Maasai Markets –
There are several open-air markets around the city that have handicrafts, jewellery, and souvenirs like batiks, baskets, sculptures, and paintings. Most of these places do not have much variety so once you go to one market, you may not find very different/unique things at another.
Schedule (Please confirm before going as it may change):
Tuesdays – Globe Roundabout, City Centre
Wednesdays – Capital Centre on Mombasa Road
Fridays – Village Market in Gigiri
Saturdays – Nairobi Law Court Grounds in the City Centre
Sundays – Safari Park Hotel on Thika Road and Yaya Centre, Hurlingham
Daily – Westlands Market and City Market
For more information:
http://www.experiencekenya.co.ke/ has general information
http://www.digitalmatatus.com/ has maps of the public transport routes
http://www.ma3route.com/ has directions and traffic information
http://eatout.co.ke/ has booking for restaurants in Nairobi
Activities and Sights in/around Nairobi
There’s so much to do in Nairobi – to find out what’s going on around town, you can subscribe to the following e-newsletters:
- KenyaBUZZ – www.kenyabuzz.com
- Nairobi Now – www.nairobinow.wordpress.com
If you’re looking to explore on your own, here are some recommended activities in/around Nairobi, listed roughly by proximity to downtown Nairobi.
- Kenyatta International Conference Center (KICC) – It’s only about 30-odd floors tall, but you can pay to take an elevator to the top of the building. This helicopter landing pad gives you a gorgeous 360-degree view of Nairobi and its surroundings.
- Alliance Française – The French cultural centre in CBD – they frequently bring in talented musicians from all over Kenya and even West Africa to perform on their outdoor stage. They also show foreign films and host theatre performances in their auditorium. You can even take French classes here.
- National Museum (Museum Hill) – A pretty extensive museum covering the history and culture of Kenya, animals, birds, and modern exhibits. They also host concerts/events in the beautiful courtyard, and talks/film screenings/concerts in Leakey Auditorium.
- Mini-Golf and Bowling (Village Market)
- Ngong Rd. Racecourse – Most Sundays, there are horse races you can bet on. There’s also a golf course in the middle of the racecourse.
- Go-kart Racing (Langata Road) – Next to Carnivore, so good for pre- or post-meat fest. www.gpkarting.co.ke/
- Nairobi National Park – This is where people who are passing through Nairobi go on safari.
- African Heritage House – Beautiful house overlooking Nairobi National Park – filled with lots of paintings and sculptures – http://www.africanheritagebook.comhttp://www.africanheritagebook.com/
- Giraffe Center (Karen) – http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g294207-d459948-Reviews-Giraffe_Centre-Nairobi.html
- David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (Karen) – An elephant orphanage – one hour public viewing everyday at 11 am. If you adopt an orphan, you can do a private visit at 5 pm. http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g294207-d1569686-Reviews-David_Sheldrick_Wildlife_Trust-Nairobi.html
- The Karen Blixen Museum (Karen) – Karen Blixen is the famed author of the book “Out of Africa” – http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g294207-d311548-Reviews-Karen_Blixen_Museum-Nairobi.html
- Kazuri Bead Factory (Karen) – http://www.kazuri.com/aboutus.html#
- Bomas Cultural Center – http://www.bomasofkenya.co.ke/
- Kitengela Glass Factory – A long drive on bad roads, but absolutely worth a visit – watch glass being hand-blown, buy glass products at manufacturing price, canopy walkway… – http://www.kitengela-glass.com/
- Masai Ostrich Farm – Here you can ride ostriches (awkward but fun) and eat ostrich burgers! http://www.mericagrouphotels.com/ostrich/index.php?option=com_contact&Itemid=66
Things To Do Outside Nairobi
- Masai Mara – The most famous national park. A bit of a drive (about 5 hrs from Nairobi), but tons of wildlife – lots of lions. Downside is that it’s also the most crowded with tourists.
- Sweetwaters – A private game reserve about 3 hrs north of Nairobi, supposedly the closest park to Nairobi where you can see “the big five”. Unique highlights include: a fenced-off watering hole in front of your tent where you can see lots of different animals gather, night game drives, a chimpanzee sanctuary, and a blind rhino named Baraka!
- Nakuru – About 2.5 hrs from Nairobi. In addition to the usual animals, you’ll get to see flamingos and rhinos!
- Amboseli – Famous for a great view of Mt. Kilimanjaro
- Tsavo – A long drive from Nairobi, but this is a convenient stop if you’re road-tripping from Nairobi to Mombasa. Voi is where they release all the elephant orphans from the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust back into the wild. Also check out Lake Jipe – you can stay in bandas right on the lake, just watch out for the hippos!
- Aberdares – A bit further than Naivasha/Hell’s Gate. More forested. Good for relaxing but not for seeing animals.
- Samburu – Really nice (more rare animals like Grevy’s zebras, reticulated giraffes, and leopards), but far north of Nairobi (about 5-6 hr drive each way). You can fly, but it’s expensive.
These are the big ones, but if you want a more intimate experience, there are a bunch of smaller parks like Hell’s Gate, Crescent Island (in the middle of Lake Naivasha, where they filmed the famous movie “Out of Africa”), Lake Baringo, Lake Bogoria, Meru, and Lewa Wildlife Conservancy (where Prince William proposed to Kate Middleton!).
- Ngong Hills – Just outside of Nairobi, you can get great views of Nairobi on one side, the Rift Valley on the other by climbing these 7 hills. As a warning, there is a risk of bandits past the 3rd hill, so nowadays it is mandatory that you hire an askari (security guard).
- Hell’s Gate – You can either drive or bike through the national park to the entrance to the Gorge where they filmed Tomb Raider.
- Crater Lake – If you follow the road away from Naivasha past Hell’s Gate, you can do a nice hike up the Green Crater.
- Mt. Longonot – About 1.5 hrs hike up to the rim of the crater, then about a 4 hour hike along the entire crater. The counter-clockwise route is less strenuous than the clockwise route.
- Mt. Kenya – You can hike to the hiking summit (Pt. Lenana) and back in 4 days. Costs about $400+ depending on the route.
You can do indoor rock climbing at Climb Blue Sky on the 6th floor of Diamond Plaza in Parklands, or outdoor rock climbing in Lukenya.
- Mombasa – This is the cheapest place to fly into. You can also take the SGR train.
- Watamu – Great scuba diving and gelato joints
- Kilifi – Halfway between Mombasa and Watamu – the creek is gorgeous.
- Mtwapa Creek – About 45 minutes north of Mombasa
- Diani Beach – About an hour south of Mombasa, you have to take a ferry to get there. The part of the coast with the most nightlife, so tends to attract a lot of young backpackers. About 45 minutes south of Diani, there’s great scuba diving in Kisite Marine Park.
- Tiwi Beach – A bit closer to Mombasa than Diani – the beaches are more pristine, but much less to do.
- Funzi Keys – Even further south than Diani Beach. You can camp on Avicennia Island and spend your days fishing, kite-surfing, and kayaking through mangroves.
- Lamu – The Zanzibar of Kenya. Pristine white beaches. Rent a house in Shela, which is quieter and nicer than staying near Lamu town. No cars, just donkeys.