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Nairobi—whose name derives from the Maasai phrase Enkare Nairobi, or “cool water”—transcends the initial impressions of its name. Visiting the Nairobi National Museum, recently or the Nairobi National Park, which is home to 400 species of birds, reminds you of the city’s storied culture. But the beating pulse of the city can be found on the street, where the Masai Market, local coffee shops, and bustling barbeque restaurants have given the green city a new edge.
The sleepy, rolling Ngong Hills were a source of inspiration for Beyond Africa, Karen Blixen’s seminal colonial novel. Her descriptions take on significance when you look upon these peaceful hills for the first time: verdant pathways lead into the sky and, on the other side, views of the Great Rift Valley drop over 3,281 feet below.
Blixen’s spirit lives beyond the Ngong Hills, and the titular museum which her name now ascribes is a paean to her lifework. The Karen Blixen Museum has now become an unmissable excursion in Nairobi. Having lived onsite in the early 20th century, Blixen transformed the former coffee plantation into an inspiring place, visible in the various pieces of furniture, photographs, and bronze bust that have been pristinely memorialized.
As one of the most important nature reserves and breeding stations for giraffes in East Africa, the Giraffe Center in Nairobi is unmissable if you’re an admirer of these craned giants. Here, you’ll be able to feed the friendly Rothschild giraffes from towering platforms—and let them lick the pellets from your hand with their raspy tongues.
Nairobi National Park may be only four miles away from Nairobi, but the unkept wilderness you’ll find here is second to none. Cheetahs, leopards, lions, and Masai giraffes roam freely there, not to mention Black Rhinos: the park is one of the few places where you can still see these beasts in the wild. Here, a unique world opens up and gives you detailed insights into the wildlife of the savannah.
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