Things to see in Nairobi

Tourist offices

Nairobi Tourist Information

Giraffe Center

Located 18km (11 miles) from the centre of Nairobi, the Giraffe Center is run by the African Fund for Endangered Wildlife (AFEW) and aims to increase the number of rare Rothschild giraffes left in the wild. Located on the edge of Nairobi National Park, the compact sanctuary sits on a broad stretch of savannah and is easy to find. It complements visits to Nairobi National Park and the nearby Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage excellently. Children, in particular, will adore it here and its tall observation towers offer a terrific opportunity to get close to these magnificent creatures.

Opening Times: Daily 0900-1700.
Admission Fees: Yes
Disabled Access: No
Unesco: No
Address: Koitobos Road, Nairobi National Park, Nairobi, Kenya
Telephone: +254 20 807 0804.
Karen Blixen Museum

Karen Blixen, the Danish author behind Out Of Africa, one of the most famous books on Kenya ever written, lived in this tiny colonial-era bungalow from 1917 until 1931. Part of a larger farm, the film version of the novel was shot here in 1985. Inside, the building contains a selection of Blixen’s personal belongings including the lamp she used to signal to her British lover, hunter Denys Finch Hatton.

Opening Times: Daily 0930-1800.
Admission Fees: Yes
Disabled Access: No
Unesco: No
Address: Karen Road, Karen, Nairobi, Kenya
Telephone: +254 20 800 2139.
Nairobi National Park

Just 10km (6 miles) from the city centre is Nairobi National Park, a fabulous stretch of wilderness home to most of the Big Five (lions, buffalos, leopards and black rhinoceros) as well as Thompson’s Gazelle, zebra and wildebeest. Established in 1946, Kenya’s first National Park has a backdrop of city skyscrapers and is home to several animal sanctuaries including the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. Despite its proximity to the city, the 117 sq km (45 sq miles) park is also on several migration routes and attracts an impressively large number of herbivores, including giraffes. 400 bird species and scores of plants, including several floras unique to the area, complete a very impressive picture.

Opening Times: Daily 0600-1800.
Admission Fees: Yes
Disabled Access: No
Unesco: No
Address: Langata Road, Nairobi National Park, Nairobi, Kenya
Telephone: +254 20 242 3423
Website: www.kws.org
Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage

Close to the Nairobi National Park, the Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage is run by the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and takes in elephant calves orphaned by poachers or angry villagers. Although it’s open for just an hour a day, the touching sight of tiny elephants playing in the mud with their keepers is worth the effort alone. Visitor donations are spent on keeping the calves well looked after, as well as rescue missions which involve picking up and transporting the animals from across Kenya to the orphanage. Once old enough, the elephants are released into Tsavo National Park.

Opening Times: Daily 1100-1200.
Admission Fees: Yes
Disabled Access: No
Unesco: No
Address: Nairobi National Park, Nairobi, Kenya
Telephone: +254 73 389 1996.
Bomas of Kenya

If you can’t get out to Kenya’s tribal areas, this long-established cultural centre offers an entertaining introduction to their dances, music and artistic traditions. Much of what is on show is dedicated to the country’s more colourful inhabitants with the Masaai, Samburu and Turkana all well represented. The village itself is a small circle of nest-like huts and contains several stalls selling traditional beaded necklaces and handmade sandals for higher prices than those found in the city itself. It’s a touristy show but the enthusiasm of the performers makes this a worthwhile detour on the way to Nairobi National Park.

Opening Times: Mon-Fri 1430-1600, Sat-Sun 1530-1715 (cultural dance performances); Sat-Sun 1000-1800 (traditional village tours).
Admission Fees: Yes
Disabled Access: No
Unesco: No
Address: Langata Road, Kuwinda, Nairobi, Kenya
Telephone: +254 20 806 8400.
Kenya National Archives

Housed in the striking, old Bank of India building, this often overlooked museum boasts more than 400,000 documents racked up over the last half century. But it’s the Murumbi Gallery, which contains paintings and tribal photographs from across Africa, which is the real draw here as it houses some incredible pieces of art and jewellery that date from classical times. The gallery, named after the second vice president of Kenya, Joseph Murumbi, also has an impressive collection of tribal weaponry, instruments and masks, plus exhibits on the struggle for independence and the history of Nairobi.

Opening Times: Mon-Fri 0815-1615, Sat 0815-1300.
Admission Fees: No
Disabled Access: No
Unesco: No
Address: Moi Avenue, Central Business District, Nairobi, Kenya
Telephone: +254 20 222 8959.
Kenyatta International Conference Centre

Standing proud in the Nairobi skyline, the city’s most iconic building was the cutting edge of architecture when it was constructed in the 1970s, but today it looks a little dated. Don’t expect to find much of interest inside, the décor is similarly old-fashioned, but there are interesting exhibitions here from time to time. Instead, take the lift straight to the rooftop helipad where you’ll find a view that is as mesmerising today as it was when the conference centre opened. On a clear day, you can even spot big game wandering around Nairobi National Park.

Opening Times: Daily 0930-1800.
Admission Fees: Yes
Disabled Access: No
Unesco: No
Address: Harambee Avenue, Central Business District, Nairobi, Kenya
Telephone: +254 20 224 7277.
Website: www.kicc.co.ke
Kibera

Despite the obvious risks associated with visiting a slum, trips to Kibera, Africa’s largest urban shanty town, are becoming increasingly popular with visitors anxious to get a taste of the sharp side of life in the Kenyan capital. Home to an estimated 500,000 people (although the true number could be as much as one million), Kibera is a vast urban sprawl 5km (3 miles) from the city centre divided into 13 ‘villages’. Guided tours usually include visits to local craftsmen and schools. It’s best to go with a respected and responsible tour company as those who have attempted to go it alone have found themselves confronted with muggers.

Opening Times: Daily 24 hours.
Admission Fees: Yes
Disabled Access: No
Unesco: No
Address: Kibera, Kibera, Nairobi, Kenya
Nairobi National Museum

A speedy introduction to Kenya’s long and fascinating history, the National Museum of Kenya charts the progress of the nation via a series of interesting exhibits, among them paintings, tribal artefacts and even a skeleton or two. The collections of stuffed birds and wildlife species are impressive, and the geology displays offer a fascinating introduction to the forces that shaped the Rift Valley. Be sure to check out the exhibits on the history and culture of the Swahili coast too. The cultural exhibits (including a wonderful set of tribal portraits by Joy Adamson) and the snake park in the grounds are also worth a peek.

Opening Times: Daily 0830-1730.
Admission Fees: Yes
Disabled Access: No
Unesco: No
Address: Museum Road, Museum Hill, Nairobi, Kenya
Telephone: +254 20 374 2131.
Nairobi Railway Museum

This privately run museum contains a treasure trove of photographs and memorabilia from the Uganda Railway, dubbed the ‘Lunatic Express' by British colonialists because of the vast amount of investment required to build it. The railway line also cost hundreds of lives – many taken by a single pair of man-eating lions in the area now covered by Tsavo National Park. Models, photographs and other relics bring this fascinating piece of colonial history alive. A collection of old trains in various states of disrepair stand in the grounds and include a rare example of the Mountain Class locomotive, one of the most powerful ever built.

Opening Times: Mon-Sun 0845-1645.
Admission Fees: Yes
Disabled Access: No
Unesco: No
Address: Station Road, Central Business District, Nairobi, Kenya
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