Nairobi might just be my favourite East African city. It’s a wonderful melting pot, where modern African life in all its colour and vibrancy continues at pace, alongside fascinating reminders of Kenya’s rich colonial history. I always come to Kenya for the wildlife, but I’ve discovered there’s lots to do in the capital too, at the beginning or end of a safari.
A wonderful Nairobi experience – and a great way to ease into safari mode – is to have breakfast with giraffe. You can continue the wildlife theme with a visit to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. You’re certain to fall in love with Kenya, but the first Kenyans to steal your heart will probably be the baby elephant that you can meet and feed at the orphanage. You can even adopt one of the irrepressible, irresistible elephant calves! Need more wildlife and have time to spare? Go to the Nairobi National Park, which has great diversity.
You might be surprised to learn that the Out of Africa house is in Nairobi too. Of course, when this ‘farm in Africa, at the foot of the Ngong Hills’ was built, the city was a fraction of its current size. The original farmhouse is now the fascinating Karen Blixen Museum, in the suburb named after the author.
Kenyans take great pride in their culture and heritage, but they also delight in reinventing it; if you’re looking for gifts, Nairobi is the right place to be. Explore craft studios like Kazuri (for beads), Kitengela (for glass) and Marula (for pottery, leatherware and more) to buy authentic souvenirs from local artists.