I recently returned from my amazing visit to Kenya. This trip was the furthest I’ve ever been away from home and was definitely one of the best experiences of my life. I truly appreciated my time in this country in the Motherland. Thank goodness I didn’t hesitate to book those $400 airfares to Kenya back in April of last year. I’m also glad I straight ignored the concerns of family who strongly advised me to not make this trip due to some negativity they heard on TV about Africa. Like I would really miss the trip of a lifetime due to the nonsense American media hype up. Nah.
I spent about four days in Nairobi, which is the capital and largest city in Kenya. Clearly, this wasn’t a lot of time, but my crew and I definitely tried to make the most of it. Below are some key things we focused on experiencing during our time in Nairobi.
When I think of Africa, one of the things I tend to picture is animals roaming freely in their habitat and just living their lives. How cool would it be to witness this in person? Well, we definitely planned to find this out. While in Nairobi, we visited the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (or Elephant Orphanage as we called it), which rescues and rehabilitates orphaned elephants. The same day, we visited the Giraffe Center, which is a breeding center for endangered giraffes, and got the chance to feed them. This was just the warm up.
We also did a one day safari in Amboseli National Park, which is about 3.5 hours outside of Nairobi, with a tour guide from Natural World Kenya Safaris. There, we were able to ride through the park for hours and see the animals chillin’ in their natural habitat along with great views of Mt. Kilimanjaro. We strategically arrived to the park around 8:30 am because most of the wildlife is out and about before the sun reaches its peak. We saw so many animals, especially elephants. They basically ran Amboseli.
We never saw a lion, but we did see a cheetah way way far away near some trees. Well, I didn’t see it because I’m a little blind, but everyone else did, so I’m happy for them. This experience, while I wasn’t the most excited about it within the crew initially, made me never want to visit a zoo again. I feel bad for my future kids.
I must say we had no trouble finding great food in Nairobi. We pretty much stuck with eating at restaurants, although we did buy snacks for our apartment from the local FoodPlus. By the looks of it, Nairobi has a pretty good restaurant scene. Below are some places we tried out.
- Amaica – We ate our first dinner in Nairobi at this restaurant in the Westlands known for its traditional Kenyan cuisine, and it was truly a great intro to the Kenyan Culture.
- Carnivore – This restaurant is a concept much like Fogo de Chao and other Brazilian steakhouses. Of course, Mike and I couldn’t eat much here except for fish, but that dish was pretty tasty.
- Eastland Hotel – Something about this hotel made me feel like it’s owned by Asians, including it Oriental offerings and Asian translations in the menu, plus its Asian patrons. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it was just an observation I found interesting. Anywho, the Yellow Lentil Curry dish Mike and I got was really good, although it had some replacement beans because they ran out of lentils.
- Caramel Restaurant and Lounge – We visited this restaurant in Westlands, and it was completely empty. This made sense to me because it was late on a Monday night, but the food was pretty good so that made me feel better. I got the Veggie Risotto and Creme Bruleé for dessert.
- Naked Pizza – There was one night in Nairobi where what was supposed to be a short nap turned into several hours of sleep, so our only food option for the night was ordering out, but that turned out to be an amazing choice. The pizza, which was a much healthier version than other pizza chains, was SO GOOD. We ended up ordering it again on our last night in Nairobi.
Whenever I travel, I like to get a little feel of what the local nightlife is like, although I’m not really about that life. On our first night in Nairobi (a Saturday) we went to two clubs along with some fellow US travelers we linked up with. Our first stop was Kiza Restaurant and Lounge in the Kilimani part of town. It was cool, especially since I found a seat.
After a while, the turn up wasn’t live enough for a couple of our new friends, so we left Kiza and ubered to a spot in the Westlands called Brew Bistro. This place was much livelier, had shisha, and had an aight DJ. When we left there at 4 am, the turn-up was still going on Ngong Rd. Apparently, it doesn’t end until about 7 am. This was the night I learned Nairobians GETS IT IN, and I realized I’m still not about that life.
Our attempt to find a chill lounge on our last night in Nairobi (a Tuesday night mind you) was a fail LOL. We were set on going to Level 8 Ciroc Bar in the Best Western hotel near our apartment in Hurlingham because of its great reviews. The main problem was no one was in there besides the staff. Not. One. Soul. We left there and went to meet up with our travel friends at K1 Klub House, and yes, it was exactly how it sounds. It was too much going on for me, and Mike was definitely over it, so we left after about 40 minutes. If you are about that life tho, by all means, go to K1 and get yo life!
We had two very different shopping experiences in Nairobi. Upon asking about going to the Maasai Market, our driver Patrick recommended we go to the Utamaduni Craft Centre, which is a huge two story house with multi-room shops, including reasonably priced jewelry, bags, fabric, shirts, and more. Mike bought a couple of dashikis while we were in there.
Of course, we were still really pressed to go to the Maasai Market, so Patrick took us there the next day. We then understood why he preferred to take us to Utamaduni. This was the most annoying ass shopping experience ever! I understand the hustle, but damn. And then to listen to the guys who were supposedly “looking out for us” give us an astronomical price for the items we wanted to buy was unreal. Like sir, I know I’m a tourist, but I wasn’t born yesterday. Needless to say, negotiating skills are definitely your friend at the Maasai Market.
Visiting a local school
On our last day in Nairobi, we visited the Cheery Children Education Centre located in Kibera, which is the biggest slum in Africa. We donated some food supplies and toys to the school and spent a few hours with the students. We talked with the 4th grade students, answering any questions they had, and played games with them in the classroom and in the school yard.
This was probably the most eye-opening and humbling moments of my life. It’s funny to think of how much we take for granted. I literally was surrounded by students who live in unimaginable conditions, but will not allow their circumstances to keep them from learning. They showed so much eagerness in getting an education because they know it’s the key to them making the best life for themselves, their families, and their community.
So, there’s my recap of how my crew and I got the most out of our experience in Nairobi in four days. We probably could have gotten more accomplished if the traffic wasn’t a hot mess, and if we weren’t so dang on tired everyday! Of course, I’d love to visit Nairobi again in the near future, especially to visit the kids at Cheery. Hopefully, this recap gave you some ideas about what to do and see if you get the opportunity to visit Nairobi. And if the opportunity comes, take it!