Overview of the city
Nairobi is the capital city of Kenya, a country located in East Africa. Nairobi today is not quite the quiet retreat it once was. It has become vibrant and a hub to many businesses, local and international.
As a result this has enabled it to have a lot to offer in terms of travel and tourism. As Kenya’s largest city, Nairobi has become a gathering place for people from all over the African continent and the world. Many travelers have sought to visit other cities to evade the busy and fast-paced capital.
However, sparing some time to explore Nairobi can be worthwhile and just as rewarding. The city is accessible through the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) and domestically via Wilson Airport.
Visiting Nairobi Today
With the outbreak of the Coronavirus, most countries have had to restrict international travel to curb the spread of the virus. This pandemic has minimized global travel earnings. Personally, I believe that travel is a means of wealth distribution across the world. Covid-19 has changed travel forever, and this has forced many people to devise measures to ensure conscious traveling that provides traveler safety. Corona Virus has been with us for slightly over a year, and most countries have opened up business operations in a quest for their economic recovery. Safe travel will encompass observing the World Health Organization guidelines like; observing social distancing, washing hands, wearing face masks, and avoid crowding.
While safety begins with you as the traveler, the Ministry of Health in Kenya has set up guidelines to ensure tourists’ safety. Kenyan residents are mandated to wear face masks at all times, there is a ban on large gatherings, and there is also an imposed curfew set between 10:00 pm and 4:00 am. Not to worry though, this forces everyone to end their night a little earlier than usual; adjustments can be made to your schedule to accommodate most of the day’s activities before curfew time.
Usually, before visiting Kenya, all one needed was their passport, visa, and vaccination certificate for yellow fever and malaria. Today, on top of all this, one will need to acquire a covid-19 test that proves their negative status 96 hours before their arrival. All these measures may seem tedious, but trust me, they are in place to ensure our safety and yours as a traveler. All attractions have adapted safety measures to ensure the safety of the visitors. You will be screened for temperature, sanitized, and in some offered free masks at the entrance.
Various ways of exploring Nairobi
Like other travel destinations, this travel tip will help you as a traveler to navigate and understand the city with ease during your adventure travel.
The Nairobi National Park
It is a world belief that safaris and cities are two contrasting ideas that cannot go together. However, in Nairobi they do. Nairobi is the only city globally with a National Park; thus, the name, the world’s wildlife capital. The park is located approximately four miles from the city center. A visit to the park offers one an opportunity to enjoy a game drive to see the various animal species in their ecosystems. I would recommend an early morning visit to the park before the animals disperse into the thick vegetation. Disclaimer; the Nairobi National Park has all the big five except the elephants. However, one can visit the Sheldrick elephant orphanage situated close to the park to see and adopt baby elephants.
About a kilometer from the park is the Giraffe Centre, a safe haven for the giraffe species. Here, one can get to spend time with the giraffes and even feed them. However, to visit, you have to make prior bookings online. The entry fees to these attractions are quite affordable with convenient modes of payment.
Restaurants and famous eat-out joints
Most people relate tourism and travel with wildlife, which is not the case. There are other various forms of tourism and activities for tourists to enjoy their visit. Not to forget the gastro-tourists; Nairobi has popular restaurants that prepare native cuisines. You haven’t explored the city if you have not sampled the famous Kenyan delicacy, ‘nyama choma’ (roasted meat). The Carnivore restaurant is renowned for its meat dishes, where the aroma and the mouth-watering sight of meat on a giant charcoal pit cut with Maasai swords at the entrance welcome the visitors.
Nairobians love their meat as it rules the menus; thus, you might want to inform your host before your visit on your dietary requirements if you are vegetarian. Some famous hotels and restaurants include Villa Rosa Kempinski, Ole Sereni, Hilton, Sarova Stanley, and Hotel Six Eighty. Notably, other restaurants specialize in native dishes like the Japanese, Chinese, Indian, Arabian, and Italian cuisines.
Open air markets and malls in Nairobi
Souvenirs act as a reminder and memory of an adventure. One can acquire souvenirs in Nairobi, such as crafts, beaded jewelry, handbags, and traditional attires like the famous Maasai shuka. These can be found at the Maasai market, an open-air market specializing in selling traditional crafts and carvings. The Maasai is a well-known tribe globally, and they form a massive inspiration for the items sold in this market, which has since become a staple culture for the city. The market shifts its location depending on the day of the week. The pricing of the goods is just right if you learn the art of bargaining.
One can also enjoy shopping at malls like the Two Rivers mall, The Junction mall, Sarit center, and Capital Centre. Similarly, in these malls, one can also enjoy an experience at 4D AND 7D theatre. It is a great way to pass the time at the mall or to have an experience for a date.
Nature and Street Architecture
For nature lovers, there are various locations and activities to engage in the city. The Nairobi Arboretum is a green paradise with over 350 indigenous and exotic species and a home to several bird species. Another location is the Karura forest, where one can go biking in the woods. These locations have clear and clean paths for walking and jogging. One can engage in activities like tree planting and bird watching.
When taking a stroll around the city’s central business district, various monuments erected in honor of prominent leaders and members of the country. The city center also offers spectacular views of beautiful architectural designs of buildings. The Kenyatta International Conference Centre, a familiar landmark of Nairobi, offers panoramic views of the city to its horizon while on its rooftop. You may also notice the transport system where various public service vehicles ‘matatu’ are driven aggressively in the streets. These provide affordable transportation for the residents to different locations in Nairobi. In general, Kenyans are happy and welcoming souls, so not to worry; you would fit right in and have a taste of the Kenyan culture.
Museums and Art Galleries
The city has the Nairobi National Museum, the Snake Park, and the Botanical Gardens as the major museums. The museum has an art gallery that showcases works of various contemporary artists. Equally important is the Nairobi gallery and the national archives located at the city centre that exhibit and preserve the public records and art collections. The national archives is a familiar landmark and meeting place at the city center along Moi avenue. Access is Ksh 100 ($1) per person when acquiring a timed entry reservation online to learn about Kenya’s history.
One can enjoy Go Karting on an indoor racing track at Gp Karting along Lang’ata road near the Carnivore Restaurant. Open every day, 9:00 am until 6:00 pm except Mondays, it costs Kshs 1,300 ($13) for adults and between kshs 900 and kshs 1,100 ($9 and $11) for children depending on their age for a 10-minute drive. The charges include the kart, driving gear, fuel, and other equipment. They have weekend racing events held on Saturdays where people enjoy racing tournaments in three different categories; under 13, under 17, and over 18. The weekdays can be ideal for practicing and having fun with friends. However, the best days to visit depending on what they want.
Indoor rock climbing
Another activity to enjoy is an indoor rock climbing at Diamond plaza at a charge of Kshs 1,300 ($ 13). It is an ideal activity for couples and even groups of friends as it is an excellent way of getting fit and testing your mental ability to cope with difficulties. You can bring your climbing shoes or hire some on-site at an extra charge.
There is also indoor shooting at the Kenya Regiment Rifle Club in Lang’ata. To visit this place, one must possess an identification card, and charges are kshs 1,000 ($10) for adults. However, there is an extra charge of ksh 100 ($ 1) to hire the earmuffs and other protective gear. Disclaimer; they do not allow any form of photography.
Finally, when visiting Nairobi, one might feel uneasy regarding the accessibility of critical services. It would help if you were not alarmed as the city is pretty advanced and has significant financial institutions like what you can access back at home. There is also no need to over pack because you can access almost everything in Nairobi. Similarly, one might wonder about the budget. There are various ways to travel on a budget and save on the extra expenses. I would recommend one to acquire the services of a local guide to plan and guide their visit.
The city can cease to be merely a transit point and instead become a destination of its own. This is because a visit to Nairobi is just quite a taste of the magic that exists in other destinations in Kenya. There are diverse cultures and attractions that offer varied experiences. Include Kenya in your travel bucket list for 2021, and I promise you a memorable experience of the beautiful #magicalKenya that will have you coming back.
While travel is for adventure and relaxation, there is a need for responsible travel that ensures the sustainability of resources. I would advocate for responsible travel behavior and urge all travelers to ensure they leave a destination the way they found it. It would also be nice to reduce plastic waste by traveling with a reusable water bottle because most attraction sites have reduced plastic use.
Reduce plastic waste one bottle at a time!