Nairobi at a Glance
Nairobi is the capital city of Kenya which is a country that forms a part of the Eastern African Countries. The name ‘Nairobi’ comes from the Maasai work Enkare which means “cool water”. The name was coined from this because of the waters from the Nairobi River which flows through the city. Currently, it is not in its best condition however in the past it was definitely a sight for sore eyes. Nairobi lies on the River Athi in the Southern part of the country with an elevation of 5,889 feet above sea level. The city itself was founded in the year 1899 by the colonial authorities in British East Africa as a railway depot on the Kenya-Uganda Railway. Nairobi boasts of a population of 9,354,580 and is commonly referred to as Green City in the Sun. Nairobi is a metropolitan and is home to thousands of Kenyan businesses and over 100 major international companies inclusive of the United Nations main offices in Kenya and the United Nations Environment Programme. It is considered as a hub for Kenyan Culture and coincidentally where all major deals are closed. It is also home to the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport and as such is the first town that anyone who is visiting the country has a chance to patronize before exploring the rest of the country. Nairobi has a subtropical highland climate and generally has two seasons within the year; the wet and dry seasons. The warmest section of the year is between December and March then it gets colder towards the months of June and July. The cloudiest part of the year is after the first rainy season and up until September, the conditions are overcast with a small drizzle here and then. However, with the constant glare of global warming, it is difficult to pre-empt the weather and sometimes the rain creeps up when you are not expecting it. This does not mean that it is still not enjoyable, it provides beautiful fresh environments that all can enjoy. It is also important to note that the sunrise and sunset timings vary very little throughout the year.
Places to Visit in Nairobi
Nairobi still has a particular finesse and draw to it that stems from the past colonial days. It lures people to it and all who visit the town profess of its beauty and its uncanny relation to adventure. This cosmopolitan city is one of the only cities in the world that has a park within its confines where one would be able to see all the big five. This coupled with the rich culture and history that is brought to life within its museums Nairobi is definitely the best place to be.
Nairobi National Park: This Park is located seven kilometres out of the main city centre of Nairobi. Wide open grass plains and skyscrapers form the backdrop for this amazing part of nature. The park is considered a rhino sanctuary since it protects these endangered creatures. The sanctuary is meant to be a place for breeding and restocking of rhinos for other parks. Other than just rhinos, there are other animals such as those in the cat family namely, lions, cheetahs, leopards, zebras, giraffes, elephants and warthogs. For those who are avid bird lovers, there are over 400 species of birds that are recorded within the park.
Nairobi National Park is also famous for the ivory burning site that was formed in 1989 when President Moi ignited 12 tonnes of elephant tusks and rhino horns. This was meant as a show of his support for the conservation efforts put forth by the world. The Nairobi Safari Walk is another part of the park that allows individuals to view game from a vantage point and on foot. These lead them to the amazing hippo pools that are located along the walking trails.
Park rules/code of conduct
- Respect the privacy of the wildlife, this is their habitat.
- Beware of the animals, they are wild and can be unpredictable.
- Don’t crowd the animals or make sudden noises or movements.
- Don’t feed the animals, it upsets their diet and leads to human dependence.
- Keep quiet, noise disturbs the wildlife and may antagonize your fellow visitors.
- Stay in your vehicle at all times, except at designated picnic or walking areas.
- Keep below the maximum speed limit (40 kph/25 mph).
- Never drive off-road, this severely damages the habitat.
- When viewing wildlife keep to a minimum distance of 20 meters and pull to the side of the road so as to allow others to pass.
- Leave no litter and never leave fires unattended or discard burning objects.
- Respect the cultural heritage of Kenya, never take pictures of the local people or their habitat without asking their permission, respect the cultural traditions of Kenya and always dress with decorum.
- Stay over or leave before dusk, visitors must vacate the Park between 6.00 p.m. – 6.00 a.m. unless they are camping overnight. Night game driving is not allowed.
David Sheldrick’s Wildlife Trust: This is an attraction that is suitable for all members of the family. It is located at the main gates of the Nairobi National Park. It is home to an array of elephant and rhino orphans which the trust has taken out of the wild in order to protect them and nurture them until they are all grown up. After which the animals are released back into the wild. The project was formed in 1977 by Daphne Sheldrick in honour of her husband David who was the former warden of the Tsavo East National Park. You can witness as these adorable creatures frolic within their confines and how they drink from their bottles given to them by their handlers. If you wish to do so, you can also adopt one of the rhinos or elephants and all the money put into the Trust is utilized for further conservation efforts.
Karen Blixen Museum: Nairobi’s rich culture and history is preserved and brought to life whenever the need arises within the different museums located within the city. Karen Blixen, located along Karen road, is one of those museums which hold a great load of history. It is especially an attraction for those individuals who are fans of the film, Out of Africa. Karen Blixen lived in the house between the years of 1917 and 1931. The museum is set up as a colonial farmhouse with a separate kitchen, an agricultural college on the grounds and the coffee drying plant fond within the adjacent woodland. The furniture that belonged to Karen and her husband are set up within the farmhouse for individuals to patronise. The Museum is open to the public everyday from 9:30am to 6pm inclusive of public holidays and weekdays. Guided tours are offered continuously depending on what time you arrive.
Nairobi National Museum: It is considered as the place where heritage lives on. It is a place that provides one with an educational tour whenever they need it. The Museum aims at interpreting Kenya’s rich heritage and translates it in a way that visitors can understand. The Nairobi National Museum is located at the Museum Hill approximately ten minute drive from the Nairobi City Centre and is accessible both by private and public means. The museum display s a number of diverse cultural and natural history ranging from stuffed birds and mammals, ethnic displays from various Kenyan tribal groups, fossils of early man from Lake Turkana and exhibits of local art. There is also the Geology Gallery which provides insight into an impressive collection of rocks and minerals. The Hominid vault contains a collection of pre-historic bones and fossils including the preserved fossil of an elephant. Other than the museum, there is also an adjacent Snake Park that you can visit as well and feast your eyes on an array of Kenya’s most common reptiles. It is even possible to hold some of the snakes and enjoy the thrill. In addition to the Museum and the Snake Park, visitors are also treated to a variety of shopping and dining facilities that gives one a brief interlude into Kenya’s cuisine. The museum is open to the public all days of the year between 0830hrs- 1730hrs.
Giraffe Centre: The giraffe centre is located in Langata a few minutes away from the David Sheldrick’s Orphanage. It is also approximately 20 kilometres for the Central Business District. The Centre is home to a number of breeding pairs of Rothschild giraffes. The main attraction here for both school children and visitors is feeding the giraffes from a raised observation platform. There are also warthogs within the centre which are freely roaming around together with the giraffes.
Bomas of Kenya: The Bomas of Kenya allows one to experience the rich diversity of authentic Kenyan music and dancing. Located about ten kilometres from Nairobi, it is an ideal place to learn about the music, arts, culture, crafts and lifestyle of each tribe found within the country. There exists an acrobatic team that entertain individuals with their jaw dropping, heart stopping skills. The traditional villages that are spread out around the area provide insight into how different tribes’ traditional homesteads actually look like. There is also an amusement park for the children and as such proves to be an attraction that is completely family friendly. You shall be treated to a rich traditional music and dance shows at the cultural centre. You shall also have a chance to dine at the Utamaduni restaurant which provides exposure to different types of Kenyan cuisine that you have not had a chance of tasting yet. There is n exciting performance within the arena of traditional music and dance within the arena every afternoon so if you are free head down there for the time of your life!!
The National Archives: Housed in the old Bank of India building, the National Archives spotlights Kenyan tribal culture as well as the country’s art, history, and politics. The main floor gallery displays historical documents and a collection of photographs. Paintings and artifacts from the collection of Joseph Murumbi, one of Africa’s most famous collectors, dominate the exhibits. The second floor houses more art, a display of postage stamps, and the
National Archives reading room, which is used for personal and professional projects.
The Carnivore Restaurant: Found along Langata Road in Nairobi, The Carnivore Restaurant is a gem that one would not want to skip over during their stay in town. Its speciality is meat and it provides an all-you-can-eat-meat buffet. It is considered as the ultimate ‘Beast of a Feast’ if you will. The atmosphere within the restaurant is both serene and rustic and enhances your experience altogether. The restaurant is also famed for one of its more popular cocktails which is the ‘dawa’ meaning potion in Swahili. Many opt to drink this while there. Once you are there you will not come out the same.
Ngong Hills: These beautiful pointed green hills resemble the back f a fist facing the sky and this is why they got the name Ngong which refers to “knuckles” in Maasai. They are found along the ridge of the Great Rift Valley. There are walking trails along the top of the ngong hills that allows individuals to take a much needed respite from the hustle and bustle of the city. The vantage point offers a view of the valleys below and it is also possible to see some wildlife such as bushbuck, baboons, gazelles and buffaloes that are sometimes seen grazing along the roadside. There are various activities that can be carried out here such as hiking, zip lining, Archery and picnicking. It would also be the perfect place for taking beautiful pictures.
The Kenyatta International Convention Centre: The structure is named after the Country’s first president. The unmistakeable cylindrical Kenya International Conference Centre (KICC) is an internationally acclaimed venue for conferences, meetings, and exhibitions. Though not the tallest building in Kenya, it dominates the skyline with a 28-story tower overlooking a large amphitheatre. Its pale terracotta façade recalls the colour of traditional African huts, and the central plenary hall resembles the ancient Roman Senate. You can zoom up to the rooftop viewing platform and admire panoramic views over Nairobi, or enjoy a meal at one of the restaurants.
Kazuri Beads Factory
Most individuals who travel tend to bring back souvenirs from the places they visit to act as memoirs or just to decorate their houses or as presents for those who are back home. Kazuri Beads Factory provides a one stop shop for all these categories of purchases. The factory is an awesome place to shop since you would be helping some disadvantaged women who are tasked with making the shiny colourful beads. There is a factory tour within the establishment that allows you to actually see how the jewellery is made from scratch. It shall also allow you to interact with the different women that are found there. The prices are quite favourable and the tour itself is free. It would be a great combination to a visit to the Karen Blixen Museum since they are found in the same area.
The Railway Museum
This Museum is considered as a great celebration of the rich history that the railroad of Kenya professes and the impact the railroad itself had on the nation’s development. Some of the collections found within the museum include; ship models, photographs from the original construction of the Kenya Uganda Railway, maps and drawings, a silver service set used on overnight trains to Mombasa. A stunning collection of steam locomotives and rolling stock can also be found within the collection for all to marvel at. A popular exhibit within the establishment is the carriage that was used during the hunt for the Maneater of Kima in the 1900’s. The captain at the time was known as Chares Ryall and he had staked out the lion in the carriage and wanted to shoot it dead on site. Unfortunately, he fell asleep and was dragged out the window by the same lion.
Places to Stay When Visiting Nairobi
Nairobi is home to an array of beautiful hotels, ranging from Luxury; Fairmont The Norfolk, Hemingway’s Nairobi, the Boma Hotel, to Mid-Range; Villa Rosa Kempinski, Sarova Stanley and even Budget Hotels; Hotel Central Park, Kenya Comfort Hotel and others. Besides hotels there are also furnished apartments that are perfect for those travelling with large families and would like to stay together within an apartment rather than stay at hotels.
Are you looking for a city to visit that contains all forms of attractions to whet any traveller’s appetite? Look no further, Nairobi is definitely the place to be.