Nairobi is one of my favorite African cities, it is wonderfully afropolitan with its burgeoning art, fashion, and music scene. Nairobi’s increase in coolness is [in my humble opinion] thanks to young returnees who go away for university but come back to invest in new businesses, or create new communities for fashion, music, and art lovers. I got to visit Nairobi for the first time in 2012 when I took a ridiculously low budget tour of east Africa. I stayed with a friend of mine so I can’t help too much on accommodations, but I can def point you in the direction of memorable things to do:
I love my African cities, but let’s be honest, many of them don’t have much to do in terms of traditional sights to see, you know…monuments and stuff. Well Nairobi is one of a few exceptions! One super fun thing to do is visit the Nairobi Giraffe Center, it’s about $10 to enter and go up a little tree house looking structure where you get pellets to feed the giraffes who are patiently waiting RIGHT IN YOUR FACE.
Its nuts, they are so close to you since you climb the tree house to get eye level with these splendid creatures, and they are ACTIVE. I saw at least three white guys get tongued down by a giraffe. It’s definitely worth a visit, although it would be best to rent a car or hire a taxi since it is pretty far from Nairobi city center. Other cool sites on the outskirts of the city include The Giraffe Manor and the Elephant Orphanage, I haven’t been to these two, but I know they are all located pretty close together so it would make sense to knock them out in one day.
Nairobi is also home to one of my favorite museums on the continent. The Nairobi National Museum is big and full of beautiful beaded artifacts, pre-colonial art, and a fascinating exhibit on to Mau Mau rebellion (my JAM). The entrance fee is about $2, it’s totally worth it and should not be missed while in the city. I again must stress, there is no real system of public transportation that will allow you to move freely and easily throughout the city (update: apparently Uber is up and running very well in Nairobi!). But If you need a trustworthy taxi driver, shoot me an email (address located on my “About Me” page) and I will put you in contact with someone.
Anywho, on to the cool stuff, SHOPPING. I love, love, love buying colorful beaded jewelry in Nairobi, the Maasi pieces are amazing. Every weekend there is a huge Maasi Market in the central business district that takes place in the city center, it is filled with African print dresses, handbags, necklaces, bangles, rings, ALL THE THINGS. This is a great place for souvenirs, but be ready to haggle because the vendors will try you big time. I was also able to get some beautiful jewelry at the market above Westgate Mall which has just reopened after the tragic terrorist attacks that happened in 2013. I’m not sure if the mall still has the market on it roof during the week, but its worth looking into.
When I was in Nairobi I was also able to enjoy some really trendy spots. Brew Bistro is a nice restaurant lounge that has good food and awesome hookah. They play music every night and have great happy hour prices. It’s definitely a watering hole for young Nairobians and expats to smoke hookah and listen to old school biggie, afrobeats, or top forty hits.
There are also many clubs in the Westlands area of Nairobi. When I did go out let’s just say I was a bit too inebriated to remember the names of the spots, but I did hop from club to club all in one row in the Westlands strip (don't judge me.)
Last but not least, to my all time favorite part about my time in lovely Nairobi: Blankets and Wine. Its an outdoor concert that happens the first Sunday of the month and its freaking awesome. You literally bring blankets and your wine, there is hookah for sale, there is food, there is live music. They get pretty popular artists to come through, well popular to Afrobeat fans at least! It is definitely an event that brings out Nairobi’s cool young crowd. It moves around every month so plan ahead so you have a way to get there, it is such a big event, they usually keep it to the outskirts of the city.