Welcome to Nairobi, Kenya!
Nairobi is the capital of Kenya, and its largest city. Westerners might not know much about this bustling metropolis, but ask any local and they’ll tell you that Nairobi is anything but boring or run-of-the-mill. Nairobi is a city full of contrast, and a worldwide local knows that those interesting contrasts are what make a city unique and worth visiting. This insider’s guide will help you explore this city through the eyes of a local.
Although the Maasai people have been here for centuries, the British colonial authorities founded the city as a railroad depot going between Uganda and itself. Nairobi is home to a thriving and bustling business sector, and the fast-paced downtown area, but just nearby is the beautiful serenity of nature contrasting with the city.
Enjoy the Nairobi Weather in a Stunning National Park
Get your Nairobi adventure started in one of the most interesting parts of the city, Nairobi National Park. This park is the crown jewel of the city center, as this is one of the few national parks in the world to be located directly in the city and close by to its downtown area. The park was established in 1946 and it is only 4 miles south of the downtown area. You can see the skyscrapers of the city in the background while you safari around the park. It is home to lions, giraffes, leopards, baboons, buffalo, and ostrich; this is one of the best rhino sanctuaries in the continent. The park gets several tourists but for good reason, as it is truly a unique experience to safari in the middle of a city.
Worldwide Local Tip: On the weekends locals tend to come to the park to hang out and have a picnic. Pack a lunch, head out to the Nairobi National Park and camp in one of its many picnic grounds, for a great way to spend an afternoon.
Shopping in Nairobi
If you’re going to experience some local life, you’ll want to head over to Maasai market and do a little shopping. The market is one of the biggest in the city and is a perfect place to do some shopping for locals goods and handicrafts. You can find anything from hand-carved wooden statues, jewelry, paintings, and East African fabrics. A worldwide local knows that support of the local people and economy is always a good choice.
Worldwide Local Tip: If you want to go where the locals shop, head to the secret West African market. Its a 15-minute walk away from the central business district, past a hotel, up a dark flight of stairs, and then you’ll have to press a buzzer to be let in through a metal gate. The market is made up of studio apartments around an open courtyard, and each apartment is a live-in shop occupied by a vendor. You’ll find masks, voodoo dolls, carvings, and beads here. It may sound a little sketchy, but it’s truly a unique Nairobi experience.
Eat Like a Local
To be a worldwide local you’re going to have to try some of the local cuisine. Taking part in a Karoga is a great way to feel like a local and try out some Kenyan cuisine. A “Karoga” is a type of cookout that welcomes large groups of people. It’s almost like a barbecue but with a little formality to the experience. Guests can bring their own food and equipment to cook, request to be cooked for, or they can buy their own ingredients and cook for themselves. The point is that the food is always cooked to the diners own taste and it is a great way to get close to the locals.
Worldwide Local Tip: If you’re looking for a unique food experience, head to The Carnivore of Lang’ata Road. Like the name suggests, guests can request their meat of choice including ostrich, zebra, or crocodile (among many other game meats), and enjoy a local beer.
Convenient and Astounding Day Trips
Take a step out of the city and take in some of the best parts of Nairobi to enjoy its beautiful natural surroundings. Head over to Karura forest and have an early morning jog around a million-year-old dormant volcano, or check out the Mau Mau caves. Arrive early in the morning before the hustle and bustle and you’ll feel like you have an enchanted forest to yourself.
Worldwide Local Tip: If you really want to get out of the city, then head to Whistling Thorn. Located about an hour outside Nairobi you can camp here, enjoy the views of the plains, the glowing stars at night, and take in the spectacular sunsets over the Ngong Hills.
Have an Unforgettable Time in Nairobi, Kenya!
Take part in the sprawling scenic views of nature and the bustling city life to truly get Nairobi. The city is fun and has something for everyone, whether that is getting close to nature or exploring the urban life of everyday locals. A worldwide local knows that this is the best of both worlds, so make sure to experience both.