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Exploring Nairobi in 3 Days: What to See and Do


Nairobi, the capital city of Kenya, is a bustling metropolis that offers a unique blend of history, culture, and natural beauty. With only three days to spare, it’s essential to plan your itinerary carefully to make the most of your time. Here’s a detailed guide on what to see and do during your visit to Nairobi.

Day 1: Discovering Nairobi’s Rich History

Start your exploration of Nairobi by immersing yourself in its rich history. Begin your day at the Nairobi National Museum, located in the heart of the city. This museum showcases Kenya’s diverse cultural heritage through its extensive collection of artifacts, exhibits, and art galleries. Take your time to explore the different sections, such as the ethnography gallery, paleontology section, and the temporary exhibitions that often feature contemporary Kenyan artists.

National Museums of Kenya

As you enter the Nairobi National Museum, you will be greeted by the magnificent sight of a life-size replica of a Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton. This impressive display takes you back millions of years, allowing you to imagine the ancient creatures that once roamed the land that is now Nairobi. Moving through the museum, you will come across a wide range of artifacts, from traditional tribal masks to ancient tools used by early human civilizations.

One of the highlights of the Nairobi National Museum is the ethnography gallery, which provides a comprehensive overview of Kenya’s diverse ethnic groups. Here, you can learn about the traditions, customs, and beliefs of the Maasai, Kikuyu, Luo, and other communities that call Kenya home. The gallery features intricate beadwork, traditional clothing, and musical instruments, offering a glimpse into the rich cultural tapestry of the country.

Afterward, take a short walk to the Nairobi Railway Museum, which provides a fascinating insight into the country’s colonial past. The museum houses an impressive collection of vintage locomotives, carriages, and other relics from the early days of rail travel in East Africa. Step inside the beautifully restored carriages and imagine what it was like to embark on a journey through the African wilderness in the bygone era.

As you explore the Nairobi Railway Museum, you will come across the famous “Lunatic Express,” a nickname given to the railway line that connected Nairobi to Mombasa in the late 19th century. This railway line was a monumental engineering feat, with its construction resulting in the loss of many lives due to the challenges posed by the harsh African terrain. The museum provides a captivating narrative of the railway’s history, from its inception to its role in shaping Kenya’s development.

Don’t forget to hop aboard the museum’s famous steam train for a nostalgic ride back in time. As the train chugs along the tracks, you can admire the picturesque landscapes of Nairobi and imagine the excitement and anticipation that travelers felt during the golden age of rail travel.

To conclude your historical journey, head to the Karen Blixen Museum, located in the peaceful suburb of Karen. This museum is situated in the former home of Danish author Karen Blixen, best known for her autobiographical novel, “Out of Africa.” Explore the beautifully preserved colonial-style house and its lush gardens, which offer a glimpse into Blixen’s fascinating life in Kenya during the early 20th century.

As you wander through the rooms of the Karen Blixen Museum, you will be transported to a different era. The house is filled with original furniture, photographs, and personal belongings of Karen Blixen, allowing you to step into her world and gain a deeper understanding of her experiences in Kenya. The gardens surrounding the museum are a tranquil oasis, with towering trees, vibrant flowers, and a sense of serenity that contrasts with the bustling city of Nairobi.

Take a leisurely stroll through the gardens, following the winding paths that lead to a small coffee plantation. Learn about the importance of coffee in Kenya’s history and economy, and perhaps even sample a cup of freshly brewed coffee made from beans grown on the plantation. As you savor the rich flavors, you can reflect on the stories and legacies left behind by the individuals who shaped Nairobi’s past.

Day 2: Experiencing Nairobi’s Vibrant Culture

No visit to Nairobi is complete without experiencing its vibrant culture. Start your second day by exploring the Maasai Market, a bustling open-air market where local artisans sell their handmade crafts, jewelry, clothing, and artwork. Stroll through the colorful stalls, filled with intricate beadwork, beautifully carved wooden sculptures, and vibrant fabrics. Take your time to admire the skill and creativity of the artisans as they showcase their work. The market is a melting pot of cultures, with vendors from different tribes and regions of Kenya, each offering their unique crafts. Engage in conversations with the artisans, learn about their traditions and stories behind their creations. This immersive experience will not only allow you to find unique souvenirs to take back home but also give you a deeper appreciation for the rich cultural heritage of Nairobi.

After shopping, treat yourself to a gastronomic adventure by indulging in Nairobi’s diverse culinary scene. Kenya’s capital is a melting pot of flavors, influenced by various cultures and cuisines. Head to the famous Carnivore Restaurant, known for its legendary meat feast. As you enter the restaurant, you’ll be greeted by the tantalizing aroma of sizzling meats on open grills. Take a seat and prepare yourself for a carnivorous delight. The waiters will bring around skewers of various meats, including succulent beef, tender lamb, and juicy chicken. But it doesn’t stop there – the Carnivore Restaurant is also famous for serving game meat like crocodile, ostrich, and camel. Each meat is cooked to perfection according to traditional recipes, ensuring a mouthwatering experience. Don’t forget to try the accompanying sauces and side dishes, which add an extra burst of flavor to your meal. The restaurant’s lively atmosphere, with live music performances, adds to the overall dining experience, making it a memorable culinary journey.

Barbecue Dinner At The Carnivore Restaurant - Nairobi

As the sun sets, Nairobi comes alive with vibrant nightlife. Venture into Westlands, the city’s entertainment hub, and explore the various bars, clubs, and live music venues. Start your evening by sipping on a refreshing cocktail at one of the rooftop bars, offering panoramic views of the city skyline. Immerse yourself in the rhythm of the night as you move to the beats of local African music playing in the background. If you’re in the mood for live performances, head to one of the jazz clubs, where talented musicians showcase their skills. The vibrant nightlife scene in Nairobi caters to all tastes, from those seeking a relaxed atmosphere to those craving an energetic dance floor. Dance the night away to international DJ performances or sway to the Afrobeat tunes that fill the air. The energy and liveliness of Nairobi’s nightlife scene will leave you with unforgettable memories.

Day 3: Embracing Nairobi’s Natural Beauty

On your final day, bask in Nairobi’s natural beauty by spending time in its stunning outdoor spaces. Start your day with a visit to Nairobi National Park, the only national park in the world located within a city’s boundaries.

As you enter the park, the vastness of the savannah stretches out before you, teeming with life. The early morning sun casts a golden glow over the landscape, creating a picturesque scene. You can hear the distant roar of a lion, a reminder of the wildness that lies just beyond the city’s borders.

Embark on a safari adventure and marvel at the abundant wildlife that calls Nairobi National Park home. Spot a graceful giraffe gracefully bending its long neck to reach the leaves of an acacia tree. Watch as a herd of zebras gallop across the plains, their black and white stripes creating a mesmerizing pattern against the green grass. And if you’re lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of a rhino, a majestic creature on the brink of extinction.

As you drive through the park, your knowledgeable guide shares fascinating facts about the animals and their habitats. You learn about the conservation efforts being made to protect these precious species and the challenges they face in an ever-changing world.

Next, visit the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, a sanctuary dedicated to rescuing and rehabilitating orphaned elephants and rhinos. Here, you can observe these majestic creatures up close, learn about conservation efforts, and even adopt an elephant as a symbolic contribution to wildlife conservation.

As you enter the sanctuary, the air is filled with the playful trumpeting of baby elephants. You watch in awe as they frolic in the mud, their wrinkled skin glistening under the warm African sun. The dedicated caretakers share heartwarming stories of the elephants’ rescue and rehabilitation journeys, highlighting the trust’s commitment to their well-being.

David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust
Photo Credit: David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust

You have the opportunity to interact with the elephants, gently stroking their rough skin and feeling the strength in their trunks. It’s a humbling experience, being so close to these gentle giants and witnessing the bond they form with their caretakers.

After your wildlife encounters, head to the Nairobi Arboretum, a tranquil oasis in the heart of the city. Take a leisurely stroll through the park’s well-maintained gardens, picnic under the shade of towering trees, and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere away from the hustle and bustle of Nairobi’s city center.

As you walk along the winding paths, you’re surrounded by a symphony of bird songs. Colorful butterflies flutter from flower to flower, adding a touch of vibrancy to the serene surroundings. The scent of blooming flowers fills the air, creating a sensory experience that rejuvenates your spirit.

You find a secluded spot under a majestic fig tree, its branches reaching out like a protective canopy. You spread out your picnic blanket and indulge in a delicious meal, savoring each bite while listening to the gentle rustling of leaves in the breeze.

The Nairobi Arboretum is not only a haven for nature lovers but also a hub for scientific research and education. The park is home to a diverse collection of trees and plants, carefully curated to showcase Kenya’s rich biodiversity. Information boards dotted throughout the park provide fascinating insights into the various species and their ecological significance.

As the day draws to a close, you reflect on the incredible experiences you’ve had in Nairobi. From the untamed wilderness of Nairobi National Park to the heartwarming encounters with orphaned elephants at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, and the serene beauty of the Nairobi Arboretum, you’ve witnessed the harmonious coexistence of nature and city life in this vibrant African metropolis.

Navigating Public Transportation

Getting around Nairobi can be quite challenging due to its busy streets and traffic congestion. However, there are several options available to help you navigate the city efficiently. The most convenient and affordable way to get around is by using matatus, which are privately-owned minibusses that operate on designated routes. These colorful vehicles can be found throughout the city, and they provide a unique and authentic experience of Nairobi’s daily life.

It’s important to note that matatus can be overcrowded and unpredictable, so it’s essential to remain cautious and aware of your belongings. Keep your valuables secure and avoid displaying expensive items. Additionally, it’s advisable to check the route and fare before boarding a matatu to ensure you reach your destination safely and without any confusion.

Safety Tips for Tourists

While Nairobi offers a vibrant and exciting travel experience, it’s crucial to prioritize your safety. Like any other major city, it’s important to take precautions to ensure a smooth and enjoyable trip.

First and foremost, avoid walking alone at night, especially in unfamiliar areas. Stick to well-lit and populated streets, and consider using transportation options like licensed taxis or ride-hailing services, such as Uber, for added security. These services provide a convenient and reliable way to get around the city while minimizing the risk of encountering any safety issues.

It’s also recommended to keep your valuables secure at all times. Use a money belt or a secure bag to store your passport, cash, and other important documents. Be mindful of your surroundings and avoid displaying expensive items, as this can attract unwanted attention.

Best Times to Visit Nairobi

Nairobi enjoys a relatively mild climate throughout the year, making it a year-round destination. However, there are certain periods when the weather is particularly pleasant, and wildlife sightings are abundant.

The best time to visit Nairobi is during the dry season, which falls between January and March, and July to October. During these months, the weather is generally warm and dry, with clear skies and comfortable temperatures. This makes it an ideal time for outdoor activities and wildlife safaris in nearby national parks, such as Nairobi National Park.

Visiting during the dry season also allows you to witness the Great Migration, a spectacular natural event where millions of wildebeest and other animals migrate between Kenya and Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park. This awe-inspiring sight is a must-see for nature enthusiasts and wildlife lovers.

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