Welcome to Nairobi: The Lush City Under The Sun.

This image captures Uhuru (independence) Park, a recreational facility within the city of Nairobi.

This image captures Uhuru (independence) Park, a recreational facility within the city of Nairobi.

“Enkare Nairobi”- is a coinage of the phrase ‘a sanctuary of cool waters’ by the Maasai-a local Kenyan community, and which encapsulates the ecological craftsmanship that is Nairobi. Yes, Nairobi was then known, and even now known, as `a sanctuary of cool waters’, the blooming city under the sun. The predominant tribe which occupied Nairobi during the pre-colonial times was the pastoralist Maasai community, a tribe known for its rich cultural heritage; and that explains the differential populations of the Maasai community which inhabits towns in the outskirts of Nairobi such as Kitengela, Kiserian and Rongai, all which border the Nairobi National Park.

Apart from our trademark Nyama Choma (barbeque) and the somewhat ‘patented’ vibrant matatu (custom tram) culture, Nairobi is famed for a number of ecological marvels. So, when visiting Nairobi, make time for the following tourist gems, which pretty much define the city:

The Nairobi National Park (The Black Rhinoceros Ark).

The Nairobi metropolis is the seat of the Nairobi National Park which sits on a 117 sq Km of land (perhaps a smaller park than most of the African parks), and which is a warm habitat to a host of wildlife species such as the cheetah, exotic giraffe and about 400 migratory and common bird species, the African buffalo, baboon, eastern black rhinoceros (its signature species), Bushnell zebra, cheetah, Coke's hartebeest, Grant's gazelle, hippopotamus, African leopard, African lion, Thomson's gazelle, eland, impala, Masai giraffe, ostrich, vulture and waterbuck. The Park’s proximity to the city center (approximately 7 Km) makes it the only park in East & Central Africa within a metropolis, and which is thus accessible to tourists with transient itineraries, and who may want to catch a quick glimpse of the spectacular fauna.  The park has an all-year round itinerary which accommodates tourists, in-season and out-of season. It is hot and dry from  January through March, hot and wet from April to June and warm and wet during the months of July to October, the latter which marks the wildebeest migration into the park due to dry vegetation in the outside environment. How cool is all that? The park has in the recent past spawned a series of human-wildlife conflicts, with the latest being the escape of ‘Mohawk’ (the lion’s moniker) (a few weeks back, read here:), a lion that made its way through an open area within the park and was spotted on a weekday, at 7:30 am or thereabouts, along Mombasa Road, a major highway that leads to Mombasa, another major tourist town. To the Nairobi residents, what might be a spectacle to foreign eyes is normal here. We are used to lions lining up our streets and even mounting our cars on the roads in the early hours of the morning. That is our everyday cup of tea. I am quite surprised that just as I am penning this article, a stray lion has today morning been spotted at the Hardy area of Karen (the suburb which hosts the National park, David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and the Giraffe Center), and which was in the 1970’s a home to the exotic white and black colobus monkey) a high-end suburb that is well known to host the expatriate community and the elitist segment of the Kenyan population. You can read the latest (today’s) story on the lion’s escape here: https://citizentv.co.ke/news/kws-launch-hunt-for-stray-lion-in-karen-nairobi-122297/  

Park Activities:

There are a number of fun activities that one could indulge in, such as corporate bush dinners, picnics, game drives through the lion population, camping, cycling, fishing and much more.

Cost Implication for select activities:

Cycling: For $ USD 6 one could hire a bicycle for a day and cycle through the vast park terrain. River-Rafting: For just $ USD 20per-person per trip, one could go river-rafting down the park river. Canoeing (In the Lake): For just $USD 15 per person per hour, one could relish a canoeing experience in the middle of the park. Fishing: $USD 6 could afford you a fishing line for a day. That is a single-user rate. Must-Have (Bring-Your-Own-Items)
  • Binoculars –To enable you capture distant scenic moments.
  • Bottled Water-In case you get dehydrated.
  • Hat & Sunglasses-To assist you wade through the scorching summer sun.
  • Sunscreen-To insulate you against any sun-burns.
  • Picnic Items-Outdoor Shawls, cooking equipment, snacks and the like.
How do you access the park from the central business district? For a visitor with apprehension about your security in a personal vehicle, you could take an Uber or An Easy Taxi cab from the city center to the gate, where you shall be granted a resident/non-resident pass at $ USD 50 for an adult, and $ 25 for a child respectively, depending on your immigrant status. All costs are in US dollars.

The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust.

Home to orphaned and indisposed elephants and young rhinoceroses, the Sheldrick Trust space is adjacent to the Nairobi National Park and the Giraffe Center, and is accessible via Karen/Langata. Its proximity to the Giraffe Center and the national park makes the Southern Nairobi radius a bustling hub for wildlife and tourism. It is no wonder that Karen/Langata suburban areas form the larger bulk of the expatriate (tourist/semi-tourist) community, which exclusively partakes of these ecological marvels. Location Details Here:  https://www.google.com/maps/place/David+Sheldrick+Wildlife+Trust+-+Elephant+Orphanage/@1.3775077,36.7720976,17z/data=!4m18!1m15!4m14!1m6!1m2!1s0x0:0x59ee6a3e4581c32a!2sElephant+and+Rhino+Nursery!2m2!1d36.7737236!2d1.3766628!1m6!1m2!1s0x182f05a9a4e927d3:0xe161fe0b53c6351f!2sGiraffe+Centre,+Duma+Rd,+Nairobi!2m2!1d36.7443169!2d-1.3763639!3m1!1s0x0000000000000000:0x0247883676fd0d71

The Giraffe Center.

The giraffe center which is situated along Duma Road in Karen, about 3km away from the Nairobi city center, overlooks the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust expanse, and is exclusively a home to the endangered Rothschild giraffe. Alongside the giraffe, it plays a host to warthogs which can also be spotted freely roaming in the background as one is feeding the tall animals. For only an access fee of $USD 10, it is not a `tall’-order for non-residents to feed the giraffes. Location Details Here: https://www.google.com/maps/dir//Giraffe+Centre,+Duma+Rd,+Nairobi/@1.3766979,36.7426952,17z/data=!4m12!1m3!3m2!1s0x182f05a9a4e927d3:0xe161fe0b53c6351f!2sGiraffe+Centre!4m7!1m0!1m5!1m1!1s0x182f05a9a4e927d3:0xe161fe0b53c6351f!2m2!1d36.7443169!2d-1.3763639

The Karen Blixen Museum located along Karen Road, Nairobi.

The Karen Blixen Museum.

From the Nairobi National Park, you can take a cab to the Karen Blixen Museum, which is a 10-minute drive to the place. The museum, a pre-historic Swedo-African relic that was opened in 1986, is a tribute to the Baroness, Karen Blixen, whose name Karen, lends the area its present suburban name-Karen. The museum was a donation by the Danish government (after the former bought it from a private family in 1964) to the Kenyan government as a mark of the latter’s independence feat in 1963. The expansive magnificent structure houses a crafts-shop where postcards, books and other pre-historic souvenirs are sold. If you want to know more about the history of the colonial Kenya, one could find a rich repository of materials which would provide a more animated historical trail of the phases Kenya has gone through, since pre-colonial times. Next to it is the Tamambo grill, known for Nyama Choma (barbeque). You could treat yourself to a fill of barbeque, ugali(cornflour meal) and pickle on the side.

A serving of the Kenyan Nyama Choma (barbeque) next to the Tamambo, Karen Blixen Museum.

A serving of the Kenyan Nyama Choma (barbeque) next to the Tamambo, Karen Blixen Museum.

Lunch at Tamambo, Karen.

I do not intend to bombard you with Nairobi’s ecological-offering without highlighting the culinary satiety of this town. You may opt to walk through any of the above places with a full tummy, or snack through the places and afterwards head to the Tamambo for some Nyama Choma and Kachumbari served with Ugali (barbeque & pickle, served with fairly-hardened corn-flour meal) and soda as you unwind and reflect on your Nairobi sojourn. Situated close to the Karen Blixen Museum, Tamambo is a top-notch restaurant with unique barbeque delights which could do your hunger pangs justice after a long walk in the Nairobi National Park or after a delightful session with giraffes. This is so because they endeavour to tap into the tourist/expatriate clientele due to their proximity to such attractions as the national park, Karen Blixen Museum (particular proximity) and many more, making them strive for a perfection of their culinary quality. The Tamambo rides on a blend of cuisines, ranging from the signature traditional African cuisine to the continental and a bit of oriental. It is open to patrons for all meals, on every day of the week from Monday to Sunday. https://www.tamarind.co.ke/tamambo-karen/index.php?id=39 The Map location can be found here: https://www.google.co.ke/maps/place/Tamambo+Karen+Blixen/@1.3441781,36.7161151,1431m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m2!3m1!1s0x182f04b4e601e3f3:0x97eeb1bcc8340cbe?hl=en                          

Washington O Benard

I am a travel-freak. If I am not on the go, I am seated on my couch with my laptop, chronicling my previous travel experiences. I am a 29 year-old Kenyan researcher-cum-writer, who enjoys working closely with nomadic and pastoralist communities.