On She Goes

Getting Out of the City: A Guide to Nairobi’s Natural Areas

Giraffes, waterfalls, and hiking trails!

Marie Ainomugisha
Marie Ainomugisha
June 26, 2017
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After a long workweek, some people might look forward to a weekend of binge-watching Grey’s Anatomy or a night out partying at the new club in town, but some of us are thinking of a quick getaway: relaxing or exhilarating places to visit right outside the city center.

Nairobi nightlife mostly revolves around parties, festivals, or big events, and domestic tourism among locals is beginning to pick up. What most people don’t know is that Nairobi is a capital city with a nature-packed backyard, featuring animal orphanages and game parks that are only a quick drive away. Here are some great outdoor places to go just outside Nairobi so you can have a weekend getaway with nature.

Giraffe Centre, Duma Road
Locally known as “twiga,” giraffes are the beautiful, tall creatures with pretty, cartoonishly long eyelashes that awe us. The Giraffe Centre is only 5 km from the busy city of Nairobi, and you can get up close to these great creatures at the reserve in Lang’ata. Guests can pet the giraffes and feed them snacks offered by the guide at the centre. Some visitors go as far as kissing them because of their fascinating long black tongues and pretty faces.

Ngong Hills
This ultimate chill spot is located about 28 km from Nairobi. The huge hills are perfect for spreading out a blanket and having a picnic with friends, so bring along some snacks. The Ngong Hills are a collection of seven outstanding hills overlooking the city of Nairobi, Nairobi National Park, and the Great Rift Valley. They are also well known for the windmills at the wind farm along the slopes that bring to life those crisp, minimalist shots. If you’re interested in photography, the Ngong Hills are a perfect spot to get nice shots, especially around sunset.

Oloolua Nature Trail and Karura Forest
Nairobi County has two outstanding forests. Oloolua and Karura forests are both great escapes from the busy city and all its noise. Both the nature trail and the forest are perfect for trail biking, bird watching, walking dogs, taking a short hike, and just taking in the lush surroundings. There are magnificent views of waterfalls in both forests where you can take breathtaking photos and selfies. Oloolua Nature Trail is located about 20 km from the city center and Karura is about 8 km from Nairobi, so take an hour or two of your weekend schedule to enjoy the fresh, earthy air of these forests.

Nairobi National Park
What would a trip to Nairobi County be without a morning game drive at the national park? Wake up at 7 a.m. for a game drive and watch beautiful animals like giraffes and lions move around and feed before the scorching sun sets in. If you cannot catch the sunrise at the park, you can still visit during the day and spend time with the animals at the Nairobi Animal Orphanage.

You don’t need a game drive to access the animals at the orphanage. You’ll get to see lions, cheetahs, serval cats, rare Sokoke cats, various monkeys, baboons, and buffalo. Get out and spend some time with the animals at Nairobi National Park, only 14 km from the city center.