Here is a list of the best day trips from Nairobi. Kenya is more than the Maasai Mara, Amboseli National Park, and Naivasha, with a number of lesser-known but horizon-expanding escapes available from Nairobi. Treat your senses to these amazing alternative destinations, which range from waterfalls to nature trails.
It is never too late to explore your country or city. Local travel is also much less expensive and more convenient. Here are some budget-friendly travel destinations to satisfy your wanderlust.
Best Day Trips From Nairobi
1. Lord Egerton Castle
Lord Egerton Castle is a fortress-style house located 14 kilometres outside of Nakuru, Kenya. Maurice Egerton, 4th Baron Egerton, laid the foundation stone in 1938. Albert Brown was the architect. Construction was completed in 1954. The castle’s management was transferred to Egerton University, which became a museum over time. In a gazette notice dated March 25, 1996, it was added to Kenya’s list of national monuments.
Make sure to give this 52-room stately home more than a flying visit and take in its impressive architecture and tranquil ambience. While it may be a fair trek, situated just over three hours from Nairobi, near Nakuru, the travel is worth it.
2. Zaina Falls, Nyeri
Zaina Falls is one of the most breathtaking waterfalls in Kenya and is considered a hidden tourist destination. It is located in the hilly and green Nyeri County, Kenya, which is on average over 2,000 metres above sea level. A 10-kilometre drive from Nyeri town westwards at the foot of the Aberdares Ranges in Zaina Forest, found in Tetu District. Its predominantly agricultural area features tea, coffee, and dairy farming. The environment also shares a hardworking community that largely believes in nature conservation.
It is to be noted that the late Nobel Prize winner, Professor Wangari Mathai, was born and brought up in this region. Also, the legendary MauMau Field Mashal Dedan Kimathi’s home is 5 kilometres away from Zaina Falls. The landscape near the falls allows a clear view of the River Chania and River Zaina as they beautifully meander and confluence in the valley. From the main road to the foot of the falls, it is a 1.5-kilometer hike.
Gorgeous and natural footpath sandwiched by two ranges along the Zaina River Valley, a bushy environment with indigenous trees guarding the path all along to the falls. The mighty phenomenon draws nearer and more evident. Eventually, the drizzles wash your face, keeping you a few metres away from the falling volumes of water. On average, it’s 100 metres in vertical length. Other activities include bird watching, swimming, and fishing. Zaina Falls has a relaxing environment favourable for tenting where wild animals are electrically fenced 5km above the falls. Its beautiful scenery will leave you with no regrets.
3. Ol Pejeta Conservancy
Ol Pejeta is the largest black rhino sanctuary in East and Central Africa and home to the last two remaining northern white rhinos in the world. It is also the only place in Kenya to see chimpanzees, in a sanctuary established to rehabilitate animals rescued from the black market. It has some of the highest predator densities in Kenya and manages a very successful livestock programme.
Ol Pejeta is well known for the incredible wildlife experience it gives its visitors and is a four-hour drive from the capital. As a wildlife conservancy, Ol Pejeta is keen to receive help from visitors, so be prepared to get your hands dirty. Seek out the lions, go birdwatching and even bring out your best David Attenborough impression by identifying different animal tracks.
4. Lake Ol Bolossat
Lake Ol Bolossat is a beautiful spot to the west of the Aberdare Range that is well known for its huge catfish and plentiful hippos. To get the complete experience, you can stay over at one of the Samawati Lakeside Cottages or the Kichakani Cabins—the perfect one-night getaway from Nairobi.
5. Karura Forest
Karura Forest is situated close to the city centre, making it an excellent location for day trips outside Nairobi. It’s popular among hikers and nature lovers looking to escape the chaos of the metropolis and find some solitude.
With its serene atmosphere, Karura is the perfect place to spend time alone or with friends. It has well-marked trails for cycling, walking, jogging, and hiking. You can watch birds, see a waterfall, or explore a cave during the walk. The forest also has a great picnic and team-building spot for larger groups. For first-time visitors, exploring Karura Forest with someone who enjoys nature and knows the trails well is recommended. You can ask the office attendant to connect you with a guide or join a day tour.
6. Kiambethu Tea Farm
Kiambethu Farm at Limuru provides a tranquil insight into life on a settler farm. It’s one of the oldest in the country, dating back to the early 1900s. They offer tours from Thursday to Sunday each week, starting at 11 am. The owner, Fiona, starts by taking visitors through a brief history of the farm and the process of growing tea, which her family has been doing since 1910. This is followed by a guided tour through bright green tea fields and a shady, indigenous forest where you can spot colobus monkeys.
Guests are then invited to enjoy a freshly prepared vegetarian lunch, made with ingredients from the garden and topped off with homemade ice cream made from the milk of resident cows. Afterwards, visitors can admire the different species of birds and flowers and the view that stretches to the Ngong Hills. The area is about 30 km from the city centre and hosts several tea and coffee farms. It also features beautiful landscapes of the central highlands, which were once colonial farmlands.
7. Mount Longonot
This national park is located about 75 kilometres from Nairobi and offers visitors an opportunity for adventure and connection with nature. If you enjoy the great outdoors, make sure you don’t miss out on the hiking here. The trail starts at the park’s gate and follows a marked path (with a section of steep stairs) towards the crater’s rim. From there, you can complete a 7.2-kilometre loop around the crater or head back.
This game park has few wild animals, but you might spot gazelles, zebras, and giraffes if you’re lucky. You’ll also marvel at the crater and have beautiful views of the surrounding landscapes and sights, including Lake Naivasha. If you make it around the rim, you’ll spot the mini crater, which stands on one face of the mountain—mostly in photos. Although some experienced hikers underestimate this trail, it’s tough, and you should be well-prepared before setting off. We recommend wearing proper gear and starting early. For a better experience, you can join an organised tour from Nairobi.
8. Hell’s Gate National Park and Lake Naivasha
Hell’s Gate National Park is named after a narrow break in the cliffs, once a tributary of a prehistoric lake that fed early humans in the Rift Valley, which lies 100 kilometres northwest of Nairobi. This park is a perfect day trip from Nairobi, especially for those who enjoy cycling. Here, you can rent a bike and ride around the park, which is the perfect way to explore. Afterwards, head on over to Lake Naivasha and take a boat ride. This is a great opportunity to see hippos, eagles, and other animals up close. Hell’s Gate and Lake Naivasha are usually combined as a tour, which can be booked together.
9. Kitengela Hot Glass Studio
It is one of the few places in the world that makes glass items from recycled glass. Kitengela Hot Glass is not located in Kitengela but rather in Ongata Rongai, Kajiado County. You will not get to Rongai town but you will take a left turn at Maasai Lodge Road. From there, you take the turn to Africa Nazarene University and drive past it. From that point, you will notice the signs leading to Kitengela Hot Glass.
A visit to Kitengela Hot Glass starts with a slightly nerve-wracking walk along a suspension bridge over a gorge. Once across, enjoy a stroll around the studio grounds, which are dotted with colourful sculptures, glass objets d’art, mosaics and the occasional grazing zebra. Be sure to catch one of the impressive glass-blowing demonstrations, which show how each piece takes its shape.
Visitors can snap up a variety of vases, glasses, lampshades and more at a discounted rate in the shop. Each piece is unique and made with 100% recycled glass. Afterwards, take a break at the cafe, which serves a selection of tasty snacks and offers visitors an impressive view over the gorge.
10. Savage Wilderness
Savage Wilderness is one for thrill-seekers. Twenty-five years ago, Mark Savage pioneered whitewater rafting on Kenya’s Athi River. Today, rafting is one of the adventure operator’s most popular activities, with a range of different rapids to suit every level.
If you don’t feel like getting wet, there are plenty of other activities on offer, from mountain biking across the dry plains to rock climbing. Novice climbers can practice on a climbing wall before scaling bigger heights. Located in Sagana, this place is a little further afield but the natural surroundings are worth it. The experienced team of outdoor experts will take you along winding rivers and up rock faces for an action-packed adventure you won’t forget.