The Marangu route, otherwise called the “Coca-Cola” route, is the.. most...Dig More
The Rongai route on Mount Kilimanjaro is seven days and camping only...Dig More
Machame Route is one of the most popular routes on Mount Kilimanjaro.
Mount Meru is within Arusha National Park, just a 45 minute drive to the northeast of Arusha...Dig more...
Nairobi is my favorite African city. Unfortunately, it has a bit of a bad reputation. For whatever reason, most travelers seem to pass through the city without even giving it a chance. They fly in and head directly to the coast or toward the Maasai Mara for a safari without ever experiencing this exciting African capital city. I think that’s a real shame. Here are the 13 best things to do in Nairobi.
Most African capitals are very spread out have pretty much zero urban planning. Streets run in all directions and buildings are scattered randomly throughout. Nairobi is different. It is a surprisingly well-designed city. The CBD is compact and easy to get around. There is a grid pattern, more or less, which makes finding your way around the area pretty easy.
Taking a walk around downtown Nairobi is a pleasant way to spend an afternoon. The streets are crowded and active. Vendors sell everything from fruits to electronics on the sidewalks. People are everywhere. The city is also surprisingly cosmopolitan. People from all over Africa call Nairobi home.
If you get thirsty or hungry during your walk, there are plenty of nice bars and restaurants to pop into for a drink or a bite to eat. The best places are located to the north of downtown in a part of town called Westlands. The CBD also has some good options.
I recommend Sky Lounge Bar and Bites. I stumbled upon this place one day when I was walking around. It’s just a comfortable place for a couple of drinks in the afternoon. It is located pretty much dead center in the CBD.
Nairobi National Park is the biggest tourist attraction in the city. It is also the oldest national park in Kenya. Nairobi is the only city with a full-on safari park located within city limits.
Located just 4 miles (7 km) south of the CBD, the Nairobi skyline can actually be seen from the park. In fact, it’s so close to the city that an electric fence is used to keep the animals from wandering into the CBD. Because it’s so close, you can drive there, go on a safari, and be back in Nairobi in time for dinner. This makes for a really convenient and unique safari experience.
All of the animals that you think about when picturing a safari can be viewed in the park including giraffe, hippos, buffalo, black rhino, gazelle, zebra, cheetah, leopard, lion, wildebeest and more. An elephant conservatory is located within the park. See the next section for more info on that.
Self-drive safari- this is the cheapest option. If you have a car, you can simply pay for an entry ticket and drive yourself through the park to view the animals.
Book a Tour- for about $40-$45 you can book a spot in a group tour to Nairobi National Park. The price includes pick up and drop off at your hotel or the airport. This is a half day tour. Expect to spend about three hours in the park. Morning and afternoon tours are available.
Hire a Taxi- Another option is to hire a cab driver to drive you to and around the park. Prices will vary. Some drivers know the park better than others. This option allows for a bit more freedom than a group tour but will cost slightly more depending on how good you are at negotiating. Be careful which driver you pick as some will be happy to act as a tour guide and some will just go through the motions for the fare.
If you are looking for a more traditional safari experience, consider making a trip to the Maasai Mara. For a step-by-step guide on how to visit, check out my guide How to Safari in Kenya for less than $200: Maasai Mara on a Budget
If you are continuing on to Tanzania after you visit Kenya, you can check out my article: Maasai Mara vs Serengeti: Where is the Better Safari?
The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust is an elephant sanctuary located inside of Nairobi National Park. At the DSWT they work to provide care for baby elephants that were orphaned due to poaching. After caring for the baby elephants for the first 2-3 years of their lives, they move them to a reintegration facility, also run by the DSWT, in Tsavo East National Park. Eventually, when the elephants are ready, they are returned to the wild.
Many consider the DSWT to be the most successful elephant reintegration program anywhere in the world. The same people also run a similar program for rhinos. .
Because the DSWT is located inside of Nairobi National Park, this is a great activity to pair with a visit to the park. The DSWT is only open to the public for one hour per day between 11:00 am to 12 noon. This is the feeding and bathing time for the baby elephants.
The minimum donation is 7 USD or 500 shillings. You do not have to pay the $43 or 4300 shilling Nairobi National Park entrance fee when visiting the DSWT. There is a separate entrance to the DSWT so you can bypass the park if you wish.
If you become an elephant foster by making a minimum donation of $50, you can schedule an evening visit to see the elephants at bedtime. This viewing is less busy than the morning viewing which is open to the general public.
Kibera is a fascinating part of Nairobi to visit. It is said to be the largest slum in all of Africa. Population estimates range from 170,000 to over a million people. Most living on less than a dollar per day. Kibera is also home to a large number of people living with HIV and AIDS. It is located about 4 miles from Nairobi city center.
I visited Kibera independently with a couple of friends. We just ordered an Uber and had the guy drop us off in the center of the neighborhood. He didn’t seem too happy about driving there, but he did it anyway.
Once we were there, we just walked around and explored the area. You can get a good feel for Kibera in just a couple of hours. It’s big but not that big. We walked through the slum and around the train tracks that go through the area. I recommend you walk up the hill to the highest part of the area first so you can get the lay of the land. The view from the top overlooking the slum is incredible.
Organized tours are available for around $30. To me, that is far too expensive for just a walk. It’s a waste of money. You can walk around the area for free. I learned everything I needed to know just talking to people living in the area. The only reason to maybe consider going on a tour rather than independently is for safety. I’m sure the guide knows the area well. There may be parts of the area that aren’t safe to visit.
Rates of rapes and assaults are also high in Kibera. If you are visiting on your own, I would recommend that you stick to the main roads and not wander too deep into the slum. Also, be sure to leave before it gets dark.
To get to Westlands, I recommend you take a cab or an Uber. Westlands lies about two miles from downtown Nairobi. You can also walk during the day. Once it gets dark, I would not recommend walking between the CBD and Westlands. However, walking around within Westlands relatively safe at all hours of the day and night. The Best Bars in Westlands
These are all in the same general area within a block or two of each other. Westlands is an excellent place to bar hop. The whole area is worth exploring, really. There are dozens of bars and restaurants to try out.
Many clubs have absurdly high age requirements to get in- It is common to see 25 and older signs posted outside of clubs. Surprisingly, these age requirements are enforced. One of my friends was ID’d and the bouncers wouldn’t let him in no matter what he said. He even offered them a bribe and they wouldn’t accept. I guess he didn’t offer them enough. I was 24 while I was traveling in Nairobi and was never ID’d. On one occasion I was asked for ID but was able to talk my way in without.
Drinks are more expensive than many other places in Africa- When I arrived in Nairobi, I was used to paying 50 cents for a beer in Ethiopia. Expect to pay around 250-400 shillings for a beer in a club. One club I visited only sold beers two at a time and charged 700 shillings for two Tuskers. This may sound cheap if you are coming from the west, but after traveling around Africa for a while, it feels quite expensive.
It’s pretty safe- The bouncers do a good job of keeping out anyone who is up to no good. I didn’t even see any fights. With that being said, you should be cautious while walking around outside of the bars. Even though Westlands is well policed and pretty safe, you should watch out for pickpockets and beggars. You are also more of an easy target while you are inebriated
There are people with small tables set up with dozens of bottles selling shots. They have pretty much a full bar’s worth of bottles just sitting on their little stand. I can’t remember exactly how much they charged, but it’s significantly cheaper than the club.
Consider packing your bag with folloing daily essentials.
Black Rhino at Ngorongoro Crater
Dinner and overnight: At Bougainvillea lodge
Dinner and Overnight:At Manyara view lodge or Luxury Tented Lodge
Dinner and Overnight: All meals & overnight at Sametu luxury tented lodge
Serengeti Heltage tented lodge or Sametu lodge
Dinner and Overnight:At Ngorongoro Lions paw lodge
Perfect trip ever with a lifetime experience, will honestly recommend them to any friends willing to travel to Tanzania.
Your superb in service,service was very nice especially when we were in Serengeti National parks for 7 days.
My first experience in Africa (Kenya) and Calvin and team did so well to made my experience and memories so special.
Really enjoyed weather, nature and wildlife with great service provided by each and every team member of World Safari Land during my 5 days stay in Kenya.