Nairobi: Main Sights
Nairobi as a tourist destination is underrated as most people prefer to use Nairobi as a stop over to get to other parts of Kenya. But contrary to popular belief Nairobi has a number of tourist destinations which will you keep in the city for a good 10 days at the least! The more popular tourist destinations in Nairobi include the Nairobi National Park, The Karen Blixen Museum, the Elephant Orphanage, the Giraffe Centre,
The Nairobi National Museum and The National Railway Museum among other sights.
Nairobi National Park
The Nairobi National Park, established in 1946, is the only wildlife reserve in the world which is located in the city and makes for a prime tourist destination in Nairobi. Covering a 117km radius the park is home to a wide variety of animals and birds. The park’s main environment is made up of open plain grass with scattered acacia bushes. The animals you will get to see in the Nairobi National Park include black rhinos, cheetahs, baboons, African buffaloes, lions, leopards, zebras, impalas, masaai giraffes among other animals. The concentration of wildlife in the park is highest in the dry season when areas outside the park have dried up. Through the park runs a river as well as a number of man-made dams. The Nairobi National park has a rich birdlife with over 400 species of seasonal birds. A major attraction at the park is the annual wildebeest and zebra migration that takes place between July and August. Don’t forget to visit the animal orphanage when you are in the park.
Located just 7kms from the city centre the Nairobi National Park is easily accessible. The park has 7 gates of which 5 can be used by tourists. The entry fee into the park is 2400KHs ($30) for adults (non-residents) and 800KHs ($10) for children (non-residents).
Karen Blixen Museum in Nairobi
The Karen Blixen Museum is located on the outskirts of Nairobi. Opened to the public in 1986, the museum gained fame after it was filmed in the popular film ‘Out of Africa’. It was originally the home of Danish Karen Blixen who established herself as a farmer and set up her home at the foot of the Ngong Hills. After her departure, the house was gifted by the Danish government to the Kenyan government as an independence gift. The Karen Blixen Museum became a property of historical significance since it was associated with the pattern of European settlement and cultivation in East Africa, the building itself embodying distinctive characteristics of its type, period and method of construction. The house's architecture is typical of late 19th century bungalow architecture, including the spacious rooms, horizontal layout verandas, tile roof and stone construction typical of scores of residences built throughout European suburbs of Nairobi in early decades.
The Karen Blixen Museum is open to the public everyday from 9:30am to 6:00pm including weekends and public holidays. Guided tours are offered inside the museum around the clock. A museum shop offers handicrafts, posters and postcards, the movie ‘Out of Africa’, books and other Kenyan souvenirs. The grounds may be rented for wedding receptions, corporate functions and other events. The entrance fees for adults are 800KHs ($10) and 400KHs ($5) for children.
The Nairobi Railway Museum
The Nairobi Railway Museum is dedicated to the history of the railroad in Kenya. Located next to the Nairobi Railway Station the museum was opened in 1971 by the East African Railways and Harbours Corporation to preserve and display relics and records of the railways of East Africa from their inception to the present day. In addition to the collection of steam locomotives and rolling stock, there is a large display of smaller exhibits and models. The Nairobi Railway Museum is still rail-connected, allowing restored locos access to the main line for working steam excursions. It is now run by the National Museums of Kenya.
The Nairobi Railway Museum is open all days of the week including public holidays from 08:15am to 16:45pm. The entrance fee to the museum for adults is 200KHs ($2.5) and 100KHs ($1.25) for children.
The Nairobi National Museum
The National Museum in Nairobi houses a variety of cultural and natural historic exhibits. Tribal cultural artifacts, Kenyan history and nature exhibits coexist in this national museum, fondly called the “birthplace of humanity.” The displays include fossils from Lake Turkana, ethnic displays from various Kenyan tribal groups, prehistoric artifacts discovered by the Leakeys, over 900 stuffed birds and animals as well as local artistic exhibits. The Nairobi National Museum is the flagship museum of the National Museums of Kenya and aims to interpret the heritage of Kenya to stimulate appreciation and learning.
The Nairobi National Museum is located on Museum Hill, just 10 minutes away from the city centre. The museum is open all days of the week including public holidays from 09:30am to 6:30pm. The entrance fee charges is 200KHs ($2.5) for adults and 100KHs ($1.25) for children.
The Giraffe Centre in Nairobi
The Giraffe Centre is located in Langata, 5kms minutes from the centre of Nairobi. It was established to protect the endangered Rothschild Giraffe that is found only in the grasslands of East Africa.
The Giraffe Centre is also known as the African Fund for Endangered Wildlife in Kenya (AFEW) and is a non government, non profit making organization founded in 1979 by Betty and Jock Leslie-Melville. The main attraction for visitors is feeding giraffes from a raised observation platform. The center is also home to several warthogs which freely roam the area along with the giraffes. The visitor’s centre has a building with a walkway at just below the full height of an adult giraffe. Visitors can feed the giraffes with specially prepared pellets provided by the staff. A display of information on the giraffes, their habitat and environment is available at the centre. Self guided forest walks are allowed at the centre.
The Giraffe Centre is open every day of the week from 10:00am to 5:30pm. The entry fee for adults is 500KHs ($6.25) and for children is 250KHs ($3).
The Elephant Orphanage in Nairobi
The Elephant Orphanage is located outside the main city where baby orphan elephants and rhinos are taken in from all over Kenya and raised with the intention of gradually re-integrating them into the wild. The average age of the elephants range from a few months to three years. Visitors can visit the Elephant Orphanage to see the young elephants play, eat, take mud baths and interact with their keepers. The orphanage is open to the public for just one hour in the day from 11:00am to 12:00pm. The elephants are brought out by their keepers during this time for their mud bath while the keepers tell you a little about the orphans and the work they do here. Visitors are kept behind a rope but sometimes they do allow you to touch the elephants.
The Bomas of Kenya
The Kenyan Government started the Bomas of Kenya at the Langata Forest in 1971. The centre was established to preserve and promote Kenyan culture through cultural entertainment programs for visitors and tourists. Situated about 10kms from the city centre, the Bomas of Kenya as a centre of Kenyan cultural activities offer traditional songs and dances of the various Kenyan tribes. The Bomas of Kenya have numerous homesteads that reflect the culture of the various tribes and thus created a living museum. Each Bomas is built on the lines of traditional architecture of an African home. Traditional villages representing the lifestyles of ethnic groups such as the Kikuyu, Embu, Kamba, Masaai, Taita, Luhya, Kalenjin, Luo, Mijikenda, Kisii and the Kuria have been replicated.
The Bomas of Kenya is open daily from 2:30pm on week days and 3:30pm on weekends. The entrance fee for adults is 600KHs ($7.50) and 300KHs ($3.75) for children.