Set at a lofty elevation of 5,500ft, Nairobi is the capital city of Kenya and East Africa’s most important air hub. Founded in 1899, the city doesn’t possess much in the way of historical interest, but it does boast a lively culinary scene, several good craft markets, and an attractive location sandwiched between the forested highlands and the wildlife-rich thornbush of Nairobi National Park. 

Discover Nairobi

Established in 1910, Nairobi National Museum is strong on history, with displays dedicated to human evolution in East Africa, the region’s ancient rock paintings, and the Swahili Coast. It also has a good natural history section and lush gardens dotted with contemporary Kenyan sculptures.

Restored and furnished in period style for the filming of Out of Africa in 1985, the Karen Blixen Museum is set in the 1912 colonial homestead where the namesake Danish baroness lived from 1918 to 1931. A nature trail runs through the forested gardens. 

The AFEW Giraffe Centre offers the opportunity to eyeball a giraffe from an elevated viewing platform, while an attached boutique lodge called Giraffe Manor allows for further interaction with these strange creatures. Proceeds fund a breeding program for Rothschild’s giraffe, an endangered subspecies whose range is restricted to northern Uganda and western Kenya.

The 45-square-mile Nairobi National Park, home to all the Big Five except elephant, stands so close to the city center that visitors are frequently able to photograph lions or rhinos in front of a backdrop of shimmering skyscrapers. Despite the park’s proximity to the capital, it forms part of a natural migratory ecosystem that extends across its unfenced border with the Athi Plains.

Situated just outside Nairobi National Park, the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust offers visitors a unique opportunity to interact with orphaned baby elephants (and occasionally rhinos) that have been hand-reared for eventual release into the wild.

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