Nairobi: not just a layover

Any safari to East Africa should include a few days to fully explore what Nairobi has to offer…

Although Kenya’s bustling capital city is the starting point for excited safari goers embarking on their highly anticipated Masai Mara adventures, Nairobi remains largely overlooked as a travel destination itself.

And so, in the spirit of escaping assumption and stereotypes and choosing to seek new and unique experiences, let us help change the way you see Nairobi. This is most definitely not just a layover city. Nairobi has so much to offer and any safari to East Africa should include a few days to fully explore the unforgettable experiences this cosmopolitan city has to offer.

&Beyond’s friendly, enthusiastic and knowledgeable drivers welcome guests arriving at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. In a sea of unfamiliar faces and welcome signs, our drivers immediately stand out from the crowd with their bright red sign-boards, instantly putting anxious travellers at ease.

Add to that our clean, comfortable and luxurious fleet of vehicles that boast full wifi signal (enabling passengers to browse the internet and connect with loved ones to pass the time while they’re in transit) and you have a warm, reassuring welcome that instantly calms those apprehensive travel nerves.

Head out to the tranquil, wooded suburb named after Karen Blixen herself and spend a night at the iconic Giraffe Manor. Not only can you sip sundowners as you feed the friendly giraffes at sunset, but the long-legged beauties will also join you for breakfast. Literally. They’ll poke their heads into the large bay windows of the ivied manor, giving you a breakfast you’ll never forget (read all about my first visit to Giraffe Manor here).

The oh-so-classy Hemingways Nairobi boutique hotel is also a must. The sprawling plantation-style property is elegant, green and unapologetically luxurious. The plush, spacious suites not only overlook the expertly manicured lawns, but also the Ngong Hills, made famous by Karen Blixen and the classic film Out of Africa. With views like that, you certainly don’t need a TV, but hidden in an antique leather trunk in your suite is a large, flat-screen TV that magically appears at the push of a button. Enjoy long walks, share sundowners at the classic yet casual bar, relax in the world-class spa, let off some steam in the state-of-the-art gym and savour the elegance of this exclusive retreat. Images courtesy of Hemingways Nairobi.

During the day, there are so many adventures to choose from. Have breakfast with the giraffes. Kick-start the day with some of Kenya’s best cappuccinos, lattes and roasted coffees. Visit the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and become a foster parent to an orphaned elephant. Explore the bustling shops and open-air Maasai markets that sell everything from African jewellery and local handicrafts, to African art, fresh fruit and roasted nuts.

Amble along mosaic pathways and enchanting sculptures at Kitengela Glass and observe a glass-blowing demonstration in the studio. Take a game drive through Nairobi National Park, the only city in the world you’ll see lion and giraffe roaming free with an urban skyline in the distance. Or visit Kazuri Beads, an organisation that empowers local Kenyan artisans, and watch as they hand-make intricate glass beads and transform them into beautiful jewellery.

Vibrant and cosmopolitan, yet proudly maintaining its Maasai culture and traditions, Nairobi is a must-see destination waiting to be explored. Karibu Sana (welcome)! INSIDER TIP: Why not book our 8-night Fly Me Around Kenya special offer, which explores some of Kenya’s most loved, iconic destinations. Add an extra day or two in Nairobi and really get a taste for Kenyan adventure, wildlife and hospitality.

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