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Nairobi is the capital of Kenya and the largest city in the country.
Nairobi has a population of three million plus. Situated on the Nairobi River, the city is not only the largest and fastest growing city in Kenya, but one of the largest in Africa.
Citizens from most countries will have to obtain a visa upon arrival. Currently, this costs US$50 for a single-entry visa and $100 for a multiple-entry visa (Euros, British Pounds and Swiss Francs are accepted as well). However, some countries require a visa before arrival, and some don't require one at all.
The yellow fever vaccination is no longer required if you're coming from EU, Asia or North America. However, a vaccination certificate might be required if you're coming from a country where yellow flu is endemic.
Regular flights to Nairobi are operated by Ethiopian, Kenya airways, British Airways, Egypt Air, Etihad Airways, Fly Emirates, KLM Qatar Airways, Swiss International Airlines and Turkish Airlines. 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 (NBO), southeast of the city centre.
The city is also accessible by train from Mombasa, with three times a week arrivals and departures at the Nairobi Railway station. The trains only go east to Mombasa.
Kenya’s bus system is mostly reliable. There are many bus companies that have routes going to and from the country’s different cities, including Nairobi, the center of the bus network.
Matatus (14-18 seater minibuses) and shuttles (6-seater cars) are convenient, inexpensive modes of public transport connecting Nairobi to 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.
Nairobi has notoriously bad traffic and at rush hours much of the city grinds to a halt. Just about every bad driving habit is practiced, in particular by matatus and buses. Be careful getting around Nairobi if you have an appointment to make, 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.
If self-driving a GPS is a good idea, essential even, given the lack of road signs. However GPS's can tempt you to take backroad shortcuts when stuck in traffic that turn out to be dead-ends. As a general rule don't take a short cut if no one else is trying the same thing.
A matatu is typically used for traveling 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.
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; minimise walking around at night. Thugs are rampant in many areas.
What to see
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, 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.
Nairobi National Park, just outside Nairobi. This is home to large herds of Zebra, Wildebeest, Buffalo, Giraffe, Lion, Cheetah, Hippo, Rhino and even birdlife. 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. Showing is only once per day and gives you a great opportunity to interact directly with baby elephants.
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. Here you can feed giraffes by hand and even get a kiss.
Mamba Village. Typically the 3rd stop for most tourists after the Elephant Orphanage and Giraffe Center, this pleasant park is home to ostriches and crocodiles. Surprisingly quite interesting as you get the chance to interact directly with crocodiles and even hold a baby, with very knowledgable employees serving as guides.
Tana River, is 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.
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. This is a museum housing only special exhibits, so the featured artwork is always changing.
Karen Blixen Museum 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, portrays Kenya’s culture. Visitors can see exhibits of traditional Kenyan homes, artifacts, dances, music, and song.
What to do
Safari in central Nairobi park.
Try the many excellent restaurants in Nairobi.
Go dancing and be a part 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 Center). 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 the poor Kenyan women. Has beautiful jewelry created of clay brought from the areas surrounding Mt. Kenya.