Nairobi is a turbulent city. The capital of Kenya with almost 4.4 million inhabitants is full of contrasts. Dazzling malls, international restaurants, a lively party scene and the largest slum in Africa are located in the metropolis. The city offers a wealth of sights and unique places.
Nairobi is also famous for the Nairobi National Park, where you can see giraffes, zebras and even lions right in the city. In addition, the African city bears the nickname “Nairobbery”, because some have already been relieved of their belongings here.
For most, Nairobi is the arrival point on a trip through Kenya and many are drawn directly to the national parks or the coast. A mistake, because Nairobi has some really cool sights to offer.
Tip 1: Nairobi National Park
Kenya’s oldest national park is located just outside Nairobi. It was founded in 1946 and is located about 10km from the city center. From some places in the park you not only have a great view of the grazing animals but also of the Nairobi skyline in the background. This combination is unparalleled in the world.
More than 400 different bird species have been counted in the park. But the national park is best known for its black black rhinos. Their number is constantly increasing and some of them have already been relocated to other protected areas. Nairobi National Park is therefore an excellent place to observe this endangered species in its natural environment. Besides rhinos, this protected area is home to more than 80 species of mammals. (Giraffes, buffalos, Thomson gazelle, Grant gazelle, warthog, lions, cheetahs and occasionally leopards) Whether as a prelude to a safari in the Masai Mara or as a day trip, the national park is a good choice.
Tip 2: Sheldrick Wildlife Trust
The sight of a herd of elephants makes the heart of every safari traveler beat faster. The imposing animals are the epitome of African wildlife. But this idyll has been threatened for years. In addition to the ever-shrinking savannahs, which the elephants need to obtain sufficient food, it is above all the poachers who have been hunting the pachyderms for decades. Throughout eastern and southern Africa, poaching is a major problem, including in Kenya and Tanzania.
Only adult elephants have tusks. The easiest elephant cows to hunt are those that live together in herds and cannot flee as quickly because of their offspring. If a cow elephant is shot, the herd often leaves the young behind because the other elephant mothers cannot take care of them. The young elephants cannot yet fend for themselves and often fall victim to predators, starve to death or die of thirst because they cannot find the watering holes without the herd. In Kenya, David Sheldrick, the former administrator of Tsavo National Park, founded an elephant orphanage as early as 1954.
In addition to preserving the wildlife of Tsavo National Park, the Trust also operates a sanctuary for orphaned elephants in Nairobi National Park.
Here, professional keepers care for traumatized baby elephants and raise them by bottle until they are old enough to eat on their own. In the community with older young animals, they come to rest and develop their first social behavior in the herd. When the animals are independent enough, they are first moved to an open enclosure in Tsavo National Park, where they gradually learn life skills from the older elephants and are released into the wild as soon as they can join a herd.
Tip 3: Giraffe Center Nairobi
Nairobi’s main attractions are almost all gathered in the Karen district. From the Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage in Nairobi National Park, for example, it is not far to the Giraffe Centre. The Centre was founded in 1979 by Jock Leslie-Melville and his wife Betty, descendants of Scottish landed gentry, as a private breeding station for the endangered Rothschild giraffes, which are found only in a few regions of Kenya. Five years earlier, they had purchased a dilapidated mansion with about 6 hectares of land in Nairobi’s Langatta district, which borders Karen. The center is now run by the African Fund for Endangered Wildlife Kenya Ltd (AFEW).
Around 50 Rothschild giraffes have been raised over the years. As the site offers limited habitat, many of the animals are released into protected areas around Lake Nakuru and in the Samburu Game Reserve, where they are also found in the wild. This happens at the age of two, when the giraffe calves become independent. The “resident” giraffes and the younger giraffe calves enjoy a very comfortable life on the grounds.
After the rearing station was established, the idea was to construct a building with an elevated terrace so that visitors can stand at giraffe head height and feed the giraffes with special pellets. The very daring can even get a “giraffe kiss,” which is admittedly a bit gross. Giraffe saliva is supposed to be disinfectant, but that doesn’t mean you have to have it all over your face. For most, it’s enough to get the pellets eaten out of their hands and be tickled by the long tongue. The head is really huge and the eyes of the giraffe with the long eyelashes beautiful.
Tip 4: Karen Blixen Museum
In 1985, the Karen Blixen Museum was opened in memory of Karen Blixen.
A year after Karen Blixen’s death in 1962, the Danish state bought the coffee farm and donated it to Kenya when the country became independent from Great Britain. Until independence, the country was called British East Africa.
The Kenyans turned the farm into a household school in 1966. The main building became the home of the director.
In 1980, a Danish committee again became active on the coffee farm. Within the next few years, it was determined that this place should become a museum in memory of Karen Blixen.
In the eighties, Sydney Pollak also directed “Beyond Africa”, the film adaptation of Karen Blixen’s memoirs of her life in Africa. The film company of that movie donated $5,000 to restore the buildings, which were in poor condition. The Danish committee raised money for the museum’s inventory.
The museum consists of the old main house, a kitchen, and a coffee drying area that was part of Karen Blixen’s coffee farm buildings. Today the museum belongs to National Museums of Kenya and is located in the Karen district, which was named after the Danish writer.
In the museum you will get a unique insight into the everyday life of Karen Blixen in Africa. In the house there are individual pieces of furniture from the Blixen couple’s time, as well as photographs and a bronze cast of Karen Blixen made by Harald Isenstein in 1935.
The museum is open 365 days a year from 9:30 am to 6 pm. You can take a guided tour or explore the farm yourself. The Karen Blixen Museum is a popular destination for tourists. All those interested in Karen Blixen and her story should definitely visit it.
Tip 5: The Maasai Market
The Maasai are one of Kenya’s 42 tribes, known mainly as pastoralists. Apart from that, they are very good craftsmen. Much of the jewelry that defines Kenya is Maasai art. If you visit souvenir stores in town, it is very likely that many of their artworks are Maasai artworks.
Maasai Market is an open-air market that you can visit on Saturdays in Nairobi CBD (Central Banking District). As a note to travelers, I recommend that you visit the Maasai Market with a guide or with someone who is familiar with the market. This is because you may be overwhelmed by all the vendors trying to guide you to their stalls. And you may not know what the average prices are. That’s not to say you can’t go it alone. To all the adventurous, we encourage you to go alone and join the hustle and bustle.