This city on the Nairobi River is not only the largest and fastest growing in Kenya but one of the largest in Africa.
The word Nairobi derives from a water hole known in Maasai (an Eastern Nilotic language) as Enkare Nyirobi, which means “cool waters“. Nairobi, which was a swamp area, was founded in 1899 and was first a railway camp for the Uganda Railway. The city became Kenya’s capital - it had been Mombasa initially - and it also became the capital of the British East Africa Protectorate in 1905. 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 have rapid growth, becoming the second largest city in Kenya behind Mombasa. The city of Nairobi also grew due to administration and tourism businesses (mostly big game hunting). The British, who were one of Kenya’s colonizers, set up shop in Nairobi leading to the creation of big hotels primarily for the British hunters. Nairobi has an East Indian community, who are the descendants of original colonial railway labourers and merchants.
For general information about visas and vaccinations, etc., see the Kenya article.
Regular flights to Nairobi are operated by Kenya Airways, Air Kenya, Air France, KLM, British Airways, Turkish Airlines,Emirates, Egypt Air, Qatar Airways, Lufthansa and Swiss. Kenya Airways is the national airline and travels throughout Europe, Africa and the Asia-Pacific region. Nairobi’s main airport is JKIA Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (IATA: NBO), which is 15km (9 mi) south-east from the centre of the city.
There is also Wilson Airport, 11km (7 mi) south from the city's centre, that handles some domestic flights and general aviation.
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 KES1,500 to the city centre; Westlands or places more west or north will be more. There is an official taxi desk just after you exit the customs area.
When taking a taxi to your accommodation, do not be inveigled into taking their recommendation for accommodation.
From the centre, you can take Bus #34 for KES50, to the international airport, from in front of the Ambassador Hotel.
Nairobi is also accessible by rail, with daily arrivals and departures at the Nairobi Railway station. The trains go east to Mombasa and west to Kisumu. Trains are often a more comfortable and safe way to travel than bus, because of bad roads, bus mechanical issues, and bus hijackings.
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 are sleepers. First have 2 seats in a cabin, Second have 4. In Second Class, genders are separated unless you purchase the entire compartment of 4 seats. First-class costs vary depending on location and are USD55 to Mombasa but are all inclusive: bedding, breakfast, dinner; Second class costs vary depending on destination but are USD32 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-line. On-line may be more expensive than in person.
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.
- from/to Mombasa (KES1,100-1,200) 8-10h by Easy Coach, Modern Coast (Oxygen)
- from/to Arusha in Tanzania (USD25-30) 5.5h by Riverside Shuttle, Akamba
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.
Entry into Nairobi by boat is of course not possible, 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
Car hire and rental options available are valid. You can hire cars with a driver (chauffeur-driven) or on self-drive basis. Nairobi car hire companies offer salons, 4x4 and safari cars.
Carefully read the rental contract to check for rules on insurance liabilities in case of accident / theft of the vehicle.
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.
Taxis are not very cheap, but will make city life easier, and safer, at least at night. Prices should always be set before the trip, and paid afterwards. They can be found parked around hotels 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 at your hotel.
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, 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 large motorways, not only in the rush hours.
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.
Car hire from the airport is possible, and fairly painless with prices in line with other African countries. In the recent past Nairobi had a severe car-jacking problem, but because of increased police check-points it is marginally safer these days. 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, do 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 113km² (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).
- 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), ☎ . his 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.
- Kenyatta International Conference Centre (K.I.C.C) (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. KES400 / KES200 reduced.
- 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.
- Nairobi National Museum, Museum Hill, ☎ . 08:30-17:30. 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 railways and the Kenya/Uganda railway. It also houses, some of the engines and rolling stock from the country’s colonial period.
- Nairobi Gallery, P.O.Box 40658-00100, ☎ . This is a museum housing only special exhibits, so the featured artwork is always changing.
- Karen Blixen Museum, P.O Box 40658-00100, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
- Bomas of Kenya, Langata/Forest Edge Road, ☎ . Portrays Kenya’s culture. Visitors can see exhibits of traditional Kenyan homes, artifacts, dances, music, and song.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- Ol Donyo Sabuk National Park (65km from Nairobi). Centred around 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.
- 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.
- 14 Falls. A waterfall at Thika
- Safari in central Nairobi park.
- Try the many excellent restaurants in Nairobi.
- Go dancing and be apart of Nairobi's excellent nightlife
- Go ice-skating at Panari
- Visit Village Market and Sherlocks with your friends
- Go to Maasai market and buy keepsakes for yourself and friends: On Saturday it 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.
- Do something different visit Kibera, the slums of Nairobi. Guided walks are arranged by Kiberatours.
- Go-Down Arts Centre (South of Centre), ☎ . 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. Was started by an English women 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, ☎ . 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.
There are quite a number of networked banking machines in major shopping areas of Nairobi as well as the arrivals area of the airport. A Barlays ATM can be found near Gate 9 within the security area, easily accessible when arriving, and another one on the left side immediately after leaving the security area. Most transactions are cash only, so it is best to have enough cash on hand to pay for purchases and transport. Major banks such as Barclays, Kenya Commercial Bank and Standard Bank give better exchange rates than any of the FOREX bureaus. Independent machines such as Pesa-point have lower cash limits and may have a higher fee. As an example, in 2007 Barclays did not charge any additional fee for a cash withdrawal but gave a lower exchange rate than Kenya Commercial Bank. KCB charges a C$5 fee for a withdrawal with a maximum of KES40,000 per day.
Cash is dispensed in units of KES1,000. Note that 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 located 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. Be aware that 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 $100 and $50 bills.
Credit Cards Many specialty stores will accept international credit cards, however they will normally tell you up front that they will charge you bank fees, typically 5% of the purchase. The Nakumat and Uchumi supermarket chains would accept credit cards without a surcharge.
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: do not carry your wallet in your back pocket, and women: do not carry your purse to your side or behind you, particularly in busy locations.
The four primary supermarkets in Nairobi are Tusky's, Uchumi, Naivas and Nakumatt. For goods beyond supermarket fare, try Yaya Centre on Argwings Kodhek Road in the Kilimani area, The Junction on Ngong Road, or the Sarit Centre in Westlands.
The Sarit Centre will be recognizable to any Western traveller as a shopping mall, with an Uchumi supermarket inside. Clothing, shipping and internet are all available here. In addition, there is a small cinema. Other malls in Nairobi include Yaya Centre near Hurlingham and The Mall in Westlands.
The Westgate shopping mall was the target of a terrorist attack in 2013 that resulted in the destruction of a large part of the entre. It is planned for reconstruction, and may partially reopen late in 2014 or 2015.
An additional smaller supermarket, catering more to expatriates, is in ABC Plaza, along Waiyaki Way. Chandarana supermarket carries a wide variety of imported goods, Zucchini greengrocer is a highly dependable spot for clean and varied veggies, and Gilani's is a well stocked western style butchery.
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 KES1000 on one item, except in extraordinary circumstances.
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.
Another Nakumatt is located at Nakumatt Junction, past Lavington towards the Ngong Racecourse (Horse Flat-Racing takes place 3 Sundays a month, and is a great way to spend an afternoon). The Nakumatt Junction shopping complex features a few more boutiques - one of note being Zebu, a store highlighting local Designer Annabelle Thom's leather bags and more, where you will find higher quality and higher prices for beautiful designs.
Biashara Street, located 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 (been around for more than 70 years!) (www.hariastamp.com) has one of the best selections of kikoy as well as other African fabrics and souvenirs.
Nairobi is also 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. Here are some options.
- Safe Ride Tours & Safari Ltd., Avenue House, Mezzanine II, Kenyatta Ave. Low Price operator with good 3-day safaris to Masai Mara NP Budget.
- 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. just Southwest of Habesha on Elgeyo Marakwet gives an authentic Ethiopian eating experience, with fewer expats than the more-popular Habesha.
- Red Sea. is an authentic Ethiopian restaurant located on the top floor of China Centre on Ngong Road near the Chinese embassy. Meals cost around KES500 and the food is excellent, with nice traditional coffee ceremony.
Nairobi has a fantastic array of mid-range eateries.
- Abyssinia Exotic Ethiopian Restaurant, Muguga Green, Off Brookside Grove, Off Waiyaki Way, ☎ . A delicious Ethiopian restaurant. Mains from KSH500-800.
- 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. KES500-750 for a complete meal..
- Trattoria. is an Italian restaurant. Do not expect anything decent when it comes to the mains (all around KES700). However, there is a fabulous and extensive dessert menu, including crepes, tiramisu, souffle, and a coffee granita with fresh cream (KES250-500).
- Motherland. is an authentic Ethiopian restaurant with great and affordable food (typical of Ethiopian restaurants in Nairobi!).
- Havana Bar, Woodvale Grove, Westlands, ☎ . 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.
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.
- The Carnivore. located just outside the city, close to the Uhuru Gardens, 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 Rusty Nail. in Karen, has been super in the past, but mediocre of late. No reason not to give it another chance.
- 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, is a very upmarket bistro / fusion / grill restaurant in a lovely outdoor setting. Fantastic food.
- Pango Brasserie. at the Fairview Hotel 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. is 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!
- Club Soundd, junction of Kaunda and Wabera St, +254 722 571382
- Gipsy:, Opp,Barclays,Bank Westland, Box 40322, Nairobi, Tel: +254 20 4440964,4440836, Mob: +254 733 730529, Email:email@example.com
- Klub House 1 (K1):, is located along Ojijo Road in Parklands, Box 33003 - 00600 Nairobi, Tel: +254 20 374 9870, Fax: +254 20 374 7099, Mob:+254 733 77 22 33, Email.firstname.lastname@example.org. 
- Klub House 2 (K2):, Baricho Road, Industrial Area is home to K2 Klubhouse
- Choices:, Majestic House, Moi Avenue, Box 53319, Nairobi, Tel: +254 20 550 629, Mob: +254 722 521, Email: email@example.com, Leobag Investment Ltd, Baricho Road
- Chillers:, Anniv Towers
- Black Diamond:, many expats and travellers and has a cover band that plays very good music.
- Havana:, ☎ 020-4450653. 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 recently opened 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 opposite Uchumi Langata Hyper, not just popular with Wilson Airport pilots
- Barrels: Stripclub. Watch out for police raids
- Red Tape:, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Westlands, Mpaka Road, Bishan Plaza,
- Florida 2000 (F2):. Located at Commerce House, Moi Avenue.
- New Florida Clubs (F1):, The New Florida, locally known as Madhouse or Madi, is in the heart of Nairobi on Koinange Street.
- Pango (F3):, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Commerce House, 1st Floor, P.O.Box 55381 - 00200 Nairobi, 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), ☎ . 24. Amazing seafood and spectacular decor a must visit. KES2000.
- Klub Zinc Thika (Zinc Club Thika), Kenyatta Hwy (Opp. Total Filling Station Thika), ☎ . We pride ourselves as masters of all tastes and genres of music and also the ability to cut across generations as music is 'Food for All'.
The music ranges widely from the latest to the golden oldies and in styles such as Rock, Rhumba, Reggae, R n B, Hip Hop, Lingala and Salsa to mention but a few.
Patrons are also encouraged to place their requests and dedications to the Djs.
The atmosphere is further enhanced by the latest disco lights and effects.
- Shooters & Dips Cocktail Lounge, 4372-00506 (Panari Sky Centre,Mombasa Road opp Simba Colt Offices,5km from JKIA), ☎ . 17:00. Chill out, relax and unwind at the dazzling Shooters & Dips where the decor transports you to an international surrounding. Listen to handpicked music by the DJ and let yourself go to the rhythm. The bar also offers a varied food menu along with a long list of signature cocktails, fine wines and liquors. Shooters and Dips is the perfect place to meet friends, meet new people and experience Nairobi's nightlife right in the safety of the hotel. KES250.
- Mercury Lounge ABC, ABC Place (Off Waiyaki Way), ☎ . 16:00-late. An upmarket modern cocktail and tapas bar. Recently put under new management, Mercury is definitely the place to be seen, with 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. A must for any Nairobi traveller. 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), ☎ . 11:00. Mercury Pub at the new Junction Mall is the latest and most authentic Irish Pub in Nairobi. The most recent addition to the Mercury Group, the pub specializes in the best steaks in town, 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$10-$15, and all major credit cards are accepted.
The area around the main bus station has a ton of budget hotels and you can save on a taxi.
- Terminal Hotel, Moktar Dadah Street opposite Nakumatt. Spacious rooms with faded simple, decor are on offer here. And at very reasonable prices. Like any place in the city centre it can get loud - but then you are in a prime location just opposite from the Nakumatt shopping centre. If you store you luggage there - consider that you will only get your luggage at the aggreed date because the hotel clerk does not have the key to the "safe room". from KES1,900 sgl, KES2,100 dbl.
- Wildebeest Camp, Kibera Road, near intersection with Ngong Road, next to Chinese embassy. You can get a bed in a dorm here or camp (they provide the tent and bedding) for KES1,000 per night per person. They also have larger permanent tents and rooms available at a higher price. The place is clean, secure and popular with backpackers. from KES1000 per person for dorm and camping (tent provided).
- Hotel Downtown, Moktar Dadah Street opposite Nakumatt. Check-out: 10:00. In the same league as the Terminal hotel next door or the Parkside across the road, the Downtown hotel has clean rooms and is as the name says: downtown - with all its advantages (shopping centre nearby, etc.) and disadvantages: noise. Note that leaving valuables and especially credit cards in the safe at the front desk for safekeeping is not a good idea. from KES1,900 sgl.
- International Guest House, UpperHill, Matumbato Rd (Next to Don Bosco Church, 10 min walk from Kenyatta National Hospital), ☎ . With 30 years in the tourism business, owner Tom J. Kamau is happy to custom arrange any additional travel or safari needs. Located on a quite street in Upperhill, this family owned and operated guest house is conveniently located just a few minutes from downtown. Airport pickup and transportation is available for a small fee. Single rooms available from KES600-2000.
- Milimani Backpackers & Safari Centre, PO Box 21005 - 00500. A little further out of the downtown core, about 15 minutes walk down a major, safe road, is Milimani Backpackers on Milimani Road. It has internet, cable TV, WI-FI, hot showers, 24hr self-service bar, popular restaurant, fireplace, and a parking area. They offer dorms, doubles, singles, twins, camping space, permanent tents, and cabins. Milimani also offers good-value safaris and other trips from KES600 for dorms.
- New Kenya Lodge, River Rd at Latema Rd. This cheap place in the city centre attracts backpackers. The onsite office is a good place to arrange budget safaris, and they often offer a few nights of free accommodation if you book one. Beware of the noise from late night bars and early morning buses. Dorms from 750 KSh.
- Upper Hill Campsite and Backpackers, Othaya road, Lavington (off Gitanga road near to Vally Arcade shopping centre), ☎ , e-mail: , mob. +254 (0)721 firstname.lastname@example.org. Provides a range of budget accommodation. Bringing your own tent is the cheapest way. If you are two people, try to go for a big hire tent which is the better deal than a dorm. KES600–5400.
- Olive Gardens Hotel, Argwings Kodhek Rd, Hurlingham (Opposite Nairobi Womens Hospital) (30-min drive from the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.), ☎ . , 2727777Olive Gardens Hotel has 62 rooms.
- Ole-Sereni Hotel (Sarovar Hotels & Resorts), Mombasa Rd (5 km from Jomo Kenyatta international airport off Mombasa Rd opposite Zain offices), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Check-in: noon, check-out: noon. Wildlife resort overlooking the Nairobi National Game Park.
- Country Lodge. On upper hill, the Country Lodge is aimed at the budget business traveler. Probably the best deal in town.
- 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.
- Holiday Inn Nairobi. Built in the 1940s as the Mayfair Court Hotel, this historic hotel has retained its charm even as it has joined the Holiday Inn family.
- InterContinental Hotel. Located only 5 minutes from the city center and 15 min from the airport with views of the city.
- Nairobi Hilton. Part of the Hilton family of hotels and located near the city center.
- Nairobi Safari Club. Kenya's only all-suite hotel.
- Panafric Hotel. Located in the city centre and only 20 minutes from the airport.
- Karen Blixen Cottages. Located in the suburb of Karen, 32 km (20 mi) from downtown, the cottages offer a unique change from the normal hotel fare.
- Nairobi Serena Hotel. Found in the middle of Nairobi's Central Park this hotel offers great convenience as well as a quiet place to stay.
- Norfolk Hotel. Opened on Christmas Day over 100 years ago, this hotel that has served many special guests is located only 30 min from the airport, and a short distance from the shopping district.
- Safari Park Hotel. Started as a retreat for British Army officers more than 50 years ago, this hotel is only 15 min from downtown.
- The Stanley Hotel. This over 100 year old hotel has recently be renovated back to its days of Victorian perfection. Lcoated in the city's shopping and business district.
- Windsor Golf and Country Club. Located 15 min from the city center, 45 min from the airport. Features a 18 hole golf course on site.
- Savannah Sands Executive Apartments., ☎ . Located off Ngong Road, behind Nairobi Baptist church. Features furnished and serviced apartments, as well as unfurnished and unserviced apartments.
- The King Post. Rhapta Road, Westlands, Nairobi. 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 sorrounded by peace, tranquility and security.
- Giraffe Manor. The converted home of the founders of the African Fund for Endangered Wildlife, located a few kilometres from the city center, sitting on 57 ha (140 a) 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 center and airport, the Ngong House is on a land that was originally part of a vast coffee estate. Located on the grounds are five traditional looking, yet elegantly decorated tree houses.
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. In recent years, crime has significantly reduced, though one should still be wary. If one stays smart and plays safe, without going around much after dark, Nairobi is a safe place to stay. Most locals are honest people who will happily help you if you approach them.
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 weary 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.
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,apart from the upmarket restaurants and hotels, and make sure that your fruits and vegetables have been properly sterilized 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 are a concern in Nairobi itself. 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 & 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 KES0.5/minute to KES1/minute, usually with a minimum fee of KES5-20. The more expensive internet cafés are rarely better and the best ones charge KES1/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, Orange, Yu and Airtel) that extends to most populated parts of the country. Safaricom has the best national coverage especially if you are using 3G data. The phone system is GSM 900 and 3G 2100 (Asian and European standard) on Safaricom, Orange, Yu and Airtel. There is also CDMA2000 on Orange. 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 ~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 3/= per minute. Overseas calls cost around 5/= per minute to the United States (~USD$0.06/minute) and 3/= per minute to India (~INR 1.80, USD 0.04) 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!
Smoking is against the law out on the streets in the city center (the downtown grid area with numerous skyscrapers). There are certain smoking zones, and outside of the city center 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 & High Commissions
- Australia, Riverside Dr (400 m off Chiromo Rd), ☎ , fax: +254 20 4277139.
- Cyprus, International House 6th Floor, Mama Ngina St, ☎ , fax: +254 20 312202, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. M-F: 09:00-16:30.
- Djibouti, Mama Ngina St, ☎ , fax: +254 20 313120.
- Egypt, 24 Othaya Rd off Gitanga Rd, Kileleshwa, ☎ , fax: +254 20 3870383, e-mail: email@example.com.
- Eritrea, 2F New Rehema House, Rhapta Rd, ☎ .
- Ethiopia, State House Ave, ☎ , fax: +254 20 2216044, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Finland, Eden Square, Block 3, 6th floor, Greenway Rd off Westlands Rd, ☎ , fax: +254-(0)20-3750714, e-mail: email@example.com. Mo-Fr 9AM-noon.
- Germany, 113 Riverside Drive, Ludwig Krapf House, ☎ , fax: +254 20 4262129, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Indonesia, Menengai Road, Upper Hill P.O.Box 48868, ☎ (+254) (20) 714-196 to 198, fax: +254 20 713-475, e-mail: email@example.com.
- Japan, Mara Rd, Upper Hill, ☎ , fax: +254 20 2898220.
- Republic of Korea, 15F Anniversary Towers, University Way, ☎ .
- Spain, CBA Building, 3rd floor, Mara & Ragati Road, Upper Hill, ☎ , fax: +254 20 2720226, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Rwanda (Limuru Rd, Gigiri), ☎ , fax: +254 20 7121324, e-mail: email@example.com. M-T: 0900-1700, F: 0900-1400.
- United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Upper Hill Rd, ☎ , fax: +254 20 2844-088, e-mail: DLNairobi-CommerialSectionprotect@fco.gov.uk.
- United States of America, UN Ave, ☎ , fax: +254 20 363-3410.
- 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.
- Further afield, Nakuru National Park deservedly warrants a 1-night stay for a late-afternoon and early-morning game drive.