Eating at neighborhood establishments instead of the city’s upscale international restaurants is a simple way to save money on food and drink. To determine which one has the best food, look for street-side stalls with a lot of customers.
Public transportation like matatus and buses is not for the timid; the former frequently has issues like crowding and disobedience to traffic laws. If you’re on a tight budget, however, you can reach the majority of the city’s neighborhoods using the matatu and bus networks.
If you decide to use a taxi to get around, hiring a driver for the day is frequently less expensive than paying for numerous individual trips.
When calling a taxi, don’t forget to haggle for the best deal. Also, always agree on a fare before getting in the car. The majority of taxis lack functional meters.
Local market stalls also encourage haggling. As a general rule, make a half-offer of the vendor’s initial asking price and then barter back and forth until you find a price that is acceptable to both parties.
For the best deals, book tours through reputable locally owned businesses rather than through foreign travel agencies.
Self-driving allows you to avoid paying for an expensive guided game drive through Nairobi National Park if you’re going to be renting a car anyway.