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Your guide to Nairobi
All About Nairobi
With a national park at its doorstep and wildlife all around, it’s no wonder Nairobi is known as the safari capital of Africa. Kenya’s capital offers outdoor recreation within the metropolitan area and its outskirts, as Nairobi is home to some of the finest gardens and parks in the country, and lush forests are just minutes from the city. And while that proximity to nature might be its biggest draw, the city’s neighborhoods are also worth exploring. North of the city center, Westlands is home to most of Nairobi's restaurants and bars, while Karen is more upscale, with boutique shopping and swanky bistros. Langata is the gateway to Nairobi National Park, where you’ll find a popular museum and the city’s waterpark.
For a taste of everyday life, head to the City Park Market to pick up fruits and vegetables and taste authentic local dishes like nyama choma (roasted meat, often goat) with kachumbari (onion and tomato salad with chilli). Another market not to miss is Maasai Market, where you can pick up traditional East African goods like handmade woven baskets, beaded jewelry, and textiles.
When is the best time to stay in a vacation rental in Nairobi?
Nairobi’s high elevation means it experiences relatively mild conditions year round compared to other African cities. The most pleasant time to stay in a rental house in Nairobi is in the dry season, from June to October, when you can expect sunny days with little chance of rain. It’s also the best time of the year to see the abundance of wildlife in Nairobi National Park.
In June, the Madaraka Day festival celebrates self-rule in Kenya and the city comes alive with dancing, music, and food. The warmest part of the year is from December to early March, when you can expect hot and dry days with cooler temperatures in the evenings. The city experiences rainy seasons from mid-March to May, with a shorter one in November and December.
What are the top things to do in Nairobi?
Nairobi National Park
On the city’s outskirts is Nairobi National Park, where wildlife roam freely against a backdrop of the city skyline. The 45-acre park is home to the highest number of endangered black rhinos in the world, as well as lions, hyenas, cheetahs, leopards, zebras, and giraffes. This national park also has an extensive wetland area, which offers a haven for over 400 bird species. You can experience it all on a safari walk or on a guided safari drive tour.
Just outside Nairobi you’ll find the tranquil Karura Forest, one of the largest urban forests in the world. There are more than 2,000 acres of woodland, with streams, waterfalls, and scenic trails for walking and biking. This forest is home to indigenous wildlife including monkeys, antelopes, bush pigs, and more than 200 species of bird.
Nairobi National Museum
Spend a few hours exploring the Nairobi National Museum’s collection of artwork and cultural pieces from some of Kenya’s finest local artists. The highlight is the museum’s paleontology gallery, where you can see a large collection of hominid fossils, and bones from hundreds of local birds and mammals. The museum sits within a botanical garden containing many local medicinal plants and herbs.