Nairobi has so many places to visit and activities to partake in. In fact, you do not have to drive out of town if you're looking to unwind. Whether you're into sports, arts or entertainment, there's something for everyone.
For most Nairobians, weekends are all about relaxing after a long week of enduring traffic, work and the hustle and bustle of the city.
Here are some of the activities you can take part in with family and friends during your free time:
GP Karting is a great sport if you want an adrenaline-filled activity. The correct term for the sport is actually ‘Go Karting’. But most Kenyans just refer to the sport as GP Karting, the company that runs the circuit.
GP Karting was established in 1996 as one of the first Go Karting places in Kenya, and the name just stuck with Kenyans.
Go Karting is a motorsport that involves driving a specialized motorcar called a go-kart, on an indoor racing circuit/track. Driving skills are not necessary in order to drive a go-kart.
The charge per session caters for an overall and helmet. You’ll be taken through a brief instructive course before you hit the race track.
Safety marshalls are usually stationed at vantage points, ready to help, should you encounter a problem.
GP Karting fun facts and tips
• It is the perfect family activity because you can take kids as young as 5 years old. We encountered a father and daughter who had come to race on the track and one could tell that they were having a ball!
• They have training sessions for kids who want to learn Go Karting or to improve their skills. The marshalls do rounds with the small kids for safety reasons.
• It makes for the perfect group activity; especially for those who wish to compete, ride or as a team building activity.
• They have Saturday Night Racing events where people compete. It entails 3 tournaments: Under 13, Under 17, plus 18 and over. The go-kart engines used for Saturday Night Racing, are bigger hence faster.
• In the interest of safety, they limit the top speed for little kids. Hence children will not be able to go at insane speeds that would put them in danger.
• The best days to go depend on what you are looking for. To compete, weekends are best while weekdays are good for practicing and setting good lap times.
• They only allow 10 karts on the track at a time. As a beginner, I liked the weekday experience as it had fewer participants on the track and I did not have to risk crashing into anyone.
• They have a restaurant where you can choose to have a meal or drinks.
• You get to have 10 minutes per play and if you are quick, you can do up to 15 laps in the 10 minutes.
• Their rates are as follows, per every 10 minutes:-
5 to 8-years-old- Ksh 900
9 to 12-years-old- Ksh 1,000
13 to 16-years-old- Ksh 1,100
17 and above- Ksh 1,300
GP Karting is located off Langata Road, next to Splash Waterworld. It is easily accessible: you can pick any Matatu or bus plying Langata Road (Route No.15, 125) and alight at the Carnivore stage.
From there, you can then take a leisurely walk or pick a ‘boda-boda’ (motorbike) to the venue. If driving, take a turn off Langata Road to Carnivore road and drive past Carnivore till you see GP Karting on the right.
Rock Climbing at Diamond Plaza
Located on the sixth floor of Diamond Plaza, in Parklands, Bluesky Climb offers both indoor as well as outdoor rock climbing activities.
This is a perfect activity for couples, families or even groups of friends. It is also a great way to get fit as well as to test your mental mettle.
Rock climbing will only cost you Ksh 800 if you have your own climbing shoes and Ksh 1,200 inclusive of rental climbing shoes.
Cycling at Karura Forest.
Karura Forest is located at the outskirts of Nairobi CBD. It is a huge forest reserve that offers eco-friendly activities.
If you want to ride your bike away from the car fumes and traffic of Nairobi, then this is the place to be. It's quiet, clean and very relaxing. It is a good place to just stop and listen to the birds chirp away and enjoy the silence of the forest.
Biking at Karura Forest is one of the many activities going on here and one can hire a bike for a day at Ksh 500 per hour daily from 8:00 to 17:00 at the bike depot next to the tennis court.
You can alternatively bring your own mountain bike and ride it on designated bike paths which range from 5km all the way to 15km.
The place is marked so one can't get lost but you also need to get a map if you want to know where you are or where you are going. There is a small entry fee of Ksh 100 for children and Ksh150 for adults.
Ostrich riding can be an interesting and unique activity that one wouldn’t forget easily.
You can head down to Maasai Ostrich Farm in Kitengela and for approximately Ksh. 800, you gain entry into the farm and a chance to ride an ostrich.
There is a hotel within the farm so if get hungry from the riding and farm tours, you can chow down on some ostrich meat at the restaurant.
Giraffe Centre is located in Karen and is managed by the African Fund for Endangered Wildlife. It’s a great place to spend time with your family and friends as you feed the giraffes which are very friendly.
Just opposite the entrance to the centre, there is a beautiful nature trail where you can go on and relax.
The charge is Ksh. 250 for resident adults and Ksh. 50 for resident children.
The center is open every day from 9.00am to 5.30pm.
You can also choose to spend a night at Giraffe Manor at Gogo Falls Road and have the pleasure of eating breakfast with the visiting giraffes.
There are different movie theatres in Nairobi where you can watch the latest movies with your friends or loved ones. The movies cost between Ksh. 600 and Ksh. 800 depending on the movie, time and the theatre. There are also offers for couples on select days at specific movie theatres.
The movie theatres in Nairobi include Anga Diamond Plaza, Anga Imax Kenya – 20th Century, Anga Sky Cinema, Century Cinemax Junction, Century Imax – Garden City, Fox Cineplex Sarit, Prestige Cinemas, and Westgate Cinema.
Checking out 7D/4D theatres found at most local shopping malls will give you quite a unique experience.
They consist of small booths which play short clips, usually about 15 minutes. The experience plays on all your senses, the chair moves and if there’s a scene with water you can feel it your face and the creatures in the clips appear life-like. It’s a fun thing to do if you’re on a date at the mall or if you want to pass some time before you leave.
They usually cost about Ksh. 500.
Nairobi Railway Museum
The Nairobi Railway Museum is a renowned historical center in Nairobi, Kenya, contiguous to the Nairobi rail station.
The museum is open to the public at a small fee of Ksh 100 for citizens, and Ksh 400 for residents.
Kenya National Archives
If you want to learn about our political history then this is the place to be. I find it amusing that a lot of Nairobians have never been inside it despite being such a popular meeting point in town.
It was established in 1965 and it holds up to 1.5 million documents on Kenya’s history.
A walk up the stairs to the first floor will reveal the coolest stamp collection you have ever seen. There are also pictures of Mau Mau freedom fighters and Kenya’s political class.
The ground floor has a wide collection of African artifacts. Another thing I like about Kenya National Archives is the silence that greets you when you step in. You can almost forget that you’re smack dab in the middle of Nairobi’s CBD.
The gate charges are Ksh 100 and Ksh 50 for students with ID.
K1 Flea Market on Sundays
If you're free on Sundays, head over to K1 for their Flea Market.
Here, you get to enjoy brunch from 10.00am, live music in the afternoon till evening and you can shop from the vendors who sell an assortment of stuff, from fashion items to organic beauty products to jewelry.
While it's mostly an adult hang out joint, it's also child-friendly if of course you don't plan on staying till after dark.
Diguna High Ropes Challenge
If you’re in the mood for an adventure but you don’t want to venture too far out of town, then Diguna High Ropes Challenge is the spot for you. It’s located in Rongai at AIC Diguna.
The high ropes challenge, as the name reveals is a course with a series of high ropes that you must navigate to finish. One blogger who wrote about her experience likened it to being in a Tarzan movie or Ninja warrior.
It’s a great spot for group activities and it costs Ksh. 150 per person.
To get there by public means, board matatu route 125/126 and alight at Maasai Lodge stage. Follow the tarmac road on your left for about 2Km to AIC Diguna. There are also motorbikes at the stage which will take you there.
Go-Down Arts Centre
The Go-Down Arts Centre, a converted warehouse in Industrial Area, contains 10 separate studios and is a hub for Nairobi's burgeoning arts scene, bringing together visual and performing arts with regular exhibitions, shows, workshops and open cultural nights.
Nairobi National Park
Set on the city’s southern outskirts, Nairobi National Park has abundant wildlife that can, in places, be viewed against a backdrop of city skyscrapers and planes coming in to land – it's one of the only national parks on earth bordering a capital city. Remarkably, the animals seem utterly unperturbed by it all.
The park has acquired the nickname ‘Kifaru Ark’, a testament to its success as a rhinoceros (kifaru in Kiswahili) sanctuary. T
The park is home to the world's densest concentration of black rhinos (more than 50), though even the park's strong antipoaching measures couldn't prevent poachers from killing one of the rhinos in August 2013 and then again in January 2014.
Lions and hyenas are also commonly sighted within the park; rangers at the entrance usually have updates on lion movements.
You’ll need a bit of patience and a lot of luck to spot the park’s resident cheetahs and leopards. Other regularly spotted species include gazelles, warthogs, zebras, giraffes, ostriches, and buffaloes.
Unless you already have your own vehicle, the cheapest way to see the park is on the shuttle. A big Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) bus leaves the main gate at 2pm on Sunday for a 2½-hour tour.
You need to book in person at the main gate by 1.30pm, but do call ahead if you want to do the tour, as times can change.
Paintball is an adrenaline packed game that consists of shooting small paintballs from a gun at your opponent. It’s a messy game that will really test your aiming skills but you and your friends are guaranteed to have a great time with your friends.
Starting from Ksh. 1,000 a game, you will be provided with about 100 paintballs, overalls, protective head and chest gear, paintball gun and goggles.
You can play a game of paintball at the following places; Rolf’s place in Rongai, Shooter’s Haven off Garden Estate Road which is off Thika Road , GP Karting off Langata Road and at Purdy Arms in Karen.
Technically, visiting Ngong Hills is sightseeing near Nairobi. Ngong is in Kajiado county but so many people who work in Nairobi county live in Ngong that it has somehow become part of Nairobi.
The Ngong Hills are breathtaking. They were actually named by the Masaai. The name Ngong is translated to mean knuckles in Masaai since the hills strongly resemble a fist. The peaks of the hills overlook the Great Rift Valley.
There are quite a number of walking trails that offer breathtaking views of the valleys below. Wildlife such as giraffes, gazelles, buffalo, bushbuck, baboons, and more can be spotted traversing their natural habitat.
The hills are also a great place for workout buffs to break a sweat.
Shopping lovers have to visit one of the Maasai markets in Nairobi. Maasai Market has become a staple in Nairobi’s culture.
It is a wonderful place for tourists to get African memorabilia as well as experience authentic Kenyan style and culture. It is a one-stop shop for Kenyan apparel, accessories, jewelry, handicrafts, bags; you name it.
The price is just right especially if you are an excellent bargainer. If you have stayed in Nairobi for some time, you cannot help but pick up the art of bargaining.
Most of the items on sale are greatly inspired by the Maasai, hence the name, though you will find items from other communities as well.
The Maasai are a well-known tribe worldwide and have been depicted in various shows and movies as well as paintings and poetry.
Their distinctive dressing and customs draw outsiders in and spark a lot of interest both locally and internationally.
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