Often looked at as the gateway to Kenya, Nairobi tends to be ignored by most travelers as the excitement with visiting Kenya is generally reserved for the National Parks, Maasai Mara or even its spectacular coast. Sadly the capital city doesn’t get much love from travelers which is terrible because Nairobi is a thriving vibrant city with plenty to offer if you just take the time to look for it.
If you’re spending a day in the city then your first order of business once you’re well rested should be to pay a visit to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. This is Nairobi’s very own Elephant Orphanage and a beautiful home for abandoned, injured or orphaned elephants. At 10.30am sharp you can witness the resident elephants frolicking in the mud cleaning themselves and feeding as caretaker talks the audience through how these elephants are rescued from several parks across Kenya and nurtured back to health and then realized out into the wild again. No matter how old you are, having an elephant, specially a baby elephant come up close where you can pet him or manage to even take photos with him is a different kind of rush. They even talk about how you can help the orphanage and perhaps adopt an elephant of your own.
Once you’re done with the elephants it’s only fare that you have some fun with the tallest inhabitants in Kenya. Hop across to Giraffe Center which is 10 mins away and spend time feeding these beautiful creatures. If you’re not one of the lucky few that have managed to secure a reservation at the highly sought after Giraffe Manor Hotel where they pop their heads in and join you at breakfast, don’t worry this center is a perfect way to get in on the action without actually staying at the hotel. It’s the same giraffes and this is actually their home. While feeding them is exciting the real highlight here is when you pucker up and let them give you a big slobbery kiss.
After a morning of getting up close with the animals you can take some time to enjoy a spot of shopping at one of the many local or as they call them Maasai Markets across town. The markets are on everyday of the week but the location changes so you need to check with a local and find out where they will be stationed that day. Of course you can visit the malls and boutiques but for some real souvenir and African trinkets these markets are the best. They’re also a great place to buy beautiful African beaded shoes or jewelry but you’ll find all sorts of knick knacks as well.
For travelers that want to include a bit of history a trip to the Karen Blixen Museum is recommended. It is the home of the Dutch author Karen Blixen who wrote the famous book ‘ Out Of Africa ‘ which was then made into an Oscar winning motion picture. You can take a tour guide through her home and learn about her estate and how impactful she and the book were.
You realise how unique Nairobi is when you learn of the Nairobi National Park which is possibly the only time a jungle is situated inside the confines of an actual city. Even if you’re going to visit other parks in the country, a trip here is a must, specially to see the city skyline juxtaposed on the outskirts of the park. With a 120 square kilometers of rolling savannah, it’s home to many animals and vast and beautiful in its own way. It would be ridiculous to compare it with other parks or the Mara but you can spend as much or as little time inside and you’ll spot plenty of giraffe, zebra, wildebeest, rhinoceros and even lions if you’re lucky among others.
Once the day turns into night and you’re done with all the excursions the very best way to end the day is with a hearty meal at Nairobi’s claim to fame -Carnivore. This restaurant is legendary and the uniqueness is that the menu is made up of all sorts of exotic meat. If you’re feeling adventurous you can try the most outrageous animals. The meal served here is an unlimited set meal where the servers keep coming to you with various options and you eat till you physically can’t and once your done you turn down the little flag on your table to signal the end of service. While that flag is hoisted you can be assured platters of meat will keep coming to you. It is a restaurant unlike any other and an excellent spot to test your taste buds.
Nairobi has a charm of its own that seems to be lost when compared to other parts of Kenya. The trick is to enjoy the city for what it is, an experience in its own.
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