This past summer we went on our dream trip and African Safari! We´ve been planning this trip along with my family for over a year and the excitement kept building up!. This trip was definitely one for the books and I have so many experiences and tips I want to share with you that I decided to break it up into three parts: Nairobi, Massai Mara, and The Serengeti.
Let me tell you more about our 36 hours in Nairobi. We flew in from Dubai and landed midday and our next flight to start our Safari at Massai Mara wasn't scheduled until two days later. We stayed at the beautiful and historic Fairmont Norfolk Hotel in the heart of Nairobi. I´m going, to be honest, we were not very excited about our quick stopover in Nairobi because we just couldn´t wait to be in the Safari but I´m glad we got to see it and experience city living in Kenya. They warned us in advance that traffic in Nairobi is brutal so we plan all of our activities in order to avoid being stuck in traffic.
Where we stayed:
Fairmont Norfolk Hotel: it´s centrally located, it´s been in Nairobi for ages and has lush gardens inside and that charming old Victorian Estate feel. What I liked the most was its location since we were close to good restaurants and markets and that one of the best restaurants in Nairobi is located onsite.
We also visited Hemingways Collection Hotel which is located a bit further out from the City Center and is simply beautiful! We went there for a late lunch before our late night flight back home and we enjoyed it a lot! Food was great but more than that the hotel itself has beautiful gardens and an impressive lobby area that transports you to another era. I think this hotel is a better choice.
What we ate:
As usual, this trip was centered around food! I did my research and picked these 3 restaurants and plan our daily activities based on our food schedule. We had a wonderful time, there´s something magical about being on vacation, surrounded by family, good wine and good food! These are the times that as a family we cherish, we always bond around food and wine.
Tatu: this is the restaurant inside the Norfolk Fairmont Hotel which also has a cool bar for pre-dinner cocktails on the porch. We had an amazing dinner here, I think their menu is contemporary Kenyan.American fusion. You´ll find international dishes with a bit of Kenyan flare. We got to try a lot of the dishes on the menu since we were a party of 7 and we all enjoyed every bite of it. My favorite was the lamb chops.
Graze Steakhouse: this restaurant is also located inside a trendy hotel Sankara, I really liked their atmosphere which was hip and cozy. The steak here was to die for!!! We had an amazing South African wine and we ordered different cuts to share with a spread of side dishes to share. I was impressed by the quality of the steaks.
Tamarind: We came for lunch after visiting a super cool market, it´s located in the posh Karen neighboorhood and has a beautiful garden where are the tables are set under umbrellas, at night their service is indoors. I highly recommend coming here at lunchtime and take advantage of the outdoor seating. I still reminisce about our quaint and relaxing lunch here, we were definitely on Africa time as we called it and enjoyed our glasses of wine, the sunshine, and the good company.
Most tour operators recommend to visit Carnivore where you can eat all different types of game meats but after reading some reviews we quickly realize that this wasn´t the best choice for us and I´m glad we went to these other restaurants instead.
Besides eating and drinking we also did other stuff! hahaha, we didn´t want to go to Nairobi´s National Park where you can do a game drive since we were going later to Massai Mara but if you are only visiting Nairobi then I think you should do it so you can get a taste of the wildlife and park is fairly big. We hired a private tour guide to take us around the city and we tailored our day to our likings. We went with DK Grand Safaris and it went great, the tour guide picked us up at the hotel in their super cool safari cars hahaha so we got a taste of how our next 10 days were going to be like. Here is what we visited:
The David Sheldrick elephant orphanage: we, of course, wanted to see the baby elephants being feed which only happens at 11 am every day so we drove around the city first and saw some of its landmarks and then we headed off to see baby elephants :), it takes about 30 minutes all depending on traffic. Your admission tickets its a contribution to the shelter that rescues elephants that lose their mom and they won't survive by themselves in the wild. When 11 am arrives the caretakers bring out the tiny elephants to an area where you can see how they drink their milk bottles. Some of them are still so small that they wear blankets to shield them from the cold weather.. cutest thing ever!
Utamaduni Artisans Market: THE BEST!!!! In this shop, you can find goods from more than 18 different artisan shops, in a clean and organized environment. No haggling here but after you see the quality of the crafts you won´t do it. I love love this place! We found so many cool things for our house, jewelry, and clothing even if you are not playing to buy anything (not sure how haha) it´s a great spot to see. There´s a restaurant inside the property called Makutano Grill that looked very good.
Massai Market: the market changes its location regularly but your tour guide will know where to find it. I really like this experience. The Massai´s have impressive craftsmanship and I bought some many cool things to bring home. The most amazing wire and knitted handbags, blankets and art. Be ready to haggle but also be mindful that this is their main source of income for their families so feel free to buy souvenirs for yourself, family and coworkers so you can contribute.
We took a well-deserved (that´s the lie I keep telling myself haha) message inside the hotel and we called it a day! Nairobi was a bustling city that it deserves a pit stop here so you can understand more about Kenya. One thing is for sure the Kenyans stole our hearts with their warmth and friendliness.
See you soon in Massai Mara!