Searching for stories about happiness in Kenya also includes sightseeing and relaxing … or both at the same time. In our blog ‘Best national parks for spotting the big 5 in Kenya‘ we share our experiences as wildlife spotters. Besides visiting the national parks we stayed in Nairobi and in Diani Beach, and we did a short visit to the coastal town Mombasa. Here are our highlights visiting Nairobi, Mombasa and Diani beach.
Highlights visiting Nairobi, Mombasa and Diani beach
Urban eatery – We stayed in the Westlands of Nairobi and the Urban eatery was only a few minutes away. From the moment we entered this restaurant we fell in love with this place. It’s a sort of Asian food-court but then upgraded to business class and food from all over the world. Ok, not really a place with local food but it is a beautiful and relaxing place in the midst of the chaos in Nairobi.
Tin roof café – In Nairobi there are not that many things to do and only a few hidden gems, at least that is what we think. The Tin Roof Café is a hidden gem you don’t want to miss. We stopped here for lunch after visiting the elephant & rhino nursery and immediately got big smiles on our faces.
In the blink of an eye, you walk from the hectic streets of Nairobi into a quiet garden setting
They have great coffee, amazing juices, an Ottolenghi salad bar and a commitment to healthy eating. We didn’t need anything else! This is one of our favorite highlights visiting Nairobi, Mombasa and Diani beach.
Elephant and rhino nursery – After seeing all the animals in their natural habitat we didn’t think that we’re going to like this place. However, it is said to be one of the must do’s when in Nairobi and we had some time to kill. We must say we didn’t regret going here. The Sheldrick Wildlife Trust does an impressive job. They operate the world’s most successful orphan-elephant rescue and rehabilitation program and is one of the pioneering conservation organizations for wildlife and habitat protection in East Africa. Their mission is to embrace all measures that complement the conservation, preservation, and protection of wildlife including anti-poaching, safeguarding the natural environment, enhancing community awareness, addressing animal welfare issues, providing veterinary assistance to animals in need, rescuing and hand rearing elephant and rhino orphans, along with other species that can ultimately enjoy a quality of life in wild terms when grown.
It is so special to see the elephants being fed while they play around in a muddy waterhole. There is only a thin rope between you and the elephants so you’re able to touch them.
Every elephant has a story that is shared
A trip to the elephant nursery is something you must do when you travel to Nairobi. During your visit, you’ll see the baby elephants arrive for their midday feeding and mud bath. Beware that they are only open for one hour a day, between 11 am and 12 pm so plan your visit and arrive early to have the best spot! The entrance fee is around USD 5. You can even adopt an elephant for USD 50 a year including regular updates on how your elephant is doing.
Giraffe center – This is one of Kenya’s good conversation stories. This center protects the highly endangered Rothschild’s giraffe and combines serious conservation with enjoyable activities. The Giraffe Centre was started by Jock Leslie-Melville, the Kenyan grandson of a Scottish Earl, when he and his wife Betty captured a baby giraffe to start a programme of breeding giraffe in captivity at their home in Langata – home of the present center. Since then the programme has had huge success, resulting in the introduction of several breeding pairs of Rothschild Giraffe into Kenyan national parks.
It is not big and you can spend an hour or so observe, hand-feed or, look for some additional love, kiss one of the giraffes. There are also some warthogs, or Pumbas for fans of the Lion King movie, snuffling around in the mud.
Today the population numbers more than 300, and the center has successfully released these noble animals into Lake Nakuru National Park (home to around 45 giraffes), Mwea National Reserve, Ruma National Park and Nasalot National Reserve.
To start with, to us Mombasa is not a must do when in Kenya. We stayed a few days in the Kenyaways beach resort at Diani Beach and Mombasa was only a relatively short ride. With a guide we booked through our hotel we visited Fort Jesus, the Old Town including the Mandhry Mosque, the Spices Market, and the Shri Cutch Satsang Swaminarayan Temple.
We always prefer just strolling around and with a guide, it makes it a bit easier. Mombasa is messy, dirty and hectic. There are only a few tourists walking around so you’re quite an attraction to the locals. Don’t take too much stuff with you so you don’t have to watch your belongings that much.
We had lunch at the hip and industrial Urban Streetfood Restaurant where they have a diverse menu including great coffee, small plates of hummus, juicy burgers and gorgeous fresh juices. A more than fair place in the center of Mombasa.
In the midst of the Old Town, we walked by the Forodhani restaurant. We didn’t eat here but it looked very nice and the view of the harbor is great.
Concluding we must say that Mombasa is not one of our highlights visiting Nairobi, Mombasa and Diani beach.
The east-coast of Kenya has amazing beaches. Think of the best-photoshopped picture of sparkling white sand and seas of the purest sapphire blue … that’s what you get here without any Instagram filters needed.
Some beach activities include sea kayaking, kite-surfing, snorkeling, SUP-ing, and diving. We tried to surf some waves but it is not the best places for it and there was only one very old surfboard so that really didn’t work out. It could also have been that our skills were not up to the challenge.
Kenyaways resort – We love this place! It is not a big multi-storey beach resort that ruins the spectacular views. No, it is a quaint 10 bedroom guesthouse right on the beach with some huts, a small pool, a shop, a kite-surf school and a bar/restaurant.
It is not the most luxurious place at Diani Beach but it is the best place to enjoy the casual, laid-back, barefoot lifestyle of the Kenyan coast
The owners are great and the inspiring stories of two members of their staff, Stevie and Susan, we will remember for the rest of our lives. Definitely one of our highlights visiting Nairobi, Mombasa and Diani beach.
Ali Barbour’s cave – If you want to treat yourself to some more luxury in a unique place, this is where you need to go. The cave is thought to be almost 200.000 years old but it was just 30 years ago that a restaurant opened here. Some parts of the restaurant have an open ceiling and this provides a view up to the sky. They specialize in seafood and steak but also have some veggie dishes. We enjoyed the place very much. Note that it is a bit pricey.
Forty Thieves – Associated with Ali Barbour’s cave is this venue called Forty Thieves. It is not a Bali or Ibiza like beach club but a little more basic. A larger part of the floor is just sand and the sea almost comes up to your table. Food and drinks are fairly priced, the atmosphere is relaxed and views are beautiful.
Sails – Some say they have the best food of Diani Beach … and we have to say that we had the best lunch on a Kenyan beach you can imagine. This place is the neighbor of Kenyaways resort and a more classy place. You will get a VIP-treatment for prices that are more than fair. The place also looks amazing with architecture that is both stunning and unique. They serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Definitely one of our Highlights visiting Nairobi, Mombasa and Diani beach in Kenya.
Nomad at the sands – Another beautiful place at Diani Beach with shady palm trees hanging low and simply but elegantly decorated. The menu is diverse and the service is great. A great place to start, spend or end your day at Diani Beach!
Highlights visiting Nairobi, Mombasa and Diani beach in Kenya