Nairobi National Park: wild nature and skyscrapers
Imagine coming face to face with a herd of zebras galloping across wide open grasslands against a backdrop of modern skyscrapers. It might sound unusual, but that is exactly what you can see in Kenya. Nairobi National Park is in fact the only natural reserve in the world providing a haven for thousands of large animals just a stone's throw from the capital. You will get the chance to observe four of the Big Five, lions, leopards, rhinoceroses and buffalos – the star attractions of the African savannah. Only elephants are missing from the line-up. Located 20 minutes by car from the city centre, the reserve is an El Dorado of biodiversity. Numerous plant species thrive there too, acacias in particular, making this unique place nature's own botanical garden. You can rent a 4x4 from the park rangers and drive among the animals. The best time to visit is early in the morning when the park opens or at around 4:00 p.m. – that is when the wild creatures are at their most active.
Nairobi National Park
Langata Road, Nairobi, Kenya
+254 20 602121
A fun-filled walk at the Giraffe Centre
A few kilometres to the south of Nairobi, several giraffe families gambol around the wide, open grasslands. Since its creation in the 1970s, the Giraffe Centre's mission has been to reintroduce the species to the country's national parks. Today, young and old alike will enjoy feeding these greedy animals from a raised wooden platform; the giraffes are only too happy to stick their heads in and eat the peanuts from your hand. Inside the building, entertaining panels teach you a bit more about your new, long-necked friends, especially about the different types of giraffe and the way they live.
+254 20 8070804
Coffee break at Giraffe Manor
Take your giraffe experience that bit further by staying at another place devoted to these long-necked animals. Giraffe Manor was the home of the Centre's founders, Betty and Jock Leslie Melville. There, very rare Rothschild giraffes romp peacefully around the garden and do not think twice about sticking their heads through the window to greet you welcome. It is quite surreal sitting down to breakfast in the company of these unexpected residents. Why not spend the night in this elegant manor house with its chic Scottish style, just 10 kilometres or so from Nairobi city centre?
00509 Nairobi, Kenya
+254 731 914 732
Elephant encounters – the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust
A visit to this animal orphanage, located approximately 40 minutes by car from Nairobi, is guaranteed to bring out your inner child, especially when you see baby elephants being bottle-fed. From 11 o'clock in the morning, visitors are welcome to visit the centre which is mostly home to elephants but also to rhinoceros. Feeding-time is followed by bath-time for the animals. But watch out: these rascals love spraying their visitors too. While they wallow around in the water, their carers tell you the story of each of these young orphans. They also give you the history of the centre which was founded in tribute to Kenyan David Sheldrick, who devoted his whole life to fighting poachers. You can even sponsor one of these animals and then get the chance to share a special moment with your little pachyderm.
The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust
00503 Nairobi, Kenya
+254 202 301 396
Adrenaline rush at Snake Park
If your trip to Nairobi includes a visit to the National Museum, be sure to drop in at Snake Park which is adjacent to the city's emblematic museum. You cannot help but shiver and squirm as you watch spitting cobras, mambas and an impressive seven-metre python writhe around the snake pit. From pools to vivariums, stroll around this fascinating yet disturbing universe as you discover the creatures that lurk in the lakes of Kenya. This also sums Nairobi up: wild nature that unveils itself in all its beauty and might.
Museum Hill Centre, Muthithi Road
+254 20 8164134