Photography by Veronica Paradinas Duro, Getty Images
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A rhinoceros grazes in Kenya’s Nairobi National Park.

Photography by Veronica Paradinas Duro, Getty Images

Everything to Know About Nairobi

Here's how to plan the best possible trip to Kenya's capital.

Nairobi is an up-and-coming, creative city that is both traditional and edgy at the same time. You will find Nairobi to be an incredible juxtaposition of Kenyan culture, with nature effortlessly coinciding with modern life. Though its charm alludes some upon first arrival, Nairobi is a city that grows on you once you start to explore it.

When to Go

Nairobi can be visited at any time of year, but you may want to avoid the rainy seasons from mid-March to late May (long rains) and from late October to December (short rains), as the roads in rural areas can become flooded, making travel out of the city difficult and time consuming. The best times of year to visit are between June and October (when it’s dry and cool) or January and February (when it’s dry and hot); however, these are the times when safaris are most expensive. To avoid paying premium prices, think about visiting in the shoulder season when both the prices and the weather are more reasonable.

Celebrate

If you’re looking to get into the Nairobi vibe, plan your visit to coincide with the fabulous Art Nouveau festival, which takes place in February. The festival brings together musicians, designers, DJs, and artists from all over Africa and attracts a cool crowd. If nature is more your thing, time your visit with the annual wildebeest migration, which usually passes through the Masai Mara National Reserve between August and October each year.

What to Eat

When in Kenya you must try the staple dish of ugali, a maize porridge that is often eaten with nyama choma (barbequed meat), kachumbari (tomato, onion, and chilli salad), and collard greens. The meal is eaten with your right hand and the ugali is rolled into a ball to scoop up the rest. Kenyans also love a cup of milky masala tea.

Souvenir to Take Home

If you’re looking for something truly unique to remember your time in Nairobi, pick up a handcrafted item from Ocean Sole, a Nairobi-based social enterprise that turns old flip flops into colorful pieces of art. They make everything from children’s toys to bracelets, wall art, and ornaments for your home.

Sustainable Travel Tip

While you are in Nairobi, you may come across children asking for sweets, pens, or even money. Consider donating items or money through a local organization or school instead.

Instagram-Worthy View

For the ultimate Nairobi Instagram shot, check yourself into Giraffe Manor, a luxury boutique hotel. The hotel may be expensive at more than $1,000 per night, but the experience of having your breakfast and afternoon tea with the giraffes is totally worth the price tag. If that’s out of your price range, you can visit the same giraffes at the Nairobi Giraffe Centre next door for a fraction of the cost.