Kenya’s capital city of Nairobi is worth so much more than a quick stop-over en route to your final destination. I moved to Nairobi from Cape Town in late-2019 with absolutely no expectations, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the city every day since I stepped off the plane. It’s a welcoming, rapidly developing city with an incredible restaurant scene and an energy that totally sweeps you up.
While there’s a lot to see and do within the city itself – from eating your way around, to staying up for the legendary Nairobi nightlife, there are also a few not-to-be-missed day-trips within 90 minutes of the city. I’ve been lucky enough to have a few visitors pop in and out of the city, which has given me an excuse to run around and explore some of the best things Nairobi has to offer. In my opinion, to fully enjoy everything that Nairobi has to offer, you’ll need to spend at least 3 days in the city, but 5 days would be even better!
Here are 3 of the Best Day-Trips to take from Nairobi
Uber is affordable and easily available in Nairobi. But when it comes to a day-trip outside of the city, I’d recommend booking a driver. It can be difficult to find an Uber in the outlying areas, so having a driver on standby will make your whole day much more enjoyable. I’ve been using John to help me get around Nairobi and he is so reliable and so lovely. You can reach him via What’sApp on +254 739 090309.
Although most websites say “just 60 minutes from Nairobi”, that’s more wishful thinking than reality. Give yourself at least 90 minutes to 2 hours to get from the city to any of these destinations, because Nairobi’s traffic is unpredictable at best and gridlocked at worst.
1 Visit the orphaned elephants at The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust
This is an absolute no-brainer. Not only do you have the opportunity to visit some of nature’s cutest babies in an environment where they are being nurtured and cared for by a team of super passionate human-parents, but you’re also supporting this incredible organisation and the work they do to protect these babies.
There are 2 visiting times per day, every day of the year except Christmas. You can opt to join the 11am public visit (60 minutes), where you’ll have the opportunity to watch the baby elephants have their breakfast, take a mud bath and play with each other (and sometimes with you too). You’ll also learn about their history and future and how they came to be at the David Sheldrick Trust. This experience costs USD7 and payable in cash only.
For a more intimate visit with the elephants, there is the option for adopters to visit at 5pm (60 minutes). This visit is especially for people who have adopted an elephant, and is by appointment only. You’ll have the opportunity to see the babies have their bed time bottles and be tucked in for the night by their loving keepers. To adopt an elephant, supporting its care for a year for USD50, visit the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust’s website.
2 A Tour of Kiambethu Tea Farm
Once you’re through the Nairobi traffic, the landscape suddenly changes from glimpses of cityscapes between bumpers to vibrant green rolling tea plantations. This is where you’ll find Kiambethu, and spend the morning learning about Kenya’s history with tea and how it’s grown. The farm has been in the McDonell family for five generations, since 1910.
The tour starts with a visit to the tea fields, to learn about how tea goes from the crop to the cup. Beautiful views stretch from the farm, across the most beautiful rolling green hills. Later there’s a light walk in the indigenous forest around the farm, where you might get a glimpse of the Colobus monkeys who call these trees home. Then it’s finally time for a cup of tea, followed by a delicious buffet lunch.
The tour makes for a lovely relaxing morning surrounded by beautiful nature and is well worth the USD35 cost. We went on a weekday morning and were lucky to be in a small group of just 10 visitors, but groups can be as large as 60 people. So if you’re keen on a smaller group, I’d recommend visiting on a weekday. Bookings are essential and can be made on the Kiambethu website.
3 A Cheese Tasting at Brown’s Cheese
Browns is the oldest cheese farm in Kenya, and produces some of the country’s best cheese. A visit to the farm starts at midday with a welcome drink and an introduction to the cheese making process. You’ll learn about the farm’s long history of producing natural cheese and supporting the Kenyan dairy industry.
I knew basically nothing about the cheese making process and I loved touring the factory and learning about the natural methods Browns uses to produce 17 different kinds of cheeses – from cheddar and gouda to mozarella and parmesan. I learned a lot of cheesy tips, from what to look for in a great cheese to how to preserve cheese you’ve bought so it stays fresher for longer.
Of course, the best part of the day is when it finally comes to tasting the cheeses! The tour ends with a cheese tasting, where you can try 6 cheeses, with a glass of wine of course, homemade crackers and preserves, followed by a delicious lunch. The experience costs USD40 and bookings can be made on the Brown’s Cheese website.
I hope that’s given you some inspo for a couple of worthwhile day-trips from Nairobi! There’s lots more to see and do around the capital, but this should give you a good starting point for your adventures!