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Nairobi is Kenya’s capital and the largest city of the country. Its name comes from the Masai phrase Enkare Nairobi. This means cool water and is a reference to the Nairobi River that flows through the city. The city’s nickname is the Green City in the Sun.

Nairobi was founded in 1899 by British East Africa, as a rail depot on the Uganda Railway. After that, the town quickly grew to replace Mombasa as the capital of Kenya in 1907. As a result, it became the capital of the Republic of Kenya after independence in 1963. Until today it is at the centre of the coffee, tea and sisal industries.

Nairobi today

Today Nairobi is one of the largest and most lively cities in Africa. It’s a city that never sleeps. The entire town has a boundless energy in which people from all over the world thrive. This is a place where religion, tribe and origin all become facets of its unique character. Nairobi is an established hub for both business and culture, where you can explore numerous cultural and historical sites such as the National Museum as well as experience bubbly nightlife.

Nearby attractions

A short drive from downtown Nairobi is the Nairobi National Park. The wide, open grassy plains begin right on the city limits where it is home to a variety of wildlife. Think of lions, leopards, cheetahs, hyenas, buffaloes, giraffes and over 400 bird species.  It is also the best place to see the endangered black rhinos. There are over fifty of these in the park, which is why it was nicknamed Kifaru (rhinoceros in Swahili).

Next to it you find the famous elephant orphanage operated by the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. It works to protect elephants, rhinos and giraffes and runs the world’s most successful rescue and rehabilitation program for orphaned animals. You can also visit viewpoints around Nairobi as well as feed giraffes at the famous Giraffe Center or the Giraffe Manor.

Nairobi is also a start-off point for safari trips to the Masai Mara National Reserve and other national parks.

Attractions in Nairobi

  • Nairobi National Park
  • Sheldrick’s elephant orphanage
  • Karen Blixen Museum
  • Giraffe Manor
Nairobi National Park

Nairobi Highlights

  • Capital city of Kenya
  • Boundless energy and thriving place
  • Karen Blixen museum
  • Established hub for business and culture

Facts about Nairobi

  • Founded in 1899
  • Population of 4,397,073
  • City lies on the River Athi
  • Elevation of 1,795 meter above sea level
  • Area of 696 square kilometer

Excursions from Nairobi

The Masai Mara National Reserve  is one of the largest game reserves in Africa and is around 270 km from the capital Nairobi – only around 45 minutes’ flight time. It is home to over 95 species of mammals and over 400 species of birds and is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Kenya.

Another attraction is the Solio Ranch, a fenced, privately owned sanctuary dedicated to the protection of rhinos.  The ranch is located in the valley between the high slopes of Mount Kenya and the peaks of the Aberdare Mountains just north of Nairobi. Up to forty rhinos live here in harmony with other wildlife, including buffalo, zebra, giraffe and flat game such as eland, oryx, impala, waterbuck, Thompson’s gazelle and warthog.

Best time to visit

Nairobi can be visited all year round as the city has a cool climate with its location at 1,795 meter above sea level.

Travel Tips from our experts about Nairobi

My name is Harrison and I have been a guide in Nairobi for 22 years. Most of our guests are impressed how busy and vibrant Nairobi is. It offers so much! You can be in a huge shopping mall in the morning and bottle feeding a baby rhino in the afternoon.

My advice:

How long to stay? At least 1-2 days, depending on what you are planning to do

Which hotel?

  • Tamarind Hotel (Gold)
  • The Boma Hotel Nairobi (Platinum)
  • Nairobi Serena Hotel (Diamond)

Special tip:

Giraffe Manor is an exclusive boutique hotel and one of the most famous ones in the world! One of the most fascinating things about Giraffe Manor is the resident herd of Rothschild’s giraffes. They stick their long necks through the windows in the morning and evening in the hope of a reward before retreating to their forest reserve.

Nairobi Girafe Manor