Visiting Nairobi with only a few days or hours to spare? Here’s the first of my “24 hours in Nairobi” guide for visitors who want to get the most out of the city within a short period.
Disclaimer: As I live here in Nairobi, I did a few of these activities listed on different days but if I were to do a full day city tour, I would do them in this order.
24 Hours in Nairobi stop #1: Nairobi National Park (6:00 – 10:00)
It’s no secret that Kenya is a top destination for wildlife safaris. It is one of the best things to do in Kenya. So, if you have no plans to visit larger parks in the country, the Nairobi National Park, located within the city, is a good alternative.
To optimize your visit and increase your chances of good sightings, it is advisable to visit the park either early in the morning or late afternoon. If you have only 24 hours in Nairobi, then you can opt to begin your day by visiting this park in the morning.
I’d say 4 hours spent here is enough and if possible, you should pack a light breakfast to have on the go. Also, if you can, exit the Nairobi National Park through the gate on Magadi road as this is very close to the next stop.
24 Hours in Nairobi stop #2: David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage (11:00-12:00)
After your safari, head to the David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage for the opportunity to interact with and learn about baby (orphaned) elephants and their human caretakers. The orphanage is open to guests only during these hours. There used to be an exclusive time slot slated for guests who have “adopted” an elephant but these slots have now been suspended due to the ongoing pandemic.
Visiting now is by advanced booking only and you need to email the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust to reserve. It takes between 24-48 hours to get a response and as this attraction is quite popular, it is important to book your visit early. Bookings are allowed for up to 3 months in advance.
24 Hours in Nairobi stop #3: Giraffe Centre (12:00 – 13:00)
Your next stop after visiting the David Shedrick Orphanage would be the Giraffe Centre. Ideally, my preference is to visit this place as soon as it opens at 9 am or later in the evening before closing time. These are the best times to visit to avoid a crowd.
The Giraffe Centre is a very popular attraction in Nairobi and it is a common stop for tours and other visitors after leaving the David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage. Be sure to purchase your tickets online before arriving to facilitate your entry.
PS: If you skipped the visit to Nairobi National Park, then you should start your day here at the Giraffe Centre before heading to the Elephant Orphanage. Otherwise, you can also visit towards the closing hours (i.e. swap the timing for visiting the Karen Blixen Museum for this).
24 Hours in Nairobi stop #4: Lunch at Talisman (13:00 – 15:00)
Once you’ve had your fill of watching caretakers feed baby elephants and handing pellets to giraffes, you’ll probably also be quite hungry. Head over to the Talisman for a hearty lunch in a beautiful restaurant setting.
The food and service are quite good here and you could end the day here. However, if you would like to see more attractions in Nairobi and are a fan of the movie “Out of Africa”, then head to the Karen Blixen Museum located just a few minutes away from the Talisman Restuarant.
Alternate Restaurant: Boho Eatery
24 Hours in Nairobi stop #5: Karen Blixen Museum (15:00-16:30)
This Museum is named after the Danish author, Karen Blixen who once lived here. It gained notoriety after the Oscar-winning movie, ‘Out of Africa’ was released. There are guides and tours available to visitors who wish to learn more about Karen’s life and her time in Kenya.
If you would like a more ‘unconventional’ stop to switch out this museum, then perhaps you could consider a leisurely walk in the Oloolua Forest, also located a few minutes away from Talisman. The Karen Blixen Museum also has a small nature trail to check out if you’re interested in doing so.
24 Hours in Nairobi stop #6: Wind Down
To end the day, you may choose to wind down in any one of the several restaurants in Nairobi. If you stay in the Westlands area, then you could check out The Alchemist – which is a local favourite. I also love to visit About Thyme, INTI and Ankole Grill.
If you stay in Karen, the Tamambo Karen Blixen Restaurant may be worth trying out. There are also a few restaurants located within the malls and hotels in the area.
This is one way to spend an activity-filled 24 hours in Nairobi! In my other guides, I will show you a few “less-touristy” ways to spend time in the city, so stick around!
Best Place to Stay in Nairobi for this Itinerary
For this itinerary, the best place to stay is in the Karen neighbourhood. This is because all the attractions are located closer to this neighbourhood and you won’t have to deal with long traffic delays. This itinerary will also work out if you stay in the Westlands or Parklands areas, although the commute will be longer and prone to traffic delays. If you set out early enough, you should be fine.
I can also recommend a stay at the Emara Ole Sereni and Ole Sereni Hotels located on Mombasa Road. Emara Ole Sereni has gorgeous views of the Nairobi National Park and you can get to the park easily from here. While I stayed at this hotel, I could see buffaloes, giraffes and zebras from my room!
And now, I would love to hear from you! Are you a local or resident? How would you spend 24 hours in Nairobi?
Also, If you’re visiting for the first time or have visited in the past, I would love to hear about your Nairobi itineraries and your stay! Please share them with me in the comment section below!