The Top 10 Things to Do In Nairobi
With a population of almost 4 Million people and being one of the most developed cities in Africa, it’s no wonder that Nairobi has become famous as a tourist destination in Africa, attracting over 100,000 tourists monthly as at the end of 2018.
Many of these tourists will come to Nairobi as their first stop over enroute to other cities in the country, or to other countries in the region.
Nairobi is the ‘hippiest’ town to be in if you are visiting Kenya and want to mingle with the modern day African men and women. With big restaurants serving traditional Kenyan dishes, lots of night clubs, embassies, the United Nations, parks, modern roads, traffic jams and people moving up and down for business, you can easily get lost in the city.
But it is this same scenario which somehow shocks visitors coming to Africa say for the first time with the assumption of a laid back, quiet city somewhere in the continent to which I can tell you, Nairobi is anything but.
Unlike other cities in the country, Nairobi hosts people from different cultural backgrounds and a lot of foreigners who have made it their home. As such, most people in the more urban parts of the city speak English while the rest will mostly be speaking Swahili. These two are also the national languages of the country.
The youth have additional languages that might be hard to understand for visitors. ‘Sheng’, a modified form of Swahili and ‘Slang’, a modified form of the English language are very common among the young people.
Below is a simple general map of the city.
So what can you do in Nairobi if you are a first time visitor and want to make the most of your time? I have to warn you beforehand, you have to plan your time wisely and factor in lots of traffic jam. Being stuck in traffic alone can take almost half of your day!
So best advice? Look for places that are not too far from each other to visit every day and this way, you might be able to see a lot more in a short time.
1. Visit the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust
The Sheldrick Wildlife Trust is best known for protecting orphaned baby elephants. Rescue baby elephants and rhinos and rehabilitate them, giving visitors a chance to also adopt the animals.
The orphanage is located in the Nairobi National Park and is open to the public for one hour each day from 11am to noon. When you visit the site, you will pay an entrance fee of about Kshs. 500 and then watch the animals being fed, playing with mud, and even get to touch them! All this as you get an education on how the animals got there, and the work the organization is doing to protect even more animals.
You can access the orphanage using the Kenya Wildlife Service Central Workshop Gate Entrance to the Nairobi National Park that is off Magadi Road in Langata estate.
2. Feed Giraffes at the Giraffe Center
This is a popular spot for many tourists visiting Nairobi. It is a place you visit if you want to experience close contact with giraffes.
You have an opportunity to touch the giraffes, feed them, and of course take photos in the process!
It is not too far from the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, so it would be a good idea to visit both places on the same day.
3. Walk around the Bomas of Kenya, an open air museum
The Bomas of Kenya was created to preserve, maintain, educate and promote the different cultures of the various ethnic groups that we have in Kenya.
It is a place that not only offers an opportunity to experience cultural performances, but it also gives you the chance to view different cultural artefacts, visit cultural homesteads, and tour its library.
It is also located a close distance from the Elephant orphanage and the Giraffe Center, so you can check it off your list while visiting attractions in Nairobi by combining it with the prior.
4. Visit Crocodiles at the Mamba Village
‘Mamba’ is the Swahili name for Crocodile. So you can take a good guess of what ‘Mamba Village’ stands for.
Situated about 13 kilometres from the city Center off the Langata-Karen road, this is an ideal place to visit in combination to the attractions we have already discussed as they are close to each other. Mamba Village is where you go if you want to see Crocodiles up close. You might also get a chance to see Ostriches and rabbits with an opportunity of taking photos with the wildlife.
5. Go GP Karting just off Langata road near the Carnivore restaurant
If you are looking for something more physical to do while in Nairobi especially if you have come with family or a group of friends, then you might want to consider GP Karting.
This is one of the more exciting entertainment places in the city as you get to race on a track created for some fun and entertainment.
The place is open to everyone over the age of 5 years and runs from Tuesday through Sunday including all holidays, from 9 am to 6 pm.
Entrance fee is Kshs. 900 for 5 to 8 year olds, Kshs. 1000 for 9 to 12 year olds, Kshs. 1100 for 13 to 16 year olds, and Kshs. 1300 for anyone above the age of 17.
Located on your way to Carnivore restaurant (one of the most popular restaurants in Nairobi), this is a good place to visit as a tourist in combination with the attractions mentioned above as they are all in the same area code.
6. Visit the Karura Forest for sightseeing, bike riding or even a picnic
Karura Forest welcomes you to a peaceful, stress free and calm day while in Nairobi. What with the all the tall trees, fresh air, and quiet nature?
It is an urban forest in Nairobi where visitors have a chance to walk around, jog, walk their dogs, or even enjoy a picnic.
7. Head to the Ozone Trampoline park at the village market
The Village Market is one of the shopping, recreation and entertainment complexes in Nairobi. It is home to the biggest trampoline park in the country and is open Mondays through Sundays including all the public holidays from 10 am in the morning till late.
The charges are Kshs. 750 for kids under 110 cm and Kshs. 950 for adults per every hour.
8. Visit the Amusement Park at the Two Rivers Mall
Being one of the biggest malls in the country, the Two Rivers Mall offers a lot of fun activities for families and groups of friends. Part of this includes the amusement park where you get to enjoy different rides and games. The Park operates from 9am to 9pm from Tuesday through Sunday.
9. Go shopping at the Maasai Market in the town Center
The ‘Maasai‘ are one of the many tribes in Kenya. However, they are different from the other tribes because they mostly live near National Parks and have a deep, rich culture that makes them stand out. As such, most of the items sold at the ‘Maasai Market’ originate from the Maasai people.
The market is well known for selling jewellery, shoes, clothes, utensils, wall hangings among many other things. The products at the market are also quite affordable and great souvenirs for anyone visiting.
Open days for the market rotate around different estates, malls and roads all over the city and might change on short notice. So ask when you land in Nairobi.
10. Get a cold drink in one of the many nightclubs in the Nairobi and mingle with the locals
If you enjoy night life, then you will be happy you came to Nairobi. The city is well known as a hub for some of the best night clubs in Eastern Africa. Lots of people go out to pass the nights away at the numerous clubs all over town where there is practically everything for everyone (different age groups). The clubs are mostly filled up over the weekends, end month and during public holidays.
However, please stay alert and aware as there might also be security issues especially for someone not familiar with the surroundings. Best advice? Don’t stay out for too long or don’t go out too far from where you are residing and always go with a friend.