Things to do in Nairobi in 24 hours
Nairobi is the capital city of Kenya and lies on the Nairobi River, in the south of the country, at an altitude of 1700 meters above the sea level. It’s the 4th largest city in Africa and the most populous city in East Africa, with an estimated population of 4 million people. Besides being the central hub of Kenya’s tourist circuits, Nairobi itself features many renowned museums, modern buildings, colourful markets, green city parks, but also place where to enjoy the African wildlife. Nairobi is the only metropolis in the world that borders a natural game protected area. The city and its surroundings offer many exciting activities, from cultural tours to safari in the National Parks. Click here to find out the daily tours/activities of the city.
If you have a day waiting for your Kenya tour or some hours between flights and you want to get the most out of your stay, we recommend you to arrange your daily trip through the web platforms that always offer good deals and any tour to enjoy the highlights of the city and its surroundings. We spent in Nairobi a full day arranging our daily activity through Viator.
We like this web platform because it features a wide choice of activities/tours. It is also effortless to book them through the website or app for devices: enter the city you need, and you’ll see in a while all its offers. After booking and setting your pick up location, you’ll immediately get the e-voucher to show at the starting time of your activity.
Among the many activities offered, we chose the Nairobi National Park safari plus the visit to the Elephants orphanage and the Giraffe centre.
Our daily Tour
1. Nairobi National Park
At 6 a.m. we were picked up directly from the hotel by a minivan with the hatch rooftop heading straight to Nairobi National Park. Established in 1946, it was the first National Park in Kenya. The park lies 7 km from the city centre (there’s only a fence separating the park’s wildlife from the metropolis) and it boasts 114 square kilometres of pristine savannah with a large and varied wildlife population. Despite the proximity to the city centre and relative small size for an African national park, there are over 50 species of mammals within the park, including four of the “Big Five” (there are no elephants) and with over 400 species of bird being recorded. During the 3 hours and a half safari, we spotted lions, rhinos, buffalos, giraffes, gazelles, antelopes, baboons, ostriches, and many species of birds. The game drive was fascinating, and our driver was extremely knowledgeable and professional.
Entrance fee: 43 USD (you can pay by credit card too).
2. Elephant Orphanage
After leaving the park, with a short break for a drink, we head to the David Sheldrick’s Wildlife Trust, better known as Elephant Orphanage. Nairobi is home to many wildlife projects, therefore, once in the city, you can choose among many options to see giraffe, rhino, Lion and Cheetah, ostrich, elephant, snakes and more, up close and personal. Located on the edge of Nairobi National park, the elephant Orphanage was founded in 1977 to honour the memory of a famous Naturalist, David Sheldrick. The project takes care of the baby elephants that are orphaned often due to poacher’s attacks and helps to reintegrate them into the wilds of Tsavo National Park in the east of the country. The only time that is possible to see the elephants is from 11 am to noon when the orphanage members bring the baby elephants to a cordoned area to play, feed, and to show the visitors how to give them lots of love. The interesting thing is that you can even adopt an orphan elephant! With a donation of 50USD per year (you can choose to adopt for a minimum of 1 year, up to a maximum of 10 years) you’ll help to keep these elephants strong and healthy. The orphanage gives you an adoption certificate and information about the elephant you adopted, and they’ll keep you up to date with its status. Click here for more information about David Sheldrick’s Wildlife Trust.
Entrance fee: 7 Usd – 500 KS (payable by credit card too)
3. Kazuri factory and Giraffe Centre
Leaving the orphanage, we have a relaxing break for lunch in a local restaurant, then a quick stop at Kazuri Beads and Pottery Centre. Kazuri – that means “small and beautiful” in Swahili – it’s a project created in 1975 to employ disadvantaged members of Kenyan society. Here, the single mothers can learn a marketable skill and achieve self-sufficiency producing jewellery and pottery. It started with an only 2 local women, and nowadays Kazuri employs more than 300 women, makes over five million beads a year, and exports beads to 20 different countries. We had a short, enjoyable free tour into the various factory buildings, where we observed the process from the moulding of raw clay to the glazing of the finished products. In its small shop, you can buy a gift choosing among beautiful hand made jewellery as well as pottery and others.
Our last stop is the AFEW Giraffe Centre, a project founded in 1979 to protect and help to grow the population of the highly endangered Rothschild giraffe. In the past years the Rothschild giraffe was almost pushed to extinction, but, nowadays the population boasts more than 300 individuals into the wild. Thanks to the Centre, many giraffes have been released into Lake Nakuru National Park, Mwea National Reserve, Ruma National Park and Nasalot National Reserve. The visit is also fun since you can feed the giraffes and get up close and personal to them from the centre’s raised walkway. If you get on your own to the giraffe centre, and you have time, there is also beautiful self-guided nature walk (1.5 km long) through the adjacent Gogo River Bird Sanctuary. Click here for more information.
Our lovely day trip is over; it’s time to go back to the hotel and get ready to visit the most famous park in the whole of Africa: the Masai Mara National Reserve!
Entrance fee: 15 Usd – 1500 KS ( payable by credit card too – the nature walk is free)
Need to know about Nairobi
1. Nairobi International Airport
Located on the east side of Kenya’s Capital, Jomo Kenyatta International Airport is 18 km from Nairobi, and it takes about 30 minutes to reach the city centre (it depends on the traffic). The airport is divided into 2 terminals, Terminal 1 and Terminal 2. Terminal 1 is split into five different parts: 1A, 1B, 1C, 1D and 1E. We flew with Qatar Airways, and the terminal was 1C. Terminal 2 serves mainly low-cost airlines.
The quickest and comfortable way to reach your accommodation is to book in advance a private taxi transfer (average price 30 USD). Most of the hotels offer a private shuttle as well. You can have a look with booking.com, Kenya Transfers or the web platforms Viator and GetYourGuide that offers good deals for the transfer.
If you want to save money and use public transport, the bus number 34J runs about to/from the airport. It operates between 06:00 am and 09:00 pm with a frequency every 5 minutes. Travel time to the centre of Nairobi is 1 hour, and the price is between 35 KES to 50 KES. The boarding stop is next to the T1C while the drop-off stop is next to the T1A.
2. Where to sleep
Nairobi offers a wide range of accommodation, from guest house to 5-star hotel. We slept at the Silver Springs Hotel, excellent accommodation with a nice restaurant and a pool. Anyway, since this big metropolis is chaotic and a hectic mix of old, new, rich and poor, be sure to check the hotel reviews and find out if the neighbourhood where you stay is safe. If you decided to stay close to the airport, you could sleep at Four Points by Sheraton, Crowne Plaza Airport, Hilton Garden Inn, Easy Hotel Kenya, Ole Sereni, 67 Airport Hotel.
3. Going around
If you don’t want to book a private tour, the best way to go around the city is to use the smart app Uber and schedule your private transfer.