If you are looking for non-stop energy, iconic surroundings and almost limitless opportunities for arts and culture, a trip to New York City should be at the top of your wish list. Despite its relatively small size, New York is one of the most heavily populated states in America and, unsurprisingly, it is one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations.
The settlement continued to grow and, by 1919, it had become Kenya’s governmental and industrial hub. Nairobi was granted city status in 1654 and remained the country’s capital after Kenya gained independence in 1963. There is no denying that, historically, Nairobi had a less-than-savoury reputation, which means that many people are reluctant to explore the delights of this magnificent city. The fact remains that Nairobi is home to the world’s largest slum and despite the industrial progression of the city, poverty is very much a part of city life. However, all major cities are home to abject poverty once you scratch beneath the surface; it is just that most visitors choose to ignore, or stay away from, the less salubrious regions. Despite its reputation and undeniable poverty, Nairobi is a rough diamond: beneath its rugged exterior, the city bears a sparkling array of stunning architecture, incredible nature, and the vibrant, glorious soul of East Africa. Most people pass through Nairobi on their way to safari. However, it is worth taking a few days to explore the numerous hidden delights of a city which, once discovered, is impossible not to love.
Direct flights to Nairobi will bring you to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Kenya Airport Authority’s flagship airport, and the busiest in East Africa.
Because of its altitude, Nairobi tends to be cooler than most African cities. It has a subtropical highland climate, meaning that temperatures rarely climb unbearably high, even in summer, hence its name, which comes from the Masaai name “Cool Water”. Situated in the Southern hemisphere, Nairobi’s summertime is December – March, when temperatures reach around 24°C, with a slight drop in the evening. During the winter, temperatures hover between 18 and 20°C, dropping as low as 10°C at night. The best time for a trip to Nairobi does, therefore, depend on your temperature preference and what you want to see and do. If you are looking for cheap flights to Nairobi, plan your trip in autumn (October – November) or spring (April – June), outside of the school holidays.
Every year, millions of tourists pass through Nairobi on their way to safari, without realising that Nairobi is home to one of the most breath-taking safaris. Less than 4 miles from the city centre, Nairobi National Park brushes up against the city’s outer suburbs. Within its 65 square miles of parkland, you can see lions, cheetahs, black rhinos, hyenas, giraffes, zebra and over 400 species of native birds. You can choose how you explore the park: by taxi, on a game drive, or safari walk. You can even spend a night in the recently established eco-camp, a collection of luxury tents with en-suite facilities. As always, it is best to exercise caution and pay a little extra for organised tours (peace of mind is, after all, priceless). Alongside its development of tourist attractions, Nairobi’s animal centres are committed to the protection and conservation of indigenous species. One such centre is Dame Sheldrick’s Elephant and Rhino Orphanage, situated in the National Park. Run by the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, the orphanage has hand-raised more than 150 orphaned elephants. Visit for an hour in the morning, or adopt an orphan for $50, which will allow you to visit the orphans after they have been fed and help give them a mud bath. Nairobi’s Giraffe Centre is run by the African Fund for Endangered Wildlife and is home to the endangered Rothschild giraffe. Learn about giraffe conservation and get up close and personal to these incredible creatures. In the foot of the Ngong Hills, you can visit the Karen Blixen museum, the former home of the Danish author of Out of Africa, where fans of the film and the book will delight in the museum and film set, which is located within the grounds of Karen Blixen’s original home.
With its wealth of rich cultural history, the arts and crafts available in Nairobi are innumerable. Vibrant colours, exquisite shapes and traditional methods assault the senses as you endeavour to take in the myriad shades and forms in the markets, shops and street stalls. The Masaai Market is a great place to pick up local wares as souvenirs from your trip to Nairobi. What’s more, when you buy gifts direct for locals, you are helping to boost the economy by helping the people most in need. The Masaai market is open from Tuesday to Sunday (closed on Mondays). It takes place in a different location each day; check with your hotel or guide to find out where it is on each day. Although Nairobi is, in the main tourist areas, much safer than in previous years, in markets and other busy public spaces it is still best to exercise caution. Don’t carry large amounts of money and valuables, and avoid being enticed around the market by “guides” who may well be on the lookout for gullible tourists from whom to extort money.
Slum tourism is not always received well by tourists, but the fact is that slums exist. If you can face going on a tour of a slum, you could help to provide much-needed support to some of the poorest communities, as well as helping to raise awareness of the horrific conditions in which some people have no choice but to live. If you wish to see the “real Kenya” on your trip to Nairobi, consider going on a tour of Kibera, home to over a million people in just over 1 square mile. Here you can walk through the shanty town, visit the orphanage and the bead factory. Do not enter the slum alone, make sure you are with a reputable guide; most guides grew up in Kibera and will give you an interesting insight into slum life. Whilst you will witness poverty, you will also see the beauty, positivity and resilience of humanity in its purest form.
Africa is the original home of coffee. Although the first country to produce it was Ethiopia, Kenya is also known for its rich coffee blends. Therefore, on your trip to Nairobi, a visit to a coffee house is a must! Beer brewing is also popular in Nairobi, after all, there is no better way to wind down after a hot, busy day than with a locally brewed Tusker! Nairobi offers a choice of typical dishes from different tribal communities. Food tends to be simple, very fresh, and beautifully cooked. A favourite is Nyama Choma: barbecued meat, which consists of local fare, from camel to ostrich and crocodile, perfectly cooked over an open flame. Nairobi is full of juxtaposing emotions and experiences. The helplessness of seeing poverty first-hand contrasts with the uplifting empowerment of witnessing programmes that help within the slums. The contemporary skyline which indicates the growth of a burgeoning economy is even more remarkable when compared with the awe-inspiring majesty of witnessing the “Big Five” in their natural habitats. One thing is for certain: your trip to Nairobi will be full of uplifting, life-affirming surprises. Do you want to plan the trip of a lifetime? Travangelo will help you to find cheap flights to Nairobi.