What scenario of a weekend in Kenya comes to your mind first? Maybe something like getting accommodated in a hut, grazing cows, carrying water from a natural source nearby? Or perhaps no ideas at all?Does it change a lot if I say it’s about a weekend in Kenya’s capital city, Nairobi? Maybe not much or maybe you know the real face of modern Nairobi, however, so many people I’ve met have absolutely no clue about Kenya’s capital lifestyle nowadays. So, spending here most of my time during the last 2 years developed in me the need to spread the word about the real picture – the vibrant, multinational, quickly developing city, where you can be as close to nature as you want. Ok, let’s get to the point.
The best place to stay in NairobiAs hotels are usually pricy, I’d recommend you to try Air Bnb, where you will find a lot of attractive options – from a cosy cottage with a garden-plot, through a cool flat full of wooden furniture and funky-style, colourful accessories, to modern, minimalistic apartments. Price range: 30$-80$ and more. In terms of location – look at Westlands, from where it’s comfortable to commute to all the typical Nairobi attractions and it’s also a safe district.
SIM card and moneyFirstly, go to the Safaricom shop at the airport or at the Sarit Center (in Westlands) to buy and register your SIM card. The Safaricom agent will assist you in setting up your M-Pesa account – a mobile wallet. And seriously it’s one of the most local things you can do – we laugh it would be the most Kenyan gift for our friends. You can pay with M-Pesa everywhere – from restaurants, parks to private vendors at bazaars. Don’t forget to carry cash to deposit on your M-Pesa account. Important: Exchange offices in Kenya accept ONLY the banknotes printed after 2009. After first registering at the Safaricom shop, you can deposit money to your M-Pesa at agents located literally on every corner.
How to travel around Nairobi
There are Matatu buses or motorbikes commonly used by Nairobians. However, if you’re new to the city it can be tricky to find yourself there and they are not the safest options. I recommend using Taxify, Uber or the Littel Cab instead. The last one is a local app – so go ahead if you want to support Kenyan!
Must do in NairobiOk, you’re set with the SIM card, money and transport, you can enjoy the city now ?
Bike in the Karura ForestIt’s an urban park located in a beautiful, green part of Nairobi called Gigiri. You can rent out bikes there and take a ride around the forest (5$ per 2 hours which is enough), enjoying the beautiful nature.
Hang out, eat & bowl in the Village MarketIn the same district, you will find a cool shopping and recreation centre, where I love going for lunch and bowling. The food court provides with a wide range of really delicious food – wandering from one food corner to another you can taste seafood, pasta, ramen, pizza or delicious milkshakes (the salted caramel is winning). Village Market has an artsy vibe – there are quite a few shops with various hand-made items or unusual bookshops that you can enjoy wandering around or buy gifts at. After you’re done with your lunch you can enjoy bowling! Then it’s a good time to head home and relax before dinner and night out.
Have a local style dinnerI strongly suggest to try some local food – that means nyama choma, grilled goat served with Ugali (a corn paste), sukumawiki (kale’s close cousin) and kachumbari (tomatoes, onion and coriander salad.). To experience that go to Road House Grill either in Kilimani or Upper Hill. Such dinner for 2 people should cost around 50$. Remember! Preparing a grilled goat takes time and it’s also part of the culture to take your time with food. So be patient, come earlier and enjoy some drinks or starters before the main dish arrives.
Discover the Nairobi nightlifeSo, now when your stomach is happy I recommend going to J’s Fresh Bar and Kitchen (the one in Westlands), where you will find a lot of expats, but also quite a number of Kenyans – which creates a nice, international vibe. The music you will hear there is Hip Hop, House, Afrobeat or Congolese rumba. Even if you live close by – please don’t walk home – just use your app ?
Visit the Nairobi National ParkGet up early and be ready for a trip around the only park, where you can closely encounter a lion, giraffe, zebra, hippo or buffalo and at the same time enjoy the view of Nairobi skyscrapers in the horizon. Plan to get there by 6.30am, as the animals will be most active at this time! The entry fee together with the safari car and guide should cost around 150$ to split between you and your companions.
Enjoy the David Sheldrick Center
You will be done by 12.00 am, which will be a perfect time to go visit the elephants’ orphanage where you will see the cutest baby elephants being fed. It’s important to get there by 1.00pm for the feeding time! Cost: 5$.
Check out the Giraffe CenterLet your face be licked by a baby giraffe while feeding her. It’s really the closest you can get to this amazing animal. Entry fee is 5$.
Take a look at the Karen Blixen MusemThen I’d recommend visiting the beautiful house where the movie Out of Africa was filmed and learn about the coffee making process (20$). Enjoy your lunch and a cup of Kenyan coffee at the restaurant.
Unwind in The AlchemistThis vibrant, cool, outdoor place located in Westlands is perfect for the Sunday evening. It has great food, music and again, all kinds of people. You’ll have fun, for sure. Thank you, your weekend is done. Hope you enjoyed!
Jambo = Hello
Habari yako? = How are you?
Asante = Thank you
Karibu = You’re welcome
Hakuna Matata = No problem
Pole, pole = Slowly; no rush
Kwa heri = Good bye