Nairobi is the capital city of Kenya. We at Nomadic Holidays and Safaris are happy to guide you on things to do in Nairobi.
Nairobi began in the late 1890s as a supply depot of the Kenya-Uganda Railway. Its name originally came from the Masai words “Enkare Nairobi” meaning “place of cool waters”. Because of its central location in Kenya, Nairobi latter became the British provincial capital and, finally, the capital city.
In 1905, Nairobi replaced Mombasa as capital of the British protectorate, and the city grew around administration and tourism, initially in the form of big game hunting. As the British occupiers started to explore the region, they started using Nairobi as their first port of call. This prompted the colonial government to build several spectacular grand hotels in the city. The main occupants were British game hunters.
In addition to its urban core, the city has Nairobi National Park, 113 sq kms of plains, cliffs and forest. The park is a safe haven for the endangered black rhino and is also home to large herds of Zebra, Wildebeest, Buffalo, Giraffe and more. A large number of Lions are all found here, living wild within 20 minutes of the city centre. Next to it is a well-regarded elephant orphanage operated by the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust.
Nairobi is still the safari capital of the Africa, although urbanization has quickly caught up with the city. Nairobi has become one of Africa’s largest, and most interesting cities. Nairobi is a city that never seems to sleep.
Nairobi has grown around its central business district.The city is also expanding to the Upper Hill areas and Westlands. The CBD takes a rectangular shape, around the Uhuru Highway, Haile Selassie Avenue, Moi Avenue, and University Way. It features many of Nairobi’s important buildings, including the City Hall and Parliament Building. The city square is also located within the perimeter. Most of the skyscrapers in this region are the headquarters of many international organizations.
Kenyatta International Convention Centre, renowned venue for conferences, meetings and exhibitions, at the heart of the city is the landmark of Nairobi. While the tallest building is the new 32 –storey 200m Britam Towers in Upper Hill. The second tallest is 33 storey 163m UAP towers. Work is underway for Nairobi’s tallest building 70 floors, 300m Pinnacle Towers at Nairobi’s upperhill.
The Nairobi River and its tributaries traverse through the Nairobi County. Nobel Peace laureate Wangari Mathai fought fiercely to save the indigenous Karura forest in northern Nairobi which was under threat of being replaced by modern housing and other infrastructure.
Nairobi has a tropical highland climate. At 1,795 metres (5,889 ft) above sea level, evenings may be cool, especially in the June/July season, when the temperature can drop to 10 °C. The sunniest and warmest part of the year is from December to March, when temperatures average 25°C during the day. The mean maximum temperature for this period is 27 °C.
There are two rainy seasons, but rainfall can be moderate. The cloudiest part of the year is just after the first rainy season, when, until September, conditions are usually overcast with drizzle. As Nairobi is situated close to the equator, the differences between the seasons are minimal. The seasons are referred to as the wet season and dry season. The timing of sunrise and sunset varies little throughout the year for the same reason.
Downtown Nairobi, once the center for government, institutional and private office space is now a bustling shopping district where local and international brands compete for Kenya’s growing middle class. The streets are lined up with all kinds of shops, supermarkets and fast food joints where you can buy anything. Nairobi’s shopping district is a diverse ecosystem that caters for every budget and every lifestyle. Grand shopping malls are now common in the suburbs of Nairobi providing access to many services such as banks and also major supermarkets.
Curio Shops | souvenirs
Kenya is famous for many handicrafts. Look for Kisii stone (soap stone) carvings, Maasai jewelry, Makonde wood carvings, Lamu chairs and batiks. Nomadic Safaris advises you to visit the Masai Market which has a large selection of souvenirs and can be found at different locations within Nairobi.
|Days||Location of the Masai Market|
|Fridays||Upper Car Park at the Village Market in Gigiri & Lavington Mall|
|Saturday & Sunday||High Court Parking, City Square Down Town Nairobi city Center opposite Re-Insurance Plaza & Prestige Plaza along Ngong road|
|Sunday||Car Park Outside the Yaya Shopping Centre|
|Wednesday||Capital Center along Mombasa road|
|Thursday||The junction Mall & along Ngong road|
|Tuesday||Prestige Plaza along Ngong Road|
NB: Exporting souvenirs made from wildlife skins (this includes reptiles) and shells is forbidden.
At Nomadic Safaris will be happy to organize your transport within Nairobi. We also advise our guests on the best transport mode depending on the areas they wish to visit.
Matatus (public minibuses/commuter buses) is typically used for traveling between downtown Nairobi and the suburbs. They are the most common form of public transport and provide a cheap way of getting around Nairobi.
Taxis are a more expensive but more reliable mode of transportation than the matatus. Usually, they are not metered and, like most other things in Nairobi, their fares are negotiable. Taxis are available in most parts of the city. They park outside hotels, at taxi ranks in the city center, and at shopping malls.
Things to do
If you are interested in enjoying any of the excursions below, Nomadic Safaris shall gladly organize one for you. It is possible to combine a number of these excursions to a full day or half day city excursion.
David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage
- Animal orphanage
- Nairobi Safari Walk
- Nairobi National Park
- Giraffe Centre
- Mamba Village
- Snake Park
- National Museum
- Karen Blixen house and Museum
- Railway Museum
- Kazuri Beads and Pottery Centre
- Kitengela glass
- Bomas of Kenya
- American Embassy Memorial Gardens
- Karura Forest
Popular eating joints & Restaurants
Common fast food restaurants include Steers, Debonairs, KFC, Galito’s, Kenchic among others.
Java House & Arte caffe, you will easily find these restaurants in major shopping malls such as The Junction, ABC Place, Sarit Centre, Westgate etc . They have great coffees and milkshakes among other meals.
Trattoria is an Italian restaurant.
Village Market Food Court, Has an array of different ethnic cuisines, including Thai, Italian, Chinese and German, as well as a Mongolian Barbeque. Good prices as well. Venture further into Village Market to find a good Japanese restaurant as well, though with slightly steeper prices. There are also food courts at other malls in the city.
Pampa Grill located at Panari along the Mombasa road.
Carnivore Restaurant located just outside the city, close to the Uhuru Gardens, is a luxury restaurant famous for its meats.
Homestays are increasingly gaining popularity especially near the airport. Part of the reason is that one is able to experience Kenyan culture in a deeper and more meaningful way.
La Maison Royale
67 Airport Hotel
Olive Gardens Hotel
The Heron Portico
The Zehneria Portico
Silver Springs Hotel
Nairobi Hilton Hotel