Nairobi sprung from swampland into Africa's twentieth-century mecca for adventurers and colonials. Today, it's Kenya's skyscraper-safari capital, juxtaposing the rare black rhino against a modern cityscape in Nairobi National Park, and protecting its once-poached elephants and giraffes in city wildlife centers. Travelers still stave off the African heat with iced gin and tonics in the Lord Delamere Bar and tear off hunks of smoky meat from tribal spears. Red-robed Masai warriors stroll Nairobi's streets with suited office workers and African hip hop blasts out of modern nightclubs.
Things to Do
Safari jeeps pause to watch lions, rhinos and cheetahs prowling freely across the sun-baked plains of Nairobi National Park. Orphaned baby elephants playfully squirt each other with water at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. At the AFEW Giraffe Center, protected endangered giraffes inquisitively bend their necks to welcome visitors. Colonial plantation life is preserved inside the Karen Blixen Museum, once home of the famous Out of Africa author. See Kenyan hominid fossils and live snakes at the Nairobi National Museum.
Nightlife and Entertainment
Sip on gin and tonics in the elegant Lord Delamere Bar at the Norfolk Hotel, mirroring settlers and adventurers in the early 1900s as colonial Nairobi rose up around them. You'll find cold Tusker beer, cocktails and vigorous dancing to loud local Genge hip hop, 1980s tunes and occasionally live music in Nairobi's select few nightclubs in the Central and Langata neighborhoods.
Restaurants and Dining
Kenya's popular nyama choma -- slabs of meat slow-roasted over an open fire -- is rustically skewered onto Masai spears and served with salads at Langata's busy buffet restaurant, The Carnivore. Found across Nairobi, Swahili cooking is infused with cloves, cinnamon and other spices. Tropical fruits and fresh seafood from Mombasa are turned into wholesome baked-fish dishes, aromatic curries and spicy tamarind dips. Join the locals in cooling off with refreshing national Tusker beer.
Safari-goers gaze through binoculars at lions resting in the shade of acacia bushes and giraffes and cheetahs loping across an urban backdrop of skyscrapers in Nairobi National Park. Spot four of the Big Five -- lions, buffalos, leopards and rhinos -- and hundreds of bird species on half-day or full-day safaris. You'll snap aerial shots of white rhino, albino zebra and other magnificent wild animals from viewing platforms during guided walks at the Nairobi Safari Walk, at the park's entrance.