Top Guided Tours to Take in Nairobi
A Nairobi market | © Ninara / Flickr
Nairobi is a beautiful city with so much to offer. A guided tour within the confines of the city will allow you to feel the buzz of the place and enjoy aspects that you would normally overlook or wouldn’t know about. Below we examine the top 10 excursions in the city, which can be tweaked, combined, and customized to suit a traveler’s needs.
Karen Blixen museum tour
A guided tour of the Karen Blixen Museum, located in the leafy suburb of Karen Estate, is exciting especially if you have an interest in history. The movie Out of Africa is based on the story of Karen Blixen, a Danish author and baroness, and the site is rich in historical artifacts that will capture your attention for the entirety of the tour. You will see the same furniture Blixen used in the 1920s as the house has remained unaltered over time. At the end of it all you can also enjoy a sumptuous lunch on the same premises at the Tamarind restaurant.
Nairobi animal orphanage and giraffe center
If your schedule allows only a couple of hours for an excursion, how about a trip to an actual game park that is only 40 minutes from the center of Nairobi? At the Nairobi National Park, you can opt for a walking safari in the protected safari walk or a game drive deeper into the park to see lions, leopards, giraffes, and zebras, to name just a few. Those with more time to spare (and a large budget for their trip) should book in for a night at the Giraffe Manor, as guests at the hotel are able to enjoy their meals alongside the endangered Rothschild giraffe. You will get to feed them, too, making the experience unforgettable.
City walking tour
Building, Post Office
The bustling city of Nairobi is full of many hidden gems and a guided walking tour ensures that you get to see the best of the city. Local guides are trained and well informed and work in collaboration with the national museum to make sure that your schedule shows all the historical sites. What you can expect to see includes the first post office in Nairobi at the Sarova Stanley Hotel, the first stock exchange floor where you can learn about its famous ‘Thorn Tree,’ spectacular views of the city from the top of the Kenya International Conference Center, and a visit to the Mzee Jomo Kenyatta’s National Mausoleum. This city tour can always be customized to focus on your areas of interest, such as architecture and art.
National archives and the national museums
If the country’s culture and heritage are what fascinates you, a guided tour of the Kenya National Archives and the Kenya National Museum, right in the heart of the city, are the perfect way of getting insight into the cultural diversity of the Kenyan people. Guides are knowledgeable on the historical figures who have shaped the country, from scholars and artists to freedom fighters and colonial masters. The National Archives has more documentary evidence of the history, while the National Museum houses the artifacts.
David and Sheldrick elephant orphanage
Natural Feature, Park
Elephants are very sensitive creatures, and this becomes apparent to visitors through a guided tour of the David and Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage, located about an hour’s drive from the Nairobi Central Business District. The orphanage takes care of orphaned baby elephants that require tender care as they slowly grow, before being eased into the wild once they come of age. You can expect to see baby elephants being fed, and gain awesome insight into how they are cared for. The tours are conducted by the trust, beginning with a presentation that lasts for one hour followed by supervised interactions with the friendly elephants. You are then driven to the local woodcrafts store for shopping and lunch, which is included in the tour package.
Souvenir shopping walks in the city
There are several markets that are great for shopping for apparel, ornaments, and cultural trophies including traditional masks, Maasai shields, gourds and curios, and much more. A guide will show you around the various markets such as city market, Kariokor market, and the Maasai market, while helping you bargain for the best possible deals. Guides can be arranged by your hotel or come as part of your package from your travel agent.
Hell's Gate day tour
Natural Feature, Park
A day trip to nearby Hell’s Gate is a must when you visit Nairobi. Just an hour’s drive away from the city, the park, one of Kenya’s smaller national parks, borrows its name from the geothermal activity of bubbling geysers in the area, which give the impression of the pits of hell. During the drive you can stop to take in the sight of the Great Rift Valley. Once you arrive there are many activities to be enjoyed, including boat rides at Lake Naivasha and biking trails that will bring you close to zebra, antelope, elands, and giraffes. The experience is simply delightful.
Kiambethu tea farm
This is a tour of a tea farm located a short drive from Nairobi city center. The farm has a rich history of tea farming, having been the first farm to produce, make, and sell tea commercially in the country. It was bought by a settler known as AB McDonell in 1910 and has remained in the family since then. It is now run by his granddaughter and is surrounded by indigenous forest that is teeming with wildlife. The tour begins after your 11 a.m. arrival on the farm and over a cup of coffee or tea the history and process of tea-making are explained. A tour of the tea field follows, then you take a walk through the forest for a quick tour of the indigenous plants and their uses, also getting sightings of the colobus monkeys and various bird species. The tour concludes with a three-course lunch while you enjoy the views of the Ngong hills dotted with tea farms.
These recommendations were updated on November 23, 2018 to keep your travel plans fresh.