Karen, a charming suburb nestled within Nairobi,is steeped in history and surrounded by a tapestry of breathtaking destinations, Karen offers a unique blend of safari and city life. This place, named after Danish author Karen Blixen, invites you to explore its rich cultural heritage and captivating attractions.
As you embark on the Karen circuit , you'll discover it provides a seamless fusion of urban sophistication and the allure of Kenya's wildlife and hints of the bygone era of what was a farming enclave.
Immerse yourself in the allure of the Giraffe Centre, where the endangered Rothschild giraffes roam freely, creating an unforgettable encounter. Go ahead, feed the giraffes for a captivating story when you return. Traverse the Nairobi National Park, a wildlife haven the city limits, offering a unique safari experience against the backdrop of Nairobi's skyline. Stemming with rhinos ,lions, buffalo and loads more.
Delve into the Nairobi Safari Walk, where conservation meets adventure, and witness the compassionate work at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, caring for orphaned elephants with dedication and love. You can adopt an elephant too.
Beyond wildlife, Karen beckons you to explore its vibrant trading centers. Visit Kazuri Beads, renowned for its exquisite beadwork, providing an opportunity to indulge in Kenya's artistic and cultural expressions.
Karen is known for some of the best eateries. From Karen Blixen Coffee Garden that has the newly established Hatton’s Lodge to the Tamarind restaurant as well Talisman, all set in lush green settings. A hidden gem is the Adventure Cove, Nairobi’s first and authentic Farm to Fork experience where ingredients are sourced right on the Farm.
For those seeking outdoor adventures, the Ngong Hills offer a picturesque setting for hiking and guided nature walks. Engage in wildlife viewing, bird watching, and a myriad of activities that connect you with the natural beauty surrounding Karen.
Karen's history is intertwined with the legacy of Karen Blixen, the acclaimed author of "Out of Africa." Explore the Karen Blixen Museum, once her home, and delve into the narrative of a bygone era.
In Karen, every corner tells a story, and every site invites you to be part of its narrative. This Karen circuit promises not just a journey through destinations but a discovery of Karen's soul – a blend of history, wildlife, and cultural richness that leaves an indelible mark on every visitor.
1.NAIROBI NATIONAL PARK
Nairobi National Park is the only national park in the world that is located in a city. The park is home to Africa’s rich wildlife such as lions, gazelles, buffaloes, warthogs, cheetahs, zebras and giraffes among others. It also has over 400 species of birds hence making it a perfect destination for birding.
Additionally. The park features walking trails especially the Nairobi Safari Walk, picnic sites as well as campsites. At the main gate of Nairobi National Park is the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust nursery, where visitors get a chance to bond with baby elephants and rhinos that are orphaned
2.NAIROBI SAFARI WALK
With its raised wooden boardwalk that allows for uninterrupted views of the animals, the Safari Walk is a show case for Kenya’s Parks and Reserves, allowing visitors to discover what they can expect to see across the country. Visitors can see a sample of the country’s rich animal life including the rare bongo, white rhino and albino zebra as well as big cats, antelopes and primates. It is also home to some 150 species of local trees. The Safari Walk is located inside KWS Headquarters on Lang’ata Road. It is conveniently located about thirty minutes away from Nairobi CBD, near major malls, hospitals and airports.
It is easily accessible by both public and private means. If using public means, board a matatu going to Lang’ata (number 15) from Bus Station or board a matatu going to Ongata Rongai (number 125/126) from Railways Bus Station. Alternatively, you can hail a taxi to and from your home or accommodation.
As you explore “The Karen Circuit”, ensure to book a spot at Adventure Farm for your lunch destination, conveniently located just 30 minutes from the airport via the bypass. The well-connected road network ensures a smooth journey, allowing you to transition effortlessly from one captivating destination to the next. Adventure Farm offers a perfect culinary stop for those exploring Karen and its environs.
Experience the essence of sustainability at The Cove, a farm-to-fork restaurant at Adventure Farm. Indulge in vegetable-centric dishes and responsibly sourced meats, all cultivated on-site. The family-friendly establishment offers a specially curated kiddie menu and wood-fired, farm-fresh pizza with Mozzarella cheese from their own cows.
Pair your meal with refreshing Sorbets made on the Farm that are sure to clear you palate. Enjoy freshly squeezed juices and smoothies that are bursting with nutrients to enhance your wellness as you travel. Indulge in a delightful range of gelato made from their cows’ milk. The enchanting outdoor dining area, surrounded by lush greenery, elevates every dining moment including a waterfall that offers tranquility.
Beyond exceptional cuisine, The Cove invites visitors to
engage in immersive activities such as petting rabbits, feeding fish, and encountering a variety of animals including cows, sheep, goats, and pigs. Witness firsthand where your food comes from as you explore the vegetable garden, fruit orchard, and animal barn during guided tours. This interactive journey not only connects visitors with the origins of their meals but also promotes a deeper understanding of sustainable farming practices.
The emphasis on seeing, touching, and experiencing the farm-to-fork concept adds a unique layer to the dining adventure. Guests can revel in the joy of connecting with nature, promoting healthy eating habits, and contributing to the sustainability ethos that defines The Cove’s culinary philosophy. It’s a multi-sensory exploration that elevates the lunch experience, making Adventure Farm a destination that nourishes both body and soul.
Next, make a stop at the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust Elephant Orphanage, between 11 am and 12 pm, when the baby elephants hurtle into the shelter for milk. Crowds regularly line up to enjoy this feeding time phenomena. These small creatures were separated from their herd because of drought, accident or because their mother, and perhaps their family, were killed – poached for their ivory.
When the orphaned infants arrive at the nursery, they are not only physically malnourished but in a state of grieving for their lost mothers. This period of mourning can last months, and their keepers maintain physical and emotional contact with the babies, giving them as much affection as their elephant family did. This is vital for the new orphan’s survival, for if it doesn’t feel loved it will perish.
Fortunately, the orphanage has enjoyed an outstanding success rate, hand raising over 200 infant elephants. Over time it has reintroduced over 100 of the orphans back into the wilds of Tsavo National Park. The center also takes in orphaned baby rhinos as well, nursing them back to health.
5.THE GIRAFFE CENTER
The African Fund for Endangered Wildlife Giraffe Centre - locally referred to as The Giraffe Centre - plays a pivotal role in conserving the critically endangered Rothschild giraffe (which differ from other giraffe subspecies as they have no patterning below the knee).
Numbers were dwindling quickly due to habitat encroachment and mass hunting; before conservation initiatives began, approximately 100 Rothschild's giraffes remained in the wild.
The fund was founded in 1979 by Betty and Jock Leslie Melville (a grandson of a Scottish earl) after raising a Rothschild giraffe, Daisy, in their Langata home. Today, due to their conservation efforts, the population has doubled to 300 across Kenya.
From the raised wooden structure (giraffe height), you can watch the giraffes up-close and hand feed them. You may also observe warthogs snuffling at their hooves, scavenging on the fallen pellets.
Once you have finished with the giraffes, you can head out on a self-guided forest walk in the adjacent Gogo river sanctuary, a 1.5 km trail with great views of Nairobi and the Ngong hills.
6.BOMAS OF KENYA
Located 10km from the city center, Bomas is a cultural village whose name in Swahili means ‘enclosed homesteads’. Bomas displays villages that are affiliated to the various ethnic communities in Kenya. It exhibits the diversity in culture, living styles, crafts, music and dancing in Kenya. It is also home to the largest auditorium in Africa.
A visit to this place is a chance to explore the thrilling traditional dances as well as acrobatics and African foods at Utamaduni restaurant. The talented resident artists at this cultural centre perform traditional dances and songs taken from the country’s various tribal groups, including Arabic-influenced Swahili taarab music, Kalenjin warrior dances, Embu drumming and Kikuyu circumcision ceremonies.
It’s touristy, of course, but still a spectacular afternoon out. The complex consists of a number of bomas (villages), each constructed in the architectural style of Kenya's major ethnic groups. The centre has such a high profile that the first meeting of the National Constitutional Conference was held here in 2003, producing the Bomas Draft of the new constitution.
Kazuri, which means “small and beautiful” in Swahili, began in 1975 as a tiny workshop experimenting with making handmade beads. The company’s mission is to provide sustainable employment opportunities specifically to single mothers who support their families.
The Kazuri workshop in Karen, Nairobi employs over 340 women, mostly single mothers. It is equipped with a clinic, providing free medical care for the employees and their immediate families. Kazuri also absorbs 80% of medical bills for treatment received outside the factory clinic.
In the developing world of today’s Africa, the greatest contribution we can make is to create employment, especially for the disadvantaged and this remains our guiding philosophy.
Opportunity Factory not only showcases traditional craft techniques like the Fish-line beading method but also offers workshops and meticulously crafted Christmas hampers, embodying the fusion of modern materials with traditional artistry. From the initial sample to the final product, the factory's dedication to excellence is evident, creating a space where the pursuit of perfection is a journey defined by commitment and refinement.
While Opportunity Factory focuses on craftsmanship and cultural connection, it also offers diverse experiences, including renowned horse riding schools like Hardy Stud. Hardy Stud provides a unique opportunity for individuals to explore equestrian skills and enjoy the beauty of horse riding. The juxtaposition of traditional craftsmanship at Opportunity Factory and the dynamic experience of horse riding at places like Hardy Stud creates a rich tapestry of activities.
Opportunity Factory is more than a place of creation; it is a celebration of enduring quality, unity, and the joy of thoughtful gifting. Explore their transformative journey at opportunityfactory.co. in Mbagathi ridge, Karen.