Sightseeing in Kenya’s capital: Day 4 - 6
...and so we left the Rift Valley behind us and headed back to the city of Nairobi. We checked into the Kenya Comfort Hotel again and were re-united with our bags. For some reason we got a different room this time and it was much bigger than the first one we had. We even had a pretty good view from up here! We now basically had this afternoon and all of the next day to ourselves to explore this place. Though first we really needed to do some laundry! We found the laundry shop, handed in our bags and paid the hefty bill – but hey, it had to be done and it was 24 hr service after all!
I had no plans for this day and was happy to wander around with my new-found friends from our tour group. So here’s a little summary of what’s there to do in Nairobi if you have a day or two to spare!
1 – Drink coffee!
First stop: the Java coffee house. With an abundance of restrooms everywhere I could happily indulge in caffeine again! :) There are, however, many awesome coffee places around and most of them serve Kenyan coffee so we tried a couple of different ones. Some have soy milk and those who don't just helped me get my taste buds into shape with strong espresso. Now, I'm a creature of habit and I won't deny that I love my Starbucks. Basically, wherever I go in the world if there's a Starbucks I know exactly what my tall one-shot soya latte will taste like. And when I was only starting my caffeine habit a couple of years ago I preferred to know what to expect in my cup! Now I have grown up, my taste has evolved and I happily diverge from the green mermaid whenever I travel to a place known for great coffee!
2 – Wander around!
That said, I didn’t walk around on my own or at night! Although the people were friendly and very polite wherever we went, as a white Westerner you are an easy target and some people here really do live the hard life and need to survive somehow. I’m not making excuses for pickpockets or scammers. Just be careful, walk with a purpose and don’t flash your valuables in people’s faces. Common sense applies and I barely behaved any different in Nairobi than I would in other big cities (including Dublin to be completely honest!). So now that you’re a smart, confident traveler grab your map & start exploring! Oh and you may want to carry your passport with you at all times! Our group was kind of divided between “I won’t leave my passport in a hotel room!” and “Hell no, I won’t take it out with me – it’s much safer locked up in my room (that was me btw)”. Certain tourist attractions require you to show a valid ID and sometimes leave one behind at the reception until you leave the place again. Luckily, one passport was always enough to vouch for our group.
3 – The Kenyatta International Convention Centre
As explained above, this was one of the places where you deposit your passport upon entering and pick it up again when leaving. The Kenyatta International Convention Centre looks pretty cool from the outside but once you get in and buy your ticket you get to go up to the top and the view over the city from up there is pretty awesome! They say on a good day you can see the tip of Kilimanjaro!
Go all the way up to the helipad for the best views! You may or may not be “forced” to listen to one of the guides up there. They’re good fun to listen to and you’ll learn quite a bit about the city. The talk is for free but tips are expected – and if you think you can get out of it and don’t leave a tip just wait until you need to use the toilet! The place can be hard to navigate and the restrooms downstairs are a bit hidden. But luckily there are enough wonderful tour guides around to show you the way and then ask for money in the toilets haha! But in all fairness, that’s how they make a living and they are quite entertaining up there! The tickets to the observation deck can be bought at the reception where you enter the building and we paid about €5 per person – totally worth it!
4 – The Giraffe Center
Most of you know by now that I absolutely adore cats & giraffes and Nairobi happens to have a giraffe centre where you can hand-feed these gentle creatures! So for our full day in Nairobi we booked a private driver who brought us out to the park. This was my chance to pet and feed a giraffe! I was over the moon. It’s a pretty cool feeling to pet their long necks and have these sandpaper-rough tongues snatch the food pellets from your hands – or straight from your mouth as some visitors preferred!
5 – The Karen Blixen Museum
Before we set off on our Africa adventure we watched – no, not the Lion King! – but Out of Africa.
The beautiful story of Karen Blixen, a Danish lady married to a Swedish Baron who had moved to Kenya in the early 20th century to leave war-torn Europe behind for a while. She attempted to grow coffee in the area, built a school where local children could learn to read and write and in general had a great influence on this region – to the point where now colleges, streets and a whole Nairobi suburb carry her name. The Karen Blixen Museum is basically the house in which she lived and where the movie (starring Meryl Streep none the less!) had been filmed.
The Karen Blixen Cafe and Restaurant nearby is a really cool place too! The food and the coffees are amazing and there are artists painting out in the yard while exhibiting some of their pieces. And of course there are also lots of cats around... unsurprisingly. ;)
I hope you enjoyed this mini guide to Nairobi!
These were our last days in Kenya before we made our way into Tanzania - so stay tuned for more Africa posts in the near future! :)