With three days in Nairobi, you can sample urban style and encounter traditional cultures, with time left over for a day trip to one of Kenya’s headlining national parks. Get an early start and you can be spotting lions, hiking through the bush, and snapping photos of giraffes by lunchtime. Here’s how to spend three days in Nairobi.
Day 1: Cityscape Safari and Conservation
Even in Kenya’s biggest city, wildlife isn’t far away, so spend your first morning on a safari through Nairobi National Park. With the added bonus of cool air and good light for photography, you’ll see the animals—cheetahs, rhinos, and lions live here—when they’re most active. If you’re not ready for an early morning wake-up, opt for an early evening safari instead.
Following your safari, head back to the city—this would be a good time for some of Kenya’s locally grown coffee or tea—to see conservation work within city limits. Watch animal caretakers bottle-feed baby elephants at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and visit the nearby Giraffe Centre. Since the two destinations are in the same area, choosing a tour that features both is convenient and time saving.
Day 2: Local Culture and Cuisine
Start the day with a cultural encounter at Bomas of Kenya, which brings together people from the country’s diverse communities in the grasslands, mountains, and coast. It’s an opportunity to get a first-hand look at traditional life, with re-created village houses, dance shows, musical performances, and demonstrations of traditional crafts.
Alternatively, join a tour that’s focused on cultures closer to Nairobi, whether you’re learning about women-focused community development, visiting an impoverished neighborhood, or learning about the lives of Nairobi’s street children. In the evening, book ahead to experience a night of classic Nairobi entertainment: a dinner show with Kenyan dancers or a table at Carnivore Restaurant, where a meat-lovers’ feast is served at the tip of a sword.
Day 3: Safari Experience
Spend your last day exploring one of the country’s remarkable game reserves. For views of hippos and more than 400 bird species, including flamingos, head to Lake Nakuru National Park, in the Great Rift Valley. For endangered black rhinos, head to Ol Pejeta Conservancy, where Africa’s “Big Five” wildlife gather around watering holes.
Other options include joining a ranger for a cycling or walking safari of Hell’s Gate National Park, which is home to everything from African buffalo to gazelle, or trekking to the summit of Mt. Longonot, a forested volcano with sweeping views across the Great Rift Valley.