Nairobi was somewhere I was looking forward to seeing on our African tour. Its name conjures images of safari animals, vast national parks and vibrant colour in fabrics, art work and local culture. We wanted to really feel the heartbeat of the city and choice the Trademark Hotel for accommodation…
Enjoy a comfortable stay at the Trademark
I am not quite sure what I was expecting, but the Trademark Hotel is new, modern and very stylish with an impressive smudge grey frontage and huge areas of reflective glass. This hotel is one of the chain of hotels bearing the same name. It has been designed with businessmen in mind and certainly has excellent facilities for the business world including smart conference facilities.
We were warmly welcomed at the Reception and were speedily taken through the COVID procedure before being shown to our room. Our suitcases were already there! The room was decorated in shades of grey with crisp dazzling white bed linen. The bathroom was elegant with a walk-in rainfall shower and complimentary toiletries.
We ventured out into the city and within a few moments we were at the Mall named ‘Village Market’. There seemed to be plenty of places to eat round and about the hotel, but we decided that the hotel’s Harvest Restaurant sounded appealing.
Dining at the Harvest Restaurant
The Harvest Restaurant is informal and cheerfully, decorated with plenty of light wood wall panelling that enhances the gold, grey and white patterned chairs.
We were hungry so we were delighted with the menu selection. Everyone loves meat in Nairobi and certainly there were plenty of meaty options, but some great fish and seafood dishes and several choices for vegetarians. Whilst we waited for our meal, I perused the international wine list, which had plenty of variety. The starters are from ‘garden, land or sea’ or there were several soups. The Chef prides himself on sourcing most of the produce he uses from local growers, For our main we plumped for the pan-seared Red Snapper and were delighted with the quality and presentation of the dish.
We couldn’t resist the Chocolate Buffalo Dessert which is for two people – decadent or what!! Really rich chocolate grenache with chocolate sponge, topped by creamy vanilla ice cream.
During our stay, we became very familiar with the Harvest as it serves great lunchtime snacks too. Good food is obviously very important in this hotel, because the day starts with an excellent breakfast – either continental or full English.
Great amenities in Nairobi
We wanted to see as much of Nairobi as possible so we didn’t take advantage of the hotel’s fitness centre or spa, but we did have a go in the snooker hall which has a huge modern stained glass window. I like to think that I was so busy admiring it that it put me off my game!
Getting around Nairobi
Whilst I hotel was central, we wanted to travel further afield too. There are several transport options, but after talking with hotel staff and guests, we opted for taxis and were lucky that they could be picked up just outside the Trademark Hotel. The big tip is that because there is no taxi meter, agree the fare first.
There are several bus companies; the main one is KBS but you have to squeeze yourself on and it is almost impossible to get off at your chosen stop. City Hoppa and MM are the others. The central bus station is where you find buses to Karen and Langata There is also the Matabus which is a shared minibus – good in theory, but often overloaded and some of the drivers’ skills are questionable.
Ten great things to do in Nairobi
1. Nairobi National Park
Spot the ‘big 5’ was top of my list so we visited the Nairobi National Park – also known as Kifaru Park (kifaru means rhino in Kiswahali), this amazing game reserve is situated on the edge of the city. It covers only 117 sq km, so as game reserves go, it is small, but there is every chance for you to spot lions, cheetah, leopards, zebra. The reserve is world known for its breeding programme for the endangered black rhino.
We didn’t have our own wheels, so we joined the shuttle which makes a 2.5 tour on a Sunday starting at 2.00p.m. – its popular so book well in advance.’
2. Explore Ologesailie
This amazing archaeological site lies just south of Nairobi and has tools and other artefacts used by its earliest inhabitants nearly a million years ago.
3. Visit the City Park Hawkers market.
This is great for local fruit and vegetables but is also the place to buy really authentic food from the small restaurants. Live like a local and sample Ugali and nyama chroma (grilled meat) for lunch.
4. Walk the Nairobi Safari Walk
This is awesome! It is situated just outside the city and is seven kilometres of raised wooden walkway through lush vegetation. It is a conservation programme that encourages everyone to enjoy seeing wildlife in its natural setting.
5. Admire the Great Rift Valley
If you are travelling out of the city towards Masai Mara make a stop to see the Great Rift Valley. This is an awesome geological feature as it stretches from Lebanon to Mozambique. Stop where you see a huddle of wooden tea shops, enjoy a cuppa and take some amazing photos for Instagram.
6. Buy some authentic souvenirs.
The Maasai Market is the perfect place to find some great mementos, the only problem is that the market moves to a different location each day of the week. There are wood carvings, leather bags, local paintings and fabrics, but you must keep your wits about you and will need good negotiating skills.
7. Visit Mamba Village
I am glad we asked about the word ‘mamba’ – it means crocodile and there is a crocodile sanctuary in this village near Karen. Visitors can watch the crocs basking and enjoying their mea – from a safe distance!
8. Admire ostriches
Nairobi is certainly the place to visit if you like wildlife! We visited the Maasi Ostrich Fun where you can get up close and personal with these huge flightless birds. What was great fun, was that we were able to try riding one! If you are hungry you can sample an ostrich meat platter, which tasted surprisingly good.
9. Walk with the elephants at the Elephant Orphanage
Run by the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, the Elephant Orphanage was begun in the 1970s to care for young orphan elephants until they are old enough to be released back into the wild. We arrived there at 11,00 which was perfect timing to see the cute baby elephants being fed and to hear the presentation about the orphanage.
10. Enjoy the Carnivore Restaurant
What better end to your day than a visit to the iconic Carnivore Restaurant? As you arrive at the entrance, you see the huge barbecue pit (nyama chroma) and feel its heat. This popular open air restaurant has game on its menu and you pay a flat price and eat all you can. There is camel, ostrich and crocodile to sample. The secret is to put your flag flat on the table for a few minutes and the servers will stop replenishing your plates. Raise the flag and your plate is speedily replenished!
Don’t be shy to follow your dreams!
Your Darya Yakovleva