Kenya's capital Nairobi is a cosmopolitan hub filled with boutiques and galleries. The city is a melting pot of cultures with a vibrant arts scene and pulsing nightlife, but there's also the chance to get up close to nature, with everything from baby elephants to lush green parks. When you take some time out in the nature reserves, you'll understand why the Maasai people call it 'the place of cool waters'.
You'll find laid-back hostels in Nairobi with en-suite rooms and leafy terraces with shaded tables. There's also a hostel with an outdoor fireplace and a cosy living room area, so you'll be snug indoors and out. Cricket fan? Right next to the Nairobi Gymkhana Club cricket grounds, there's a central hostel. Most Nairobi hostels here give you a free breakfast – take it out to the deck to feel the Kenyan morning breeze.
Nairobi National Park is the place to start when visiting the area. It's home to a lot of the country's wildlife, from antelopes to zebras, and is one of Kenya's most successful rhino sanctuaries. You can discover colonial buildings around the centre of town, including the old parliament with its very English clock tower. For sights, smells and bargains, the Parklands neighbourhood hosts one of the largest food markets in Nairobi, the City Park Hawkers market. Go here for local dishes like nyama choma (roasted goat or beef) and mandazis (Kenyan donuts).
Many animal attractions in Nairobi look after vulnerable species. Head to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust to see how the team cares for orphaned black rhinos and elephants. Meanwhile, the Giraffe Centre protects the endangered Rothschild's giraffe. If you're lucky, you might get the chance to hand-feed one of them. The Nairobi National Museum is another sight worth seeing. It's packed with natural history exhibits and fossils.
There are two airports in Nairobi. International flights usually arrive at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (15km from the city). It takes around 30-50 mins to reach the city by bus from here. Wilson Airport is 6km away and handles domestic flights. The bus or train ride into the city is about 45 minutes. Trains from Mombasa to Nairobi arrive and depart from Syokimau Railway Station, 19km from the city centre. To get around, you can use buses and matatus (minibuses).