In Nairobi for 24 hours and wondering what to do in Nairobi? 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 an African animals safari, to feeding orphaned elephants, even meeting Maasai tribes, this city is full of life! Find out what to do in this itinerary for 24 hours in Nairobi, Kenya!
WHAT TO DO IN NAIROBI – 24 HOURS IN NAIROBI KENYA ITINERARY
This whole itinerary me and my friend fitted into 24 hours when we were in Nairobi.
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.
You can however split this itinerary into two if you have 2 days in Nairobi and you are wondering what to do – just take things at a slower pace.
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.
Alternatively, if you would prefer to do organise a group or private tour beforehand, here are some of the best ones that cover the experiences below:
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!
The entrance fee to Nairobi National Park is $43 USD for adults & $26 for children. This just covers the entry price into the park – you will still need to pay for your transport/game drive around the National Park.
If you book a tour, like in one of the links above, it will make it a lot easier and affordable for you.
These guys we met by the entrance of the National Park are warriors from the Maasai tribe and boy can they jump high!
In Maasai culture the males have a jumping dance ritual – known as the adamu, which is like a mating dance and it can determine which woman they will marry.
The higher the jump, the stronger the man is, and hence the more he is attractive, 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!
Whilst it may look easy, it honestly takes a lot of stamina for the men to jump so high.
Absolutely one of the most important and rewarding parts of travel for me is to get to know the local people and dive into their culture. When you learn to do this, it completely brings about a different dimension to your travels!
Focusing on local travel – getting to know the local people and the culture is the most rewarding way of travel for me. How can we ever truly appreciate a destination if we don’t know the path it’s people have taken?
The Maasai people are semi-nomadic tribal hunter-gatherers who persistently hold on to their traditional culture despite living in a world focused on modernisation.
In the Maasai tribe the men dress in shukas and wear red as it represents power and bloodshed. The Maasai live such different lives to that I had ever experienced before, and honestly it is fascinating.
They live in houses made of cow-dung, they live without running water or electricity (yet they have smart phones!) and the men have many wives.
The Maasai are incredibly respectful people – very welcoming and smiley, and they are very willing and open to share their culture.
They are also just as interested in other cultures as we are about finding out about theirs.
The majority of Kenyans have excellent English. It was easy to communicate with the Maasai as English is one of two official languages in Kenya (the other being Swahili).
Members of Maasai Tribes will also speak their Maa language.
WHAT TO DO IN NAIROBI – 24 HOURS IN NAIROBI ITINERARY
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.
For adults, the minimum contribution is $ 20 USD to help support the orphanage, which provides a safe haven for rescued baby elephants.
My advice is to get there by 10.30 am 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 the photos from her, so cute!
No visit to Kenya is complete without spending some time with the world’s tallest mammal!
You’ve probably seen dreamy photographs on Instagram of people eating their breakfast with giraffes or sharing afternoon tea with them at the exclusive Giraffe Manor in Nairobi and would love to experience something similar.
However, with upwards of $965 USD per adult per night to stay at Giraffe Manor, it’s certainly not in everyone’s budget.
Not to mention that it is one of the most sought-after hotels in the world and with only 12 rooms it makes it incredibly hard to even get a booking at this boutique hotel – with reservations often having to be made months in advance to secure a room!
Unfortunately, you can’t visit Giraffe Manor if you aren’t staying overnight in the hotel.
Don’t worry though, because a really great alternative where you still get to feed the beautiful giraffes is at the Giraffe Centre just next door!
Here the exact same giraffes come over and you can feed them and get some really nice photos for a fraction of the price!
Entry to the Giraffe Centre is 1,500 Kenyan shillings (approximately $15 USD) for adults and 750 Kenyan shillings (approximately $7.50 USD) for children (cash is not accepted!).
If you are a Kenyan resident the price is even less. Plus, all the money goes towards giraffe conservation.
Both the Giraffe Centre and Giraffe Manor serve as a beautiful ethical sanctuary for the giraffes.
The sanctuary was established in 1979 to protect the vulnerable Rothschild giraffe – the rarest of all the giraffe species, which can only be found in the savannahs and grasslands of East Africa.
At that time, there were only 120 Rothschild’s giraffes in the world and they were very close to extinction!
There are roughly 50 giraffes here and they have plenty of space where they are free to wander around in the semi-wild savannah area between the Giraffe Manor and Giraffe Centre.
However, they often choose to stay near the people as they know where there are people there will be yummy treats!
Also – don’t worry about the giraffes sleeping when you’re there as giraffes only sleep for a maximum of 30 minutes per day!
This is comprised of a few minutes here and there throughout the day, plus they manage to sleep upright. How impressive is that?!
The Giraffe Centre is open 9-5 pm 7 days a week. No prior booking is required and you can stay as long as you want – most people end up spending around an hour here!
You are given a handful of pellets when you arrive to feed the giraffes. Feed the giraffes one pellet at a time from the palm of your hand.
The giraffe will stick out their long tongue and swirl it around your palm to pick up the pellet, it’s so interesting to observe! If you’re brave enough you can even feed a giraffe a pellet from your mouth.
That my friend is called a giraffe kiss, and I’m sure there are not many other people who can say they have been kissed by a giraffe! Just hold the pellet loosely in your lips and lean in!
The giraffes are very friendly, inquisitive and interactive (and always hungry!). It is honestly such an amazing experience to be so close to these animals.
You can really admire their beautiful markings and their enviously long lashes and feel how soft they are!
Plus, you’ll most likely get to see some of the warthogs when you are here (think Pumba from The Lion King!) as they always like to stay close to giraffes.
At the Giraffe Centre there are two areas where you can feed the giraffes – one on the ground, and one on an elevated platform so you can be higher up and closer to the giraffes!
From the elevated platform, you can see the Giraffe Manor in the distance. There are also educational areas in the centre where you can learn more about the giraffes.
The Giraffe Centre is located on Koitobos Road in Lang’ata, about 20km from the centre of Nairobi. It should take around 40 minutes to get here from the centre of Nairobi.
Many tourists say visiting the Giraffe Centre was one of the highlights of their trip to Kenya, and whether you’re young or old, you’re sure to have fun at The Giraffe Centre and be amazed by these beautiful gentle giants.
Visiting the Giraffe Centre definitely has to be on your list when you visit Nairobi – it is something really special that will give you wonderful life-long memories. Plus the price is extremely budget-friendly.
24 HOURS IN NAIROBI ITINERARY
Another great thing to do in your 24 hours in Nairobi is to visit the Maasai Market. 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 our 24 hours in Nairobi, of course, we headed to the famous Carnivore restaurant! Carnivore is known as one of the best eating experiences in the whole of Africa!
Here you’ll find all-you-can-eat meats of every variety: ostrich, crocodile, and all the usuals. Prepare for some meat sweats after hehe.
The food was great, 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.
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. From April – June it is hot and wet.
And that was my 24 hours in Nairobi – I hope you found lots of ideas for things to do in Nairobi. We honestly had such a great time – we managed to do so much in just 24 hours and we will be back for sure!
Why was I in Nairobi just for 24 hours:
When I was a Flight Attendant 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, and 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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Catrina is a Travel Writer, SEO Specialist and ex-Flight Attendant based in Sydney, Australia. She has visited 85 countries and lived in several – including Italy, Australia, United Arab Emirates and England. Her work has been featured in a variety of popular travel publications including Fodors, Escape, Australian Traveller and Bear Grylls, as well as several international aviation and travel companies. The majority of her work however features on her own website – 24hourslayover.com where she has written over 500 travel articles!