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Nairobi Travel Essentials

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Nairobi

"Safari Capital of Africa"

Nairobi Tourism

Nairobi, the capital and largest city of Kenya, is a vibrant metropolis located in the southern part of the country. Covering an area of approximately 696 square kilometres (269 square miles), Nairobi serves as the nation's business, financial, and cultural centre. Notably, it is referred to as the "Safari Capital of the World," as many travellers heading to Kenya's famous national parks and reserves spend at least one night in this bustling city.

Nairobi, a modern urban centre, boasts unique attractions like Nairobi National Park, the world's only capital city with a national park. The city offers a blend of modern amenities and wildlife experiences, with rich cultural heritage and historical sites to explore, such as the Nairobi National Museum, Bomas of Kenya, and David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, providing a dynamic blend of heritage, shopping, and entertainment options.

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Must Know Before You Travel to Nairobi

  • Traffic: Nairobi is notorious for heavy traffic, especially during rush hours (07:00 – 09:00 AM, 04.30 - 06.30 PM), which can cause significant delays.
  • Driving: Use common sense and local guidance to navigate the city, as driving habits can be challenging, particularly among matatus and buses.
  • Self-driving and GPS: If self-driving, GPS is essential due to the lack of road signs.
  • Taxi Apps: Popular taxi apps like Bolt, Little, Uber, and Nopea Ride offer convenient transportation options in Nairobi.
  • Walking Safety: Avoid walking in many parts of Nairobi, especially at night, as it may not be considered safe for foreigners.
  • Cash & ATMs: Cash transactions are common, and ATMs are available in major shopping areas and the airport. Ecobank ATMs have no withdrawal fee for overseas ATM cards in Kenya.
  • Currency Exchange: Major banks such as ECO Bank, Kenya Commercial Bank, and Equity Bank offer better exchange rates than FOREX bureaus.
  • Mobile Banking: Mobile banking is widespread in Kenya, providing convenient and safe money storage options. Register upon arrival for quick and free setup.
  • Pickpockets: Beware of pickpockets, especially around ATMs. Carry cash in a hidden pouch rather than a wallet. Men should avoid carrying wallets in their back pockets, and women should avoid carrying purses on their side or behind them, especially in busy areas.
  • Supermarkets: The four primary supermarkets in Nairobi are Quick Mart, Naivas, Carrefour, and Chandarana Foodplus.
  • Vaccinations: Tourists are recommended to get vaccinated well in advance (6 weeks) before their trip to Nairobi. Common recommended vaccines for travellers to Africa include Tetanus, Diphtheria, Polio, Typhoid, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Yellow Fever, Rabies, and Meningitis.
  • Drinking Water: Tap water is not safe to drink or use for brushing teeth. Stick to bottled or canned drinks, especially popular brands.
  • Smoking: Smoking is prohibited in the city centre, with designated smoking zones available. Be mindful of not smoking near pedestrians and vehicles.
  • Dietary Considerations: Vegetarians may find it challenging, so inform hosts about dietary requirements in advance. While some restaurants cater to vegetarians, meat dishes are prevalent on most menus.
  • Language: The widely spoken languages in Nairobi are Bantu Swahili and English, with locals using Sheng slang.

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History of Nairobi

Nairobi, Kenya's capital, originated as a railway camp in 1899 and quickly grew into a major city due to its strategic location. It became the administrative centre by setting up Uganda Railway's supply depot chain, during British colonial rule. This helped the city develop, as it linked Mombasa to Uganda and the city further thrived after Kenya's independence in 1963.

Nightlife in Nairobi

Nightclubs, bars and pubs are common here in Nairobi. SkyLux Lounge, Pavement for the young crowd, Black Diamond, a local haunt, Gipsy Bar and Havana are some popular ones to choose from.

Shopping in Nairobi

Nairobi offers a diverse shopping experience with unique items like Maasai beads, Kitengela Glass, hand-carved wooden sculptures, Maasai blankets, hand-woven baskets, Baobab Handbags, Kenyan coffee, soapstone carvings, tribal masks, and batik textiles. Visit Maasai Market, Utamudini, City Market, Sarit Centre, or Two Rivers Mall for these treasures and remember to bargain for the best prices and support local artisans. The Crossroads Mall, Yaya Centre and Galleria Mall are where you will find all your favourite brands.

The popular Maasai Market takes place every Tuesday, where you can find vegetables, jewellery, pretty baskets and other similar products for great prices if you can bargain well.

Best Time to Visit Nairobi

How to Reach Nairobi

How to Reach Overview

Most international visitors reach Nairobi through Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NBO), which is Kenya's primary international airport. Domestic travellers, on the other hand, often use Nairobi Wilson Airport. Nairobi has excellent road connections within Kenya and neighbouring countries like Tanzania, Uganda, and Rwanda, making it easily accessible by car, taxi, and public transport, including buses. Kenya's railway system has regular passenger trains connecting Nairobi to Mombasa in approximately 4 to 5 hours.

How to reach Nairobi by flight

Nairobi is served by two main airports: Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NBO) and Wilson Airport. If you're arriving from abroad, you'll most likely land at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, while domestic or regional flights may arrive at Wilson Airport.

From the airport, you have several transportation options to reach your hotel or downtown. You can take a taxi, a shared shuttle bus, or use ride-hailing services like Uber. Alternatively, if you have pre-arranged transportation with your safari company or hotel, they may provide a free or paid airport shuttle service.

You can book your flights to Nairobi from abroad through Skyscanner. If travelling domestically, Kenya Airways, AirKenya, and SafariLink are good options to book from.

How to reach Nairobi by road

Nairobi is well-connected to various cities and towns in Kenya through an extensive road network. Major highways like the A104, A109, and A104 connect Nairobi to other regions of the country. Travellers can reach Nairobi from Mombasa, Kenya's second-largest city, through the A109 highway, which is approximately 485 kilometres (301 miles) and takes around 8 hours by car. From Nakuru, another prominent city, the distance to Nairobi is about 158 kilometres (98 miles), and the journey typically takes around 2.5 to 3 hours.

How to reach Nairobi by train

Kenya's railway system, managed by Kenya Railways, includes train services to Nairobi from other major cities. The standard gauge railway (SGR) connects Nairobi to Mombasa and runs regular passenger trains between the two cities. The journey by train from Mombasa to Nairobi takes around 4 to 5 hours, providing a scenic and comfortable way to travel.

How to reach Nairobi by bus

Buses offer the most budget-friendly option for travel in East Africa. Long-distance buses connect Nairobi with various locations in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, and Rwanda. You can find options from different bus companies like MASH, Modern, and Tahmeed Express for international routes within the region. Check online for specific routes and availability based on your travel needs.

Local transport in Nairobi

Rental cars, taxis and matatu (buses) are the means of transport in Nairobi. Cars can be hired from the airport or from rental services. Your hotel might even arrange one for you. Metered taxis are not available, so you have to decide on a price before the trip. Taxis are also expensive, but you can book them for an entire day to take you around. But, locals as well as tourists tend to use Uber to get around. Matatus are mini buses used to travel within the city. However, they are in poor condition, with average drivers. Conductors will lean outside and shout out a price as well as the busĂȘ destination. These matatus may soon be banned by the Government.

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Nairobi , Kenya
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FAQs on Nairobi

What is the local food in Nairobi?

Kenya is equally rice in its cuisine. The staple diet here comprises of ugali (made from ground cornmeal), sukuma wiki (collard greens), and beans. Chapati, from the Indian influence is also popular among the locals and the tourists alike. Being chai or coffee fanatics every Kenyan enjoys the lip smacking taste of Nyama Choma (roasted meat) at the street joints.
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What is the best time to visit Nairobi?

It is advisable to Nairobi during peak winters or dry summers to be able to enjoy every bit of Nairobi to the fullest. However, it is highly recommended to avoid the wet rainy seasons, that is March to May and October to December. The heavy rainfall during these months tend to block the roads for days and also adversely affects the access to national parks and valleys.
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How much does a package cost for Nairobi?

The packages for Nairobi start at INR 24900 which can be further customized based on number of people, days, hotel category, vehicle type and customizations. You can have a look at all packages here

What are the top hotels in Nairobi?

There are 1063 in Nairobi which can be booked through Holidify. The most popular hotels in Nairobi are Diani Springs Apartments Nairobi, Yunises Place, Brookside Westlands, Furnished 2 Bedroom Apartment, Garden view apartment, Rose Apartment. You can see all the hotels in Nairobi here

What are the things to do in Nairobi?

The top things to do in Nairobi are National Park, Karen Blixen Museum, David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, National Museum, Giraffe Centre, Railway Museum. You can see all the places to visit in Nairobi here

What are the places near Nairobi?

The top places near to Nairobi are Masai mara which is 206 km from Nairobi, London which is located 6822 km from Nairobi, Dubai which is located 3554 km from Nairobi, Amsterdam which is located 6672 km from Nairobi, New york city which is located 11846 km from Nairobi

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