Nairobi is known as a city of a thousand possibilities and this is especially true for travel and tourism. For the avid adventurer, these day trips are likely to keep one travelling for the best part of the year.
Most of these attractions are ideal for the whole family and easily accessible even without a private car.
Okey dokey. Let’s indulge in the beauty of Kenya’s capital city:
#1 Nairobi National Park
Okay, where do I start?
First, you’re lucky to live in the only city in the world with a National Park and even better, Nairobi National Park is only 10 kilometres south of the city centre.
Enjoy the views of Nairobi skyline within the open grasslands and scattered bushes with a variety of wildlife like Lions, the endangered black rhinos, giraffes, leopards, buffaloes, wildebeest, giraffes among many more wild animals and birds.
Better still, enjoy a picnic or a bush dinner with the family in any of the numerous picnic sites within the National Park. As if that’s not enough, get ready for camping in the wild in any of the three available campsites within the park.
For charges and other information, read an earlier post here.
#2 Nairobi Animal Orphanage
If you don’t have the time or money to go for a safari at Nairobi National Park, don’t stress. Next to the gate of Nairobi National Park is an Animal Orphanage.
Contrary to orphanages and zoos around the world which are tourist attraction by themselves, Nairobi Animal Orphanage serves as a treatment and rehabilitation centre for wildlife.
The orphanage hosts big cats like lions, cheetahs, leopards, and others like hyenas, rare Sokoke cats, Crested Cranes, Monkeys, buffalos among other wild animals and birds.
Nairobi Animal Orphanage opens daily from 8 am to 5 pm and the charges are as below:
#3 Nairobi Giraffe Centre
At only 20 kilometres from the city centre, Nairobi Giraffe Centre gives you an opportunity you’ve always wished for- A Kiss from Daisy.
Other enjoyable activities include hand-feeding the giraffes with pellets provided by the resident guides, or just chill and observe the more than 10 giraffes feed and walk around.
This Not-for-profit organization was founded in 1983 to provide conservation education to school children for free. Nairobi Giraffe Centre protects the highly endangered Rothschild’s Giraffes namely Daisy IV, Betty, Kelly, Stacey, Salma II, Margaret, Edd and the calves.
To learn about the opening hours and charges, read my previous post here.
This trip is ideal for the whole family so be sure to bring the little ones and let them learn about the importance of wildlife conservation at a young age.
#4 David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust
I can’t guarantee you getting close to elephants in Maasai Mara or Tsavo National Parks but here, you surely will.
When the African elephant population continues to shrink as a result of poaching, the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust is committed to rescuing young elephants who are often orphaned or injured by poachers, treating and caring for them until they are old and strong enough to go back to the wild.
For only Kenya Shillings 500 (or 7 USD) per person, experience this magical moment every day between 11 and 12 pm when the elephants come out to feed and play.
This activity is ideal for the whole family.
#5 Karen Blixen Museum
Have you watched the Award-winning movie ‘Out of Africa’?
Learn about the life of Karen Christenze von Blixen-Finecke, a Danish Author who challenged societal norms especially through her support for education during the colonial days when education for Africans was not popular.
She set up a school for her workers’ children and Karen’s College next to the farm which is now KMTC Karen Campus.
Karen Blixen Museum is open to the public every day between 9.30 am to 6 pm and it costs Kenya shillings 200 for Kenyan citizens, $12 USD and $6 for Non-resident Adults and children respectively.
Besides Karen Blixen Museum, other places to hang out within the Karen Blixen compound include the Tamambo Blixen Restaurant and Karen Blixen Coffee Gardens.
The plenty of open space and trees in the compound makes Karen Blixen an ideal place for a family day out.
#6 Nairobi Mamba Village
Mamba is a Swahili word for Crocodile.
Nairobi Mamba Village is located in Karen suburb of Nairobi which is around 13 kilometres from the city centre. The crocodile Farm hosts over 70 Nile crocodiles, turtles and ostriches spread in over 30 acres of land.
Bring your children along for maximum fun with the reptiles and get them learn about those reptiles from the local guides.
Other activities within the Resort besides viewing crocodiles include boating on the manmade lake, feeding ostriches, picnicking, camel, and horse riding.
Crocodile feeding is done daily at 4.30 pm and entrance fees is Kenya shillings 200 for adult citizens and 100 for children.
#7 Nairobi Safari Walk
The wooden boardwalk in Nairobi Safari Walk gives you an uninterrupted view of wildlife in the adjacent Nairobi National Park.
Get a closer feel of animals like the rare bongo, albino zebra, white rhino, primates, antelopes, pygmy hippos, colobus monkey plus a wide variety of insects and birds.
The concept behind Nairobi Safari Walk is that of conservation and education facility and also serving as Kenya Wildlife Service centre for development of educational materials.
Pack enough drinking water, sunscreen, a pair of binoculars for zooming the animals, picnic food, sunglasses and have a relaxing Nairobi afternoon.
Nairobi Safari Walk operating hours are from 9 am to 5.30 pm and charges are as below:
#8 Karura Forest
If you’re a fan of outdoor activities then Karura Forest must be heaven sent for you.
Karura forest is one of the very few places in Nairobi where you can jog, run, ride a bike, trek, chase waterfalls and connect with nature in Nairobi city.
Go for a family picnic in one of the Picnic sites within Karura Forest or even hire a bike for Kenya shillings 500 for 2 hours and mash up fitness with fun.
Karura Forest is open daily from 6 am to 6 pm and the charges which go to forest maintenance and security are as below:
Parking inside the four main gates is free; Limuru Road (Gate A), Kiambu Road (Sharks/Gate C), Sigiria Gate Limuru Road (Gate E) and Thigiri Lane (Gate F).
Other designated parking areas within the forest cost Kenya Shillings 100 for a 4-seater car, 200 for a van and 500 for a bus.
#9 Maasai Ostrich Farm
Maasai Ostrich farm is located within Maasai Ostrich Resort, only 45 kilometres from Nairobi in Kitengela. Get a wild feeling within the city limits on the beautiful gardens with green manicured lawns surrounding the American style ranch house sited on 200 acres of land.
Things to do in Maasai Ostrich Farm include Bird Watching, Ostrich riding, eating ostrich meat, and Ostrich farm tour.
Choose between riding an ostrich for Kenya Shillings 500 or a tour of Ostrich farm for Kenya shillings 300. Personally, i don’t support riding animals therefore i wouldn’t ride on Ostriches here.
This trip is suitable for the whole family and if you’re not driving, one can take a Matatu to Kitengela (no.110) then a boda-boda or taxi to Kitengela Ostrich farm (around 10 kilometres from Kitengela town).
Better still, spend a night in the prestigious suites at Maasai Ostrich Resort.
#10 Kitengela Glass House
This is another popular family day trip one can take from Nairobi.
Kitengela Glass House is located in Rongai past Nazarene University on a bumpy all-weather road and is accessible even by small car.
If you like, watch the smiths mold recycled glass in the Redbrick dome to create blown objects, lamps, glassware, chandeliers, and beads.
On Saturdays, if you visit before noon, you’ll be lucky to watch a glass blowing show by the resident artisans. You could also conquer your fears by walking on the suspension bridge in the compound.
#11 Lake Magadi
A day trip to Lake Magadi gives you a chance to watch Flamingos, pelicans and take a dip in the hot springs. We have several tour companies in Nairobi who can organize a day trip to Lake Magadi or still opt to drive. The road is not one of the best but it’s passable.
If you feel more adventurous, do an organized camping along the shores of the lake star gazing at night. Just be sure not to forget sunrise watching, it’s none like any other. If you don’t have a personal tent, Lake Magadi Tented Camp provides fully furnished tents for your comfort.
If camping is not your cup of tea, there are several other accommodation options in the area like Shompole Wilderness Camp, Lentorre Lodge, Lake Magadi Sports Club complex.
#12 Brown’s Cheese Factory Limuru
Just about 30 minutes’ drive from Nairobi, Brown’s cheese provides an excellent opportunity for a day out with friends or family sampling fresh cheese.
For the best wine and cheese pairing with your BFF, book in advance for Kenya shillings 5,000 per person for 6 kinds of cheese and 6 wines. The sides included are bread, chutneys, and salads. Deserts and coffee are also included.
Cheese tasting is accompanied with homemade bread, salads, chutneys all freshly and organically made in the farm.
Browns Cheese Tasting room is open Thursday through to Saturday by appointment only. If planning a Saturday trip there, be sure to book two weeks in advance at 0727 103350 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Charges at the tasting room for 12+ years is Kenya shillings 1,500 and 5 years to 11 years goes for Kenya shillings 500.
An afternoon at the farm costs Kenya shillings 4,000 with a minimum of six people per group. Included is lunch, 3 glasses of wine/beers, cheese making the tour, cheese tasting for 8 kinds of cheese, all between midday and 4 pm.
#13 Oloolua Nature Trail
Tucked away in the Nairobi suburbs of Karen is 250 hectares of indigenous tropical forest. Oloolua Forest is home to a bio-medical Research Institute(IPR) run by the National Museums of Kenya and a 5-kilometre hiking trail which leads to a waterfall.
Take time out of the city life and hike or jog along the trail, walk your dog or enjoy a picnic with friends and family under the thick forest vines.
Sit and reflect by the banks of Mbagathi river as you listen to the soothing sounds of trickling water, and chirping birds. By the time you’re done, you’ll be ready for Monday.
Oloolua Nature Trail opens daily 9 am to 6 pm and Kenyan citizens pay 200 Kenya shillings for adults and 100 for children. Camping fees are 2,000 a night and group charges are Kenya shillings 5,000 per group.
#14 Ngong Hills
Hiking in Ngong Hills, Nairobi is one of the most popular weekend activities among young people in Nairobi.
The 22-kilometre hike starts at Ngong Police Station and ends at Kona Baridi which takes approximately 4-5 hours for an average hiker. You’re likely to meet Kenyan professional and amateur athletes jogging up and down the hill in their training sessions.
The trail is initially dirty with a gentle ascent and gets civilized and moderate after the radio masts. Even on a hot day, bring a jacket as it can get very windy.
Entry charges to Ngong Hills are Kenya Shillings 200 payable at Kenya Forest Service (KFS) offices opposite Ngong Police Station, or at KFS barrier on the trail.
It is advisable to be vigilant or even hire an armed escort especially after reports of insecurities was reported in the recent past where muggers have attacked people hiking in small groups.
#15 Kisames Giraffe Park
Walking on the high ropes of Kisames on the foot of Ngong Hills with the wind from the hills blowing constantly is something everybody should experience at some point.
Only at Kisames Giraffe Park one is able to scream their lungs out. Getting the heart pumping with adrenaline rush is definitely something you should be tagging your buddies for a weekend out of Nairobi but within the city limits.
If you’re not for the extreme activities, take a nature walk by the lake, or try your luck with fishing or hike while enjoying the views of Nairobi National Park.
Accommodation options available include camping in luxury tents or a dome tent with sleeping bag and mattress provided.
Contact: Ken 0706 189 339
#16 Machakos People’s Park
One of the products of devolution and the formation of County Governments in Kenya is the Machakos Peoples’ Park.
This park offers a tranquil place to sit down and relax after a hectic week or enjoy a picnic with friends and family overlooking the manmade lake as the children bounce on the trampoline.
Landscaping in Machakos People’s Park is for the win. The water fountains, trees, and Amphitheatre attract people from Nairobi and beyond. Entry to the park is free but other facilities in the park are charged.
#17 Bomas of Kenya
How much do you know about your tribe? Their food, family setting, songs, and dance?
Well, if you’re like me then plan a visit to the Bomas of Kenya where the tradition and culture of the 42 Kenyan tribes are carefully preserved.
Cultural dance performances are held every day Monday to Friday from 2.30 pm to 4 pm; weekends and public holidays 3 pm to 5.15 pm.
For more information on charges and traditional villages please read my earlier post here.
#18 Kiambethu Tea Farm Limuru
Kenya is one of the producers of high-quality tea in the world and you can attest to that through a visit to Kiambethu Tea Farm in Tigoni, Limuru.
AB McDonell was the first person to grow, make and sell tea commercially in Kenya in 1910 in the Kiambethu Tea Farm. The farm sits on 2 acres piece of land with the small farmhouse surrounded by acres of tea and indigenous forest.
If you love spending weekends outdoors and surrounded by nature then plan a trip to Limuru. The Lunchtime tour within the Farm starts with a cup of tea or coffee at 11 am followed by a guided nature walk in the indigenous forest enjoying the sights and sounds of wild birds and colobus monkeys.
A three-course farm-style lunch is then served plus tea and more tea. Charges for all the spoiling is Kenya Shillings 3,300 with children under the age of 12 paying Kes. 1,500.
#19 Snakes Park at SteadMak Gardens
SteadMak Gardens has gained a reputation in the recent past for hosting weddings for the middle-class population.
If not attending a wedding, have a fun-filled afternoon with your family at the Floating restaurant, MV Penny, get the outdoor feeling within the city limits or better still enjoy a good swim in their outdoor pool.
If you’re not snake-phobic then pop in the Snakes Park where different types and sizes of snakes are kept. The children will surely like it.
#20 Nairobi Railway Museum
Adjacent to Kenya Railways Nairobi Terminal (old) is Nairobi Railways Museum, a small museum where one can learn how Kenya came into being in terms of transportation.
Nairobi Railway Museum showcases photos from the construction of the Kenya Uganda Railway in early 20th century.
Steam engine locomotives from the first train which set off from Mombasa after the construction of the railway line in 1898 are showcased.
Walk from Nairobi Central Business District past the chaotic Rongai and Kitengela Matatus to Nairobi Railway Station. Alternatively, follow Workshop Road from Haile Selassie Avenue near City Square Posta and the museum will be on your right.
Nairobi Railway Museum opens daily from 8 am to 5 pm and charges are Kenya Shillings 300 for Kenyan citizens and 400 for residents.
#21 Lukenya Motorcross for Quad Biking
This is one of the best places to experience adrenaline rush just 45 minutes drive from Nairobi in Athi River.
The best part of this adventure is that you don’t need prior knowledge in ATV riding as the participants receive a brief training on site.
Meander through the grasslands on the foot of Lukenya Hills and get close to wildlife like Zebras, Giraffes, and antelopes.
Bring your own safety glasses (sunglasses will do), hand gloves and drinking water.
To read about Quad biking charges and means of getting to Lukenya, visit my earlier post here.
#22 Mount Longonot National Park
Just 90 kilometres from Nairobi in Maai-Mahiu lies Mount Longonot, a volcanic Mountain on the floor of the Great Rift Valley.
Hiking Mount Longonot and going round the crater rim takes about 5 hours for average hikers. It’s advisable to start hiking early in the morning as the weather gets really hot after 10 am.
The highest point of Mount Longonot is 2780 metres above sea level. The panoramic views of Lake Naivasha, Suswa, and wildlife grazing downhill are just worth the hike, with Kenyans enjoying all that for Kenya Shillings 300 for adults and 215 for children.
Payments, which are only payable through Mpesa or credit cards can be found in my earlier post here. You’ll also get more details about the nature of the hiking trail and appropriate clothes to wear.
#23 Hells Gate National Park & Olkaria Geothermal Spa
Is anything in the world cooler than cycling in the wild with Zebras, giraffes, buffaloes, antelopes and gazelles at a closer range?
I have travelled far and wide and I can tell you Hells Gate National Park concept is a win. Hire a bike at Elsa Gate and cycle either to Campers post or the Olkaria Geothermal Spa.
Charges and details can be found in this website.
#24 Lake Naivasha
This is one of the freshwater lakes inside the Great Rift Valley, and the second largest freshwater lake in Kenya with plenty of Hippos and birds.
Lake Naivasha is located 90 kilometres from Nairobi and a favourite day trip to many Kenyans.
Activities near the lake include camping, boating, fishing, bird watching, cycling at Hells Gate National Park and Crescent Island.
Inside Lake Naivasha is an island named Crescent Island forming the rim of an extinct volcanic activity. Entrance fees to Crescent Island is as below:
Access Crescent Island by boat from the shores of Lake Naivasha at a fee.
#25 Lake Nakuru National Park
And finally, the last entry on my list of the 20 best day trips from Nairobi you can’t miss is Lake Nakuru National Park.
A two hours’ drive from Nairobi takes you to a bird lover’s paradise and the park with the highest concentration of endangered black rhinos.
Lake Nakuru National Park offers a perfect safari experience with a chance to see Buffaloes, Leopards, Rhinos, Waterbucks, Flamingos, Zebras, Cheetahs, Hippos, endangered Rothschild’s giraffes, antelopes among other wild animals and birds.
One can choose to spend the night in Nakuru, drive back to Nairobi or proceed onwards for more Safari adventures in Maasai Mara.