Nairobi isn’t just the capital city of Kenya; it’s also one of the largest cities in Africa. It’s been dubbed the Green City in the Sun for a good reason; Nairobi is the only capital city in the world that has a national park next to it. The city boasts of rich history and numerous tourist attraction sites. For culture, history, forests, wildlife safaris and much more, Nairobi has you covered!
The whole of Nairobi actually used to be a vast wild land where animals roamed. This was until the colonial administration decided to build a city that’s now Nairobi City. Despite the modernization, huge patches of undisturbed land remain where wild animals roam freely.
Nairobi National park;
Located in the south of Nairobi's central business district, the Nairobi National Park is a mixture of grasslands and acacia bushes. The national park is home to numerous animals like lions, leopards, hyenas, monkeys, giraffes, buffaloes, among others. Nairobi national park is a great place for safaris, camping, or picnics.
Even with the park bordering the city, you will be amazed at how the animals thrive naturally in the park; unbothered by the city life or the skyscrapers that protrude in the horizon.
The Giraffe Centre;
The Giraffe Centre is an awesome place to tour especially for families with small children. The giraffe centre is located in Langata, a few kilometres from the city centre. The centre was initially set aside to breed the Rothschild Giraffe (which is an endangered species). The giraffes here are enclosed within human reach and you can feed, touch or interact with these gentle giants; such an exhilarating experience!
The David Sheldrick Trust;
Established in 1977, the Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage is located near Nairobi National Park. The David Sheldrick Trust is an elephant and rhino nursery provides a safe haven for orphaned animals rescued from parks and reserves in Kenya. This centre rears and feeds the baby elephants until they are big enough to be released back into the wild. It has three reintegration units located in the Greater Tsavo Conservation Area, Ithumba and Umani Springs in the Kibwezi Forest.
You can visit the sanctuary for one hour from 11 am to 12 pm every day when the elephants arrive for their midday feeding and mud bath. You can also choose to adopt an elephant helping the organization meet the expenses needed for the cause.
Nairobi Animal Orphanage;
The Nairobi animal orphanage was established in 1964 and serves as a home to more than 20 different species of animals. The orphanage hosts animals such as baboons, warthog, hippos, buffalos and more. Birds like parrots, guinea fowls, ostriches and other diverse species fancied by bird watchers are also present.
The Snake Park;
Located just below the National Museum, the Snake Park is home to many of the snake species found in Africa. From Cobras to the puff adders, or the much-feared black mambas; all can be viewed here. The snakes are safely locked in glass enclosures and thus, you have nothing to fear. Other animals found in the snake park include tortoises, crocodiles, and other reptiles.
Diversity of Culture and history in Nairobi
Nairobi preserves most of the country’s history in the museums and archives. It also displays the history and cultural diversity in different forms.
Here are places you can visit in Nairobi to experience the Kenyan culture and history;
The Nairobi National Museum;
The National Museum is rich in cultural heritage for both leisure and educational purposes. The museum hosts collections of cultural items and symbols of the country’s history. Visitors are also welcome to enjoy the beautiful landscaping outside the museum and botanical gardens.
Bomas Of Kenya;
A boma is Swahili for homestead. The Bomas of Kenya displays the Kenyan heritage in ways no other place does; a place for cultural tours from different Kenyan ethnical groups. From traditional dances, huts, dressing, Bomas is a melting point of all cultures.
The Nairobi Gallery is a historical site that tends to be forgotten by most visitors; yet, it’s a goldmine for art lovers. The gallery is located on Kenyatta House Tower along Kenyatta Avenue and Uhuru Highway intersection. It has troves of Kenyan history that offer an insight into the journey this country has made since the 1800s.
Point Zero is located in the Nairobi gallery. It is from this point that distances to other towns are measured; 480 km to Mombasa, 833 km to Moyale, etc. Among the outstanding artifacts in the gallery here include the Murumbi Vessel, a unique ceramic pot made by Lady Magdalene Odundo (one of the top ceramists in the country).
Karen Blixen Museum;
The Karen Blixen Museum is the former African home of Danish author Karen Blixen, famous for her 1937 book Out of Africa, which chronicles life at the estate. Located only 10km from Nairobi’s CBD, the museum is open to the public daily from 9:30 pm to 6pm. It’s a scenic paradise where visitors get to explore and learn about the Museum’s founder Karen Blixen (she lived here between 1914 and 1931). Actually, the leafy suburb of Karen is named after the museum’s founder. The grounds can be rented for weddings, corporate functions, and other events.
The National Archives building is arguably one of the most easily recognizable buildings within Nairobi City. The National Archives is home to a trove of historical photos, films, audios, paintings, artifacts, and so much more. Kenya’s History is well documented here dating back from the 19th Century, to the Colonial and post-independence era. While walk-in visitors are welcome from Monday to Friday between 8:30 am and 4:30 pm, learning institutions and other large groups have to book in advance. The National Archives building is centrally located within the City, it’s a walking distance from the main CBD.
The Railway Museum;
The Railway Museum is located next to the Nairobi Railway Station, a 10-minute walk from the CBD. It was opened in 1977 and contains exhibits from what used to be known as the East African Railways. Here, visitors get to learn of the transformations and milestones that the Rail industry has witnessed over time. This includes early wagons, diesel locomotives as well as early hand pushed ones. There are also fascinating photos that document the hardships that builders of the railway experienced. The museum may appear old, but that’s what makes it interesting; it’s a reminder of an era that most of us only read in history books.
Interesting Places For People Who Love Nature;
After the wildlife, culture and heritage, what next? Well, your visit to Nairobi wouldn’t be complete without bonding with nature!
Karura forest is a serene nature park located in the northern part of Nairobi. It is an excellent place for nature walks, jogs or cycling with friends. The city forest provides a serene environment with clean air; ideal for book reading, pet walking, cycling, meditation, and so much more.
Ngong Hills are closer to the city than you would expect. Located in the southwest of Nairobi, these scenic hills are very popular with religious groups looking for serene spots to pray. Fitness enthusiasts also love trekking and jogging along the hills. The hills’ proximity to the city makes them a convenient getaway destination for many city dwellers.
The John Michuki Park;
John Michuki Park is a green park with well-maintained trees and grass, it’s only a stone throw away from the Nairobi CBD. This lovely picnicking spot only opened its doors to the public recently and has the Nairobi River flowing right in the middle of the park.
Other activities to enjoy in Nairobi include;
Kazuri is a Swahili word that means small and beautiful. This name refers to the handcrafted beadwork found at Kazuri beads. Visit this beautiful factory to learn how ceramic beads are made. With a large workforce of over 340 women from disadvantaged backgrounds, Kazuri not only makes beautiful jewelry, but is also creates sustainable employment opportunities. The factory also makes potteries that are handmade, and hand painted in rich colours.
Kitengela Hot Glass;
This is a hidden gem in Nairobi at the edge of Nairobi national park near Rongai. Kitengela Glass recycles broken glass to create functional art, stylish objects and inspired design. There are many hand-blown designs including chandeliers, furniture, panels, murals, art and beads from recycled glass. Learn how they do this by visiting their glass-blowing studio. While at it, are you hungry for a snack? There is a small café serving snacks, tea, coffee & homemade ice cream.
From the wildlife at the National Park to the cultural and heritage spots, nature spots, the hospitable people; indeed the City under the sun never disappoints.
Seeing that we’re living in the COVID-19 pandemic times, ensure that you have a mask at all times and maintain social distancing. Stay safe and have fun during your visit!