While for many Nairobi is a transit point on the way to a safari holiday, the city has many attractions in its own right. These include the Nairobi National Park, where lions, cheetahs, black rhinos, giraffes, zebra and wildebeest can be seen against the backdrop of the city skyline. Tourists may also want to visit the Giraffe Centre, a breeding and educational centre for the Rothschild Giraffe, and Dame Sheldrick’s Elephant and Rhino Orphanage. Further out, the Ol Donyo Sabuk National Park is centred around a mountain forest where you can see many primates and birds.
Nairobi National Museum contains many interesting exhibits, including discoveries by the Leakey family. The Karen Blixen Museum commemorates the author of the same name, whose books included ‘Out of Africa’.
Nairobi is a commercial city, and a visit to see life taking place in the business district is a must. The city’s buildings seem very Westernised, with skyscrapers and a range of corporate names emblazoned on restaurants and cafés. But the life that takes place in these surroundings is anything but. Spend some time shopping for souvenirs and you’ll soon encounter a typical African culture.
Almost at 6,000 feet (1.8km), Nairobi has sunny, warm summers and cool winters with chilly evenings. December to March is the sunniest part of the year, and daytime temperatures are usually in the mid-20s. June, July, and August temperatures usually range about the low-20s. August and September, though, are marked with overcast, drizzly days.
When to fly to Nairobi
Nairobi’s main season is January and February when it is hot and dry. June to September is also a popular time.
The two wet seasons are March to May and October to December, with the most rain from March to May. The city is much quieter and cheaper during these periods, yet there is not enough rain to stop you from getting out and around.
Getting around Nairobi
Car hire is an option in Nairobi, but rush hours are extremely busy and other road users can drive riskily. The lack of road signs can make navigating difficult. Prices should be agreed beforehand with taxis. Matatus are public minibuses operating between the city centre and suburbs; they can be overcrowded, poorly driven and theft is a concern.
Visitors should always keep valuables out of sight, especially if travelling on matatus, and stay alert for thieves and scams. Large amounts of money should not be carried and walking around at night is not recommended - use taxis where possible. Slums and areas such as Eastleigh should be avoided.