Nairobi

Travel Guide Africa Kenya Nairobi

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Introduction

Nairobi is the capital and largest city in Kenya. It has about 3 million inhabitants, 4 million if you add the total metropolitan area, making it the fourth largest city in Africa. It is just over 100 years old and became the capital in 1905, before which Mombasa hold this title. It is located in the southern central parts of the country, roughly between the coast and Uganda, at an elevation of almost 1,700 metres. Although it is the political and economical hart of the country, the city hasn't got that much to offer for travellers. Most people stay here before starting their safari to world famous parks like the Masai Mara or fly back home from Nairobi. Just outside the city however is Nairobi National Park and the sight of zebras with high rise buildings in the back is rather unique.

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History

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.

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Sights and Activities

engage in numerous sports from golf, rugby, athletics, polo, horse-racing, cricket and football (soccer).

  • Nairobi National Park (just outside Nairobi) - This is home to large herds of Zebra, Wildebeest, Buffalo, Giraffe, Lion, Cheetah, Hippo, Rhino and even 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.
  • Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage (close to the Nairobi National Park) - This orphanage takes in elephant calves and rhinos from all over Kenya which were orphaned by poaching.
  • Giraffe Centre (in Lang'ata right outside of Nairobi) - The Centre breeds the endangered Rothschild Giraffe and has conservation/education programmes for Kenyan children. It also has many warthogs.
  • 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, August 7, 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.
  • Nairobi National Museum - 8:30am-5:30pm. Where visitors can learn about Nairobi, its history and culture. The museum celebrated 100 years in 2010.
  • National Railway Museum - Visitors can learn more about the history of Kenya’s railroads and the Kenya/Uganda railway. It also houses, some of the engines and rolling stock from the country’s colonial period.
  • Nairobi Gallery - ☎ +254 20 216566. This is a museum housing only special exhibits, so the featured artwork is always changing.
  • Karen Blixen Museum - ☎ +254 20 8002139, e-mail: karenblixen@museums.or.ke. is based on the Karen Blixen’s book "Out of Africa". Her house is now the home of the museum. It is on the outskirts of Nairobi and a taxi or bus can get you to the museum.
  • Uhuru Gardens - Built in remembrance of the struggle for independence, which Kenya was granted in 1963. The monument is a 24-metre-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.
  • 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

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Events and Festivals

East African Arts Festival

In March each year, Nairobi hosts the East African Art Festival, the biggest of its kind in the region, which attracts competitors and spectators from around the world. The three-day event showcases art, music, theater, music, fashion, literature, architecture, sculpture and traditional crafts. It is hosted by the Kenyan National Museum.

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Weather

Because of its elevation, it is never too hot in Nairobi and even during the warmest months of January to March, temperatures are around 25 °C during the day. April and May are the wettest months, with over 200 mm of rain in April. In winter (July to September) it can get chilly at night, but it rarely freezes.

JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Avg Max24.5 °C25.6 °C25.6 °C24.1 °C22.6 °C21.5 °C20.6 °C21.4 °C23.7 °C24.7 °C23.1 °C23.4 °C
Avg Min11.5 °C11.6 °C13.1 °C14 °C13.2 °C11 °C10.1 °C10.2 °C10.5 °C12.5 °C13.1 °C12.6 °C
Rainfall64.1 mm56.5 mm92.8 mm219.4 mm176.6 mm35 mm17.5 mm23.5 mm28.3 mm55.3 mm154.2 mm101 mm
Rain Days459161353447158

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Getting There

By Plane

Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NBO), located 15 kilometres away from the city centre, is home to Kenya Airways. It's the busiest airport in East Africa and the 6th busiest in Africa.

Some of the national carrier's destinations include Accra, Addis Ababa, Amsterdam, Bangkok, Cairo, Dar Es Salaam, Dakar, Dubai, Entebbe, Guangzhou, Harare, Hong Kong, Johannesburg, Lilongwe, London, Mumbai, Seychelles and Zanzibar. Several dozens of other airlines serve Nairobi, mainly from other African and European cities.

Taxis and car hire facilities are conveniently situated at the arrival areas. A scheduled bus service to and from the town center is available as well.

By Train

Nairobi is also accessible by rail, with three times a week arrivals and departures at the Nairobi Railway station. At this time, trains only go east to Mombasa. Trains are often a more comfortable and safer way to travel than buses because of bad roads, as well as bus mechanical issues.

There are 3 classes: First, Second, and General. General class gets very overcrowded and not all participants always have seats: It is the least expensive and comfortable mode of travel. First and Second classes are sleepers. First class has 2 seats in a cabin, while Second class has 4. In Second Class, genders are separated unless you purchase the entire compartment of 4 seats. First class costs vary depending on location and costs 4405 Kenyan Shillings to Mombasa, but are all inclusive: bedding, breakfast, dinner; Second class costs vary depending on destination. It costs 3385 Kenyan Shillings to Mombasa, all inclusive. Both can be purchased without bedding or food. Tickets have to be booked through the office on Station Road in south-central Nairobi, or on the railroad's website. Online booking may be more expensive than in person. A 3rd class seat from Nairobi to Mombassa costs 680 Kenyan Shillings. A 2nd class sleeper car without dinner and breakfast is 2335 Kenyan Shillings, which is two times the cost of the bus.

By Bus

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.

Matatus (14-18 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 and valuables such as mobile phones and wallets should not be prominently displayed here, particularly after dark and 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.

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Getting Around

By 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.

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.

Uber has 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.

By Public Transport

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, you should be aware that 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 between KES10 and KES40) and location the matatu is driving. Recently, the government has decided to ban the 14-seat matatus inside Nairobi, effective January 2011 in hopes of reducing traffic and accidents in town. The best choice is probably the City Hoppa bus service and of late the revived Kenya Bus Service. Beware of traffic jams on the major highways, not only in the rush hours.

By Foot

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.

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Eat

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. Common fast food restaurants include Steers, Debonairs, Wimpy, Galito's, local favourite, Kenchic among others. 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.

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 Ethiopian 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.
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.
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. edit
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.
Le Palanka Pan, 909, James Gichuru Road. Many Kenyan dishes, but also many dishes from other African countries.

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Drink

Florida 2000 (F2):, Moi Avenue (at Commerce House).
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, ✉ info@floridaclubskenya.com. 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.
Seven Seafood & Grill, ABC Place (ABC Place Waiyaki Way), ☏ +254 737 776677. 24. Amazing seafood and spectacular decor a must visit. Ksh2000.
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. Ksh250.
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 Barclays, Bank Westland, ☏ +254 20 4440964, ✉ gipsy@nbi.ispkenya.com.
Klub House 1 (K1) (is located along Ojijo Road in Parklands), ☏ +254 20 374 9870, ✉ info@klubhouse.co.ke.
Choices, Majestic House, Moi Avenue, ☏ +254 20 550 629, ✉ mmuchami@yahoo.com.
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. edit
Havana:, ☏ +254 20-4450653. 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:, ✉ redtapewesty@gmail.com. Westlands, Mpaka Road, Bishan Plaza,
Little Temple night club and bar, Tom Mboya Street. 8PM -till late. One of the few gay night clubs in Nairobi. A beer from Ksh 200. Soft drink from Ksh 150. No fee to go in.

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Sleep

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 Center, Elephant Orphanage, and Nairobi National Park. Dorm bed Ksh2700 per person. camping Ksh1250.
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.
New Kenya Lodge, River Rd at Latema Rd. This cheap not so clean place in the city center 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.
Destiny Hotel, Duruma Road (downtown Nairobi), ☏ +254 20 22531236. Check-in: noon, check-out: 11AM. Single room with own hot water bathroom. nice clean good value for money hotel. Ksh 1000.
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 6am, check-out: 10am. 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 Ksh1200 double Ksh1500.
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.
Evamay Lodge, River Road at the Junction with Duruma Road., ☏ +254 20-2216218. Check-in: noon, check-out: noon. Double room with own bathroom and TV. Ksh 1700.
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.
Nairobi Airport Homestay, Muthama Access Rd, Syokimau (off Mombasa Road), ☏ +254 799230873, ✉ reservations@nairobihomestay.co.ke. Check-in: 11AM, check-out: 10:30AM. 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.
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, ✉ geetika@sarovarhotels.com. Check-in: noon, check-out: noon. Wildlife resort overlooking the Nairobi National Game Park.
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. Rates are relatively low, compared to many of the other hotels listed here. They also rent apartments.
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.
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.
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.
InterContinental Nairobi, City Hall Way, ☏ +254 020 3200000, ✉ sales.icnairobi@ihg.com. 5 minutes from the city center and 15 min from the airport with views of the city.
Hilton Nairobi, Mama Ngina St, ☏ +254 20 2288000, ✉ nairobi_info@hilton.com. Part of the Hilton family of hotels and near the city center.
Nairobi Serena Hotel, Kenyatta Ave, ☏ +254 20 2822000, ✉ nairobi@serena.co.ke. In the middle of Nairobi's Central Park, this hotel offers a quiet place to stay.
Fairmont The Norfolk Hotel, ☏ + 254 20 2265000. 30 min from the airport, and a short distance from the shopping district.
Safari Park Hotel & Casino, Thika Rd, ☏ +254 020 3633000, ✉ reservations@safariparkhotel.co.ke. Started as a retreat for British Army officers more than 50 years ago, this hotel is 15 min from downtown.
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.
Windsor Golf Hotel & Country Club, Kigwa Ln, ☏ +254 20 864 7000, ✉ reservations@windsor.co.ke. 15 min from the city center, 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.
Giraffe Manor. The converted home of the founders of the African Fund for Endangered Wildlife is a few kilometres from the city center. 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.
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.
Mövenpick Hotel & Residences Nairobi, Mkungu Close, Westlands, ☏ +254 709 548000, ✉ hotel.nairobi@movenpick.com. Check-in: 2PM, check-out: noon. €148-341.

You can use the form below to search for availability (Travellerspoint receives a commission for bookings made through the form)

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Safety

See also Travel Safety

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.

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Keep Connected

Internet

As far as communication technology is concerned, Kenya has gone through a tremendous modernization. Nowadays visitors to Kenya can carry their portable digital devices, ease of use is guaranteed with the advent of wireless (hot spots) environments within upmarket tourisms resorts. In some restaurants, a cup of coffee can allow you the use of the free hot spot for your laptop. However in most places the bandwidth is severely limited. Internet cafés are common throughout Kenya and usually offer decent link quality. Expect prices around 1KSh per minute. Most cyber cafes now charge 0.5KES per minute.

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

Kenya boosts a number of good mobile phone operators like Zain, Safaricom, Orange, Yu and Telekom. Roaming is easy with most European contract mobile phone tariff plans. Prices can be high though, so try and get a local SIM card or avoid data roaming.

Post

The National Postal Company offers services throughout the country and abroad. Prices are reasonably but services, although better than in the past, are still not very good. It is pretty slow and not always reliable. If you want to send a package, you'd better use international companies like DHL, TNT, UPS or FedEx, as they are not much more expensive yet reliable and fast.

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Quick Facts

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Coordinates
  • Latitude: -1.2762
  • Longitude: 36.7965

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This is version 25. Last edited at 11:52 on Nov 3, 20 by Utrecht. 69 articles link to this page.

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