The starting point for most East Africa safaris, Nairobi is a thriving, cosmopolitan city of contrasts, a place where glittering high-rise buildings and churches, mosques and temples form a backdrop for giraffes browsing in the distance.

Travellers who linger in Nairobi for a few days before heading off on safari, will be amply rewarded, not only by the delights of Nairobi National Park (which is located just 17km from the airport) but by the many attractions of the city. Guests have their pick of anything from modern hotels that would be at home in New York or Dubai to the leafy tranquillity of golf resorts and luxurious lodges in the peaceful outer suburbs.

The traditional warmth of Kenyans is evident in the welcoming treatment of children in most restaurants and you can enjoy a smorgasbord of Indian, Italian, Japanese and Korean food in the city’s eateries. More adventurous visitors can get local with a visit to a nyama choma (roast meat) joint for tasty barbecued goat or beef.

The Ngong Hills, made famous by the opening lines of Out of Africa, are visible from Nairobi National Park, and visitors can enjoy visits to the suburbs of Langata and Karen or the Karen Blixen Museum, housed in Karen’s old farmhouse.

Highlights In Nairobi

  • Be sure to visit the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, which rescues orphaned and abandoned elephant calves and cares for them here until they are old enough to be released into Tsavo West National Park
  • Enjoy shopping for art (including impressive wildlife bronzes, delicate statuettes and jewellery) and curios in Nairobi’s art scene
  • Take a walking tour of the city
  • Visit the wonderful Kitengela Glass, where glass is recycled into hand-blown glassware