I haven’t lived in Kenya for so long but I have already enjoyed a good time visiting lots of popular places. Normally, I hang out on weekends so after a long painstaking week, I am always looking forward to killing off the work stress by visiting a few great places depending on how far they are from Nairobi. Kenya being a naturally amazing country, it has some of the best African weekend getaways that are not only fabulous to socialize but also wallet-friendly. As an expat in Kenya, these are the best six places that have really charmed me up after visiting them…
1. Diani beach
It was my first time to see the Indian ocean and I was very excited. Plus, the weather was fantastically sunny-warm and this gave me a whole new adventure! This world-famous coastline of white pristine sands is almost 500kms away from Nairobi and 35kms from Mombasa, the region’s main coastal city. With world-class hotels, bars, restaurants, and shopping centers, Diani beach is every seaside lover’s weekend get-away paradise. Getting there is easier by either flying in or by an overnight bus from Nairobi to Ukunda town where you can find a tuk-tuk rickshaw to the beach. Things to do include; enjoying the sunsets, camel rides, sunbathing, skydiving, off-road nature and wildlife safaris, scuba diving, snorkeling, stand-up paddle boarding, etc.
2. Hell’s Gate National Park
This scenic 68 sq. km park lies in the Great Rift valley and famous for its geothermal hot springs and geysers that offer a healthy natural spa to its visitors. I was impressed by the park’s extraordinary natural scenery of soaring cliffs, scrub-covered volcanoes, gorges, and towering rocks. The park is ideal for a day’s trip from Nairobi which is 90kms away. Things to do: mountain biking, bird watching (over 100 species including Verreaux’s Eagles, augur buzzard and swifts), camping, game viewing (African buffalo, zebra, Eland, Hartebeest, Thomson’s Gazelle and Baboons), hiking, horse riding and rock climbing. You can bring along picnic items and camping equipment if you’re intending to stay overnight, binoculars, camera, sunscreen, and walking boots would also be helpful.
3. The Giraffe Centre
This is a breeding center for giraffes located just 5km from Nairobi in the quiet green environs of Karen. An initiative of Jock Leslie-Melville the Kenyan grandson of a Scottish Earl, the center is a habitat for the endangered Giraffa Camelopardalis Rothschildi which is an indigene of East Africa. It also offers conservation education for a small fee. I remember having a close encounter with the giraffes by feeding them from a raised observation stand. On my nature trail, I also met some warthogs that freely roam the area along with the giraffes. There’s also a gift shop and the teahouse.
4. Fourteen falls
These 27m spectacular waterfalls overlook Kilimambogo (Hill of the Buffaloes, due to a large number of Buffaloes). They are located in Machakos county, 65kms from Nairobi off Thika-Garissa highway. There are 14 distinct waterfalls on Athi river thus rendering the name. I hired an experienced local tour guide who led me through the rocky paths and then hopped into a boat to cross the river downstream to the rocky bank on the far side. From the boat, I had the most astonishing view of the falls but I also took the time to stroll around the unusual rocks and boulders at the base. Later, cliff divers performed their acrobatic leaps from the top of the falls and plunged into the huge pools at the base! After the two hour tour, I went to the nearby The Blue Posts Hotel where I was served a sumptuous lunch of Ugali and Sukuma Wiki. The area is very safe for rock climbing, birdwatching, boating, fishing, photography, plant identification and picnicking.
5. Nairobi National Museum
Part of the initiative to customize myself with Kenyan present and past life, I needed to visit the main museum which is on Museum Hill and less than 10km drive from the city center. It exhibits lots of unusual stuff like the early human fossils (including the hominin 1.6 million-year-old Nariokotome Turkana boy), different insects, bird and animal species within Kenya, ethnic tribes and their lifestyles, a fish aquarium with several fish species and a reptile park (with separate crocodile and snake enclosures). Other attractions at the facility include a well-stocked Art gallery, Temporary exhibitions, botanical gardens that offer a serene environment, the nature trail, shopping and dining facilities.
6. Nairobi Animal Orphanage
Situated at the main entrance of Nairobi National Park in Langata suburb, the orphanage operates as a “Refuge of the Wild” by treating and rehabilitating abandoned and rescued wild animals. From my encounter, I had close-up views of major wild animals like the lions, cheetahs, hyenas, jackals, serval cats, the rare Sokoke cats, warthogs, leopards, various monkeys, baboons, and buffalo. I also watched very many birds including parrots, guinea fowls, crowned cranes and ostriches. Things to do here include birdwatching, nature/safari walks, game viewing and photography.
There are many more great places on my list to visit. Most of these are very far away from Nairobi where I stay and would need more than two days’ of free time to achieve this. When I finally visit them, you’ll be updated. So far, am loving it here, great adventures, great life!