Visiting Nairobi? Quick tips for independent travelers

Nairobi, which is both the political and administrative capital of Kenya, has a lot to offer. It is a modern and cosmopolitan city. It is one of the largest cities on the African continent. On the travel front, Nairobi can be defined as the African capital of safaris. It is located at an altitude of just over 1600 meters above sea level.

In short, this is how Nairobi was born: when the builders of the Kenya-Uganda railway reached their current location in Nairobi in 1899, they set up a base camp and brought in supplies. Right now they simply labeled the campground as – Mile 327. The local Maasai tribe named this Ewaso Nai’robi highland swamp – the place of cold water. The camp eventually became a rustic village and then turned into a slum which in 1907 was the capital of all of British East Africa. It soon became an important center for the colony and a Mecca for adventurers, hunters and travelers from all over the world. When Kenya gained independence from British rule in 1963, Nairobi was retained as the capital.

For the independent traveler, not in the hands of a tour operator’s control, some guidelines and tips may be of help when visiting.

Your arrival at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport

Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) is Nairobi’s main airport. It is large compared to most other airports in East and Central Africa. Travelers from other parts of the world – Europe, Asia, North and South America will find it quite small however. After immigration and customs procedures at the respective counters, you will easily find taxis that can take you to the city center. The city is approximately 20 minutes from the airport.

The other airport, Wilson Airport operates light aircraft and a good number of domestic scheduled and charter flights. If you arrive at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport and board another flight at Wilson Airport or vice versa, please allow sufficient time for this connection. You may need anything between 30 minutes and 2 hours depending on the traffic intensity.


English and Kiswahili are the most widely spoken languages ​​in Nairobi. English-speaking travelers will therefore be at ease in and around Nairobi.

Go around

Transportation around the city is easy and generally safe. Make sure you only use official taxis, which have a yellow band on each side. Taxis have no meter and a fare must be agreed with the driver before departure.

Buses can go up at any stop and tickets purchased by the conductor.

Public mini buses, known as Three, operate on city routes throughout the day and are the most popular means of local transport.

You can also consider renting a car. Renting a vehicle is very simple in Kenya. There are many car rental companies also at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport when you arrive.

Safety and security

Visitors are advised not to leave cash and valuables in the hotel rooms, but to use the hotel safes and safes.

Visitors are not required to carry large amounts of cash as they walk the streets, jewelery and valuables are to be left at home or kept in hotel custody.

You should avoid walking alone at night; Kenya has an efficient police force and a special one Tourist Police Unit with highly qualified officers. Additionally, most hotels employ experienced security personnel. However, it is advisable to always take those precautions that you would take anywhere else in the world.

Keep copies of your important documents in case you lose the originals.


Kenya has an established postal service for both local and international mail. We recommend using a courier for important documents that are time sensitive.

If you have a mobile phone with a roaming connection, you can use the Kenyan cellular network, which covers most of the country, i.e .: Safaricom, Zain and Telkom Kenya.

Most hotels offer international telephone and fax services and it is advisable to check their prices in advance. Nairobi also has a number of communication centers – internet cafes – where you can make international calls and access the internet at affordable rates.


Nairobi has sophisticated supermarkets, boutiques and shopping malls, as well as open-air markets where you can buy local crafts and souvenirs. The main commercial areas of Nairobi are: The Village Market, Sarit Center, The Junction, The Mall and Crossroads Karen .

Major credit cards are widely accepted. Most automatic cash dispensers (ATMs) can accept international VISA is MASTERCARD credit cards. ATMs can be found at airports, bank branches, shopping malls and petrol stations.

Traveler’s checks would be the best and safest way to bring money to Nairobi. They are also accepted by most hotels. But you will still need cash to secure many other services. The easiest currency to change is the US dollar, the British pound and the euro.

The unit of currency is the Kenyan shilling. It is abbreviated to Ksh or KES. The banknotes are available in denominations of 1000, 500, 200, 100 and 50 Kenyan shillings. Coins are available in 40, 20, 10, 5 and 1.

Eating out and kitchens

There are many restaurants offering a wide variety of cuisine. And most offer first-class services. In fact, the Carnivore restaurant was voted one of the 50 best restaurants in the world. The presence of a considerable number of expats in the country has supported the existence of an indulgent variety of authentic and first-class restaurants in Nairobi. For example, at the Panari Center on Mombasa road, you will find Pampa Grill. Here guests enjoy the Brazilian Churrascaria style of dining. The Asian influence is strong and it won’t be difficult for you to find Chinese, Japanese and Indian restaurants. And most of these restaurants are open until late at night.

General entertainment and general nightlife

Carnivore restaurant, in addition to being a well-known game meat restaurant, has also maintained its strong position as a unique and leading entertainment joint in Nairobi.

In general, Nairobi has what one would call 24/7 nightlife. From the city center to the suburbs, you’ll find a whole range of casinos, clubs, pubs and restaurants operating all week!

Other useful tips and information

Use a map or ask for proper information when going somewhere.

Drink only bottled water and avoid eating raw foods.

Tipping is not mandatory in Kenya but is not prohibited.

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