15 Best Day Trips from Nairobi in 2023 – Goats On The Road

Estimated read time 23 min read


There are many incredible places to visit and things to do in Nairobi. The city is home to museums, monuments, galleries, nightclubs and more. However, if you prefer to avoid being constrained within city limits, several day trips from Nairobi are worth making. Some of the best include going on wildlife safaris, hiking, and adventures in the wild.

Nairobi, the gateway to Kenya, is a sprawling metropolis that doubles up as one of the best travel destinations in the country. Its attractions, nightlife joints, markets, and historical sites make it a place of fun, culture, and adventure. Because of its vast nature, however, it can also be overwhelming; even for someone like me, who has lived there for over a decade.

Luckily, Nairobi day trips allow visitors a short break from the hectic traffic and bustle of the city. You can see elephants in Amboseli, hike at Mount Longonot, cycle at Hell’s Gate, and much more.

Best Day Trips from Nairobi

two giraffs outside of nairobi

Here’s a list of the best day trips from Nairobi for those seeking a short escape from the Kenyan capital. You can take a bus, hire a car, or join a guided tour to these places where fun activities await. As a native of Kenya, as much as I love my current home of Nairobi, there are so many great day trips to be had – I’ve enjoyed all of the ones on this list.

So, if you’re looking for weekend getaways, spontaneous tours, or a day safari outside my home city, read on. I’ll share my favorite day trips out of Nairobi.

1. Nairobi National Park

a female lion walking through nairobi national park

A game drive at Nairobi National Park makes for one of the best day trips from Nairobi’s city center, where you can capture abundant wildlife and Nairobi’s skylines in one frame. You’ll see giraffes walking majestically and lions enjoying their prey, among other animals in their natural habitat.

I love this park due to its proximity to the city center and Kenya’s major transport hubs (airports, bus stations, and train stations). This allows first-time visitors and those with limited time in the country to enjoy a memorable trip. One can arrive in Kenya, explore the park, and catch their connecting flight or train within 6 hours.

This day trip is also ideal and convenient for locals who reside in Nairobi and are perhaps unable to travel to other parks in the country.

In addition to game-watching and beautiful views of the city’s tall buildings, one can visit the Nairobi Safari Walk and see the Ivory Burning Site Monument – a historic location that demonstrates the commitment to zero tolerance of the ivory trade and protection of the elephants.

Location: About 8 Km from the city center and 12 Km from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA). Click here for directions to Lang’ata gate.
Getting There: The best way to experience the park is by joining a day trip from anywhere in Nairobi. You can also hire a car or take a bus from the city center. Buses (and matatus) to the park are boarded at the Railways Bus Station. Ask the driver to drop you at the national park.
Best Tour from Nairobi: Nairobi National Park Game Drive. Click here to book.
Must-Do Activities: Game viewing, visiting the ivory burning site, and picnicking.
Where to Eat: If you’re into meat dishes, head to the nearby Carnivore Restaurant. Utamaduni Restaurant is also a great option.

2. Karura Forest

green grass, trees and a lake at karura forest

Karura Forest is situated close to the city center, 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. Whichever option you choose, make sure you fully experience the beauty and tranquility of this gem.

Location: About 20 minutes from the city center. Click here for directions.
Getting There: The best way to Karura is by hailing a taxi (like Uber) and access via Gate C along Kiambu Road. Or, joining a day trip.
Best Tour from Nairobi: Urban Forest Tour. Click here to book.
Must-Do Activities: Hiking, bike riding, bird watching, exploring caves, and chasing a waterfall.
Where to Eat: The River Café. Click here for directions, or view their website.

3. Ngong Hills (One of the Best Day Trips from Nairobi for Hiking)

the ngong hills outside of nairobi

I love hiking in Kenya, and Ngong Hills tops my list of trails near Nairobi. The trail is part of the Ngong Hills Forest, around an hour away from the city. Here, you can go on a moderate adventure while enjoying beautiful scenery. You can see the city, Nairobi National Park, and the Great Rift Valley on a clear day.

Ngong Hills trail can be accessed via two gates (Kona Baridi and Ngong), offering hikers an opportunity for a point-to-point or out-and-back (22 km) experience. I prefer using the Ngong gate at the Kenya Forest Service post. From there, you can do an out-and-back trip and enjoy lunch at the Kompass too.

Hiking Ngong Hills is considered challenging, and while you don’t need a guide, you should use an app such as AllTrails. However, if you’re alone, consider joining this tour, which includes ziplining at the Kompass. You can also opt for the company of a Kenya Forest Service ranger at a fee of $20.

Location: About one hour from Nairobi. Click here for directions to the trailhead.
Getting There: The best way to get to Ngong Hills is to hire a car or join a tour. You can also use a Matatu (from the Railways Bus Station) to Ngong Town. From there, hail a motorcycle taxi to the trailhead.
Best Tour from Nairobi: 1-Day Ngong Hills Hiking and Zip Line Adventure. Click here to book.
Must-Do Activities: Hiking and ziplining.
Where to Eat: Kompass Restaurant. Click here for directions.

4. Elephant Sanctuary

a baby elephant being bottle fed by a man at the elephant sanctuary outside of nairobi

The Elephant Nursery (David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust) is a favorite among conservation enthusiasts as a one-day trip near Nairobi. It’s also frequently visited by first-time visitors and those who want to see elephants up close near the city.

Visiting this nursery is one of the best things to do in Nairobi. You’ll learn how the center adopts and cares for calves before they are re-introduced into their natural habitat. It was started by David Sheldrick, who is also remembered as one of the founding wardens of Tsavo National Park.

The center is open to visitors for just one hour daily (11:00 AM – 12:00 PM) and does not allow walk-ins. Therefore, if you plan a visit, be sure to make a reservation in advance. You can also book a day tour; your guide will handle everything.

Location: Inside Nairobi National Park, off Magadi Road. Click here for directions.
Getting There: The best way to the nursery is by car via the KWS Central Workshop Gate, off Magadi Road.
Best Tour from Nairobi: David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage Tour. Click here to book.
Must-Do Activities: Learn about the rescued elephants and the center’s conservation efforts.
Where to Eat: Java House at Galleria Shopping Mall. Click here for directions, or view their website.

5. Giraffe Center

a giraffe and a warthog in kenya

The Giraffe Center is one of the most popular destinations for fun day trips around Nairobi. It takes care of the endangered giraffe species (Rothschild) and offers education on wildlife conservation. Besides watching and feeding the giraffes, you can take a short walk in the adjacent nature trail.

Giraffe Center is part of the “Nairobi Day tours circuit,” including the Nairobi National Park, Karen Blixen Museum, and the Elephant Nursery. There are several day trips to these places. Click here to find out more about my favorite option.

Location: Along Duma Road in Karen – about 40 minutes from the city center. Click here for directions.
Getting There: The most convenient way of getting there is to self-drive, hire a car, or join a tour.
Best Tour from Nairobi: Giraffe Center Day Trip. Click here to book.
Must-Do Activities: See and feed giraffes, walk in nature, and learn about conservation.
Where to Eat: Cultiva Farm Restaurant. Click here for directions, or view their website.

6. Karen Area

bracelets with colourful beads in kenya

Karen is one of the best neighborhoods in Nairobi. This posh and chilled suburb is situated outside Nairobi and hosts some of the best tourist attractions near the city. It’s also home to some of the best shopping malls and restaurants in Nairobi.

If you’re looking for Nairobi day trips that don’t involve wildlife, head to Karen. Here, you can take a nature hike, visit a small museum, or shop for gifts. Some of my favorite places to visit in this area include Oloolua Nature Trail, Kazuri Beads Factory, and Karen Blixen Museum. After exploring these sites, you can visit the Bomas of Kenya to experience local culture.

Location: About 30 minutes from the city center. Click here for directions.
Getting There: Karen is best accessed by Matatus (boarded at Railways Bus Station). You can also join a tour.
Best Tour from Nairobi: Check out these tours – Cultural Tour to Bomas of Kenya and Karen Blixen Museum.
Must-Do Activities: Hike at Oloolua, learn the story of Karen Blixen, and shop at Kazuri.
Where to Eat: The Talisman Restaurant. Click here for directions, or view their website.

7. Lake Naivasha

a partially submerged hippo swimming at lake naivasha

A road trip to the resort town of Naivasha is one of the best day tours from Nairobi. The journey along A104 will take you through the Kenyan countryside and then along the Great Rift Valley, before finally taking you to the shores of Lake Naivasha.

This freshwater lake is located along Moi South Lake Road. Its shores are dotted with several attraction sites, making it the perfect destination for day trips from Nairobi by car. These places of interest include wildlife sanctuaries, smaller lakes, dining spots, and campsites.

My favorite thing to do here is to take a boat ride to see hippos and watch lake birds such as white pelicans and fish eagles. After the ride, I always stop at Karagita Beach to interact with locals. I also love eating fried fish served with ugali and green vegetables, popular along the lake.

After the lake tour, you can choose from the many activities in Naivasha. These include exploring Crescent Island, visiting Lake Oloiden, and riding horses at The Sanctuary Farm. Check out our complete guide on things to do in Naivasha.

Location: About 96 Km northwest of Nairobi. Click here for directions.
Getting There: The best way to get from Nairobi to Lake Naivasha is by joining a day tour. You can also use a Matatu (boarded along River Road), self-drive, or hire a van.
Best Tour from Nairobi: Lake Naivasha Day Tour with Crescent Island. Click here to book.
Must-Do Activities: Take a boat ride, explore Lake Oloiden, or visit Sanctuary Farm.
Where to Eat: Ranch House Bistro or Fisherman’s Camp.

8. Hell’s Gate (One of the Best Day Trips from Nairobi for Adventure)

hell's gate kenya

I’ve stayed in Naivasha for three months and visited the town several times. My favorite thing to do nearby is to explore Hell’s Gate National Park off Moi South Lake Road. This national park offers plenty of unique activities, requiring a day trip on its own – separate from other sightseeing tours in Naivasha.

Driving and walking in the park is excellent, but I find cycling most interesting. You can bring a personal bike or hire one at the Elsa Gate and then hit the 7 Km dirt road inside the park where you’ll spot zebras, giraffes, antelopes, and buffalos along the way.

Other equally fantastic attractions include Fisher’s Tower, Pride Rock, Ol-Jorwa Gorge, rock cliffs, and beautiful landscapes. After the ride, you can go for a relaxing swim at the naturally heated Olkaria Geothermal Spa.

To get the best of Hell’s Gate, I recommend booking this top-rated day trip from Nairobi. You’ll be picked up at 07:00 AM from your hotel and then enjoy the ride to the park. After an adventurous day, your professional tour guide and driver will drop you off in the capital. Entrance fees and bike hire costs are included in the fee.

Location: About 90 km from Nairobi. Click here for directions.
Getting There: The best way to get to Hell’s Gate via Elsa Gate is by self-drive using A104 and Moi South Lake Road, or by joining this day trip.
Best Tour from Nairobi: Hell’s Gate National Park Private Bike Tour. Click here to book.
Must-Do Activities: Ride a bike in the wild, climb Fisher’s tower, explore the Ol-Jorwa gorge, spot wildlife, and swim at the Olkaria Geothermal Spa.
Where to Eat: Fisherman’s Camp. Click here for directions, or view their website.

9. Masai Mara (One of the Best Day Trips from Nairobi for Wildlife)

zebras and antelope on the savanna in the masai mara kenya

For good reason, the Masai Mara remains one of Kenya’s most famous game reserves (if not in the whole of Africa). It’s where wildlife, beautiful landscapes, and rich culture combine. The national reserve is home to the Big Five and other wild animals, such as zebras, giraffes, and hyenas.

However, the annual great migration is the most impressive experience here. During this season, thousands of wildebeest cross the Mara River from the Tanzanian side, creating a truly spectacular scene.

Although multi-day tours or weekend trips are recommended, you can still have a memorable day trip to Masai Mara from Nairobi. The reserve is situated in Narok, about five hours from the city. If you set off early, you can travel there, and enjoy game viewing, horseback safaris, and hot-air balloon rides.

Location: About 5 hours southwest of Nairobi. Click here for directions to Sekenani Gate.
Getting There: The best way to get to Masai Mara for a day trip is to join a tour.
Best Tour from Nairobi: 1-Day Maasai Mara Safari. Click here to book.
Must-Do Activities: Wildlife safaris, hot-air balloon rides, horse riding, and visiting a Masai village.
Where to Eat: Sarova Mara Game Camp. Click here for directions.

10. Kiambethu Tea Farm

6 kenyan women picking tea from a plantation

When most people think about Kenya, they picture themselves viewing wildlife in safari parks, relaxing on the magnificent beaches along the coast, or exploring historical towns like Lamu. They usually don’t often imagine the picturesque and idyllic tea and coffee farms for which the country is famous.

If you’re looking for easy day trips from Nairobi that don’t involve hiking, cycling, or wildlife, head to Limuru. The area is about 30 km from the city center and hosts several tea and coffee farms. It also features beautiful landscapes of the central highlands, which were once colonial farmlands.

My favorite tea farm in Limuru is Kiambethu. It’s one of the oldest in the country, dating back to the early 1900s. Here, you’ll be given a farm tour and learn about tea growing heritage in Kenya. You’ll also taste freshly made Kenyan tea and enjoy a delicious buffet lunch.

Location: About one hour from the capital. Click here for directions.
Getting There: The best way to get to Kiambethu is by car or tour. Drive to Limuru and follow Girls School Road until you see the signpost. You can also join a tour from Nairobi.
Best Tour from Nairobi: Kiambethu Tea Farm Tour. Click here to book.
Must-Do Activities: Tea tasting, farm tour, bird watching, and spotting the Colobus monkey.
Where to Eat: The Farmhouse at Kiambethu Tea Farm. Click here for directions.

11. Amboseli

elephants at amboseli national park kenya

Amboseli National Park is one of the best safari parks in Kenya. It’s situated in Kajiado County, near the Tanzanian border. The park is an ecosystem comprised of wildlife and savannah grasslands.

In addition to herds of African bush elephants and other wild animals, Amboseli attracts tourists because it offers a spectacular view of Mount Kilimanjaro. The area around the national park is home to the Maasai people, and during a day trip there, you can visit a homestead and learn about the community’s culture and way of life.

If you’re looking for Amboseli National Park tours from Nairobi, this one-day trip is my top recommendation. The tour takes about 10 hours and allows you to meet locals, watch wild animals, and see Africa’s highest mountain.

Location: Close to Kimana and Oloitoktok towns. Click here for directions.
Getting There: Amboseli National Park is about 4 hours drive from Nairobi. The best way to get there is by joining a day trip. You can also self-drive, fly (to Amboseli airstrip), or use a train (to Emali). If by road, the park is best accessed from Namanga or Emali via Meshanani, Kimana, or Erimito gates.
Best Tour from Nairobi: Day Trip to Amboseli National Park. Click here to book.
Must-Do Activities: Go on a game-viewing safari, visit a Massai village, and see Mount Kilimanjaro.
Where to Eat: Ol Tukai Lodge Amboseli. Click here for directions.

12. Mount Kenya

mount kenya covered in snow

Climbing Mount Kenya is the apex of all adventures in the country. The trek to the third highest summit (Lenana) is completed in 3-5 days. However, you can also complete a day hike to the lower parts of the mountain.

Some of the best one-day trips to Mount Kenya include the Sirimon route hike and the Mackinders Camp trek. My favorite is the latter, which starts from the Met Station point via Naro Moru Gate. The trail starts with a winding tarmac road and then leads you through rocky sections and moorlands before opening up to stunning views of the peaks.

At Mackinders Camp (4300 meters above sea level), you can enjoy the landscapes and admire the summits, hoping to reach them one day. The Sirimon route is more accessible and more scenic.

Location: About 3.5 hours from the city via Naro Moru Gate. Click here for directions to Met Station (trailhead).
Getting There: Drive along A2 and turn right to Met Station at Naro Moru town. You can also use a Nanyuki-bound Matatu from River Road, Nairobi.
Must-Do Activities: Hiking and picnicking.
Where to Eat: Bantu Africa Resort. Click here for directions, or view their website.

13. Ol Pejeta Conservancy

antelope in the Ol Pejeta Conservancy

Nanyuki is a charming and vibrant town about 3 hours from Nairobi that’s famous for its wildlife conservancies. The Ol Pejeta is home to different wildlife species, including lions, leopards, buffalos, and the endangered black rhinos.

A trip to this fantastic destination is both memorable and refreshing. Here, you can take a game drive to watch the grazing animals and then relax and enjoy lunch by a waterhole at the Sweetwaters Serena Camp.

Before you depart for the capital city, make sure you explore Nanyuki (my home town). You can stop at the equator crossing, visit Nanyuki Spinners and Weavers, view Mount Kenya, or discover its famed entertainment life for yourself.

Don’t miss our guide on things to do in Nanyuki. This helpful article provides information on what to see and do, where to eat, and accommodation options. It also features quick itineraries to help you get started.

Location: In Nanyuki, about 3.5 hours from the city. Click here for directions.
Getting There: The best way to arrive at Ol Pejeta is by driving via the Great North Road (A2). Click here to search for the best price on rental cars. You can also take a Matatu from the city center to Nanyuki town or join a day trip.
Best Tour from Nairobi: Ol Pejeta Conservancy Full Day Tour. Click here to book.
Must-Do Activities: Game viewing and exploring the equator town.
Where to Eat: Sweetwaters Serena Camp. Click here for directions.

14. Mount Longonot

mount Longonot in the distance with some small homes in front

Among the list of day trips out of Nairobi, Mount Longonot takes the cake for me. This national park is located about 75 Km from Nairobi and offers visitors an opportunity for adventure and connection with nature.

If you enjoy the great outdoors as much as I do, make sure you don’t miss out on the hiking here. The trail starts from the park’s gate and follows a marked path (with a section of steep stairs) toward the crater’s rim. From there, you can complete a 7.2 Km 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. After hiking Mount Longonot several times, I recommend wearing proper gear and starting early. For a better experience, you can join an organized tour from Nairobi.

Location: Mount Longonot National Park. Click here for directions.
Getting There: The best way to get there is by car via Mai Mahiu. You can also join a guided tour from Nairobi.
Best Tour from Nairobi: Private Hiking Day Trip to Mount Longonot. Click here to book.
Must-Do Activities: Hiking, looking out for wildlife, and enjoying the views of the Great Rift Valley along the way.
Where to Eat: There’s a small restaurant in the parking lot. Make your order before starting the hike.

15. Lake Nakuru

pink flamingoes walking through the water at lake nakuru

Located about 160 Km from Nairobi, Nakuru City is a popular destination for wildlife safaris and historical sites. There are plenty of things to indulge in here, making it one of the best places for day trips out of Nairobi. Among other things, visitors in Nakuru can visit the Hyrax Hill Museum, see Lord Egerton Castle, or go hiking at Menengai Crater.

My favorite thing to do in this city is to explore Lake Nakuru National Park. Besides wildlife species and physical sites, the park is famous for its birdlife, including pink flamingos, usually in thousands. Tourists here can expect to see lions, rhinos, baboons, giraffes, and zebras. Other attractions in the park include Baboon Cliff Viewpoint, Lion Hill, and the roaring Makalia Falls.

There are several forms of transport to Nakuru, like taking a Matatu or hiring a self-drive car. However, the most convenient way of getting there and inside the park is by joining a day trip from Nairobi. Such trips usually include transport from your hotel and back, professional guide services, and more.

Location: About 3.5 hours from Nairobi along the A104. Click here for directions.
Getting There: Take a Matatu from Nairobi city center, catch the Friday train, or join a tour.
Best Tour from Nairobi: Lake Nakuru Day Trip. Click here to book.
Must-Do Activities: Game viewing and birdwatching.
Where to Eat: Fika and Feast, Java House, and Culture Mambo Lounge.

Best Day Trip Tours from Nairobi

two rhinos walking through the bush at lake nakuru kenya

There are many exciting day trip tours out of Nairobi. Here are some of my favorites to give you ideas of where to start:

Nairobi to Amboseli Day Trip: This exciting full-day tour takes you to one of the best national parks in Kenya. It only accommodates small groups of up to 8 travelers. The highlights of this 14-hour day trip to Amboseli from Nairobi include seeing herds of elephants, gazing at Mount Kilimanjaro, and experiencing the rich culture of the Maasai people. Click here to book.

Lake Nakuru Day Trip from Nairobi: This incredible day safari from Nairobi takes you first to Lake Nakuru and then to Lake Naishava. It begins with a pick up from your hotel at 06:00 AM before beginning a 10-12 hour adventure. If you want to see hippos, rhinos, pink flamingos, and other attractions, join this day trip.

Nairobi Wildlife Day Tours: The best way to begin a safari in Kenya is by exploring wildlife centers near the city. There are several tours to places like Nairobi National Park, Giraffe Center, Elephant Nursery, and the Nairobi Safari Walk. My top recommendation for day trips around Nairobi is this exciting safari to the national park and the two animal rehabilitation centers.

Naivasha Day Tour from Nairobi: Naivasha is a small town away from the hectic capital city. Here, you can go partying, hiking, boat riding, cycling, and much more. This tour from Nairobi includes exploring Lake Naivasha, watching hippos, and a boat ride to Crescent Island. It lasts around 7 hours.

Mount Longonot Tour: I love hiking, and one of the best places for that is the trail at Mount Longonot National Park. If you also enjoy being outdoors, join this day trip. It includes transport from and to Nairobi, guide services, and park entrance fees.

Day Trips from Nairobi: FAQs

What is the most popular day trip from Nairobi?

Well, hands down, Nairobi National Park is the most popular day trip out of Nairobi. The park is practically next door to the city and gives visitors an incredible opportunity to witness wildlife (like lions, rhinos, and giraffes) right alongside the city’s skyline.

How many days do you need in Nairobi?

Setting aside 1 to 3 days to thoroughly explore the attractions within Nairobi city center should suffice. However, if you’re looking to venture out on day trips to nearby gems like Amboseli and Maasai Mara, extending your stay by a few more days is advisable.

What are the best day trips from Nairobi with a car?

Some excellent day trips from Nairobi by car include visiting the Elephant Nursery to see orphaned elephants or hiking at Mount Longonot for a nature escape. Find the best rental car rates here.

What day trips in Nairobi are good for avoiding crowds?

If you prefer a quieter experience, consider visiting the Oloolua Nature Trail or Karura Forest. Here, you can relax or enjoy peaceful walks in a serene environment.

Can you do a day safari from Nairobi?

Yes, you can absolutely do a day safari from Nairobi. Nairobi National Park, as mentioned earlier, offers a convenient option for a day safari. Alternatively, you can take a day trip to Amboseli, Lake Naivasha, or Maasai Mara.

Now You Know the Best Day Trips from Nairobi

Nairobi is a wonderful destination with many tourist sites and activities. It’s also an excellent base for wildlife safari tours, road trips, and hiking trips to other parts of Kenya. These journeys range from half-day tours and weekend getaways to multi-day trips and month-long expeditions.

For locals and tourists with limited time, day trips from Nairobi are perfect getaways from the routine and busy life of the city. They are calming, refreshing, and re-energizing. So, if you’re ready to experience Kenya’s magical landscapes and natural treasures, embark on any day tours I’ve shared within this post.

Also, make sure to stop occasionally and admire attractions along the way. I always make a pit stop at the Great Rift Valley viewpoint while traveling to Lake Naivasha, Hell’s Gate, and Nakuru. The panoramic views of the valley and the escarpment are breathtaking.


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