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Content and photos courtesy of Magical Kenya

Basic information

  • Area: 696 km2 (269 sq mi)
  • Calling Code: 020
  • Currency: Kenyan shilling (KES)
  • Population (EST): 3,375,000
  • Official language: Swahili, English
  • Time Zone: EAT (UTC+3)

10 Reasons to Visit Nairobi

1. Nairobi is Kenya's capital, and a remarkable place to visit and explore the delights of Africa. When in the city, it's an absolute must to go on Safari. Nairobi National Park is just a short distance from the heart of the city, and inside can be found zebras, giraffes, gazelles, hippos, leopards, cheetahs and more. A special treat is in store for those who are in the Park from 11am till noon, as this is when baby rhinos and elephants receive their daily mud baths; a site that is not to be missed.

2. Due to the naturally dusty and hot nature of Nairobi, it's no wonder that cold beer is the beverage of choice in the city. The city makes its own beer, and the local favorite is called Tusker. There are numerous places throughout the city where one can get a glass of Tusker; from hole in the wall bars to upscale lounges. The flavor of the beer is quite delicious, and it's certainly refreshing after a long day of venturing through the city or being on safari.

3. For those who are fans of the ever-popular Meryl Streep movie, Out of Africa, then visiting the Karen Blixen Museum is a great choice. Within Nairobi is the farm where Karen Blixen lived from 1917 till 1931. Her famed memoir was written from this house, and tours are available daily. If one goes out on the veranda it is possible to see the corner lantern that was hung for your lover, the ill-fated english hunter Denys Finch Hatton. You can still find his monogrammed books on the shelves.

4. Perhaps not the first destination that comes to mind when traveling, but an educational and inspiring experience is to visit Kibera; the largest slum in all the world. One million people live in this town, and the only way to see it is with an escorted tour. Visit the orphanage or bead factory. Even though it's a challenging visit to make, there's much to be gained by seeing the resilience and humanity of this remarkable town.

5. Most people don't realize it, but coffee originally comes from Africa. Ethiopia was the first to produce it, but today one can experience some of the best coffee all throughout Africa, and Kenya is no exception. That's why a trip to the Nairobi Java House is a must during ones travels in the city. The coffee is exceptional, and popular amongst tourists and businessmen trying to recover from a red eye flight. You can also find an outlet of the coffee shop at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. Be sure to try the Kenyan AA; a local favorite.

6. Nyama Choma is the name for Kenya's favorite food, and it literally means barbecued meat. This is why carnivores are very much welcome in Nairobi. Here, one can find such exotic dishes as ostrich, camel, and crocodile, all cooked to perfection. The food is cheap and plentiful in Nairobi, and for those who are adventurous, there's no end to the strange, unique, and delicious dishes one can find.

7. Muthaiga Country Club is not to be missed when visiting Nairobi. Built back in the colonial-era, its pink and white collonades and stuffed animal heads hanging from the walls have an old school charm. There's a beautiful old library and wonderfully maintained bars open to the members. This is a very formal environment requiring a jacket and tie. It's a members-only establishment, but those traveling on business can usually find someone to bring them as a guest.

8. The Nairobi Matatus are minibuses that take people all across town. Per African tradition, these busses are elaborately equipped with fluorescent lighting, blaring sound systems, huge TV screens, and have fun murals on the sides of famous figures. These local treasures are a lot of fun to ride and quite inexpensive.

9. The Rift Valley is a very classic African landscape. With its sprawling savannas, incredible flora and fauna, as well as unique geology, it's often referred to as the "cradle of human life". Here one can find some of the most dramatic landscapes in the country. On a crystal clear day it's possible to see hundreds of miles; all the way to Tanzania.

10. The Nairobi-Mombasa line of the Jambo Kenya Deluxe is one of the finest rail trips the world has to offer. And for a very economical price, one can even enjoy their own room with bunk beds and vanity sink. The price of the ticket includes a three-course dinner, as well as breakfast.

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