Kenya’s capital city Nairobi is the country’s largest city. In Swahili, Nairobi means a place of cool waters. This refers to the Nairobi River that runs through the city. Whether you want to be whisked back to the ancient past of Africa, standing on the edge of the Great Rift Valley, or experience a modern, major city of three million people, the vibrant and diverse city of Nairobi has it all. The city represents the best of Kenyan culture featuring a diverse cultural landscape mixed with music, food, dress, and language. It is a multi-colored quilt that is the fabric of the country’s setup.
Before you get excited and start packing your bags, apply for a visa to travel to Kenya, and then you can experience the vibrant culture of Nairobi. Visit iVisa to start the visa application process, and in the meantime, look at the different ways you can experience Nairobi culture. As you scroll, you’ll find a mixture of traditional and modern culture that makes this city unique among travelers and backpackers.
1. African Heritage House
The African Heritage House overlooks the Nairobi National Park, and it was founded in the early 1970s by Alan Donovan, the former US State Department relief officer. The house is home to over 60,000 unique pieces of traditional arts & crafts across Africa.
In the house, you will find items of African handiwork like Kamba beadwork, ceremonial daggers carved by the Bakuba people of the Congo, elaborate masks, Ase Oke, and plenty of other heritage pieces. This house brings travelers closer to the unique tradition and culture of Nairobi.
2. Maasai Market
The Maasai Market, held on Fridays at the Village Market Mall in Nairobi’s northern part, is the most traditional and longest-running. The Village Market Mall was created by Kenyan brothers Mehraz and Hamed Ehsani. The goal was to give tourists, locals, and ex-pats a recreation area for gathering.
The market hall has expanded to fifteen times the originally planned scope and size. It currently hosts initiatives like the Maasai Market, which features over four hundred artisans specializing in ethnic relics like batik textile prints, iron sculptures, and paintings. Also, the center hosts local musicians and weekly art exhibitions to showcase new talent.
3. Relish The Street Food
The colorful and lip-smacking food scene in Nairobi is a logical and natural extension of its artistic culture. Nyama Choma is one of the most popular cuisines, and this simply means roasted or barbecued meats. While this is the regional cuisine, Nairobi is known as a global city because of its infusion of flavors from worldwide. This resulted in a hybrid fusion of Pan-Asian, European, and African cuisines that delights and satiates hungry tourists.
Since the Kenyans heavily relied on hunting, eating barbecued meat is a tradition that has survived for generations. In this city, Nairobian men cook the meat over an open flame. Also, they have a unique technique of cooking meat where the layer of insulation is created by fat, and the inside of the meat remains tender and moist. Although Nyama Choma is seen as a street food, the skills involved in preparing this are reserved for communal celebrations and special occasions.
4. Wildlife Safari
From the old days when leopards and lions roamed freely to the formation of the National Parks to protect wildlife and people, the rich flora and fauna are intrinsic to Kenyan culture.
So, to experience Nairobi’s culture, you must experience the great outdoors and the wide variety of wildlife. It would be best if you went on a safari. Catch a glimpse of the Big Five and ride on the endless plains. This is an exhilarating cultural experience that will leave you wanting more.
Since options are abundant, planning a safari in Nairobi or anywhere in Kenya is exciting. It can be a guided walking tour in a van, on horseback, or in a hot air balloon. You can also opt for a self-drive experience.
The Maasai Mara is one of the most visited tourist places, covering more than 1510 sq km. It offers countless attractions like the Great Migration.
The Nairobi National Park is another destination you must add to your itinerary. It is situated on the city’s outskirts and is the only wildlife park within city limits. The park is big enough to hold buffalos, giraffes, zebras, rhinos, leopards, and lions. You can get around the park by joining a tour or having a self-drive experience.
5. Experience The Nightlife
After experiencing the great outdoors, it is time to unwind and relax. There’s no better way to relax than to experience Nairobi’s rich nightlight and music. This is where you truly experience how tradition meets modernity.
In all of Africa, Nairobi’s party scene is the most popular and the best. It is extremely diverse, and you will find people from across the globe enjoying the different lounges and lively nightclubs.
It is interesting to note that Kenyans love socializing over a drink. Hence, mingling with the local crowd is easy if you hit the local bars. The city’s nightlife is characterized by fast-paced contemporary African tunes, Tusker, Smirnoof, and Nyama Choma. It is best to come in groups of four or five and move from one venue to the next so you can soak in a lot in one night.
Make sure to visit the 1824 Whiskey Bar in the city, as this is one of the most popular bars. The bar has themed nights, great music, a live band, and outdoor seating. You can also visit Alchemist in Westlands, which is another top location. This venue has a laid-back, relaxed style, great food, live bands, and better drinks. The bar is extremely popular with the masses.
Nairobi is ready to welcome you with open arms and hearts. Come and experience its vibrant culture. Apply for your visa and have fun!