Travel Tuesdays With Quilt: A 36-Hour Virtual Visit to Nairobi
Nairobi — the African safari capital of the world — has many facets to it. From the pleasures of urban nightlife to breathtaking natural habitats where you can spot the Big Five — elephants, kaffir buffalos, leopards, lions, and rhinos — the Kenyan capital has much to offer.
For this week’s virtual travel itinerary, we ran Instagram posts tagged #nairobi, #nairobitravel, #nairobikenya, #nairobidiaries, #nairobitraveller, and the like through our Culture AI models. The emotions detected ranged from the usual affiliation, happiness, creativity, and solitude which are common themes for most travel-related photos, to affection, sensuality, vividness, and nostalgia.
Many of the images feature natural landscapes, like plants, trees, sky, African elephants, and other animals. The most common colors detected are natural hues too, ranging from shades of gray and brown to dark olive green and sienna.
The top ‘everyday experience’ concepts detected from Nairobi posts were ‘going on an adventure’ and ‘foodie adventure’, highlighting what travelers typically associate with Nairobi.
Based on these insights, we curated a 36-hour itinerary for Nairobi, inspired by the New York Times’ ’36 Hours’ series.
36 Hours in Nairobi
8.30 AM: Nairobi National Park
Kickstart your Kenyan adventure with a visit to the famous Nairobi National Park. Start early so you can spend a good 3–5 hours at the park to encounter as many animals as possible. Take a half-day tour in an open-top safari vehicle to soak in the dramatic Nairobian landscape while you spot lions, zebras, giraffes, ostriches, black rhinos, deer, and over 500 species of birds. You can also visit the Nairobi Animal Orphanage located in the same park.
12 PM: Lunch at Jiko
Top three reasons to eat at Jiko according to TripAdvisor reviews: delicious African food, family-friendly ambiance with veg and vegan options, and a creative menu! The food is flavorful (try the lobster or steak) and the cocktails are great, but the desserts are even better!
1 PM: Explore Kitengala
Spend the afternoon at Kitengala located in a remote part of Nairobi. A glass and sculpture oasis created by German artist Nani Croze to create shade from the scorching sun, the complex features glassworks, a hotel, and a sculpture garden that art enthusiasts will love.
2.30 PM: Museum Time
The Karen Blixen Museum is a farmhouse-turned-museum dedicated to the legacy of the celebrated author of ‘Out of Africa’. Over a 100 years old, the farmhouse is a 6000-acre property at the foot of Ngong Hills.
4 PM: Befriend Giraffes at the Giraffe Centre
The Giraffe Centre in Nairobi dates back to the 80s and was established to preserve giraffes, especially the almost extinct Rothschild giraffe, and educate Kenyan school children and youth about Kenyan wildlife and the environment. The complex contains a sanctuary where you can embark on a 1.5 km nature trail followed by tea and refreshments at their tea house.
7.30 PM: Dine at INTI
How about some Japanese and Peruvian food in Nairobi? Trust us, the sushi at INTI restaurant in Nairobi comes with 884 rave reviews about their food and service. The detailed review below from TripAdvisor says it all — so don’t miss it!
10 AM: An Artistic Morning
A local arts collective supporting contemporary artists, the Kuona Trust Arts Centre is a one-of-a-kind collaborative creative space in Nairobi. They often host exhibitions, artist talks, and public events that might interest creative travelers.
11.30 AM: Explore the Nairobi Railway Museum
Spend the morning at the Nairobi Railway Museum learning about Kenyan history through vintage locomotives. Located in central Nairobi near the railway station, the museum showcases everything from railway engines to photographs and a motorized railway bicycle.
2 PM: Have a Beast of a Feast
Dine at the Carnivore restaurant on Langata road for a taste of all the exotic meat dishes that Nairobi has to offer. Certainly a Carnivore’s culinary dream, this restaurant made it to Restaurant Magazine’s list of the world’s 50 best restaurants twice! Don’t miss their BBQ chicken wings, spare ribs, and beef dishes. However, if you’re feeling adventurous, try the crocodile, ostrich, and camel meat!
3 PM: Learn about the Bomas of Kenya
A tourist village and cultural center that celebrates the lifestyle and culture of 23 Kenyan tribes, Bomas of Kenya features traditional homesteads or bomas. It was conceived and planned by Barack Obama Sr. and founded by the Kenya Tourist Development Cooperation in 1971. Some of the homesteads marked ‘first wife’s hut’ and ‘second wife’s hut’ reflect the polygamous relationships and social hierarchy of the time. The complex also contains a large auditorium where traditional songs and dances are performed and Utamaduni Restaurant serves Kenyan cuisine.
5 PM: Evening walk at Nairobi City Park
Public parks are underrated and can add a distinct local flavor to travels by allowing you to take a leisurely stroll amidst sightseeing and touristy activities. The Nairobi City Park is a lovely space to walk, picnic, and unwind. Home to Sykes’ monkeys and 600 kinds of endangered plant species, it is an urban oasis and perfect for a serene evening before your trip comes to an end.
7 PM: Last Supper at Mawimbi
Try Kenyan seafood at Mawimbi Seafood restaurant known for its Asian and Japanese fusion seafood and grills. They also have vegetarian and vegan options and a great ambiance. Order the crab and Poseidon platter and enjoy it by the poolside.
If you enjoyed your 36 hours in Nairobi and wish to explore the city like a local over a more extended period of time, you might want to check out this interesting vlog that gives us a flavor of the local way of life.
How to get there
Nairobi is well-connected by air to most major cities around the world, as well as other cities within Kenya by train and road.
Places to stay
Nairobi caters to all budgets and offers a variety of options for each kind of traveler. Palacina Residence and Suites and The Social House are two highly-rated Travellers’ Choice options that are worth checking out. Budget travelers can opt for Khweza Bread and Breakfast, rated 9.7 on Hostelworld. If you feel like splurging, we highly recommend staying at the Giraffe Manor for a truly unforgettable experience where you can eat breakfast with giraffes!
When to go
July-October and January-February are the best months to visit Nairobi. July and August are cool and dry, ideal to explore the city.