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Nairobi, Kenya - what to do long layover to several days?

Nairobi, Kenya's vibrant capital, offers several things of interest, some described in detail within this thread, including:


Langata Rd. / Karen area:
Langata Giraffe Centre (Rothschild's giraffes - afternoons after school groups leave)
and overnight at the upscale Giraffe Manor (giraffe visitors for breakfast)
David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (Elephant Orphanage)
Karen Blixen House (home of writer Karen Blixen / Isak Dinesen of "Out of Africa" fame)
Kazuri bead and pottery factory (handcrafts)
Utamaduni Craft Centre & Verandah Restaurant
Bomas of Kenya (traditional dancers)
Mamba Village (home to crocodiles)
House of Treasures (global handicrafts)
Carnivore Restaurant (name says it all)

Not far from above: Nairobi National Park (early morning best for game viewing)
Nairobi Safari Walk

Downtownish:
National Museum of Kenya (including Joy Adamson's ethnographic paintings)
National Railroad Museum
Maasai Market (weekly)

African Wildlife Foundation (http://www.awf.org) local non-profit conservation

Out of town day trips:
Lake Naivasha or Hell's Gate National Park
Olorgesailie pre-historic site and museum (3 hours drive each way) etc.

Dining: (Indian, Ethiopian, Italian, Indian Ocean food in particular)
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Old Jun 9, 11, 3:06 pm   #1
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Nairobi, Kenya - what to do layover - several days?

I originally posted this in the security forum... But it got no responses there, so i thought id repost here...

I'm in discussions with a new client regarding a possible speaking engagement in Nairobi later this year. While I've read the various write-ups from several consulates, I don't have a real sense of the risks involved. I would NOT be doing anything touristy... Airport-hotel-airport.

I've traveled to Johannesburg several times since 2000, and while it is classed as a moderate to high risk location - it poses me no concerns. Simple common sense precautions are sufficient to keep you reasonably safe for short trips. My comfort level is no doubt due in part to the fact that I grew up in SA so I might not be the best judge of how safe I really am.

How would Nairobi compare to Johannesburg? And do you have any firsthand experiences to relate?
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Old Jun 9, 11, 3:06 pm   #2
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Nairobi, kenya - recent experiences?

I originally posted this in the security forum... But it got no responses there, so i thought id repost here...

I'm in discussions with a new client regarding a possible speaking engagement in Nairobi later this year. While I've read the various write-ups from several consulates, I don't have a real sense of the risks involved. I would NOT be doing anything touristy... Airport-hotel-airport.

I've traveled to Johannesburg several times since 2000, and while it is classed as a moderate to high risk location - it poses me no concerns. Simple common sense precautions are sufficient to keep you reasonably safe for short trips. My comfort level is no doubt due in part to the fact that I grew up in SA so I might not be the best judge of how safe I really am.

How would Nairobi compare to Johannesburg? And do you have any firsthand experiences to relate?
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Old Jun 10, 11, 2:01 am   #3
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If you search here you will see several threads on this subject. Nairobi isn't any more dangerous than most any other city in the world. If you go in the wrong place at the wrong time, you will be in trouble in Los Angeles, Paris, Rome, and certainly JoBerg.

Arrange for airport pickup from your hotel and you will be fine.
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Old Jun 10, 11, 6:37 pm   #4
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If you search here you will see several threads on this subject. Nairobi isn't any more dangerous than most any other city in the world. If you go in the wrong place at the wrong time, you will be in trouble in Los Angeles, Paris, Rome, and certainly JoBerg.

Arrange for airport pickup from your hotel and you will be fine.
Thanks
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Old Jun 14, 11, 6:49 am   #5
  
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Hi. Nairobi is a pretty cool city. Even going out for dinner at night is pretty painless, as long as you exercise common sense. Airport - hotel is safe by road.

What hotel will you be staying at?

Hope you have a wonderful time here in Nairobi.
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Old Jun 15, 11, 11:28 am   #6
  
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Nairobi is a pretty cool city.
Truer words were never spoken.

Then again, I'm one of those people who also like Joburg...
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Old Jun 15, 11, 1:50 pm   #7
  
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Recommendations for things to do for four days in Nairobi

We're going to be spending a few days in Nairobi later this summer and given the unbridled enthusiasm for Nairobi in this thread, http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/afric...periences.html, I was hoping that my fellow FTers would be able to help out.

We are looking for a few things to do in and around Nairobi and would be delighted to welcome suggestions. We are interested in:

- Seeing Karen Blixen's house
- Wildlife - any sorts of preservation areas or wildlife parks would be great
- Nice hikes, lasting perhaps half a day or a full day
- Trying decent local Indian food

This and any other recommendations are more than welcome. Thanks very much for your help.
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Old Jun 18, 11, 9:25 pm   #8
  
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Originally Posted by ajax View Post
We're going to be spending a few days in Nairobi later this summer and given the unbridled enthusiasm for Nairobi in this thread, http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/afric...periences.html, I was hoping that my fellow FTers would be able to help out.

We are looking for a few things to do in and around Nairobi and would be delighted to welcome suggestions. We are interested in:

- Seeing Karen Blixen's house
- Wildlife - any sorts of preservation areas or wildlife parks would be great
- Nice hikes, lasting perhaps half a day or a full day
- Trying decent local Indian food

This and any other recommendations are more than welcome. Thanks very much for your help.
We did a family trip and spent a couple of days at Ol Tukai Lodge and did some game drives in Amboseli.It was fabulous.
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Old Jun 28, 11, 10:54 am   #9
  
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If you have four days, don't stay in Nairobi. Unless you have already done a proper safari somewhere (Serengeti, southern Africa, etc.), you MUST go to the Masai Mara. Even if you have done so, it may still be worth it.

If you do not want to go to the Masai Mara, then:
- You can see Amboseli (many elephants, Mount Kilimanjaro) can be done as a day trip, or as a 24 hour trip, departing mid-day, see the park in the afternoon and following morning, return mid-day.
- You can see Lake Nakuru (flamingoes) as a day trip from Nairobi. Or, combine it with Mount Kenya (great Fairmont there on William Holden's estate) and it might be a day and a half or so.

If you are committed to staying in/near Nairobi, there's the Nairobi game park just outside of town, the Karen Blixen house, and a few animal sanctuaries. Together that's the better part of a day.
In Nairobi proper, there are a few museums, the National Archives has some interesting old photos, the site of the former US Embassy is interesting if that's relevant to you, etc. Together these are also the better part of a day.
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Old Jun 29, 11, 2:04 am   #10
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Originally Posted by ajax View Post
- Nice hikes, lasting perhaps half a day or a full day
I can't think of any nice place to hike that doesn't have wild carnivores about. Maybe mount Kenya?

The suggestion of Nakuru is a good one, but you need to stay in your car for the most part. And I think it was already mentioned in the thread you highlighted, right?
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Old Jun 29, 11, 11:40 am   #11
  
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Having worked in Kenya the last two summers, my impression of Nairobi itself isn't so great. There are plenty of attractions just outside the city as others have mentioned - the game park and Karen are solid options. The Olorgesailie pre-historic site and museum are about a 3 hour drive away towards Lake Magadi if you're interested in that sort of thing. The drive itself is quite nice since you descend into the arid Acacia scrubland of the Rift Valley very suddenly after driving through the highlands; some really great views of the Rift along the way. There are local guides who staff the museum but you could just wander around the few exhibits yourself and then do a self-guide tour of the old excavations that have been preserved for tourists. Just be sure to bring lunch and lots of water since there is nowhere to stop nearby.

If you're stuck in the city of Nairobi itself, you can buy some touristy stuff and gifts at the Masaai market when it occurs once a week. The permanent city market charges more and will hassle tourists more aggressively but you can get some nice stuff there if you stand your ground on prices. The real exception to the drabness of Nairobi is the food. Great Indian, Ethiopian and Italian food are available. For Ethiopian I would go to Habesha; tasty and fairly cheap little place near the intersection of Uhuru Highway and Mokhtar Dada St, ask at your hotel for directions. For Indian Ocean cuisine go to Tamarind - it's expensive and delicious and everything there except the raw oysters is worth eating. For Italian there are a couple of options - Trattoria is good but the service takes forever. Good for large parties who want a 3 hour dinner to drink and talk over. The best Italian option is http://www.mediterraneorestaurant.co.ke/ This place is outstanding; pricey but completely worth it.
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Old Jul 3, 11, 5:45 pm   #12
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If one is going out to Karen to see Karen Blixen's house, one should also stop y and visit the Langatta Giraffe Centre nearby, to see the Rothschilds giraffes and the nearby splendid Giraffe Manor - the latter is best done in the afternoon after all the schoolkids are gone on weekdays. Carnivore restaurant is not far from here, so a supper for true carnivores is an opportunity to experience a variety of wild game dishes.

Believe it or not, one can see quite a bit on a drive-through of the Nairobi National Park - the Roots filmed their hippo classic here (and it is where Alan was gored badly through the leg and Joan was lucky enough to wind up with a couple of holes in her dive mask from a hippo canine). Be cautious with the vervet monkeys, as they are cheeky and will steal things (especially foodstuffs) from you quite boldly.

Visit the National Museum - Joy Adamson's paintings of native costume are there, as well as the snake farm, and some good dioramas on history and natural history. In the vicinity is the Norfolk Hotel, famous or infamous, depending on your POV, for the hijinks written about in many books.

Out of town you can go to Lake Nakuru, etc.

Maasai Mara, well, it's nice, full of posh lodges and now 60 - 80% fewer game than not so long ago, unfortunately. Upland, you can spend some time up in the Aberdares and Mt. Kenya to see some upland game (it can get chilly!) and if one hasn't seen northlands game one can go on a 2 - 3 day trip up to Lake Bogoria (amazing birds, and crocs,) or Samburu (Grevy's Zebra, Reticulated Giraffe, Gerenuk and other north specialties.)

Let's Go Travel on Muthaiga Road can assist with many arrangements - even a couple of days at Lamu.
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Old Jul 4, 11, 1:12 am   #13
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For me, La Prugna D'Oro is the best Italian.

Carnivore is very touristy and not a patch on what it used to be about 10 years ago before the animal do-gooders dumbed down the menu. But if you are a tourist and looking for a fun night out it should be ok.

Rangers, which is actually inside the national park, is a fun nightclub/restaurant with music and dancing and mostly locals at night.
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Old Jul 21, 11, 4:52 pm   #14
  
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Would you guys mind elaborating a bit on what makes Nairobi cool, and any favorite local haunts/bars/restaurants/uniquely Nairobian things to see and do that might not be in the guidebooks? I'm trying to plan a trip to Kenya and Tanzania in November, and wondering how long to spend in and around Nairobi.
thanks!
Tom
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Old Jul 22, 11, 9:40 am   #15
  
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The biggest threat to your well being in Nairobi is the intense wish to commit suicide when stuck in traffic.
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