Ngong Hills at Dusk
The leafy and affluent suburb of Karen sits to the South West of Nairobi towards the foot of the Ngong Hills. Karen still remains largely unspoilt by over-development or traffic jams and is an attractive and peaceful place to stay away from the city centre – which is easily accessed via ever-improving ring roads and bypasses.
Karen’s most famous resident is probably Karen Blixen, whose 6000-acre farm estate and coffee plantation covered much of the area, and whose Kenyan life is immortalised in the book and film Out of Africa. Karen Blixen lived in Bogani House on Karen Road between 1917 and 1931 – now owned by the National Museums of Kenya, it remains very much as it was during early colonial times and is open to visitors daily.
Karen Blixen House Museum
Ndege Road was originally a landing-strip for Denys Finch-Hatton, Karen Blixen’s lover. The nearby Karen Blixen Coffee Garden houses Swedo House, the original farm manager’s house from 1906, as well as the historic Grogan Macmillan House moved from downtown Nairobi in 2008 to save it from destruction.
AFEW Giraffe Centre
The area’s wildlife and conservation attractions include the AFEW Giraffe Centre where feeding the several resident Rothschild’s giraffes is a must. The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust’s elephant orphanage is situated just inside Nairobi National Park. Watching the baby elephants receive their 11am feed is always very popular, and anyone who ‘adopts’ a baby elephant can also visit in the late afternoon to watch the orphans being given their supper and put to bed.
Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage
Nairobi National Park covers an area of 117.21 square kilometres (28,963 acres) and is easily accessed from Karen via Magadi Road or Langata Road. The park hosts a wide and diverse wildlife population – it is common to see Rhinoceros, Lion, and Buffalo as well as large numbers of plains game, and the park is home to up to 500 species of permanent and migratory birds. One can also visit the Animal Orphanage and Safari Walk – both situated at the park’s main gate.
Nairobi National Park
There are numerous retail and culinary attractions in Karen – major shopping centres include Karen Crossroads, Galleria and a huge new mall The Hub on Dagoretti Road. Boutique shopping centres for arts, crafts, clothes and souvenirs include Langata Link on Langata South Road, The Souk on Dagoretti Road and The Purdy Arms and Marula Studios on Marula Lane – all of which also house nice places to eat and drink. Favourite restaurants and bars in central Karen include The Talisman and J’s Fresh Bar on Ngong Road and Haru Sushi Bar on Karen Road.