My Nairobi best things to do list starts with a introduction to the largest city in Kenya. First, the word “Nairobi” is actually a Maasai phrase which means cool water. However, this is misleading because Nairobi is actually a creation of the Imperialist British East Africa Company and was initially a railway depot. Before the arrival of the imperial British, the Kenyan city of Machakos was the capital city.
In modern day Nairobi, there is a population of about 3.5 million people. Although not excessively large by global standards, it is still one of the most congested cities in the world. The root of the problem is that the main transportation route between the Kenya’s Mombasa port and Uganda runs through Nairobi. Therefore, the trucks loaded with imports and exports wreak havoc on the city’s infrastructure causing chronic traffic jams. Indeed, all visitors experience this Nairobi phenomenon as they are being transported into the city from the airport.
Enjoy Kenyatta International Convention Center
The Kenyatta International Convention Center is promoted as the best location for conventions in Africa. It is a 28 story building located downtown dedicated to the Kenyatta political dynasty. There is a nice observation deck on top which provides a 360 degree view of the surrounding city. Plus, it appears that the observation deck serves as a helicopter landing pad for African dignitaries.
Unfortunately, I think the tower may be leaning slightly although this can be verified independently. As a result, I tilted the camera slightly to create a straight up effect. I hope you like it.
Visit the Nairobi Giraffe Center
The Nairobi Giraffe Center supports the education of local school children about the importance of conserving Kenya’s natural resources. Therefore, 90% of the entrance fees go to support this local cause.
Indeed, the giraffe center was one of my most unique experiences in Africa and certainly one of the Nairobi best things to do!
What makes the Nairobi Giraffe Center experience so unique is that for a small fee, you can purchase some food and feed it by hand to their friendly resident giraffe. This experience is really beyond description, so I encourage all Nairobi tourists to give it try.
Mamba Village Crocodile Farm
The crocodile farm is another way to spend a few hours of fun in Kenya’s capital city. The location is only 13 kilometers outside or Nairobi. Fortunately, traffic isn’t so bad during non peak hours.
Should you eat at the Carnivore Restaurant?
A world famous dining establishment in Nairobi is called the Carnivore Restaurant. The main draw is the anticipation that you will be eating exotic wild meat. Fortunately, the conservation efforts in Kenya are taken very seriously and there is really no wild exotic meat on the menu at Carnivore. So if you would know the difference, then you will likely agree that Carnivore is mostly an expensive disappointment.
However, it is common in other African countries such as Namibia and South Africa to find some of the exotic fare at the local supermarkets. For example: kudu, springbok and ostrich can be found as readily as beef on the local store shelves and they are farmed sustainably.
Nairobi National Museum and Snake Zoo
Don’t forget to stop by the Nairobi National Museum and the adjoining Snake Zoo. Fortunately, these locations are only a few kilometers outside the city center. The museum has large cultural, wildlife and historical exhibits.
Additionally, if you have time afterwards you can visit the adjoining snake exhibits. Don’t forget to leave early to get ahead of the traffic going back into town!
Find Your Safari Guide in Nairobi
A good safari guide is imperative if you intend to have a optimal Kenya safari experience. Therefore, while we were in Nairobi we took the time to discuss our options with a few local tour companies.
Previously, I had done self drive safari when I visited South Africa, Namibia and Mozambique. However, in Kenya, guide service is compulsory if you intend to enter the Maasai Mara and Amboseli Parks. Fortunately, we got lucky and our guide was fantastic. I have the photos to prove it which I will show you in my other posts.
Nairobi itself is lackluster and potentially dangerous if you are in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Stay Safe in Nairobi, Kenya
Corruption is a political reality in every country. Unfortunately, in East Africa it has reached epic proportions. Is Nairobi Safe? There is a saying in Nairobi: “if you hear gunshots duck, if the cops show up RUN!”. This is the unfortunate reality for many of the locals.
For example, Kenyan first responders were seen looting on high profile occasions such as the Westgate Mall terror attack. Additionally, the looters were again conspicuous at the fire at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.
Indeed, conspiracy theorists in Kenya (privately) think that the Westgate Terror attack was actually not the doing of Al Shabaab but local politicians instead. Similarly, some of the attacks on the east coast have aroused the suspicions of the conspiracy theorists.