Making the Most of Your Time in Nairobi, Kenya
September 28, 2021
We spent a couple of days in Nairobi in order to relax before heading home after our safari and we really enjoyed our time there. If you have a day or two in Nairobi, there are several places that are definitely worth visiting during your time there. Our hotel was located in the heart of the city and getting out to see the attractions was certainly a time consuming proposition due to the traffic in Nairobi, even with trying to avoid the heavier traffic times. We scheduled a Nairobi City Tour with our guides, but obviously these places could be visited on you own without needing to use a guide, but it helps to have a driver who knows how to get around the city.
Karen Blixen Museum and Gardens – It is hard to explain the impact that Karen Blixen had on the city of Nairobi and Kenya in general. The Baroness is best known around the world for her autobiographical story of her time in Africa titled Out of Africa as well as the movie with the same name. To the people of Kenya, she is known for providing healthcare to the people and providing inspiration to the women of Kenya. Although the book and movie romanticize her time in East Africa, the story and her life were rather tragic. The museum, which is the house she lived in and the gardens that surround it, is the location of their failed coffee plantation and features some of the farm equipment as well as photographs of the people in Karen’s life. There is also some memorabilia from the movie as it was filmed on location in Africa.
Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and Elephant Orphanage – One might have thought that we had seen enough elephants during our safari considering that we saw hundreds of them, but we were actually excited to visit the elephant orphanage in Nairobi. The Sheldrick Wildlife Trust is dedicated to rescuing orphaned elephants and rhinos, raising them and possibly rehabilitating them, and then returning them to the wild. The baby elephants come from all of the various national parks and animal reserves where, unfortunately, poaching still sometimes occur leaving the elephants orphaned or sometimes they become orphaned for other reasons. Pretty much every baby animal is cute and adorable, but baby elephants are especially cute and precocious.
Kazuri Bead Factory – Although it is referred to as the Kazuri Bead Factory, it is really an artisan workshop where the beads for necklaces and bracelets as well as other pottery are created. Everything created by the artisans for Kazuri are handmade and hand-painted based on a preset pattern that each of the workers follow. In addition to creating beautiful jewelry and pottery, Kazuri provides work for mostly single mothers and provides free medical care for their employees and their immediate family. Buying items from Kazuri, which are sold worldwide, is really an opportunity to get some something beautiful and help the people as well.
Giraffe Centre (The African Fund for Endangered Wildlife) – During our city tour of Nairobi, we visited the Giraffe Centre, whose official name is the African Fund for Endangered Wildlife. Obviously the proceeds from people visiting the center go to the preservation of endangered animals in Africa such as the cheetahs, rhinos, and other animals. Having spent the previous eleven days on safari where we saw giraffes in the wild every day, we weren’t sure at first about visiting the Giraffe Centre. It is currently going under some renovations in order to improve the experience of the visitors and to make the center even more green. The highlight of visiting the Giraffe Centre is getting up close to the giraffes and feeding them.
A Maasai Market – Although we had visited an actual Maasai Village during our safari, we still took time to go to one of the Maasai markets that are in the city of Nairobi. Be forewarned that as you enter the market, there will be men offering to guide you through the market, but you should ignore them and tour the market on your own. They just want to get part of the money that you might spend and they are really pushy about trying to get you to buy something. We had something fairly specific in mind since we had already bought souvenirs, which we couldn’t find, so we didn’t end up buying anything, but enjoyed seeing the local artwork on display.
Nairobi National Park – We did not visit the Nairobi National Park since we had already spent twelve days going through the national parks that are part of the great migration route, but if you are only visiting Nairobi and not doing a safari, it would be worth visiting. The park has many of the same animals that you will find when going on safari without having to travel more than a few minutes from the city.
In addition to visiting these locations in Nairobi, we also spent time eating at several different restaurants in the city. Obviously, due to the time of visit and travel restrictions because of COVID, there were not many other tourists in the city when we were there. We found the city of Nairobi to be quite interesting and enjoyed seeing it as much as we enjoyed our time on safari.