The scheduling of most international flights into Nairobi, the bustling capital of Kenya, mean an overnight stay before or after your visit to the African bush. Your adventure begins when leaving the airport as very often you will see giraffe and other animals grazing alongside the fence of the Nairobi National Park which lines the route from the terminals. You know you have arrived in East Africa!
There are some lovely boutique hotels mostly situated in the quieter, tree-lined suburbs. Some have a rich history in the growth of Nairobi from a small, dusty outpost of bygone colonial days to the metropolis it is now.
Probably one of the best known is Giraffe Manor, once the home of the Leslie-Melville family. This stone English style colonial house is where they brought a pair of critically endangered Rothschild giraffe in 1979 and since then they have secured the future of these beautiful animals and now run an extensive education programme alongside the Giraffe Sanctuary. All the bedrooms in the main house have a luxurious, but old world feel and the sight of a giraffe peering through your bedroom window when you wake up is a truly unforgettable experience. They often join guests at breakfast too and to see them on the lawns along with warthog is a unique East African experience.
Another hotel with a long and distinguished history is the Fairmont Norfolk. Built in 1904 it has been a meeting place for all sorts of distinguished, and sometimes infamous, characters ever since. With a wide choice of rooms and all the facilities you would expect from an international hotel, it makes a lovely start or end to your visit.
Ngong House was a private family home and is now a charming, homely boutique hotel with beautiful gardens and the owners’ dogs lying around on the lawns. One of the more unusual aspects of this hotel are the unique treehouses. Crafted from wood and with views of the Ngong Hills they are extremely private and very comfortable. There is also a fabulous family suite here.
Hemingways Nairobi has 45 boutique bedrooms with balconies looking towards the Ngong Hills situated in this plantation style building. Each bedroom has a private butler so you every wish will be granted with a stay here.
But if you cannot wait to get in to the bush, there is now a tented camp in the Nairobi National Park. Within ten minutes of leaving the International Airport you will be entering the Park and a further 20 minutes (depending if you wish to stop and look at the animals) will bring you to this authentic tented camp. There is a high possibility of seeing rhino here along with all the other wildlife associated with East Africa. What a way to begin your safari!
If you have a few hours in Nairobi there is plenty to see and do. For a little culture why not visit the Karen Blixen Museum – her house at the foot of the Ngong Hills. Of course, it is a little busier outside than when she was living here, but it is fascinating to see all her artefacts and the museum has some stunning stills from the film Out of Africa which was based on her life.
Matbronze is a foundry and wildlife art gallery set up in 1987 by Denis Mathews. The bronzes vary from life-size hippos to tiny and delicate bronze sculptures of hummingbirds. It is a peaceful spot to enjoy a cup of great Kenyan coffee or tea.
If you have not seen enough African wildlife, then no trip to Nairobi would be complete with a visit to the Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage or the Giraffe Sanctuary. As mentioned before, the Giraffe Sanctuary is in the grounds of Giraffe Manor and with a treetop platform from where you can feed the giraffe and get a really close up view of these beautiful animals. The will even take nuts from your lips if you are brave enough! Don’t forget to look down and see the warthogs who are always on the look out for crumbs!
Dame Daphne Sheldrick has become synonymous with her tireless work with orphan elephants. The orphanage was established in 1977 in memory of her late husband David who was a renowned naturalist. To be able to get close to these tiny milk dependent babies as they settle down in to their stables at night is a real treat. The devotion shown by their keepers is really moving and you never know what you will see behind one of the stable doors. They also have a blind rhino who has been with them since a calf and adores the attention of visitors and don’t forget to look out for Pea and Pod, the rescued ostriches! Donating to the work of this extraordinary beacon of hope is something we would highly recommend.
So a stay in Nairobi can be comfortable and fun. We can also recommend good restaurants for lunch and dinner.