Kenya’s capital city has risen in a single century from a brackish uninhabited swampland to a thriving modern capital. When railway construction workers reached this area in 1899, they set up a basic camp and supply depot, simply called ‘Mile 327’. The local Maasai called this highland swamp Ewaso Nai’beri – the place of cold water. The camp became a rustic village, and then a shanty town, which by 1907 was the capital of all of British East Africa. It was soon an important centre for the colony and a mecca for adventurers, hunters and travellers from all over the world.
Modern Nairobi is still the safari capital of the Africa, but the modern world has quickly caught up with the city. A frontier town no more, Nairobi has become one of Africa’s largest, and most interesting cities. Nairobi is a city that never seems to sleep. The entire town has a boundless energy, and is thriving place where all of human life can be found. This is a place of great contrasts where race, tribe and origin all become facets of a unique Nairobi character. The city has not lost its sense of the past, with an excellent museum and the historical home of Karen Blixen, author of Out of Africa open to visitors. This is not a modern capital separated from the great wilderness that surrounds it. Just outside the city is Nairobi National Park, 113 sq kms of plains, cliffs and forest.
The park is home to large herds of Zebra, Wildebeest, Buffalo, Giraffe and more. Rhino, Cheetah, and a large number of Lions are all found here, living wild within 20 minutes of the centre of town. Further out of town, the spectacular 27 metre deep ‘Fourteen Falls’ waterfalls at Thika are perfect for a scenic day trip. Nearby Ol Donyo Sabuk National Park, is centred around an imposing 2,146 metre mountain.
For the adventurous, take an hour’s drive from town and you will find white water rafting on the beautiful Tana River. From the wildlife to the nightlife, Nairobi is a city unlike any other. With a fantastic music scene, excellent international restaurants and an endless and colourful array of shops and markets, there is plenty on offer for the visitor.
Nairobi is Kenya’s capital, and the arrival point for many visitors. The main airport is Jomo Kenyatta International, located 15kms out of the center of town. JKIA handles both International and domestic carriers.
Wilson airport, located 11 kms outside of the city centre, is the domestic hub for both scheduled and chartered domestic air traffic. There are countless Matatu stands throughout Nairobi, with continuous arrivals and departures throughout the day. Nairobi is the centre of Kenya’s extensive bus network, with many bus companies operating to and from destinations throughout the country.
Walking around Nairobi is relatively straightforward, as the city centre is small and accessible. In some areas, there can be a security risk while walking, and it is best to seek local advice before setting out. Taxis are widely available, and convenient. Taxis are often parked in the street around hotels and tourist areas of the city. Hotels and restaurants can order taxis if necessary. Nairobi Taxis are usually marked with a yellow line along each side. Taxis are not metered, and a price should be agreed with the driver before departure. Ask for local advice or at your hotel for correct rates. There are several companies operating Dial Taxi services with phone bookings, modern vehicles, competent drivers and reasonable rates. Several Taxi companies have airport booking offices. Buses operate on set routes throughout the city. The large Kenya Buses run on routes throughout the city on regular schedules.
Buses can be boarded at any stop and tickets purchased on board. Matatus (Public Minibuses) also operate on city routes throughout the day, and are the most popular form of local public transport.