Nairobi, a city of 4.4 million (2019) on the Nairobi River. It is the political, financial and media capital of Kenya, and a transit point that most travellers to Kenya will pass through. Nairobi is the largest and fastest growing city in Kenya, and one of the largest cities in Africa. It is worth taking a few days to experience this bustling metropolis.
The word Nairobi is derived from a water hole known in Maasai as Enkare Nyorobi, which means "cool waters". Nairobi, which had been a swamp area, was founded in 1899 as a railway camp for the Uganda Railway. By 1905, the city had become the capital of Kenya (then the British East Africa Protectorate), supplanting Mombasa and Machakos, the previous capitals. With the spread of plagues in the early 1900s, the town was burnt down and had to be rebuilt. Having a railway helped it to grow rapidly, becoming the second largest city in Kenya behind Mombasa. Nairobi also grew due to administration and tourism businesses (mostly big game hunting).
The British presence led to the creation of big hotels primarily for the British hunters. After independence, some descendants of the British settlers remained in Nairobi and obtained Kenyan citizenship, and today form Kenya's white community. Nairobi has an East Indian community, who are the descendants of the labourers who built the railway and the merchants who set up shop during colonial times. After independence, Nairobi airport became the principal entrance point to Kenya and it still is today, although it has lost some of its importance to Mombasa.
|Climate chart (explanation)|
Nairobi has a subtropical highland climate. At 1,795 metres above sea level, evenings may be cool, especially in the June/July season, when the temperature can drop to 9 °C.
The sunniest and warmest part of the year is from December to March, when temperatures average in the mid-twenties Celsius during the day. The mean maximum temperature for this period is 24 °C.
For general information about visas and vaccinations, etc., see the Kenya article.
- 1 JKIA Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NBO IATA) (is 15 km (9.3 mi) south-east from the centre of the city). Nairobi’s main airport, and one of Africa's largest hubs. The main terminal building was destroyed by fire in 2013. Terminal 1A is the reconstructed section, and is linked to Terminal 1B and 1C by walkways both airside and landside. Terminal 1A has a small food court upstairs airside, and there is a Nairobi Java House between the two terminals airside. Terminal 1B is completed since renovations in 2022 and it serves departures. Terminal 1C has very little except for 10 small shops all selling the same souvenirs. Terminal 1A has a two small shops with a better selection of duty-free and souvenirs. There are Ecobank ATMs at the airport. Ecobank charges no ATM withdraw fee.
- 2 Wilson Airport (WIL IATA). 11 km (7 mi) south from the city's centre, handles some domestic flights and general aviation.
Kenya Airways (KQ) is the national airline of Kenya, and used to be one of the largest and most reputable airlines in Africa, providing extensive connections from international cities including London, Amsterdam, Paris, Dubai, Mumbai, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Johannesburg, Antananarivo, Accra, New York JFK (a direct 15-hr flight), and a host of other countries around the world. Due to mismanagement and corruption, the airline is on the verge of failure, having earned losses of US$120 million in 2019 and US$330 million in 2020.
Other major commercial airlines to serve NBO include: Air Arabia, Air Mauritius, Air France, Lufthansa, British Airways, Brussels Airlines, China southern airlines, Egypt Air, Emirates, Ethiopian Airlines, Etihad Airways, Kenya Airways, KLM Royal Dutch, Oman Air, Qatar Airways, Saudi Arabian Airlines, RwandAir, Swiss International Airlines and Turkish Airlines.
- If taking a taxi from JKIA, use a reputable taxi. Many are waiting outside to give you conveyance, and the cost should be very near Ksh 2,000 to the city centre; Westlands or places more west or north will be more. There is an official KAA taxi desk just after you exit the customs area, where you can buy a fixed-price voucher, and they will escort you to a taxi. When taking a taxi to your accommodation, do not be inveigled into taking their recommendation for accommodation. Uber costs from Ksh 1500 from airport to the centre.
- Airport Bus: To the city centre, Airport Bus #34 for Ksh 80 (as of 2020). You get the bus from the international airport, or from in front of the Ambassador Hotel on Moi Avenue in the city centre. 6:00-20:00. the bus trip can take 2 hours in bad traffic, and may be inconvenient if you have big luggage.
- There is a new Nairobi commuter trains starting at Embakasi Village Railway station going to the Nairobi central station. Large buses are going from the airport to/from this railway station eight times a day. Departures from the JKIA airport are with DMU express at 06.00 and 11.50. Regular commuter service: 06:40, 07:35, 09:50, 11:45, 13:55, and 18:50. The fare is 250 shillings for the DMU express and 140 shillings for the Regular commuter service. It takes 55 minutes too get from the JKIA airport to the city centre.
There is no official taxi desk at Wilson, and each airline operates out of its own terminal. It may be difficult to arrange a reputable taxi on arrival, but there are plenty at the kerb.
Nairobi has become much more accessible by rail. Kenya Railways has opened the SGR railway in 2017 linking Nairobi and Mombasa, reducing travel time between the two cities to 5/6 hours. There are both express and slower intercity services, the latter stopping on more intermediate stations. Tickets cost Ksh 1000 for 2nd class and Ksh 3,000 for 1st. The difference between the first and 2nd class is just the size of seats. As the train is very popular it is recommended to buy tickets a few days beforehand. Trains operating on the SGR line call at Nairobi Terminus, which is almost 10 km southeast of city centre. A connecting commuter train to the central station is available.
As of December 2020 there is weekly train service from Nairobi from Nanyuki via Nyeri. The train departs Nairobi old central railway station at 09:30 every Friday and takes six hours. The fare is Ksh 200 in 3rd class and Ksh 1000 in 1st class.
- 3 Nairobi Terminus (10 km southwest of city centre).
- 4 Nairobi central railway station. Central railway station and hub for Nairobi commuter trains services.
Nairobi is the centre of Kenya’s (mostly reliable) bus system. There are many bus companies operating to and from the country’s different cities.
- Mombasa Use the SGR railway, it take less than half the time of the bus and costs 50% less.
- Arusha in Tanzania (Ksh 2000) 5½ hr by Modern Coast. Riverside Shuttle,
- Kisumu, Eldoret, Kitale, Kericho by Easy coach
- Kampala (from Ksh 2500) 12 hr by Easy coach, Modern coast, Dreamline or Mash Poa.
Matatus (11- to 18-seater minibuses) and shuttles (6-seater cars) are convenient, inexpensive (and often the only) modes of public transport for connecting Nairobi with towns and tourist destinations in the Rift Valley and Central Highlands such as Naivasha, Nyeri, Nanyuki, Isiolo, and Thika. Matatus can be obtained from the River Road area. Extreme caution should be exercised in this area because petty theft is a major concern; avoid showing valuables such as mobile phones, even while in the matatu (see safety section below). The best method of connecting to a matatu is to arrange for a taxi to drop you off and pick you up directly at the location of the matatu that you are boarding or alighting from. If you're boarding a matatu from Nairobi, tell the taxi driver your destination and they will drop you off at the correct location. If you are being picked up, then tell the taxi driver the location you're coming from as well as the matatu company that you are using (your ticket should have the operator's name). It is best to arrange for a taxi from the hotel you're staying at. The price is dependent on the distance of travel.
- from/to Naivasha (Ksh 300) 1½ hr
- from/to Nanyuki (Ksh 450) 3 hr
- Prestige Shuttle, Dubois Road, has 10-seat vans going from Nairobi to and from Nakuru and Kisumu. Ksh 450/1000.
- North Rift Shuttle behind the Afya Centre has 10-seat vans going from Nairobi to and from Eldoret. from Ksh 700.
Entry into Nairobi by boat is not possible (Nairobi River is not navigable), however one could certainly arrive in Kenya by boat via Mombasa or Lamu, proceeding by road, air or rail to Nairobi. Immigration should be processed at the port facility.
Be careful getting around Nairobi. Traffic is very bad like any other major city, but if you use common sense and a local or guide you should be able to get where you want.
By hired car
Hiring a car is convenient as it allows you the freedom to explore Nairobi at your own pace. Most rental companies in Nairobi offer self-drive and chauffeured options respectively. You will find that a large fleet of cars available for hire are Japanese: Toyota, Nissan or Mitsubishi. You can hire both automatic and manual transmission. All rental cars are right-hand drive. Hiring a vehicle with a driver or chauffeur is advisable due to the generally lower standards of driving, average to poor road conditions and the overall cost effectiveness of not having to pay a deposit on hiring a vehicle which is the case with a self drive vehicle.
Car rental prices vary but as of April 2015 the going rates were as follows:
- Saloon car, e.g. Toyota Axio NZE, Toyota Fielder, Nissan Wingroad: (4 seater, under 1800cc, FWD) Ksh 4,000 per day.
- 4X4 compact car, e.g. Toyota RAV4, Nissan Xtrail, Suzuki Vitara: (4 seater, 4X4 2500cc. AWD) Ksh 8,000 per day.
- Large 4X4, e.g. Toyota Prado, Mitsubishi Pajero: (4X4 luxury, Jeep 3500cc, AWD): Ksh 16,000 per day.
- 7 seater minivans, e.g. Toyota Voxy or Alphard: (7 seater, 2500cc, FWD): Ksh 10,000 per day.
- Safari vans, e.g. customised Toyota Hiace with a pop out roof: (8 Seater, 2500cc, 4WD): Ksh 10,000 per day
- Safari Jeep, e.g. customised Toyota Land Cruiser J70 jeep with a pop-out roof: (8 seater, 3500cc, 4WD): Ksh 14,000 per day.
The car rental rates are often determined by the number of days and estimated mileage per day. Some car hire companies will give you a rate that is 50% cheaper but either give you a contract with a clause limiting you to visit the specific locations, an old car or require a hefty deposit. The rates are cheaper if you are hiring the car for a week, a month or are looking for a lease. Most car rental rates include unlimited mileage, PSV comprehensive insurance, theft and damage waivers.
The driver and fuel are charged separately with some companies requiring that you hire a driver if you are taking a large 4X4/4WD (e.g. a Toyota Prado, Land Cruiser j70, Range Rover, Land Cruiser VX, Land Rover discovery). The cost of a driver is Ksh 2500 per day inclusive of meals and accommodation (April 2015).
Although a good number of local car hire companies are reliable, you should either take photos of the car before the hire, or carefully note the dents or scratches on the car and agree. In addition, carefully read the rental contract to check for rules on insurance liabilities in case of accident or theft of the vehicle.
Here are some reliable car hire companies in Kenya:
- Kenya Finest Tours & Safaris offers reliable transport services especially for landcruiser 4x4 and Nissan Safari Vans.
- Nairobi Car Hire offer good services for 4x4 and other categories of cars.
- Central Car Hire are a reliable, trustworthy and helpful rental company based in Nairobi. Two-wheel drive and four-wheel drive vehicles are available and are well maintained.
- Nairobi Car Hire Services provided by Hire N' Drive Kenya Limited who are very flexible with their rental terms and reliable. They accept credit card payment online with a very credible refund processing system. They also have a wide fleet of cars available at all major airports in Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu, Nakuru and Eldoret.
- Elite Car Rental Kenya although their offices are located in Kikuyu Town, they are a reliable car rental company and have been in operation since the mid-1990s.
- Avis Rental the local representative of the global business. Services are dependable with a variety of self drive vehicle options.
- Shoor Kenya - Car Hire which offer safari and saloon vehicle hire including drivers at highly reasonable pricing.
- Hertz Car Hire are also represented in Kenya and offer pick up and drop off at the international airport in Nairobi.
For ease of navigation around town and to the outskirts, it is advisable to use the Google Map. The navigation guide can be combined with other useful apps such as to help you get a better experience. For ease of search and navigation to secure parking lots, you can use Pata Parking, a smartphone app which is downloadable from Google Play Store. The app enables drivers to search and pre-book for parking, with details of location, charges per hour, features of the preferred parking lot, and the number of reservable parking spaces.
- Explorer Kenya Safaris, Garden Estate Road. Victory House. 3rd Floor. Apartment 1, ☏ +254722218260, [email protected]. Offering safari 4x4 Land Cruisers and safari vans for use in Nairobi and on safari
Taxis are neither very cheap nor prevalent. Prices should always be negotiated before the trip, and paid afterwards (only cash is accepted, often with limited change available). This can be tricky as it requires you to be knowledgeable on the market rate price of the ride you wish to take. Typically, taxis can be found parked around hotels, malls, and tourist areas. The taxis tend to be marked with a yellow line on each side. Your best bet is to ask a local or enquire at your hotel.
The shuttle services Uber, Bolt (formerly Taxify), Little, Mondo Ride, and MaraMoja have become the hired car provider of choice among Nairobi's large expatriate population due to its convenience, cost competitiveness, and higher quality of service when compared to other taxi providers.
If you want a pre-arranged taxi with consistent pricing, you can try Davina Cabs[dead link]. They have cab service in Mombasa, Nairobi, Kisumu and have an office in Eldoret.
By bus (matatu)
Matatus (public minibuses/commuter buses) are generally used for travelling between downtown Nairobi and the suburbs. Matatus vary in size, between the van sized 14-seat matatus and the larger 50-seat buses. While generally safe, matatus are involved in a high number of accidents every year. Matatus are often overcrowded with more people than seatbelts and therefore can be dangerous if involved in accidents. Because there are no licensing requirements, matatus are often poorly driven, with drivers passing on curbs, speeding, or passing in oncoming lanes while cars are oncoming. On each bus is a conductor who will hang out of the matatu and call out a price (usually Ksh 50-100 as of 2020) and location the matatu is driving. The government banned the 14-seat matatus inside Nairobi to reduce traffic and accidents in town. The best choice is probably the City Hoppa bus service and the revived Kenya Bus Service. Beware of traffic jams on the major highways, not only in the rush hours.
- There is a commuter rail service from the Central Nairobi Railway Station going to Syokimau Railway Station. Syokimau Railway station is where you take trains going to Mombasa.
- Train departures from the downtown Nairobi railway station going to Syokimau are at 6:35, 8AM, 9:35, noon, 17:30 and 18:20. From Syokimau the train departures are 6:20, 7:15, 8:50, 14:30 and 20:20. The trip takes 30 minutes. A one-way ticket costs Ksh 50-100 (as of 2020).
- There are four rail commuter lines in Nairobi:
- 1.Nairobi main station from Kahawa which departs Nairobi at 8AM, and from Kahawa back to Nairobi at 9AM.
- 2.Nairobi main station from Embakasi Village Station-bus to the airport. It departs Nairobi station at 7:20, 9:30, 11:20, 13:30, 18:00 and 18:30 from Embakasi village station back to Nairobi station departs at 7:00, 8:00, 10:15, 12:10, 14:20 and 19:15.
- There is a commuter rail bus that connects Embakasi village station to the airport.
- 3.Nairobi main station to Kikuyu station.
- 4.Nairobi main station to Syokimau station
- They are also going to build a 6.5-km railway line from Syokimau to Nairobi Airport.
Walking around Nairobi is fairly easy since the city is small and places are easy to get to. However, there are some areas within the city where tourists should not go, and walking around at night should be minimised. Thugs are rampant in many areas. The city centre may be considered safe by some to venture on foot, but it can't be considered a pleasant experience. Expect to be approached by beggars, touts, etc.
Cycling is quite uncommon in the city and most roads are not at all suited for safe cycling. With that said, there are a few protected cycle lanes within the central district and the government are keen to expand them into a small network.
Car hire from the airport is possible, and fairly painless with prices in line with other African countries. Travelling during the day reduces your chances of getting car-jacked as most car-jackings occur after dark, but even so, carjacking can still happen at any time of day, even with a strong police presence. However, watch out for undisciplined drivers, as they take little regard for safety.
Nairobi is known as the safari capital of Africa, however the city has still managed to keep up with modernization. Unlike other cities, Nairobi is surrounded by 113 km² (70 mi²) of plains, cliffs and forest that makes up the city’s Nairobi National Park. The city is filled with many things to do during the day and the night. Tourists can have their pick from numerous safaris (wildlife, cultural, sport, adventure, scenic and specialist), ecotourism tours, restaurants, culture, shopping and entertainment. While in Nairobi, tourists can also engage in numerous sports from golf, rugby, athletics, polo, horse-racing, cricket and football (soccer).
- 1 Kenyatta International Conference Centre (KICC) (Central District). The best place to get that far ranging view over the sprawling, congested metropolis that is Nairobi. You can go up to the saucer-shaped top of the conference centre's round viewing tower and depending on smog and fog, you might be able to see as far as the slums and the national park. Ksh 400, Ksh 200 reduced.
- 2 US Embassy Memorial Site (Central District). In 1998 a blast rocked downtown Nairobi. A truck had exploded next to the US Embassy building, reducing it to rubble and killing 212 people some on staff, most bystanders. On the same day, the US embassy in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, was also subject to a similar terrorist attack. 21 people have been charged with the crime, including Osama Bin Laden. The former embassy site today contains a memorial that can be visited. Ksh 30.
- 3 Westlands by night. Visit the bustling and hip Westlands district, which has turned into the new nightlife centre of Nairobi. Many restaurants and bars line the busy Woodvale Grove and Mpaka Road. A visit to 'Tree house' club is a must if you are looking for a spacious one and crowd outnumbered with expats, rather than the otherwise congested natives dominated ones. Traffic can become hectic, well into the early hours. Security is generally tight and the action spills out from packed clubs into the street.
- 4 UN Office at Nairobi (UN Complex Gigiri), United Nations Ave, ☏ +254 20 762 2034, [email protected]. Sitting between the Karura Forest and the US Embassy, it houses international organisations such as the UN Environmental Programme, UN-HABITAT and is the basis of all UN operations in Africa. Africa's first completely carbon- and water-neutral building was opened here in 2011. Guided tours allow tourists to see the major buildings and gifts from member states and walk along a nearby nature trail, while learning about the history and work of the UN.
- 5 Nairobi Mamba Village, The Mamba Village, Langata N Rd, ☏ +254 714782653. 09:00-18:00 daily. Kind of an adventure-tourism park with Nile crocodile feedings, tortoise holding, ostrich viewing, horse/dromedary rides, and boat rides. One croc feeding takes place on Sundays at 16:30. Also a restaurant on site.
- 6 Nairobi National Museum, Museum Hill, ☏ +254 20 3742131. 8:30-17:30. Where visitors can learn about Nairobi, its history and culture. The museum was founded in 1910.
- 7 National Railway Museum. Visitors can learn more about the history of Kenya’s railways and the Kenya/Uganda railway. It also houses some of the engines and rolling stock from the country’s colonial period.
- 8 Nairobi Gallery, P.O.Box 40658-00100, ☏ +254 20 216566. This is a museum housing only special exhibits, so the featured artwork is always changing.
- 9 Karen Blixen Museum, P.O. Box 40658-00100, ☏ +254 20 8002139. Based on Karen Blixen’s book Out of Africa. Her house is now the home of the museum. You have to be accompanied by a guide to visit the house, but you can walk around the gardens on your own. If you're not into the movie, and don't know the history of the house, then it may not be worth your while taking the hour or so it takes, and the price of admission. The house has little remaining original furnishings, but there are some of the props used in the movie here (although the movie wasn't filmed here - it was create on a set). It is on the outskirts of Nairobi (in the suburbs of Karen) and a taxi or bus can get you to the museum. It's not too far from the Elephant Orphanage and the Giraffe Centre, so these attractions can easily be combined in a single trip.
- 10 Bomas of Kenya, Langata/Forest Edge Road, ☏ +254 20 891391. Portrays Kenya’s culture. Visitors can see exhibits of traditional Kenyan homes, artifacts, dances, music, and song.
- 11Nairobi National Park (just outside Nairobi). This is home to large herds of zebra, wildebeest, buffalo, giraffe, lion, cheetah, hippo, and birdlife (over 400 species). Here you can also go on the Nairobi Safari Walk, an educational centre to make people aware of wildlife and habitat conservation. Also in the park is the Nairobi Animal Orphanage.
- 12 Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage (close to the Nairobi National Park), ☏ +254 736 919321. 11:00. They take in orphaned elephants from all over Kenya, and keep them until they are able to survive in the wild. Visiting hours are daily at 11AM, so you should aim to arrive about 10 minutes before that time. You will be admitted and the elephants will be fed in two groups for around an hour. After than there is a brief time to shop and look around, and it closes again around 12:30. If you are willing to sponsor an elephant for USD 50, you can make an appointment to see your elephant put to bed at around 17:00. These brief visiting times are to ensure that the elephants are not overly exposed to humans.
- 13 Giraffe Centre (in Lang'ata, about 20 km from Nairobi CBD). The centre breeds the endangered Rothschild giraffe and has conservation/education programmes for Kenyan children. It also has many warthogs and leopard tortoise. You'll receive food to feed the giraffes, and get close enough to touch them. Just outside/opposite of the centre is a (free) nature hiking trail which is popular among residents. In August 2021 the centre was undergoing renovations but remained open, though with limited access to the giraffes. Ksh 1500/750 for non-resident adults/children.
- 14 Uhuru Park. Spacious park in the city centre. Attractions include a monument, playground, boat rental. free.
- 15 Uhuru Gardens, Langata Road. Built in remembrance of the struggle for independence, which Kenya was granted in 1963. The monument is a 24-m (79 ft) high triumphal column supporting a pair of clasped hands and the dove of peace, high over a statue of freedom fighter raising the flag. The monument is surround by fountains and lush-landscaped gardens. Not to be confused with "Uhuru Park" (which is in the city centre). As of August 2021 the park was closed / undergoing construction.
- 16 Arboretum Park. Very nice park to walk and to relax from the hectic town. Because of entrance fee you will not be molested by beggars, sellers, etc.
- 17 Karura Forest. has an area of 1 063 ha, making it largest of three main gazetted forests in Nairobi (the others are Ngong Forest and Ololua Forest). One of the best forest parks to walk, run, ride, picnic relatively close to the city. It is safe, well marked and a very nice place to relax and enjoy nature. The River Cafe is a good place to rest. Bicycle rental for Ksh 500/2 hours. (Single use) plastic are not allowed. Usually quiet on weekdays but gets very busy on weekends (Sunday). Attractions include a small waterfall and some monkeys. Ksh 600 for non-residents.
- 18 City Park. The city park is a good place to spend leisure time without any disturbance within an indigenous forest and with lots of sykes monkeys. They are trustful and come close due to being fed by visitors frequently. As they expect food from the visitors they get moody if you have nothing. On weekends and national holidays the park becomes very lively. There are some nature trails, but not really safe for foreign tourists. Another highlight of the City Park is the vegetables and fruits market in one corner of the park near Lumuru Road. Avoid going into the forest when it is dark. It is not safe. The park is not a must go destination, but worth to visit if you have extra time. Entry to the park is free.
- 19 Jamia Mosque (Central District). While Jamia Mosque is tucked away in between other buildings there are striking views to be glimpsed of its intricate structure from many different angles. Easily the most impressive religious structure in the capital, the interior is off-limits to non believers
- 20 All Saints' Cathedral. Cathedral of the Anglican Church of Kenya, built in 1924.
- 21 Cathedral Basilica of the Holy Family. Striking modernist Catholic Church Cathedral designed in 1960. The Basilica is the seat of the Archdiocese of Nairobi.
- 22 Khoja Mosque. Built in a Victorian architecture style in 1922 by the Isma'ilism community led by Aga Khan.
- 23 Nairobi Synagogue. The only functioning synagogue in East Africa.
- 24 Ol Donyo Sabuk National Park (65 km from Nairobi). Centred on a 2,146m (7,141 ft) mountain, this is mountain forests and plains, with a large population of Buffalo. It also serves as a refuge for Colobus monkeys, bushbuck, duiker, leopard, and a large variety of bird species. Another attraction is to climb the Kilimambogo mountain. A good starting point is the Ol Donyo Sapuk Resort where you can find a guide too. It is a 9-km hike to the top of the 2,145m-high mountain which takes about 3 hours with pit-stops at the observation area with a scenic 180-degree view as well as Macmillan’s burial site.
- 25 Tana River (An hour's drive from the city). White water rafting throughout cataracts, which leads to the 14 falls, can be done here. The rafting trip also includes a full BBQ lunch.
- 26 Kiambethu Tea Farm, Limuru, ☏ +254 729 290894. 11:00-14:30. A beautiful tea farm, about 40 minutes away from the city centre of Nairobi. The farm house is set within beautiful gardens surrounded by acres of tea and indigenous forest - home to the colobus monkey and plenty of other wildlife.
- 27 14 Falls at Thika. 14 Falls are 55 km from Nairobi, close to the Ol Donyo Sabuk National Park, near the town of Thika, one of the biggest suppliers of pineapples in Kenya. You will see the expansive plantations on your way to the falls. 14 small streams merge to form the big waterfall at the foot of the Kilima Mbogo Hills. These streams are part of the Athi River. At first glance the falls are magnificent; however, the river is strongly polluted by industrial waste and a foul chemical smell and reams of rubbish strewn across all the rocks really ruin the experience. At Thika are the Thika and Chania Falls close to the Blue Post Hotel. That's interesting too for a stop to or from the 14 falls. Also worth a visit are the Mau-Mau caves in which allegedly Maumau fighters hid during the independence battles between Thika and Mangu, about 6 km from Thika Entrance fees for 14 Falls are: US$15 per person, US$5 parking, US$5 per camera.
- 28 Kitangela Glass. In this imaginative place, beautiful art objects are made of recycled glass and exhibited in a lovely garden, In a shop different types of glassware are on sale. Guided presentations take place every 30 min.
- 29 Kereita Forest zip line. 8AM-6PM. At the Kereita Forest near Kiambu along the Nairobi-Nakuru highway is East-Africa’s longest zip line tour, offering over 2.4km of flight across the lush.
- 30 The Anti-Gravity Hill (Kituluni Hill) (After a hairpin turn on the road 12 km outside of Machakos town on the ascent to the Kituluni Hills, about 60 km southeast of Nairobi.). One of the strangest natural phenomena along the Kenyan Rift Valley is the point that the native Kamba mysteriously call "anti-gravity." Young men gesticulate on the street to demonstrate the "miracle" to visitors for a small fee. They put a plastic bottle filled with water on the asphalt, which apparently rolls uphill. If you ask them if they gave the bottle a nudge, they empty the contents onto the street. The water flows slowly uphill – apparently. Those blindly taking a few steps would swear they are going downhill. But the way undoubtedly goes up.
- 31 Swara Plains Conservancy. Swara Plains is a fenced sanctuary where Zebras, Giraffes, Ostriches, Monkeys and many other "non raptor" animals can be observed. Here you can go for a walk or ride a bike something that is almost everywhere prohibited in the national parks but is fun for children.
- 32 Olorgesailie pre-historic site (along Magadi road, 70 km away from Nairobi). World renown as "world's largest stone-tool factory". Part of the Smithsonian Human Origins global locations. The site has camping spots and nice bandas-huts for rent, as well shower and WC facilities. If you're up for it, you can hike Mt Olorgesailie, but it's an all day event.
- 33 [dead link] Lake Magadi. Salt lake with hot springs for SPA, soda ash and salt production and many flamingos
- 34 Hells Gate National Park. A nice alternative to the more traditional Safari. Given the absence of dangerous animals, it is possible to visit this park on foot or by bike. The landscapes are very impressive, especially the descent into the canyon. All with the presence of different animals, zebras, wildebeests, buffaloes, warthogs, and several endemic species of birds and insects.
- Go-Down Arts Centre (South of Centre), ☏ +254 20 555770. A former warehouse turned arts centre - this has also happened in Nairobi and this spot allows you to get a glimpse of what contemporary Kenyan artists are up to, including exhibitions, performances and discussions.
- Kazuri Beads shop. Started in 1977 the workshop of beads is adjacent to Karen Blixen's Museum. It was started by an English woman to provide sustainable income to poor Kenyan women. Has beautiful jewellery created of clay brought from the areas surrounding Mt. Kenya.
- Oloo’s Children Center (OCC), Kibera, ☏ +1 616 987-1106. Lend a hand at the volunteer-operated school, take a tour of Kibera, and have a cup of tea with the OCC Founder. The founder of the school lives in Kibera and works to provide children in need with education and meals.
- Try excellent food. Nairobi has a great variety of international food. For more information see the Eat section.
- Nightlife. Go dancing and be a part of Nairobi's excellent nightlife. For more information see the Drinking-section.
- Ice-skating. Go ice-skating at Panari.
- Village Market. Visit Village Market and Sherlocks.
- Visit the slum. Do something different visit Kibera, the slums of Nairobi. Guided walks are arranged by Kiberatours.
- The Ngong Racecourse (Horse Flat-Racing takes place 3 Sundays a month, and is a great way to spend an afternoon).
- Hiking: there are several good hiking places near Nairobi, e.g. in the Chyulu Hills or Ngong Hills.
- The Ngong Forest Reserve is 25 km south west of Nairobi. It is a popular walking and picnicking venue. In Ngong is a station where you have to pay the park entry fee, and those who want to also for a guide. There is only one route, the walk from Ngong to Corner Baridi (Kiserian), which takes about 4–5 hr; you hardly can get lost. Also organized hiking tours are offered.
- Other nice places for hiking are the Mount Longonot National Park and the Menengai Crater, a massive shield volcano with one of the biggest calderas in the world, in the Great Rift Valley, Kenya. It is the largest volcano caldera in Kenya and the second largest volcano caldera in Africa
- Safari: Nairobi is the capital of safaris in Kenya. There are tour operators from budget to world class all over the city. Yet it is not easy find the best fitting. For important things to consider when booking see Kenya#Safaris.
This may also be a good place to repeat the warning about safety. Pickpockets are rampant in Nairobi and have been known to keep an eye on people getting cash from a machine. It is best to carry cash in a hidden pouch rather than a wallet. Men should not carry their wallets in their back pockets, and women should not carry their purses to the side or behind them, particularly in busy locations.
- Credit cards: Many stores will accept international credit cards, however they may charge fee for using them. The Carrefour supermarket chain accept credit cards without a surcharge.
- ATM: There are networked banking machines in major shopping areas of Nairobi and in the Nairobi airport. Ecobank charges no fees for withdrawals (e.g. by Visa or Mastercard) through their ATMs. Absa and Standard Chartered Bank have a minimum Ksh 625 ATM fee for overseas cards at all their ATMs. The major banks are: Eco Bank.
- Cash: Most transactions are cash only, so it is best to have enough cash on hand to pay for purchases and transport. Cash is dispensed in units of Ksh 1,000. Many smaller businesses will not have much change, so before going shopping for curios be sure to have a good selection of smaller notes.
- Forex bureaus are found in many parts of the city where tourists are common. They will exchange cash of different currencies, and may also accept a personal cheque for Kenyan cash. They will want a photocopy of your passport before they exchange money. Rates are not bad, but will be worse than a banking machine will offer. Many exchange bureaus and hotels will not accept or exchange American currency printed before 2000. When the exchange bureaus do accept pre-2000 notes, they typically offer substantially lower exchange rates than for currency printed after 2000. Exchange rates are also typically lower for small denomination currency than for US$100 and $50 bills.
- Cashless payment: Another essential phone tool is M-Pesa. It is a mobile phone-based platform used for most money transactions in Kenya. M-Pesa agents are available all over Kenya. You can use the platform instead of carrying cash around for safety purposes.
For local curios and souvenirs, the most easily accessible and tourist-friendly is the Maasai Market, held on Fridays at the Village Market, an upmarket, open concept shopping centre near the United Nations and American Embassy complexes. Bargaining is necessary, and one should probably not spend more than Ksh 1,000 on one item, except in extraordinary circumstances.
- Maasai market, Slip Rd. Go to the Maasai market and buy keepsakes. On Saturday the market is at Nairobi High Court parking lot, village market on Friday, The Junction on Thursday, Capital Centre on Wednesday. Prepare to haggle and as a guide, pay about half to two-thirds of the asking price.
For slightly better prices, visit the Tuesday market in town, just down from the Norfolk hotel. This market is less secure, but is larger and offers more variety and opportunity for bargaining.
Biashara Street, downtown, is the spot for textiles. Make sure you pick up at least one kikoi or kikoy (a traditional wrap for Swahili men, predominantly at the coast).
- Haria's Stamp Shop, ☏ +254 731 868 246, +254 706 868 246, [email protected]. 8:30-18:00. One of the best selections of kikoy and other African fabrics and souvenirs.
- Two Rivers Mall, off the northern bypass road, ☏ +254-722-205339. 9AM-9PM. The largest mall in east and central Africa. Has a Carrefour Hypermaket.
- Garden City Mall, Thika Super highway. 9:30-21:00. Many stores including a carrefour Hypermarket.
- The Sarit Centre Mall, Westlands. 8AM-9PM. Many stores and a small cinema, and a Carrefour hypermarket.
- Westgate Shopping Mall, 15 Mwanzi Road, ☏ +254 715-557775. 8:00-24:00. The target of a terrorist attack in 2013. Has a Carrefour Hypermarket.
- Southfield Mall, Airport North Road, ☏ +254 739-774477. 8:00-22:00. has a Carrefour Hypermarket.
- The Village Market Mall, Limuru Road, ☏ +254 20-7122488. Mall open 7:00-23:00, store hours vary. It has a Carrefour Market.
- Thika Road Mall, T R M Drive, ☏ +254-700-876876. 8:00-22:00. Many stores and has a Carrefour hypermarket
- The Hub Karen Mall, Dagoretti Road, ☏ +254-702-120120. 9AM-9PM. Many stores. The anchor tenant is a Carrefour hypermarket.
- The Junction Mall, Ngong Road, ☏ +254-20-3872881. 6AM-11PM. Many stores and a Carrefour hypermarket.
- Yaya Centre Mall, Argwings Kodhok Road Hurlingham, ☏ +254-709-439000. 9AM-8PM. Many stores and a Chandarana Food Plus supermarket.
|This page uses the following price ranges for a typical meal for one, including soft drink:|
|Budget||Under Ksh 500|
|Mid-range||Ksh 500 - Ksh 1400|
|Splurge||Over Ksh 1400|
Nairobi has a wide range of Indian restaurants that speaks to the significant South Asian community in Kenya. The city also offers other restaurants specializing in different European and Asian cuisine. Restaurants serving international cuisines can be found in downtown and in the areas of Westlands, Hurlingham, Kilimiani, and Lavington. Among the many cuisines available are Italian, Brazilian, Chinese, Thai, Japanese, German and French restaurants.
In addition, there are several local restaurants that cater to local cuisine like sukuma wiki (green spinach-like vegetable, 'Kale' in English), ugali (corn bread, ground maize flour and made to a tasty white bread/porridge form), nyama choma (literally: meat roast), chapati and other specialities.
There are also many of the internationally well-known fast-food chains in the city and they are also very popular with the Kenyan youth.
- 1 Hot dishes. A chain restaurant serving local food. Several venues in Nairobi CBD. Spacious with ample seating, reasonably clean. Mains Ksh 180-450 ksh.
- 2 KK Restaurant, Koinange Street and Standard Street (in CBD of Nairobi), ☏ +254 718210110. 06:00-19:00. A downtown eatery well-known for featuring economical African fare such as beef stew with managu, goat meat, grilled tilapia, porridge, maize, njahi, minji, kienyeji, etc, plus breakfasts. Sometimes service can be a bit slow, but it is a well-liked place.
- Roast House. In the city centre facing the matatu station on Tom Mboya Rd. Regular local prices with more selection, excellent food, friendly service. Very busy at lunchtime.
- Habesha. Near Yaya centre- great Ethiopian food for around USD5-6, although they serve Nescafé coffee rather than the traditional Ethiopian freshly-roasted beans.
- Smart Village. Southwest of Habesha on Elgeyo Marakwet gives an authentic Ethiopian eating experience, with fewer expats than the more-popular Habesha.
- Red Sea. An authentic Eritrean restaurant located on the top floor of China Centre on Ngong Road near the Chinese embassy. Meals cost around Ksh 500 and the food is excellent, with nice traditional coffee ceremony.
Nairobi has a fantastic array of mid-range eateries.
- 3 Abyssinia Exotic Ethiopian Restaurant, Muguga Green, Off Brookside Grove, Off Waiyaki Way, ☏ +254 725 3515 1515. A delicious Ethiopian restaurant. Mains from Ksh 500-800.
- Java House. With quite a few locations, including The Junction, ABC Place, and close to the United Nations, features a western coffee house menu, from bagels to burritos, with excellent coffees and milkshakes, and a full breakfast menu. Another popular coffee house is Dormans. Ksh 500-750 for a complete meal..
- Trattoria. An Italian restaurant. Do not expect anything decent when it comes to the mains (all around Ksh 700). However, there is a fabulous and extensive dessert menu, including crepes, tiramisu, souffle, and a coffee granita with fresh cream (Ksh 250-500).
- Motherland. An authentic Ethiopian restaurant with great and affordable food (typical of Ethiopian restaurants in Nairobi!)
- Havana Bar, Woodvale Grove, Westlands, ☏ +254 20 445-0653. Popular bar and restaurant with a laid-back Latin theme. Renowned for their sizzling fajitas, steaks and seafood dishes. Reasonably priced. The kitchen is open daily from noon until late.
- Village Market Food Court. Has an array of different ethnic cuisines, including Thai, Italian, Chinese and German, as well as a Mongolian Barbecue. Good prices as well. Venture further into Village Market to find a good Japanese restaurant as well, though with slightly steeper prices. There are also food courts at other malls in the city.
- 4 The Carnivore. Just outside the city, close to the Uhuru Gardens along Lang'Ata road, it is a luxury restaurant famous for its meats. In 2006, the restaurant was listed as one of the top 50 restaurants in the world. Once seated, different masaai grilled meats will be carried around on sticks and carved to your plate at request. Very expensive by Kenyan standards, beware of additional taxes and catering levies. Reservations might be a good idea, ask at your hotel.
- Furusato. Located in Westlands, has fantastic Japanese food. For a price.
- The Lord Errol. Past Village Market and into Runda, is said to have very good food, and is popular with the expat crowd.
- Moonflower. On State House hill at the Palacina hotel, a very upmarket bistro fusion grill restaurant in a lovely outdoor setting. Fantastic food.
- Pango Brasserie. At the Fairview Hotel it features upmarket French and continental dishes. Dinner begins in an underground stone wine cellar where the chef will send out complimentary tasters while you sip a bottle of wine of your choice.
- Alan Bobbe's Bistro (at Andrew's apartments, at the end of Rhapta road near St. Mary's School). A venerable, legendary restaurant now located on Rhapta Road (near St. Marys School). Founded in 1962, the restaurant features French haute-cuisine at about a third of what you would pay in Paris!
- 5 Le Palanka Pan, 909,James Gichuru Road. Many Kenyan dishes, but also many dishes from other African countries
- New Florida Clubs (F1). The New Florida, locally known as Madhouse or Madi, is in the heart of Nairobi on Koinange Street.
- Pango (F3):, ☏ +254 20 229-036, [email protected]. Commerce House, 1st Floor. The latest addition to the Florida Group.
- Double Inn: Also out in Karen, they show rugby/cricket games and it's always full of expats and white Kenyans. The place to get hammered.
- Seven Seafood & Grill, ABC Place (ABC Place Waiyaki Way), ☏ +254 737 776677. 24. Amazing seafood and spectacular decor a must visit. Ksh 2000.
- Shooters & Dips Cocktail Lounge, 4372-00506 (Panari Sky Centre,Mombasa Road opp Simba Colt Offices,5km from JKIA), ☏ +254 787 637948. 5PM. Handpicked music by the DJ. The bar offers a varied food menu along with a long list of signature cocktails, fine wines and liquors. Ksh 250.
- Mercury Lounge ABC, ABC Place (Off Waiyaki Way), ☏ +254 722 309947. 4PM-late. An upmarket modern cocktail and tapas bar. A delicious tapas and bitings menu, and the best cocktails and high end spirits array in Nairobi. All major imported and local wine and beers are available chilled to perfection. A popular hangout for expats, well to do locals and local business leaders. Ample parking and good security make this one of Nairobi's more popular spots. Shooters and cocktails range USD3-6 with shooters and high end, globally popular wines and spirits USD6-15. All major credit cards accepted..
- Mercury Irish Pub (The Last Drop), Junction Mall (Corner of Ngong and Kingara Rd), ☏ +254 722 309947. 11AM. The pub specializes in steaks, a wide range of cocktails, local and imported beers, high end spirits and shooters and a superb wine list. Furnished in beautiful woodwork, leather seating, and with images of colonial Nairobi, it is located in the secure Junction Mall which has ample parking, good security and central location. Doubles up as a popular sports bar on the weekends with multiple screens. A popular expat hangout. A great balcony from which one can sip a cocktail while watching life pass by. Food prices from US$10-15, and all major credit cards are accepted.
- Club Soundd (junction of Kaunda and Wabera St), ☏ +254 722 571382.
- Gipsy, opposite ABSA, Bank Westland, ☏ +254 20 4440964, [email protected].
- Klub House 1 (K1) (is located along Ojijo Road in Parklands), ☏ +254 20 374 9870, [email protected].
- Choices, Majestic House, Moi Avenue, ☏ +254 20 550 629, [email protected]. Great place to watch Formula 1.
- Black Diamond. Many expats and travellers and has a cover band that plays very good music. A lot of ladies of the night here, always after the expats.
- Havana:, ☏ +254 795 984345. Its an expats' favourite on Thursdays nights. The live band on Saturdays attracts a good cosmopolitan crowd. Bar snacks available throughout the night.
- Apple Bees (Strip club). Located downtown and a branch in Parklands, next to the local Police Station.
- Annie Oakley's. Next to Milimani Backpackers, has pool tables, a descent menu, and a big screen with cable TV. another expats' favorite hangout.
- Cockpit. Langata Road not just popular with Wilson Airport pilots
- Barrels. Stripclub. Watch out for police raids
- Red Tape:, [email protected]. Westlands, Mpaka Road, Bishan Plaza,
- Club LA, Tom Mboya Street. 8PM -till late. One of the nice dance club & night clubs in Nairobi. A beer from Ksh 200. Soft drink from Ksh 150. has a facebook page. best nights are Friday and Saturday. No fee to go in.
|This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:|
|Budget||less than Ksh 3000|
|Splurge||more than Ksh 6000|
- The area around Tom Mboya Street & River Road has a lot of low cost hotels. Budget accommodation in Nairobi is from Ksh 1000 for a single room.
- 1 Milimani Backpackers & Safari Centre, Oldeani Crescent. It has internet, WiFi, hot showers, and bar. They offer dorms, doubles, singles, twins, camping space, permanent tents, and cabins. Milimani also offers safaris and other trips. Camping/dorm/double/ Ksh 900/1500/2700.
- 2 New Kenya Lodge, River Rd at Latema Rd. This cheap not so clean place in the city centre attracts people from all around the world. The onsite office can arrange safaris for US$50 + park fees a day, and they often offer a few nights of free accommodation if you book one. Sometimes has hot water. 3 beds per dorm. or single rooms. The best priced dorms in Nairobi. Dorm Ksh 750 per person. Single room Ksh 1000. Double room Ksh 1500.
- Manyatta Backpackers, Milimani Road, ☏ +254-721-816603. Six-person dorm. hot water showers. free wifi. This backpackers is near downtown Nairobi. 15 min walk. Dorm bed Ksh 1400 per person.
- 3 Destiny Hotel, Duruma Road (downtown Nairobi), ☏ +254 20 22531236. Check-in: noon, check-out: 11AM. Single/double room with own hot water bathroom. nice clean good value for money hotel. great place for backpackers and travelers. Ksh 1000/1500.
- Hotel Princess, 20 Tom Mboya street, ☏ +254 20 22114640. Single/double rooms with own bathroom. from Ksh 1700..
- Jungle Junction campground, Karen Kongoni Road. (near Ngiri road.), ☏ +254 722-752865. Check-in: noon, check-out: noon. Camping, dorm beds, room with own bathroom. Warm showers, fast internet, good kitchen, laundry service. Also kitchen for cooking own food available as well as common room. Workshop for overland vehicles on site. Camping Ksh 800, dorm Ksh 1400 per person.
- Arkland Palace Hotel, Junction of Tom Mboya and Ronald Ngala streets, ☏ +254 20-2142600. Check-in: from 6:00, check-out: 10:00. Big single or double rooms with own hot water bathroom. TV. Right in downtown near airport bus 34. very good Location above a small shopping mall. single Ksh 1200 double Ksh 1500..
- New Swanga Hotel, Corner of Duruma Road & Accra Road, ☏ +254 20-213827. Check-in: noon, check-out: noon. Comfortable room with own bathroom. Flat-screen TV and free Wi-Fi. Ksh 1900.
- Mercury Hotel, Tom Mboya Street, ☏ +254 20-2212504. Check-in: noon, check-out: noon. Double room with own bathroom. Ksh 1800.
- Eureka Highrise Hotel, Tom Mboya Street, ☏ +254 20-2247459. Check-in: noon, check-out: noon. Single/double room with own bathroom and TV. from Ksh 1600.
- Nawas Hotel, Firestation Ln off Latema Road, ☏ +254 20-243148. Check-in: noon, check-out: noon. Single/double room with own bathroom. Ksh 1300.
- 4 Hotel Africana, Dubois Rd. Check-out: 10:00. Simple rooms with bathroom. No WiFi. Ksh 1000.
- 5 Nairobi Airport Homestay, Muthama Access Rd, Syokimau (off Mombasa Road), ☏ +254 799230873, [email protected]. Check-in: 11:00, check-out: 10:30. In a quiet, serene and leafy suburb, 5 minutes from the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA). From Ksh 2500.
- Olive Gardens Hotel, Argwings Kodhek Rd, Hurlingham (Opposite Nairobi Women's Hospital), ☏ +254 20 2737854, +254 20 2727777. 62 rooms.
- 6 Ole-Sereni Hotel (Sarovar Hotels & Resorts), Mombasa Rd (5 km from Jomo Kenyatta international airport off Mombasa Rd opposite Zain offices), ☏ +254 20 390 1000, [email protected]. Check-in: noon, check-out: noon. Wildlife resort overlooking the Nairobi National Game Park.
- Savannah Sands Executive Apartments., ☏ +254 20 2710116. Off Ngong Road, behind Nairobi Baptist Church. Features furnished and serviced apartments, as well as unfurnished and unserviced apartments.
- 7 DusitD2, 14 Riverside Drive, Riverside Woods (North West of city, near University of Nairobi Chiromo campus), ☏ +254204233000. This is a stylish 4-star hotel. Thai restaurant on site, outdoor pool, gated secure compound.
- 8 Wildebeest Camp, Mokoyeti West Rd, Langata. Wildebeest Camp has moved from its original location to Mokoyeti West Rd in Langata. It is a beautiful, clean camp with dorms, camp sites, permanent tents, and higher-end rooms. The common area has a comfortable TV room and a restaurant with an outdoor patio. breakfast is included in the price, WiFi is extremely fast. The obvious downside is that it is very far from the city centre -- though that makes it easier to visit other sites like the Giraffe Centre, Elephant Orphanage, and Nairobi National Park. Dorm bed Ksh 2700 per person. Double Ksh 6500. Camping Ksh 1250..
- Fairview Inn. Also on upper hill, the Fairview is a lovely old historic hotel, with beautiful grounds and several restaurants. It is quiet at night, a real respite from the city. They also rent apartments. economy double Ksh 16,200.
- 9 Southern Sun Mayfair Nairobi (former Holiday Inn), Parklands Rd, ☏ +254 20 3688000. Built in the 1940s as the Mayfair Court Hotel, this historic hotel has retained its charm even as it joined the Holiday Inn family.
- 10 InterContinental Nairobi, City Hall Way, ☏ +254 020 3200000, [email protected]. 5 minutes from the city centre and 15 min from the airport with views of the city.
- 11 Hilton Nairobi, Mama Ngina St, ☏ +254 20 2288000, [email protected]. Part of the Hilton family of hotels and near the city centre.
- 12 Nairobi Serena Hotel, Kenyatta Ave, ☏ +254 20 2822000, [email protected]. In the middle of Nairobi's Central Park, this hotel offers a quiet place to stay.
- 13 Fairmont The Norfolk Hotel, ☏ + 254 20 2265000. 30 min from the airport, and a short distance from the shopping district.
- 14 Safari Park Hotel & Casino, Thika Rd, ☏ +254 020 3633000, [email protected]. Started as a retreat for British Army officers more than 50 years ago, this hotel is 15 min from downtown.
- 15 Sarova Stanley (The Stanley Hotel), ☏ +254 719 048000. This over 100 year old hotel has been renovated back to its Victorian style. In the city's shopping and business district.
- 16 Windsor Golf Hotel & Country Club, Kigwa Ln, ☏ +254 20 864 7000, [email protected]. 15 min from the city centre, 45 min from the airport. There is an 18-hole golf course on site.
- The King Post, Rhapta Road, Westlands. The King Post brings about a unique architectural synthesis between the East African coast and the lands across the Indian Ocean. it reflects the social and cultural interaction between the regions over more than 2000 years. Accommodation is in 1-, 2- or 3- bedroom apartments available on daily basis and long-term.The apartments are secluded but not isolated from the hustle and bustle of the city centre and the main roads being surrounded by peace, tranquility and security.
- 17 Giraffe Manor. The converted home of the founders of the African Fund for Endangered Wildlife is a few kilometres from the city centre. It sits on 57 ha (140 acres) of land. The giraffes can be fed at the front door or even from the second floor bedroom window!
- Ngong House. 30-min drive from the city centre and airport, the Ngong House is on a land that used to be part of a vast coffee estate. On the grounds are five traditional looking, yet elegantly decorated tree houses.
- 18 Sankara Hotel. Also a nice place for just a sundowner or cocktail at the pool bar on the 7th floor with great views and chic ambience
- 19 Mövenpick Hotel & Residences Nairobi, Mkungu Close, Westlands, ☏ +254 709 548000, [email protected]. Check-in: 2PM, check-out: noon. €148-341.
Nairobi has a reputation for thievery. Beware of snatch and grab, con artists, or groups of people following you. Scams are elaborate and can involve up to 10 or more people working together. The best advice for a tourist is to stay in the city centre, know where you are at all times, and pretend you know where you're going (even if you don't). If you find yourself in an unfamiliar area your best bet is to find a taxi (although you will probably pay dearly if the driver suspects a panicked westerner!) Don't carry large quantities of money or passports on the street, and assume that anyone trying to engage you is up to no good or trying to sell you something. If one stays smart and plays safe, without going around much after dark, Nairobi can be a safe place to stay. Most locals are honest people who will happily help you if you approach them. The areas where you have to take special care are: Globe roundabout, Archives, Ambassadeur, Muthurwa Market, around Nation Centre, Landies road, Nyamakima, Kirinyaga road, Uhuru
Kenyans are proud people and there is not a lot of begging like you find in some other countries. Some opportunistic people will hang around shopping centres and beg, but they will generally accept a simple 'sorry' and leave you alone if you do not give. Many of these 'beggars' are middle-class kids or adults who have realised they can profit from exploiting white guilt, and should not be encouraged. If you are ever lucky enough to visit a slum as a local (not on some perverse tourist safari) you will discover the poorest of the poor do not even beg.
Outside of tourist and expat communities, young children will become excited at the sight of a white person and may come running towards you to try to shake your hand while yelling out 'mzungu' (white person) or 'how are you?'. Older kids are more reserved, and you should be wary of kids who are older than 9 or 10 who are trying to distract or get close to you.
Slums should be avoided by tourists as you will attract a lot of attention which can quickly turn into a dangerous situation.
Apart from the inner city centre, Nairobi dies out at night. Streets are mostly empty. Do not walk alone after nightfall. Always use taxis. The areas north and east of River Road should be avoided, especially if you're not a local!
Biashara Street is a safe shopping street due to the presence of 10-15 Maasai guards. A place to avoid as a tourist is the City Market; you could end up paying a much higher price than on Biashara Street.
If you are in a matatu and moving slowly through traffic, particularly after dark, you should keep your window closed if your valuables are in reach to prevent people snatching them from the outside (there are thieves who walk through traffic looking for such opportunities). Mobile phones and wallets should be securely kept and not displayed prominently during calls or cash transactions in the River Road area, particularly after dark.
Eastleigh (known as 'little Mogadishu') is an area near the city centre that is decaying due to years of neglect by the government (including the police). It is predominantly populated by Somalian migrants and refugees, and most Kenyans will not go there for fear of their safety. Tourists would be wise to avoid it day and night.
There have been several grenade attacks in the city for which Al-Shabaab have claimed responsibility. These are likely to be ongoing while the Kenyan army has a presence in Somalia. They are random and often fatal, and one should be wary and report any suspicious behaviour. Associated with the terrorist threat, you can expect to pass through security checkpoints with armed guards at most attractions, shopping malls and even on the streets. You can expect (at times) to have to have your bags searched, and car checked.
It is recommended that before tourists come to Nairobi, that they should be vaccinated well in advance (6 weeks) of their trip. The most common recommended vaccines for people traveling to Africa are Tetanus, Diphtheria, Polio, Typhoid, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Yellow Fever, Rabies and Meningitis.
Food and beverages
Be careful with the food that you eat outside the more upscale establishments. Before eating, make sure that the food is freshly and thoroughly cooked and served hot. Also avoid seafood, except at upmarket restaurants and hotels, and make sure that your fruits and vegetables have been properly washed in clean water. The safest fruits to eat are bananas and papayas.
Do not drink tap water or brush your teeth with it. Only use bottled or canned drinks (especially popular brands). Also, do not use ice as it may also be contaminated water, and remember that alcohol does not sterilize a drink. The general rule of thumb is, the more high end an establishment is, the greater the safety of the food and drink within.
In Africa you are going to be exposed to yellow fever, dengue fever, other viral diseases, sleeping sickness, filariasis and malaria, although none of these diseases is a concern in Nairobi. When insects are biting you should cover up and wear long-sleeved shirts and trousers, socks and pyjamas especially when night falls. It is best to use an insect repellent that contains DEET on your exposed skin and clothing. As for mosquito nets, it is best to use a permethrin-impregnated net along with an insecticide such a pyrethrum coils or an electric mosquito killer during the night. And remember to spray your hotel room every evening.
Heat and sun
Make sure to drink plenty of fluids (not coffee, alcohol or strong tea) to avoid dehydration. To know if you well hydrated, you body would always produce plenty of clear urine. The average temperature is around 25°C (maximum might reach 30°C) throughout the year. People coming from Asian countries like India will not have much problem with the weather, in fact it would definitely seem pleasant all along the year. For people who are from cold countries it takes them three weeks to become accustomed to the heat. Try to avoid plenty of physical exertion and try to stay in the shade and keep cool as much as possible. Increase the amount of salt intake in your food and water. Also, apply a lot of high factor sunscreen, avoid direct sunlight, and try to wear a hat and shady clothing.
There are very many internet cafés around Nairobi, but connection speeds and computers are not always super fast, but still you will manage to open your email, probably even use a webcam or watch YouTube. Prices are usually at ranges from Ksh 0.5/minute to Ksh 1/minute, usually with a minimum fee of Ksh 5-20. The more expensive internet cafés are rarely better and the best ones charge Ksh 1/minute with discounts for using the internet for longer. Most of the good cafés are found in Norwich Union which has quite a number just opposite Hilton Hotel next to Nandos while the expensive ones are found in malls in Westlands. Although it may be more appropriate for tourists to use the ones in Westlands since they are usually less crowded and are more exclusive but not necessarily faster or better in terms of equipment.
Free wireless internet is available at Java House restaurants and Doorman's coffee shops in the city and malls. Some bars like Havana in Westlands also offer free wifi. The internet cafe in Sarit Centre also has wireless internet available at a good speed and a reasonable price.
Mobile phones are ubiquitous in Kenya with fairly good coverage from all providers Safaricom, Airtel and Telkom that extends to most populated parts of the country. Safaricom has the best national coverage especially if you are using 4G data. The phone system is GSM 900 and 3G-4G 2100 (Asian and European standard) on Safaricom, Airtel and Telkom Phones and SIM cards are available at many locations throughout Nairobi and the country including at the airport. Phone prices are very competitive and priced for average income Kenyans. A basic phone may be obtained new from an independent dealer for ~Ksh 2000. A vast majority of people use pre-paid phones with scratch-card top-ups available at a huge number of merchants across the country. Phones are sold "unlocked" by outlets for use on any network. Safaricom though does sell a number of phones locked to its network. Much business is conducted via mobile phone, so possession of one for even a relatively short stay in the country can be beneficial. Rates are extremely affordable with in-country calls at around Ksh 3 per minute. Overseas calls cost around Ksh 5 per minute to the United States (~USD$0.06/minute) and Ksh 3 per minute to India on the Airtel network.
3G data service is available in most coverage areas on Safaricom and is of a fairly high standard. The other networks have 3G in major population areas and EDGE/GPRS everywhere else. If you have a smart phone you should buy a data pack (200mb, 500mb or 1.5gb) or your credit will go down very fast. Airtel and Telekom have lower prices for calls and data.
Smoking is against the law out on the streets in the city centre (the downtown grid area with numerous skyscrapers). There are certain smoking zones, and outside of the city centre it becomes much easier to find locations where it is acceptable. However, a general rule would be to not smoke along the side of any roads or streets with pedestrians and/or vehicles. Be observant and take your cues from other smokers - if there are no smokers or cigarette butts on the ground, it is likely a non-smoking location.
Embassies, Consulates and High Commissions
- Australia, Riverside Dr (400 m off Chiromo Rd), ☏ +254 20 4277100, fax: +254 20 4277139.
- China, Woodlands Rd, ☏ +254 20 2726851, fax: +254 20 2726402, [email protected].
- Cyprus, International House 6th Floor, Mama Ngina St, ☏ +254 20 2220881, fax: +254 20 312202, [email protected]. M-F 9:00-16:30.
- Djibouti, Mama Ngina St, ☏ +254 20 2122859, fax: +254 20 313120.
- Egypt, 24 Othaya Rd off Gitanga Rd, Kileleshwa, ☏ +254 20 4441248, fax: +254 20 3870383, [email protected].
- Eritrea, 2F New Rehema House, Rhapta Rd, ☏ +254 20 4441248.
- Ethiopia, State House Ave, ☏ +254 20 2732054, fax: +254 20 2216044, [email protected].
- Finland, Eden Square, Block 3, 6th floor, Greenway Rd off Westlands Rd, ☏ +254 20-3750721-4, fax: +254 20-3750714, [email protected]. M-F 9AM-noon.
- Germany, 113 Riverside Drive, Ludwig Krapf House, ☏ +254 20 4262000, fax: +254 20 4262129, [email protected].
- Greece, 13F Nation Tower, Kimathi St, ☏ +254 20 340722, fax: +254 20 2216044, [email protected].
- Indonesia, Menengai Road, Upper Hill P.O.Box 48868, ☏ +254 20 714-196, +254 733 133 000, fax: +254 20 713-475, [email protected].
- Japan, Mara Rd, Upper Hill, ☏ +254 20 2898000, fax: +254 20 2898220.
- Nigeria, Lenana Rd, Kilimani, ☏ +254 20 3864116, fax: +254 20 3875871, [email protected].
- Romania, Eliud Mathu Street 1119, Runda, P.O. Box 63240-00619, ☏ +254 721 214073, +254 708 368303, [email protected]. Embassy
- Republic of Korea, 15F Anniversary Towers, University Way, ☏ +254 20 2220000.
- Spain, CBA Building, 3rd floor, Mara & Ragati Road, Upper Hill, ☏ +254 20 2720222, fax: +254 20 2720226, [email protected].
- Rwanda (Limuru Rd, Gigiri), ☏ +254 20 7121321, fax: +254 20 7121324, [email protected]. M-Th 9AM-5PM, F 9AM-2PM.
- Serbia, State House Ave, ☏ +254 20 2710076, fax: +254 20 2714126, [email protected].
- United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Upper Hill Rd, ☏ +254 20 2844000, fax: +254 20 2844-088, [email protected].
- United States of America, UN Ave, ☏ +254 20 363-6000, fax: +254 20 363-3410.
- Kakamega Rainforest: the last primeval rainforest in the country, and home to various monkeys and hundreds of bird species
- Lake Naivasha is worth at least a day's visit and has enough to keep you occupied for two or three days. Lakeshore country clubs are a good place for lunch. You can take a boat ride on the lake to see hippos, go for a walk among zebra and giraffes on Crescent Island, ride thoroughbred horses among zebra, giraffes and wildebeest at the Sanctuary Farm, and ride bicycles among wildlife and dramatic scenery at Hell's Gate National Park.
- Nakuru National Park, although further afield, deservedly warrants a 1-night stay for a late-afternoon and early-morning game drive.
- Maasai Mara National Reserve: Kenya's most important National Park
- Mount Longonot National Park: Daytrip to hike on a 2700m volcano
- Aberdare National Park: known for high population of rhinos
- Ol Pejeta Conservatory provides a sanctuary for great apes and rhinos