Are you planning to go visit Nairobi?
Talk to our experts about the perfect planning for your holiday.
Kenya is a country situated on the eastern coast of the African continent. With a varied geography and much of northeastern bush-covered plains, the rest of the country consist of pristine beaches, scenic highlands and lake regions, a good portion of the Great Rift Valley, and the magnificent Mount Kenya. Kenya is one of the finest, and possibly the most famous safari destination in the world. But safari by no means the only reason to visit Kenya, for the attractions of its rich culture and diverse environments are considerable.
Nairobi is the capital and Kenya’s largest city, and its name comes from the Maasai phrase Enkare Nairobi, which translates to “the place of cool waters”. Nairobi is popularly known as the “Green City in the Sun”.
It is one of the most prominent cities in Africa both politically and financially, established hub for business and culture and is home to many companies and organizations, including the United Nations Environment Programme and the UN Office in Africa.
Nairobi offers many local attractions where you can learn about the history of the city and the cultures that make Kenya a unique destination for any type of traveler, as well as partake of international restaurants, shop, markets in a vibrant afro-urban scene.
- The citys name comes from the Maasai phrase ‘Enkare Nairobi’, meaning ‘cold water’.
- The Nairobi Stock Exchange located in the city is the largest in Africa second oldest exchange on the continent and fourth largest in terms of trading volume.
- During the 1990’s, the crime was so bad in the city that it was actually nicknamed ‘Nairobbery’. Around 2006 crime decreased but rose again in 2007.
- A friendlier nickname the city has received is the ‘Green City in the Sun’ due to the stretches of dense forest and warm climate.
- The lodge called ‘Ngong House’ in the city offers the ability to stay in a tree house.
- Though wealthy Kenyans live in Nairobi, a majority of the Nairobians are poor. Kibera, a division of Nairobi, is one of the largest and poorest slums in Africa.
- The Solar Ice Rink at the Panari Hotel’s Sky Centre is located in the city and is the largest ice rink in Africa covering 15,000 square feet.
- Nairobi National Park, the first national park in Kenya, homes more than 50 rhinos and over 400 species of birds, making it a wildlife sanctuary.
- Because school is not a requirement in Kenya, many children in Nairobi cannot attend school because it costs money for them to go.
- A unique restaurant called ‘The Carnivore’ in the city offers every kind of meat available and a drink called a ‘Dawa cocktail’, intended as a health revival potion and to sharpen taste buds.
In January, tourists can expect warm spring-like temperatures averaging around 80 degrees F in the day time. However, in the evenings, the temperatures can drop to the mid-50s after sunset.
January is a fabulous time to enjoy wildlife watching due to it being during the dry season. The end of January is also when Nairobi Restaurant Week begins.
February is the high season in Nairobi, Kenya. The days tend to be hot and dry, with temperatures continuing in the 80s.
The annual International Safaricom Jazz Festival is held in February, featuring community-based acts and international performers.
March is the start of big annual rainfalls in Nairobi and throughout Kenya. It is an affordable time to visit, however roads can be a bit unbearable, but it’s a great time for wildlife sightings due to the amount of still water for animals to drink.
Wildlife watching is customary in March in watering holes and wetlands. The annual Kenya Kite Festival also takes place in March.
April showers are prominent during this time, making it difficult for tourists to move about due to heavy rains. Thus, making it even more difficult to spot wildlife.
Locals tend to celebrate Good Friday and Easter Sunday, which are public holidays with small gatherings. Many establishments will be closed for these holidays.
Spring showers continue through May, bringing about lush greenery around the city. However, the rains let up by late May, making the horizon shine bright with stunning views by the end of the month.
Local Kenyans celebrate Labor Day by attending events in Uhuru Park hosted by the government.
By June, rain showers finally subside, and brighter days begin. By mid-June, the annual migration of zebra and wildebeests begin by the millions.
The annual Madaraka Day festival is held on June 1 to celebrate self-rule in Kenya. Madaraka in Swahili means “authority or ruling power.” The NBO Film Festival also takes place from early to mid-June annually.
Temperatures are warm in July, with an average temperature in the high 70s F making it an ideal time to visit. Tourists can enjoy an array of safari options during this high seasonal time. July also offers the lowest amount of rainfall in Nairobi.
The annual Kenya Safari Rally Motorsports competition typically occurs in Nairobi in July.
August is also part of the high season for visiting Nairobi. Average temperatures are mild in the mid-70s F but if you’re planning a visit, make sure to book your accommodations early as prices can be steep with low availability.
The Kenya Music Festival is typically held in August over a 10-day period in Nairobi, bringing about international acts and a host of African performers from across the continent.
September is another drier and cooler month in Nairobi, making it a great time to visit the bustling city. Highs average in the lower 70s F.
The Nairobi International Trade Fair begins in late September; the Agricultural Society of Kenya hosts.
Late October is the start of the short rainy season. However, it is still a fantastic time to visit as it’s the beginning of both the migratory bird and wildebeest season for those interested in safari drives.
Nairobi hosts the international rugby Tusker Safari Sevens. It brings about world-class rugby players for the annual tournament.
November brings about more short rainy periods, with an average of 2 inches of rain overall throughout the month. However, the short rains are perfect for animal watchers as it minimally disrupts the animal viewing.
The formal Maulid Festival takes place outside of Nairobi in Lamu, which is when Muslims celebrate the birth of Prophet Mohammed. However, tourists can expect to see locals having smaller gatherings within Nairobi city and at parks and establishments.
December is an ideal time to visit Nairobi due to magnificent mild weather and affordable prices since it is not high season. The city is primarily lush and green, offering incredibly scenic views.
The annual Pawa Festival is a street festival that hosts various visual and performing artists. Also taking place in December on an annual basis is the Jamhuri Day festival, celebrating when Kenya officially became a republic.
- Visit Nairobi National Park
- David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust – orphan-elephant rescue and rehabilitation program
- Giraffe Centre – sanctuary for endangered Rothschild’s giraffes
- Karura Forest Reserve – one of the largest urban forests in the world
- Karen Blixen Museum – former home of the famous author of Out of Africa book
- Nairobi National Museum – displays diverse cultural and natural history of Kenya
- Nairobi National Museum | meaduva / photo modified
- Bomas of Kenya – living museum celebrating the colorful tribes of Kenya, great place to learn about their lifestyle, art, music, crafts, and culture
- Kenyatta International Conference Centre – round-shaped building that offers breathtaking 360-degree views from its rooftop viewing deck
- Railway Museum – celebrates the rich history of the railroad in Kenya and its impact on the nation’s development
Kenya’s main airport is Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NBO), located 15km/9mi southeast of Nairobi. Kenya’s second international Airport is Moi International Airport (MBA), located 9km/6mi west of Mombasa, but aside from flights to Zanzibar, this is primarily used for domestic and charter flights.
From Nairobi or Mombasa, one can fly or drive between reserves, or opt to do a bit of both. Most domestic flights out of Nairobi depart from Wilson Airport (WIL), 6km/4mi south of Nairobi.
Average temperatures in Nairobi vary very little. Considering humidity, temperatures feel very enjoyable all year with a very low chance of rain or snow throughout the year. The area is among the most temperate — in the 99th percentile for pleasant weather — compared to tourist destinations worldwide. Weeks with ideal weather are listed above. If you’re looking for the very warmest time to visit Nairobi, the hottest months are March, February, and then January. See average monthly temperatures below. The warmest time of year is generally early March where highs are regularly around 82°F (27.8°C) with temperatures rarely dropping below 60.9°F (16.1°C) at night.
Do you need expert tips on planning for your next safari in Africa?
Share your email here