Kempinski Blog Article
The capital of Kenya is a thriving melting pot of culture, enjoyment and energy. Fast-paced, sultry and wonderfully varied, Nairobi's romantic yet bustling atmosphere makes for a wonderful experience.
Nairobi is one of the African continent's few global cities and its primary commercial centre, yet the city's inception was humble, beginning life as a railway workers' camp in 1899. As a British colony and through independence, the city grew to be a hotbed of business activity, and today is one of the most thriving places in Africa, containing all of the unforgettable sights and activities you would expect from such a prominent location.
Here, the many cultures and natural curiosities of Kenya are brought together, producing a travel experience unlike any other.
From the busy streets of central Nairobi, where a visitor can enjoy a kerbside bottle of Tusker beer and a chat with a local, to the fine dining establishments situated on the periphery and the completely contrasting wildlife and safari parks located nearby, there is something for everyone in this sizzling capital.
Visitors to the city will be able to sample the many Kenyan and East African culinary delights on offer, including local staples, fusion cookery and fine European-style dining. Common staples include irio – made out of green peas, potato and corn – the cornmeal-based ugali, and spiced rice dishes of many varieties.
These are often served with a hearty, vegetable-based Kenyan stew, or nyama choma, a term that covers all sorts of salted and roasted meats. Side dishes are often Kenyan takes on Indian staples – samosas, bajias and chapatis, for instance.
Many of Kenya's foods will often be seasoned with mchuzi mix, a blend of herbs, spices and salt, an often personalised blend that imparts a rich and hearty flavour to many of the city's dishes.
All of these tastes can be found at the city's multiple roadside street food vendors, at inexpensive eateries such as the city centre's Roast House, or at the markets that dot the city. More upmarket – yet still inexpensive by western terms – restaurants include the meat-rich Carnivore, The Lord Errol – a favourite among expatriates – or Alan Bobbe's Bistro, a much-lauded restaurant that specialises in fine French cooking.
For those after a world of flavours, the line-up provided by the Villa Rosa Kempinski needs to be tasted to be believed. Including informal buffet dining, delicious Italian dishes at LUCCA restaurant, 88 bar and restaurant's pan-Asian cuisine, and the fine Levantine savours of Tambourin restaurant – there is something to please every taste.
If you crave a natural, historical or cultural experience while in Nairobi, you will not be disappointed. The city has a lot of things to offer and welcome surprises hide around every corner – the majority of which are unheard of outside of the country.
Nairobi National Park
Located incredibly close to the urban zones of the city, yet teeming with animal and bird life, Nairobi National Park is a welcome oasis to those that are tired of the hustle and bustle of the capital. Covering 117 sq km, the park contains a great many species, including lions, rhinoceroses, zebra, hyenas, cheetahs and leopards.
Containing a large collection of paintings, photographs, documents and artefacts that look back over Kenya's history, the National Archives, hosted in a beautiful colonial structure in the centre of Nairobi, is a must for history lovers. Through two floors, visitors can view ancient pieces that originate not just from Kenya, but from across the continent as a whole.
The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust
Any individual who has not yet visited Africa will likely arrive wanting to catch a glimpse of an elephant or rhino, and the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust is the place to do so.
Combining natural views with conservation, the centrepiece of the reserve is the Orphans' Project, a scheme that has resulted in over 150 young elephants who would have otherwise perished on the plains being cared for – and later released – back into the wild.
Forming an excellent educational picture of the East African region, Nairobi's National Museum contains a variety of scientific and cultural exhibitions, touching on everything from ancient fossils, the tectonics of the Great Rift Valley, to Kenyan tribal traditions. The nearby Snake Park is exciting too, featuring all sorts of fascinating, scaly creatures.
Karen Blixen Museum
The former home of the writer who penned Out of Africa, the Karen Blixen Museum is a must-see for those wanting to learn more about life during the height of British colonialism in Kenya. Guided tours take place throughout the day, led by knowledgeable experts.
The city's Jomo Kenyatta International Airport is serviced by Ethiopian airlines, Kenya Airways, British Airways, Etihad and Emirates (to name a few airlines) and although buses, train services and matatu minibuses can be caught from the coastal city of Mombasa, Nairobi is best accessed by air.
Inside the city, taxis and matatu shuttle buses are the safest forms of transportation, although care should always be taken when travelling outside of the more central neighbourhoods. Always check to see if a taxi driver has a licence, and as a rule of thumb, the more run down a taxi appears, the higher the likelihood they may be unlicensed.
If you are looking for a place to stay, take a look at Villa Rosa Kempinski. Our exquisite hotel features fine dining, spa facilities and luxuriously-outfitted accommodation, all in the heart of one of the city's best neighbourhoods.
Nairobi is a jewel in the heart of East Africa – a glorious, thriving place where Africa's awesome natural riches meet its bustling take on metropolitan living. Visit here yourself, you will not be disappointed.