Surprisingly you can pack a lot into 24 hours in Nairobi. This city is amazing – definitely one of my favourite cities! I love it because of the abundance of decent wildlife orphanages and sanctuaries around, for the people and the food! From feeding giraffes, to going on a safari, to feeding orphaned elephants, even meeting Maasai tribes, this city is full of life! Find out what to do in 24 hours in Nairobi, Kenya!
This whole itinerary me and my friend fitted into 24 hours. Yes it seems like we did a LOT, and we did – luckily all the places were pretty near to each other and nothing was more than a half hour drive away from other places! But this itinerary is totally doable and it didn’t feel rushed.
Hire a driver:
My advice is to hire a driver for the day, agree a reasonable price, and he will drive you round everywhere and wait for you. There are plenty of these guys waiting outside the airport, so it easy enough to pick up one.
Nairobi National Park
Just a short drive (10km) from the centre of Nairobi is Nairobi National Park. This is the only wildlife park in the world that you will find so close to a city! Infact when you are inside the Park, which is a vast area of open plains (117 square kilometres), you can still see Nairobi’s buildings and skyscrapers in the distance – that’s how close it is! I thought it was really cool being able to see the city whilst in the middle of a wildlife safari! A Nairobi National Park Safari should definitely be on your bucket list even if you only have 24 hours in Nairobi!
The Park is home to a huge variety of wildlife, including the endangered black rhino, lions, cheetahs, leopards, giraffes, zebras, hyenas, buffalos and baboons. There are also many migratory birds here – at least 20 species migrate here from Europe each year. And if you’re lucky you’ll be able to see the wildebeest and zebra migrations that happen here!
Get here as early as possible (we got there at 08.30), as that’s when the animals are most active! During our 1.5 hour safari we saw zebras, rhinos, a lion chasing a herd of zebras (incredible!!), giraffes and wilderbeests! During the safari drive you can’t get out of your vehicle for safety reasons but there are some areas in the park where you can do hiking trails, and there is even a campground and designated picnic sites. You can buy tickets at the door or you can book tickets online here.
We managed to follow this beautiful lioness for about half an hour and then just sat about 2 metres away from her with the car window open, just watching her chill for a little bit. Such an amazing morning and I couldn’t believe how close you could get to the animals!
These guys we met by the entrance of the National Park are from the Maasai tribe and boy can they jump high! As the higher the jump, the stronger the man is, and hence the more he is respected and desired by women. Not that I desired any of them, but they were such nice and friendly people, and it was so great to hear all about their traditions and to try join in the jumping!
At the David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage you can watch the baby elephant orphans being bottled fed and having their mud baths. Unless you foster one of the elephants, the only time when you can visit the David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage is between 11am-midday, 7 days a week. The minimum contribution is $7USD to help support the orphanage, who provide a safe haven for rescued baby elephants.
My adviced is to get there by 10.30am latest to ensure you will be at the front, as it can get busy. Despite the crowds it is totally worth a visit! The animals are really well looked after and it doesn’t feel like a zoo environment at all. These kids below were on a school trip and their teacher really wanted to get a picture of them with me, so I managed to get them from her, so cute!
If you can’t afford to stay overnight at the infamous Giraffe Manor in Nairobi and feed the giraffes for breakfast (which is pretty pricey!), or the hotel is fully booked, then a great alternative where you still get to feed them, is to head over to the Giraffe Centre just next door. Here the exact same giraffes come over and you can feed them! Entry is 1000 Kenyan shillings (roughly $10US), it is open 9-5pm and you can stay as long as you want. We had such an amazing time with these beautiful creatures and you can even feed them form your mouth so it looks like they are kissing you!!
The Maasai market, held at various points in the city on different days, is a must visit for a memory to bring back home of beautiful Kenya. It has some really traditional gifts – even if you are not looking to buy anything, it is certainly worth a look. The market sells lovely hand-made products and amazing paintings (me and my friend both bought one from the artist), wooden carved statues and much more. Remember, as I mentioned above, the location changes depending on which day of the week it is, so always check before! We met this guy outside the market and he wouldn’t let us in until we had taken a photo with him and his spears (looks like my hair made it onto one of his spears haha!).
To end the evening, of course we headed to the famous Carnivore restaurant! All you can eat meats of every variety: ostrich, crocodile, and all the usuals. Prepare for some meat sweats after hehe. The staff were so lovely and even gave us a doggy bag of meat to give to our driver who was waiting outside for us. Such a great time in Nairobi, we managed to do so much in just 24 hours!! We will be back for sure!
When is the best time of year to visit Nairobi?
Nairobi can be visited at any time of the year, although July to October, or January/February are the ideal times to visit Nairobi. These are the driest and coolest months and receive the least rainfall. During April – June it is hot and wet.
Why was I in Nairobi just for 24 hours:
I messaged my crew friend late one night asking if she would like to meet up in the next few days. She said she had a Nairobi layover the next morning. So I asked her what she had planned for Nairobi, she said she had nothing planned. So I said ok I’m coming with you. She literally was over the moon! It was so last minute and spontaneous which made it so exciting!
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