24 hours in Nairobi

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Two unique new urban safari venues have recently opened, offering ideal bases for the perfect 24 hours in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.


It’s just 20 minutes since you collected your baggage at Nairobi Airport, and you’re already driving among herds of buffalo, giraffe, and rhino, across savannah that seems to stretch into the very heart of the African wilderness.

The Kenyan capital is the gateway to some of the most spectacular wildlife venues on the planet, and Nairobi National Park has traditionally been overlooked as the smaller cousin of wilderness wonderlands such as Masai Mara and Amboseli. Two unique new accommodation options are now making safari connoisseurs think again. Now you can be on a game drive, peacefully watching lions and hippos, while others are still battling through Nairobi’s notorious traffic towards a city-centre hotel.

The Emakoko (emakoko.com) offers spectacular lodge facilities, in spacious bungalows, while Nairobi Tented Camp (nairobitentedcamp.com) surprises visitors with the realisation that unabashed luxury is entirely possible even when you sleep under canvas.

You’re woken by the dawn chorusof birds and a traditionally soft wake-up call: ‘Jambo’. Half an hour later you’re driving on the plains, witnessing another daybreak across the African wilderness.

Pause for coffee,sitting on the roof of your safari vehicle watching the local pride prowling hungrily around herds of antelope, buffalo, and zebra. Head back to base for a hearty safari breakfast.

Nairobi National Parkis too small for wild elephants, so head to The Sheldrick Trust for an opportunity to get up-close and personal with a whole herd of orphaned baby elephants.

The FlipFlop Recycling companyis a remarkably clever community project, based on recycled flip-flops. The amazing range of artefacts, toys, and ornaments made there is stunning.

Tamambo Karen Blixen is probably Nairobi’s favourite lunch venue. The cuisine is varied and delicious, and the sumptuous gardens tempt you to take time out for a leisurely al fresco dining experience.

The Giraffe Centreis home to nine endangered Rothschild giraffes. This crucial conservation, education, and relocation centre offers an unforgettable opportunity to pet and feed these gentle giants. Try a giraffe kiss!

Head to Nairobi City Centre Market, an evocative old building (once an aircraft hangar) that now houses scores of antique and craft stalls. Perfect for inexpensive souvenirs if you’re prepared for good-natured haggling.

Generations of wayfarersonce left messages on the old tree at Thorn Tree Café. Still a great place for sundowners: try Dawa (Kenyan cocktails made with vodka, honey, and lemon) or the wonderful fresh juices.

Avoid the notorious rush hour by entering Nairobi National Park through the airport gate. Then soak up the calming atmosphere of dusk in the bush as you make the journey back to camp in time for a relaxing dinner.

Let roaring lions tempt you into a night-time game-drive. Driving after dark is restricted, but both Emakoko and Nairobi Tented Camp let you witness Africa by night. Afterwards enjoy the hypnotic glow of a ‘bush-telly’ (campfire).


Nairobi, Kenya
Distance: 3,612 km
Flight Time: 5 hours, 15 minutes
Frequency: 2 flights a day

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