Wish You Were Here: Nairobi

With Kenya celebrating its 50th year of independence from British rule on Jamhuri Day tomorrow, we wish we were in Nairobi. Let's have a look at the rising African capital and all that it offers to the adventurous traveller.

Often just a transit point for tourists heading to safari or beach holidays, Nairobi often tends to be overlooked – and wrongly so. By day it's a hectic cosmopolitan hub of east Africa, while by night, its cool and quiet tropical gardens are best enjoyed with a local cool brew of Tusker. There are plenty of attractions from museums to wild animal orphanages to shopping destinations.


Check out the City Safari – not many people know that you hardly have to leave the city to get the ever illustrious safari experience, with Nairobi National Park just a bus/taxi ride away. The park shows off lions, cheetahs, leopards, buffaloes – the whole package.


While you're there, you'll want to make sure you don't miss the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust inside the park, whre between 11am and noon you can watch the orphaned baby elephants and rhinos be taken for their daily mud baths – a truly beautiful and touching experience – it's just so cute! And if you don't want your animal experience to end there, check yourself into the Giraffe Manor Hotel. Just outside the city of Nairobi, this luxury boutique hotel is bound to take your fancy, and don't be surprised if you end up being woken up or sharing your breakfast with the giraffes that will undoubtedly be vying for your attention.



Shopping may not be the main reason you visit Nairobi but it's certainly likely to be one of the pleasures you experience while you're there; from souvenir shopping to it's-just-a-piece-of-clothing-I-really-want, you have options. Check out Nairobi Java House where they also boast the beat coffee in Africa. Try the nutty Kenyan AA blend and pick up some beans to take home with you – they're just that divine.  Or head over to Galleria modern mall for an elusive all-in-one shopping experience. If you're looking for the much more souvenir-specific shopping, check out the Maasai market held at various points in the city on alternate days, they boast traditional crafts, wood carvings Maasai beaded necklaces, baskets and more. The downtown City Market is also worth a visit for truly unique gifts, some made from pretty much any recycled item from flip flops to cans.


Trying to get around Nairobi? Try the minibuses service (called matatus in Kenya), climb aboard and hold on as the driver races through the city traffic – quite an experience,  believe me.  To distract you while you're aboard, enjoy (if you can)  the huge sound systems and blaring TV screens... Yes, you read that right: They have TV screens in the minibuses these days, and let's not forget about the exterior pimped-out loo. Worry not it's very du jour for the buses to 'wear' faces; from Obama to Michael Jackson to Osama Bin Laden, any face will do, it seems. The matatus are an African sub-culture on their own, with entry costing mere cents.


After all that I'm sure you'll be wanting to relax and rest up, so check into the gorgeous 5-star Nairobi Serena Hotel, set amongst the lush green abundance of extensive tropical gardens and looking out over the Central Park with amazing panoramic views over the glittering towers of downtown Nairobi – one of the best locations in the city. With a kaleidoscope of cultural influences blending Moroccan mystique and a breadth of African heritage the interior decoe of the hotel is mesmerising, plush and comfortable. So you have amazing panoramic views, comfortable 5-star rooms and
everything you could possibly ask for from room service to just experiencing Africa – what more could you ask for? #wishyouwerehere


By Mpona Lebajoa

Wish You Were Here: Nairobi