Nairobi's Top Attractions: What to See in Nairobi, Kenya
Kenya's capital Nairobi is often just a transit point for tourists heading out to enjoy a safari or beach holiday. But as you would expect from East Africa's booming economic hub, there are plenty of attractions to keep visitors and business folks content for a day or two of sightseeing. Because of safety concerns most visitors end up taking an organized tour of the main sites in Nairobi, rather than going it alone. Your tour operator can help with the logistics, or you can opt for one of these tours: Nairobi Tours, East Africa Shuttles, or Pro-poor tourism. Cost for a day tour usually runs between $150 - $400 per person, depending on the size of your group, transport and what admission fees are included.
Dame Sheldrick's Elephant and Rhino Orphanage
Dame Sheldrick has been raising elephant orphans since the 1950's when she lived and worked in Tsavo National Park. She established an elephant and rhino nursery in Nairobi's National Park in the late 1970's, as part of the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. Dame Daphne established the Trust in honour of her late husband David, the founding warden of the Tsavo National Parks, and a pioneer conservationist in Kenya. You can visit the orphanage at 11 am every day, for an hour. If you adopt an orphan ($50) you can visit at 5 pm every day after the babies have been fed and given a mud bath. The orphanage is located inside the Nairobi National Park. Visiting the orphanage and supporting elephant conservation is vital these days, as poaching is on the increase, especially in and around Tsavo National Park.
Nairobi National Park
Nairobi is the only city in the world that is gazed upon by zebra, lion and rhino -- in the wild. Nairobi National Park was established in 1946 long before the city burst its seams. Located just 7km from the city center, Nairobi National Park has a remarkably diverse eco-system for its size (117 km2). It is home to black rhino, lion, leopard, cheetah, hyena, buffalo, giraffe, zebra, wildebeest, elands, hippo and more than 400 species of birds. The park plays a vital role in education, it's proximity to the city allows easy access to school children who may otherwise never get a chance to go on safari. Game drives and a "safari walk" are on offer for visitors. Visitors can now also spend the night inside the park. The Nairobi Tented camp is an eco-camp with eight luxury tents with en suite facilities. This is a great option for travelers not keen on staying in Nairobi's city center. The park is open daily and the entrance fee for a non-Kenyan national is $40 per adult.
The Giraffe Center is a successful breeding center for the rare Rothschild Giraffe, found only in East Africa. The center was established in the 1970's by by Jock Leslie-Melville, who successfully raised a baby Rothschild giraffe at what was then his home, in the Langata area of Nairobi. The breeding program has been very successful and several successful giraffe couples are back in the wild. An education center to teach school children about conservation has also done important work to raise local awareness about conservation issues. The center is open daily for tours and visits from 9am - 5.30 pm. Visitors can also opt to spend the night at the Giraffe Manor and enjoy breakfast with giraffe looking in to the dining room.
Karen Blixen Museum
The Karen Blixen Musuem is housed in the very farmhouse where Danish author (Out of Africa) Karen Blixen (Isak Dinesen) lived from 1914 to 1931. The house is located at the foot of the Ngong Hills and was built in 1912, and bought by Karen and her husband Baron Bror von Blixen Fincke in 1917. The museum will delight fans of her books and of course the movie starring Robert Redford and Meryl Streep. The only disappointment voiced by visitors is that the real life Denys Finch-Hatton has got nothing on Robert Redford as far as looks (and hair)! The movie was not shot on location as the house was deemed too dark, but the set was built on the same grounds. You can browse through the house which is actually quite small, see her bedroom and dining room filled with furniture she apparently owned at the time. A museum shop sells some "Out of Africa" souvenirs, as well as handicrafts. The gardens are still lovely and the view of the Ngong Hills are of course unchanged. Opening hours are: 9.30 am to 6 pm daily.
Nairobi National Museum
The Nairobi National Museum was founded in 1920, and established at its present location in 1929. It offers visitors the chance to learn about Kenya's history, culture, paleontology and art. The Museum building got a complete overhaul in the past decade, and reopened its doors in 2008. Many of the fascinating anthropological discoveries by the Leakey family can be found in the Museum. The large collection of stuffed birds is also impressive. A botanical garden and two restaurants make it a nice place to visit for a few hours and escape the more crowded, traffic congested city center. The Nairobi National Museum is open from 8.30 am to 5.30 pm daily.