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24 Hours to Explore Nairobi: Best things to see in Nairobi

Nairobi National Park Safari

 

Nairobi is Kenya’s capital and largest city. Most people would think that since it’s a city, there isn’t anything to see but skyscrapers. But Nairobi offers an adventure unlike any other places, all within its city’s limits. If you’re in Nairobi and only have 1 day to explore, I highly recommend visiting these places:

  1. Nairobi National Park

Nairobi National Park Animals
National Park with the view of the city

A safari adventure waits in the Nairobi National Park, just 30 minutes away from the city center. Hundreds of wild animal species, like the endangered black rhinos, giraffes, lions, cheetahs, zebras, hippos, and hundreds of bird species call this park home. The park offers a safari drive, safari walks, picnic facilities, and, if you’re extra adventurous—overnight camping.

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Fast facts and tips:

  • For the safari drive, make sure to start early in the morning. The wildlife is most awake and about at this hour.
  • Eat your breakfast in the car so you don’t need to rush in the morning.
  • Make sure to wear comfortable clothes, sensible shoes, water, and sun protection.
  • The Safari Drive can last as long as 2-4 hours.
  • Park hours are 6:00 AM-7:00 PM
  • Park fees for the Safari Drive are $43 per adult and $22 per child
  • If you’re bringing your own vehicle, depending on the size, fees range from KSH 300-5,000.
  • Safari vehicles, again depending on the size, can cost around KSH 10,000-60,000.
  • No cash payments allowed here; only MPESA and VISA Card are accepted.

2. Giraffe Centre

Next stop is the Giraffe Centre, a breeding, conservation, and research center for the endangered Rotshschild Giraffes. You’ll learn all about this special giraffe that now lives exclusively in the East African grasslands.  They breed giraffes until they’re about 2-3 years old. And then they are released into the wild, usually to other game parks. Get up close and personal with the graceful giraffes by standing on an elevated platform and feeding them a treat. You can even pet them gently too.

Things to do in Nairobi

I love the Centre’s heart-warming origin story. The giraffes used to roam West Kenya but due to a relocation program of squatters to their territory, their home was put at risk. It was then that the founders of the Giraffe Centres, Jock and Betty Leslie-Melville, decided to bring home two giraffes to Lang’ata, a town near Nairobi. Up to this day, it’s still where the breeding center is now. These two original giraffes were cared for and eventually led to the successful breeding of other giraffes. The couple also managed to raise funding to give safe havens for other giraffe groups as well.  They managed to also build an Educational Centre for research and education purposes and spread awareness to the public and local students.

Fast facts and tips:

  • Expect to spend around an hour here.
  • The Centre is open from 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM daily.
  • You can feed giraffes and experience tours anytime within the operating hours.
  • Non-resident adults pay KSH 1,500, non-resident kids pay KSH 750.
  • No cash payments allowed here; only MPESA and VISA Card are accepted.
  • The Centre is very popular with schools, so expect a lot of students during your visit.
  • There is a gift shop and a cafe in the Centre.

3. UN Tour

Did you know that one of the four United Nations headquarters can be found in Nairobi? And what if I told you that you can join their public tours around the compound? I’m sure you’re as excited as I was when I first found out our itinerary.

There are 3 kinds of tours to choose from:

  1. Walking Tour (1 hour)

Here you can visit the UN Nairobi office, a corridor of world flags and, if not occupied, the important conference room.

Tour Fee for Non-Residents:

Students (5-17 years): $10

Adults (18 years and above): $15

Senior Citizens: $15

  • Walking Tour With UN Overview Briefing (2 hours)

This special tour gives a presentation about the UN’s background, its organization, and their past and present projects.

Tour Fee for 1-20 persons: $40 (additional fee)

  • Green Building Tour (2 hours)

In this technical tour, you’ll learn all about the Green Building and the environmentally friendly systems it uses. You can find the UN Environment global headquarters and UN-HABITAT or the Human Settlement Programme here.

Tour Fee: $8 (extra)

Fast facts and tips:

  • Tour hours:
    • Monday – Thursday, 9 am – 4 pm
    • Friday, 9 am – 2 pm
  • They only accept cash payments before the tour starts.
  • Do come 30 minutes before your tour. They’ll do security checks and visitor registration during this time. They can charge you a late fee if you arrive late.
  • You can book your tours at: https://tours.unite.un.org/#/request/nairobi
  • Type in your full name as shown in your passport when booking tours.
  • Bring your passport as ID when you come to the tour.

4. Karen Blixen Museum

Things to do in Nairobi

Karen Blixen Museum is named after the Danish author and coffee farmer, Karen Blixen, who once lived here from 1914-1932. It’s on this 4,500 acre of land where Karen herself once cultivated coffee plants for her business. She is best known for her book Out of Africa, which was also transformed into a movie featuring Meryl Streep and Robert Redford, and they used this exact house for the film!

Things to do in Nairobi

This Museum opened back in 1986 and displays her life in Africa from 1917-1931. Experience her life through walking across her garden, along the porch, viewing her old furniture, knick-knacks, and paintings. The tour gave us a story of Karen Blixen and the local coffee planting origins.

Fast facts and tips:

  • The tour takes around 30 minutes.
  • Operating hours are from 9:30 AM – 6:00 PM daily.
  • Entrance fees are around KSH 1,200 for adults. This is inclusive of tour guides.
  • You can explore the garden for free.
  • There’s a restaurant nearby named Karen Blixen Coffee Garden if you’re feeling a bit hungry.
  • If you haven’t seen the movie, go watch it. Or if you haven’t read it, I recommend that you to go read it first. That way you’ll fully appreciate this site’s rich history.

These are just my top three highlights if you only have a day to explore Nairobi.  If you have more days, you can check these out as well:

5.  Nairobi National Museum

You’ll definitely get the most out of Kenya’s rich history here.  The museum exhibits human evolution and Kenya’s diverse nature and culture all in one roof. You can grab a bite at the restaurant or even do a bit of shopping here. There’s also a snake park and a botanical garden. The museum is open daily from 9AM – 5PM.

6. David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust

This elephant and rhino orphanage is located just inside the Nairobi National Park. Take note, it’s only open from 11AM-12NN. Like the Giraffe Center’s noble cause, they also take care of these baby elephants until they are old enough to be on their own outside. Get to learn all about the trust’s purpose and the elephant residents. You’ll also see the staff feeding the elephants from behind a rope marker.

7.Nairobi Railway Museum

Nairobi Railway Museum

A Museum showcasing the history of the East African Railway. It used to operate from Mombasa to Uganda. You’ll get to see different kinds of locomotives, maps, and different train memorabilia. There’s even a train used in the set of Out of Africa. It’s open daily from 9:00AM-5:00PM.

8.Bomas of Kenya

Bomas of Kenya

Learn about the different ‘bomas,’ or homesteads, of Kenya in this little village.  You can also catch cultural performances of Africa’s local tribes here. Dance performances are Monday-Friday from 2:30-4:00PM, and Saturday-Sunday & Public Holidays from 3:30-5:15PM. But the bomas village is open daily from 8:00 AM-5:00PM.

9.Utamaduni Shops + Garden Cafe

If you’d like to do a bit of shopping, or window-shopping, you can stop by this cozy place. Here, you’ll find a lot of local souvenir like T-shirts, sculptures, decorations, jewelry, toys and actually a lot more. You can lounge at the cafe too, if you want to chill for a while.

10.Kazuri Beads & Pottery Factory

‘Kazuri’ is Swahili for small and tiny, exactly what describes the ceramic beads made here. The group serves a meaningful purpose to give work opportunities to local women through creating jewelry and pottery. Tour the factory and learn about how they make the beads and pots. Shop or even just appreciate the beautiful jewelry they create. It’s open weekdays from 8AM-5PM and Saturdays from 8AM-1PM.

I learned a lot about East Africa during my tour around the capital, and that’s just from one day. Whether you only have a day or a couple of days to explore in Nairobi, there’s definitely going to be something fun to do and a lot of amazing sights to see.

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