Nairobi Tourist Attractions
In 1899, railway construction workers set up camp at Mile 327 - also called Ewaso Nai'beri, the place of cold water, by the local Maasai. The camp became a village and by 1907 was the capital of all of British East Africa. Today Nairobi is a city of 3.5 million people.Nairobi has large communities within its boundaries including Kibera, to the southwest, which is a slum area to the downtown core with its modern skyscrapers. The nightlife provides a favorable music scene, international restaurants and an endless array of shops and markets. The River Road area, one block east of the city center, is the most interesting for visitors to mingle with local residents and shop.Just outside the city is Nairobi National Park - home to large herds of zebra, wildebeest, buffalo, giraffe, rhinoceros and cheetahs.
Nairobi National Park
Nairobi National Park is only 15 minutes from the center of Nairobi. Recently designated as a rhino sanctuary, Nairobi National Park is now home to over 50 rhinos who were moved from locations where poaching was widespread.Over 80 species of mammals can be found in Nairobi National Park including gazelles, buffaloes, warthogs, lions, cheetahs, zebras, giraffes and ostriches. More than 550 bird species have been recorded in the wetland area of the park. Most animals live in the park seasonally and migrate according to the time of the year, the rhinos stay in the park all the year round.At the main gates is the Animal Orphanage where young abandoned animals are nursed back to health. Daphne Sheldrick runs an orphanage near the Banda gate, where she cares for young elephants and rhinos. Daphne was the first person to ever hand rear a baby elephant from birth.Nairobi National Park is also a historic Ivory Burning Site. This was the site where President Moi burned 10 tons of ivory to make a statement regarding the elimination of poaching elephants for the tusks. Since then, such fires have been lit twice to destroy confiscated rhino horns and ivory.The Athi River forms a natural boundary at the far end of the park, while fences keep the wildlife out of the nearby communities of Karen and Langata.
The National Museum in Nairobi is home to a variety of cultural and natural history exhibits. The displays include prehistoric artifacts discovered by the Leakeys, over 900 stuffed birds and animals, fossils from Lake Turkana, ethnic displays from various Kenyan tribal groups as well as local artistic exhibits.One of the major attractions at the National Museum is the People of Kenya tribal portraits by Joy Adamson (author of Born Free) and her watercolors of Kenyan flowers and plants.The Hominid Vault contains the 'early man' section and collection of bones and fossils from the pre-historic era. A fossil of an elephant almost preserved in its entirety and a near-complete skeleton of a 12 year old homo erectus boy are also featured. Skulls of Homo Sapiens and Homo Habilis as well as a cast of the famous 'Oldpai' hominid's footprints are of particular note. The Casting Department at the National Museum in Nairobi makes cast of important fossil findings to distribute to other museums around the world.An ornithological collection of birdlife in Kenya is represented through an extensive display at the National Museum as well as dioramas of Kenyan mammals in the mammal room. The Geology Gallery has information on tectonic plates and the life cycle of a volcano, in addition to a good collection of rocks and minerals.
The Railway Museum in Nairobi, located in an old railway building, is dedicated to the history of the railroad in Kenya. A collection of steam locomotives and rolling stock are on display including a model of the MV Liemba, built by the Germans and still in use along Lake Tanganyika. The carriage used during the hunt for the Maneater of Kima in 1900 is exhibited in the yard of the Railway Museum, a familiar story not unlike the Maneaters of Tsavo. In both tales, a lion halted the construction of the railway line by attacking laborers at their camps. The carriage on display was the one in which Captain Charles Ryall, a colonial officer, had positioned himself to shoot the man-eating lion; unfortunately he fell asleep along with his men and was dragged out the window by the lion.Train and ship models, photographs from the original construction of the Uganda Railway, Railway magazines, maps and drawings, and a silver service set used on overnight trains to Mombasa are other highlights at the Railway Museum in Nairobi. Many of the items including framed photographs, original reports and suppliers' catalogues are displayed in a glass case but can be utilized for research.The Engine Seat used by visiting dignitaries to shoot wildlife from the front of the train and the steam train used in the movie "Out of Africa" is highlights of the Railway Museum.
Uhuru Gardens is located near Wilson Airport, on Langata Road. The gardens are home to Nairobi's largest memorial to the struggle for Independence. The Uhuru monument is built on the spot where freedom (Uhuru) from British rule was declared at midnight on December 12th, 1963. The column of the Uhuru monument stands 24 meters high and supports a pair of clasped hands as well as the dove of peace. The column is over the statue of a group of freedom fighters raising the flag. Uhuru Gardens has a musical fountain and a viewing platform.In 2003, Uhuru Gardens was the site of a public destruction of arms. This symbolic ceremony took place on the third anniversary of the signature of the Nairobi Declaration on Small Arms and Light Weapons.
There are several Hindu and Sikh temples found throughout Nairobi, one of the most impressive is the Swami Narain Temple on Forest Road, a massive temple complex with an admirable collection of external statues.Nairobi is also home to many mosques. Jamia Mosque is located in the city center, the attractive twinned minarets are of particular note. The Khoja Mosque, built for followers of Aga Khan, is a landmark in Nairobi located directly beside the main city market.The predominantly Christian population in Nairobi worship at the countless churches throughout the city. At the city center is the large Holy Family Catholic Cathedral and the All Saints Cathedral, a gothic style Anglican church that was founded in 1917.
Riuki Cultural Center
Riuki Cultural Center is a traditional Kenyan village. Riuki provides information and practices relating to the traditional life styles, architecture, food, culture and dances of the Kikuyu. The Kikuyu are the largest community in Kenya. Culture at Riuki is presented through lectures, story telling and theatrical presentations.Activities offered at the Riuki Cultural Center include a guided tour of the homestead, doctor cleansing ceremonies, traditional food and drink tasting, dances, and a lecture on traditional lifestyle. Visitors are greeted by a group of elders and are welcomed in true Kikuyu style, with an invitation to drink from a horn filled with Muratina, a locally brewed drink.
The Parliament House in Nairobi is most recognized by its clock tower. The Parliamentary buildings were built in the 1950's. The motto over the main door reads: "For a just society and the fair government of men".Parliament is open to the public, the guards at the gate will tell you when the next session takes places so you can visit the public gallery. Tours of the buildings are also available by registering at the gatehouse and a tour guide will be assigned.Directly beside Parliament is the respectfully landscaped Mausoleum of Jomo Kenyatta, Republic of Kenya's First President.
The Snake Park is located adjacent to The National Museum. Built in the early 1960s, the Nairobi Snake Park was built to educate the public about snakes and the common reptiles of Kenya. Today, the Snake Park is home to over one hundred reptiles. Displays include a variety of East African snakes that are viewed in glass cages. The Snake Park collection features some of the deadliest snakes in Africa including black mamba and the puff adder.There is a lake within the Snake Park that is home to Nile crocodiles and fish from the great lakes - Tanganyika, Victoria and Nyasa.
Kenyatta Conference Centre
Kenyatta Conference Center has a 33-storey tower that overlooks a large amphitheater, built in the traditional shape of an African hut. The central plenary hall resembles the ancient Roman Senate. The viewing platform on the roof allows visitors to enjoy the view over Nairobi.This architecturally impressive building was named for the Republic's First President, Jomo Kenyatta. Located in the business district, the Kenyatta Conference Center has an exhibit hall, conference hall, and restaurants.
The National Archives is housed in the old Bank of India building. The main floor gallery has documents and a collection of photographs and paintings of Mzee Kenyatta and former President Moi. The former President is shown in his travels around the world, shaking hands with various dignitaries. Paintings from Joseph Murumbi's collection dominate the walls.The second floor is the National Archives reading room, which is used for personal and professional projects.An exhibition of Kenyan handicrafts is also on display at the National Archives.