6 Things To Do in Nairobi, Kenya

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if you’ve never been to east africa before, be sure to add nairobi, kenya to your list! while there are lots of things to do in nairobi, if you only have a day or two and want to pack a lot in, i’ve got some ideas for you!

1) go on an early morning safari

i yammered on and on all about this here (complete with lots and lots of photos and details). this was absolutely the highlight for both me and my husband while we were in nairobi!

2) visit the elephant orphanage

after your early morning safari adventure, head to the david sheldrick wildlife trust where baby elephants (and sometimes rhinos) are waiting for milk! they are only open one hour a day for the public so pay attention to the time. when we went, it was 5000 shillings each to get in (about $5USD) so well worth it!

though it’s only open for an hour, it’s the best hour of the day because they are getting their milk!

things to do in nairobi elephant orphanage

things to do in nairobi elephant orphanage

while you are not able to feed them, you can touch them as they wander around in a roped off area. they do a really nice job giving a presentation of each elephant that is being fed and what happened to them, when they were found and how they are doing.

you are also able to “foster” an elephant and then get access to additional times during the day to spend more time with them. they will also send you monthly updates and pictures on your specific elephant!

things to do in nairobi elephant orphanage

a lot of the baby elephants that are there currently were found in trapped in watering holes or were found after the parents were slaughtered for their ivory tusks. so so sad. while poaching has been curbed significantly, there are still cases of it. thankfully this place exists to help nurture these orphans and get them back into the wild.

i could not stop laughing at this baby elephant. it reminded me of a giant dog sitting like that!

things to do in nairobi elephant orphanage

they were playful and smart, grabbing the fresh water hose to drink from!

things to do in nairobi elephant orphanage

things to do in nairobi elephant orphanage

3) stop for lunch at tamambo: karen blixen coffee garden

tamambo cafe sits on the grounds of the famous karen blixen. she wrote, “out of africa” about her life in on her coffee farm in kenya, which would later be turned into the famous movie! this restaurant sits on those very grounds (pun intended)!

be aware that anywhere you go in nairobi, they will stop your car and kinda look under it or maybe open the doors for a ‘security check.’ someone we met there called it ‘theater checks’ because they don’t search thoroughly but always require the car to stop and go through the theatrics of a search.

the food was delicious and the scenery stunning. ravery says he ate the best pasta bolognese  of his life (even compared to italy) at this very place!

while we were there, they also had a local artists painting on site and selling his paintings. we were quite close to buying one (for like $100!) but he didn’t have the right size for our bedroom. neat feature and glad they are supporting local artists!

things to do in nairobi giraffe centre

funny story: as we were driving to this area, we kept seeing signs like “need an apartment? call karen, #” or “karen properties, call #.” i turned and said to my husband, “damn – go ahead karen! make that money lady!”

turns out, this part of the city is actually called karen. so. now we both know.

4) tour kazuri beads

have you seen kazuri beads in your local jewelry store or ‘10,000 villages’ stores? the kazuri bead factory is less than a 5 minute drive from tamambo and really moving to see.

“kazuri” means ‘small and beautiful’ in swahili! this all started back in 1975 in a tiny workshop started by a woman who saw a need for steady employment, especially women and experimented with making handmade beads. the factory is now located on part of the karen blixen estate.

things to do in nairobi kazuri beads

“Kazuri was started in 1975 by Lady Susan Wood with the social mission of making work for a few women. Initially less than 10 women were employed making beads in her garden shed. As word of the beauty and uniqueness of the Kazuri beads, necklaces and earrings spread, sales increased, as did the facility, and as a result 350 people are now employed.”

things to do in nairobi kazuri beads

after the beads are made, they are set outside to dry in the sunshine for a few days to cut down on electricity costs. each women makes 900 beads per day.

kazuri bead things to do in nairobi

things to do in nairobi kazuri beads

what i especially loved hearing is that they strive to employ 350 women, mostly single mothers to give them a leg-up in a place where unemployment can be 65%-90%. they also have a health care clinic onsite available to employees as well as their families. as we drove through nairobi, it was quite intense to see the slums and poverty that so many families were experiencing.

after the initial drying period outside, the first design and color is painted by hand on each bead.

things to do in nairobi kazuri beads

then they are put in a kiln to fire at a ridiculously high temperature and then glazed and polished again. the firing of the clay is done at night because it would get too hot for anyone to be working inside.

as found on their website, “the mission of kazuri is to provide and sustain employment opportunities for disadvantaged members of kenyan society.”

it happened to be the lunch hour when we were there so i did my best to take photos without the women in them so as not to disturb their break.

one of my favorite things our tour guide showed us was the genius idea to use a legit slinky for the wrap around bracelets! how smart is that?!

things to do in nairobi kazuri beads

things to do in nairobi kazuri beads

the tour through the factory is free and their giftshop onsite has so many beautiful handmade and handpainted collections of jewelry and pottery. we walked in and my husband was like “okay, you get 20 minutes in here because i know you and you would spend 20 hours looking at each individual piece.”

things to do in nairobi kazuri beads

i stocked up.

kazuri bead things to do in nairobi

kazuri produces over 5 million beads a year and exports to over 20 countries worldwide. they are also part of the world fair trade organization (WFTO)

definitely recommend going here and supporting this great company!

5) visit the giraffe sanctuary

time for more animal loving! head to the giraffe centre, where you can share some rather intimate moments with giraffes. case in point:

things to do in nairobi giraffe centre

this is a really amazing organization (officially called ‘africa fund for endangered wildlife – kenya) that is helping to repopulate the rothschild giraffe!

according to their website, “the calves are then released into the wild at two to three-years-old when they are independent enough to survive. So far we have released more than 40 giraffes into safe game parks and conservancies across the country. We work with Kenya Wildlife Service’s (KWS) veterinary doctors to keep the tower in good health. “

things to do in nairobi giraffe centre

here is my husband showing a very interested giraffe the new justin timberlake music video:

things to do in nairobi giraffe centre

i was near one giraffe and a staff member there said, “give this one some space. she’s very pregnant and has been headbutting people.”

my very serious response was, “oh. i totally get it.”

did you know that giraffes can basically keep the baby inside if the environment isn’t right for up to two months?! how insane is that?! a giraffe’s gestation is between 13-15 months and if there isn’t enough food/water or they are in danger, she just squeezes her legs real tight and the baby stays in until better surroundings!

things to do in nairobi giraffe centre

this organization is all about educating young school children about the importance of conservation. while it’s around $10USD per person to get into the giraffe centre, this allows for more than 50,000 school children to come learn here free of charge each year!

they do programs teaching children and adults why it’s so important to reuse/reduce/replace/recycle. i was very impressed with all they offered in terms of education! plus, they kids get to feed giraffes and it’s pretty flippin’ cool!

things to do in nairobi giraffe centre

giraffes are much larger than they appear (even though they appear massive). while my face says, “oh this is so fun – see! i’m smiling!” my brain was like, “please don’t bite off my face. dying by giraffe doesn’t sound very glamorous.”

6) sleep really good that night

we happened to do all of this on a single day so it’s totally possible but you need to hire a driver/guide for the day. we used our hotel to book this but various tour companies exist as well.

eat a good dinner, drink some african wine and pass the hell out knowing you made the most of your day with amazing things to do in nairobi, kenya! of course if you have more time, there are plenty of additional things to do!

if you could feed or pet any animal (without them biting off your face), which one would you choose?


  1. Vivien

    February 22, 2018 at 2:08 pm

    Thanks for the wonderful pictures and great tips/suggestions!
    I’d probably choose something “common” like a tiger.

    • chelsea

      March 3, 2018 at 10:57 am

      thanks for reading and your comment, vivien! awwww baby tiger!!!!

  2. Jennifer Haston

    February 22, 2018 at 6:50 pm

    I just love that picture of the giraffe which is why my answer is a giraffe, wow, they are just GARGANTUAN!

    • chelsea

      March 3, 2018 at 10:58 am

      they really are gargantuan – PERFECT word for them jennifer!

  3. Audrey

    February 23, 2018 at 9:40 am

    I looooooooooooove this. The safari and baby elephants and the giraffes! Ahh! What an incredible trip. I love that you visited Karen Blixen’s coffee farm, too! What a cool experience you guys had!

    • chelsea

      March 3, 2018 at 10:58 am

      we really did have the coolest experience! it was a definite lifetime highlight! hope you’re adding it to your liiiist

  4. Elyse @ Just Murrayed

    March 1, 2018 at 12:05 pm

    I know I’ve said this before, but I’m insanely jealous of this trip! Those elephants are adorable!

    • chelsea

      March 3, 2018 at 10:59 am

      oh my goodness, watching the baby elephants get sooooo excited about the milk was so freakin cuuuute!