Nairobi: Wikis


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Nairobi, Kenya
Nairobi Skyline

Nairobi, Kenya is located in Kenya
Nairobi, Kenya
Location of Nairobi
Coordinates: 1°17′S 36°49′E / 1.283°S 36.817°E / -1.283; 36.817
Country Kenya
Province Nairobi Province
Founded 1899
Constituencies of Nairobi
 - Mayor Geoffrey Majiwa
 - Total 696 km2 (268.7 sq mi)
Elevation 1,661 m (5,450 ft)
Population (2009)
 - Total 3,138,295
 Density 4,509/km2 (11,678.3/sq mi)
Time zone EAT (UTC+3)

Nairobi (pronounced /naɪˈroʊbi/) is the capital and largest city of Kenya. The city and its surrounding area also forms the Nairobi Province. The name "Nairobi" comes from the Maasai phrase Enkare Nyirobi, which translates to "the place of cool waters". However, it is popularly known as the "Green City in the Sun" and is surrounded by several expanding villa suburbs.[2]

Founded in 1899 as a simple rail depot on the railway linking Mombasa to Uganda, the town quickly grew to become the capital of British East Africa in 1907 and eventually the capital of a free Kenyan republic in 1963.[3] During Kenya's colonial period, the city became a centre for the colony's coffee, tea and sisal industry.[4] Nairobi is also the capital of the Nairobi Province and of the Nairobi District. The city lies on the Nairobi River, in the south of the nation, and has an elevation of 1795 m above sea-level.[5]

Nairobi is the most populous city in East Africa, with a current estimated population of about 3 million.[1] According to the 1999 Census, in the administrative area of Nairobi, 2,143,254 inhabitants lived within 696 km2 (269 sq mi).[6] Nairobi is currently the 13th largest city in Africa, based on population and Fourth Largest in infrastructure development and its size.

Nairobi is now one of the most prominent cities in Africa politically and financially.[7] Home to many companies and organisations, including the United Nations Environment Programme and the UN Office in Africa, Nairobi is established as a hub for business and culture. The Nairobi Stock Exchange (NSE) is one of the largest in Africa, ranked fourth in terms of trading volume and capable of making 10 million trades a day.[8] The Globalisation and World Cities Study Group and Network (GaWC) defines Nairobi as a prominent social centre.



Nairobi seen from SPOT Satellite

The area was an essentially uninhabited swamp until a supply depot of the Uganda Railway was built in 1899, which soon became the railway's headquarters. The city was named after a water hole known in Maasai as Ewaso Nyirobi, meaning "cool waters". It was completely rebuilt in the early 1900s after an outbreak of plague and the burning of the original town. The location of the Nairobi railway camp was chosen due to its central position between Mombasa and Kampala. It was also chosen because its network of rivers could supply the camp with water, and its elevation would make it cool enough for residential purposes.[9] However malaria was a serious problem, leading to at least one attempt to have the town moved.[10]

In 1905, Nairobi replaced Mombasa as capital of the British protectorate,[11] and the city grew around administration and tourism, initially in the form of big game hunting. As the British colonialists started to explore the region, they started using Nairobi as their first port of call. This prompted the colonial government to build several spectacular grand hotels in the city. The main occupants were British game hunters.

Nairobi continued to grow under the British rule, and many Britons settled within the city's suburbs. The continuous expansion of the city began to anger the Maasai, as the city was devouring their land to the south. It also angered the Kikuyu people, who wanted the land returned to them.

In 1919, Nairobi was declared to be a municipality.[12] In February 1926, E.A.T. Dutton passed through Nairobi on his way to Mount Kenya, and said of the city:

Maybe one day Nairobi will be laid out with tarred roads, with avenues of flowering trees, flanked by noble buildings; with open spaces and stately squares; a cathedral worthy of faith and country; museums and galleries of art; theatres and public offices. And it is fair to say that the Government and the Municipality have already bravely tackled the problem and that a town-plan ambitious enough to turn Nairobi into a thing of beauty has been slowly worked out, and much has already been done. But until that plan has borne fruit, Nairobi must remain what she was then, a slatternly creature, unfit to queen it over so lovely a country.

Dutton, [13]

After the end of World War II, this friction developed into the Mau Mau rebellion. Jomo Kenyatta, Kenya's future president, was jailed for his involvement even though there was no evidence linking him to the rebellion. Pressure exerted from the locals onto the British resulted in Kenyan independence in 1963, with Nairobi as the capital of the new republic.

After independence, Nairobi grew rapidly and this growth put pressure on the city's infrastructure. Power cuts and water shortages were a common occurrence, though in the past few years better city planning has helped to put some of these problems in check.

The United States Embassy in Nairobi was bombed in August 1998 by Al-Qaida, as one of a series of U.S. embassy bombings. Over two hundred civilians were killed. It is now the site of a memorial park.[14]


City Hall, Nairobi
An aerial view of Nairobi, the central business district and Ngong Road

The city is located at 1°17′S 36°49′E / 1.283°S 36.817°E / -1.283; 36.817 and occupies 684 square kilometres (260 sq mi).

Nairobi is situated between the cities of Kampala and Mombasa. As Nairobi is adjacent to the eastern edge of the Rift Valley, minor earthquakes and tremors occasionally occur. The Ngong hills, located to the west of the city, are the most prominent geographical feature of the Nairobi Area. Mount Kenya is situated north of Nairobi and Mount Kilimanjaro is towards the south-east. Both mountains are visible from Nairobi on a clear day.[15]

The Nairobi River and its tributaries traverse through the Nairobi Province. Nobel Peace Prize laureate Wangari Maathai has fought fiercely to save the indigenous Karura Forest in northern Nairobi which was under threat of being replaced by housing and other infrastructure.[16]

Nairobi's western suburbs stretch all the way from the Kenyatta National Hospital in the south to the UN headquarters and Gigiri in the north, a distance of about 20 kilometres (12 mi).

The city is centred on the City Square, which is located in the Central Business District. The Kenyan Parliament buildings, the Holy Family Cathedral, Nairobi City Hall, Nairobi Law Courts and the Kenyatta Conference Centre all surround the square.



At 1,795 metres (5,889 ft) above sea level, Nairobi enjoys a moderate climate. Under the Koppen climate classification, Nairobi has a Subtropical Highland climate. The altitude makes for some chilly evenings, especially in the June/July season when the temperature can drop to 10 °C (50 °F). The sunniest and warmest part of the year are from December to March, when temperatures average the mid-twenties during the day. The mean maximum temperature for this period is 24 °C (75 °F).[17]

There are two rainy seasons but rainfall can be moderate. The cloudiest part of the year is just after the first rainy season, when, until September, conditions are usually overcast with drizzle. As Nairobi is situated close to the equator, the differences between the seasons are minimal. The seasons are referred to as the wet season and dry season. The timing of sunrise and sunset varies little throughout the year, due to Nairobi's close proximity to the equator.[18]

Climate data for Nairobi
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 29
Average high °C (°F) 25
Average low °C (°F) 12
Record low °C (°F) 8
Precipitation mm (inches) 38
Source: BBC Weather [19] 2009-08-18

Districts and Suburbs

Nairobi is divided into a series of constituencies, these are Makadara, Kamukunji, Starehe, Langata, Dagoretti, Westlands, Kasarani and Embakasi.[20] The main administrative divisions of Nairobi are Central, Dagoretti, Embakasi, Kasarani, Kibera, Makadara, Pumwani and Westlands.[21] Most of the upmarket suburbs are situated to the west of Nairobi, where most European settlers resided in colonial times.[22] These include Karen, Langata, Lavington, Gigiri, Muthaiga, Runda and Highridge, although Kangemi and Dagoretti are lower income areas. The city's colonial past is commemorated by many English place-names. Most low and lower-middle income estates are located in eastern Nairobi. These include Kariokor, Dandora, Kariobangi, Embakasi and Huruma. Many Somali immigrants have also settled in Eastleigh, nicknamed "Little Mogadishu".[23]

Parks and gardens

Nairobi skyline as seen from Uhuru Park.

Nairobi has many parks and open spaces throughout the city. The city has dense tree-cover and plenty of green spaces. The most famous park in Nairobi is Uhuru Park. The park borders the central business district and the neighbourhood Upper Hill. Uhuru (Freedom) Park is a centre for outdoor speeches, services and rallies. The park was to be built-over by former President Daniel arap Moi, who wanted his KANU party's 62-storey headquarters situated in the park.[24] However, the park was saved by Wangari Maathai, who won a Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 for her efforts.[25]

Central Park is adjacent to Uhuru Park, and includes a memorial for Jomo Kenyatta, the first president of Kenya. Other notable open spaces include Jeevanjee Gardens, City Park, Bomb Blast Memorial Park and Nairobi Arboretum.

Uhuru park, Nairobi

Administrative divisions

The City of Nairobi enjoys the status of a full administrative province.

The Nairobi province differs in several ways from other Kenyan provinces. The province is the smallest in area and is entirely urban. It has only one local authority, Nairobi City Council. Nairobi Province was not divided into districts until 2007, when three districts were created. The province is further divided into "divisions" which are further divided into "locations".

Nairobi Province has eight constituencies, which follow same boundaries with administrative divisions (which is not the case on most districts in Kenya). Constituency name may differ from division name, such that Starehe Constituency is equal to Central division, Langata Constituency to Kibera division, Kamukunji Constituency to Pumwani Division in terms of boundaries.


Co-operative Bank of Kenya headquaters

Nairobi is divided into eight divisions and fifty locations, mostly named after residential estates. Kibera Division, for example, includes Kibera (Kenya's largest slum) as well as affluent estates of Karen, westlands and Langata.

Division Locations
Central Huruma · Kariokor · Mathare · Ngara · Starehe
Dagoretti Kawangware · Kenyatta/Golf Club · Mutuini · Riruta · Uthiru/Ruthmitu · Waithaka
Embakasi Dandora · Embakasi · Kariobangi South · Kayole · Mukuru kwa Njenga · Njiru · Ruai · Umoja
Kasarani Githurai · Kahawa · Kariobangi North · Kasarani · Korogocho · Roysambu · Ruaraka
Kibera Karen · Kibera · Laini Saba · Langata · Mugumoini · Nairobi West · Sera Ngombe
Makadara Makadara · Makongeni · Maringo · Mukuru Nyayo · Viwandani
Pumwani Bahati · Eastleigh North · Eastleigh South · Kamukunji · Pumwani
Westlands Highridge · Kangemi · Kilimani · Kitisuru · Lavington · Parklands


I&M Bank headquarters in Nairobi.

Nairobi is home to the Nairobi Stock Exchange (NSE), one of Africa's largest. The NSE was officially recognised as an overseas stock exchange by the London Stock Exchange in 1953. The exchange is Africa's 4th largest (in terms of trading volumes) and 5th (in terms of Market Capitalisation as a percentage of GDP).[26]

Nairobi is the regional headquarters of several international companies and organiations. In 2007, General Electric, Young & Rubicam, Google, Coca Cola, Zain and Cisco Systems relocated their African headquarters to the city.[27][28] The United Nations Office at Nairobi hosts UNEP and UN-Habitat headquarters.

Several of Africa's largest companies are headquartered in Nairobi. KenGen, which is the largest African stock outside South Africa,[29] is based in the city. Kenya Airways, Africa's fourth largest airline, uses Nairobi's Jomo Kenyatta International Airport as a hub.

Goods manufactured in Nairobi include clothing, textiles, building materials, processed foods, beverages, cigarettes.[citation needed] Several foreign companies have factories based in and around the city. These include Goodyear, General Motors, Toyota Motors, and Coca Cola.[citation needed]

Nairobi has a large tourist industry, being both a tourist destination and a transport hub.[citation needed]

Central business district and skyline

Nairobi skyline viewed from Westlands.

Nairobi has grown around its central business district. It takes a rectangular shape, around the Uhuru Highway, Haille Selassie Avenue, Moi Avenue and University Way. It features many of Nairobi's important buildings, including the City Hall and Parliament Building. The city square is also located within the perimeter.

A feature of the central business district that strikes foreign tourists the most is the skyline. Nairobi's skyline has been compared to many Asian and American cities. This is due to a construction boom after independence, and another construction boom in the late 1990s and early 2000s.[citation needed] Most of the skyscrapers in this region are the headquarters of businesses and corporations, such as I&M and the Kenyatta international Conference Center. The United States Embassy bombing took place in this district, prompting a new embassy building to be built in the suburbs.

In 2006, a large beautification project took place in the CBD, as the city prepared to host the 2006 Afri-Cities summit. Iconic buildings such as the Kenyatta International Conference Centre had their exteriors cleaned and repainted.[30]

The district is bordered to the southwest by Uhuru Park and Central Park. The Mombasa to Kampala railway runs to the southeast of the district.

Upper Hill

Today, many businesses are considering relocating and/or establishing their headquarters outside the Central Business District. This is because land is cheaper, and better facilities can easily be built and maintained elsewhere. Two areas that are seeing a growth in companies and office space are Upper Hill, which is approximately 2 km (1.2 mi) from the CBD and Westlands, which is approximately the same distance.

Companies that have moved from the CBD to Upper Hill include Citibank and in 2007, Coca Cola began construction on their East and Central African headquarters in Upper Hill,[31] cementing the district as the preferred location for office space in Nairobi. The largest office development in this area is the Rahimtulla Tower, which is primarily occupied by British firm PriceWaterhouseCoopers. World Bank is also located in Upper Hill, Hill Park Building. Earlier on, they were located in View Park towers in the CBD. The International Finance Cooperation - the private sector arm of the World Bank - is also located in Upper Hill at the CBA building.

To accommodate the large demand for floorspace in Nairobi, various commercial projects are being constructed. New business parks are being built in the city, including the flagship Nairobi Business Park. Nairobi is currently being considered by a Middle-Eastern company who is interested in building a high-rise headquarters in Africa.

Nairobi panorama, viewed from Westlands
A view of Nairobi from the Kenyatta International Conference Centre
Nairobi's tallest skyscrapers[32]
Times Tower 140 m (460 ft)
Teleposta Towers 120 m (390 ft)
Kenyatta International Conference Centre   105 m (344 ft)
NSSF Building 103 m (338 ft)
I&M Bank Tower 100 m (330 ft)
Government Office Conference Hall 98 m (322 ft)
Nyayo House
Rahimtulla Tower
Business district in Nairobi on Sunday

Society and culture

Nairobi is a cosmopolitan and multicultural city. Since its foundation, Nairobi has maintained a strong British presence, and a lasting legacy from colonial rule. This is highlighted by the number of English-named suburbs, including Hurlingham and Parklands.

By the mid twentieth century, many foreigners settled in Nairobi from other British colonies, primarily India and Pakistan.[citation needed] These immigrants were workers who arrived to construct the Kampala - Mombasa railway, settling in Nairobi after its completion, and merchants from Gujarat. Nairobi also has established communities from Somalia and Sudan.[citation needed]

As Nairobi has a diverse and multicultural composition, there are a number of churches, mosques, temples and gurdwaras within the city. Prominent places of worship in Nairobi include the Cathedral Basilica of the Holy Family, All Saints Cathedral, Ismaili Jamat Khana and Jamia Mosque.

Nairobi has two informal nicknames. The first is "The Green City in the Sun", which is derived from the city's foliage and warm climate.[33] The second is the "Safari Capital of the World", which is used due to Nairobi's prominence as a hub for safari tourism.[34]

There are a number of modern malls in the Nairobi Area, including: West Gate, Prestige, Village Market, Sarit Center, Junction, etc. These malls attract Kenyans from all walk of life, mostly for their theaters.

Literature and film

Nairobi Cinema

Kwani? is Kenya's first literary journal and was established by modern writers living in Nairobi. Nairobi's publishing houses have also produced the works of some of Kenya's best known and most respected authors, including Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o, Meja Mwangi who were all part of the post-colonial writing boom.

Many film makers also practice their craft out of Nairobi. Film-making is still young in the country but people like producer Njeri Karago and director Judy Kibinge are paving the way for others.

Perhaps the most famous book and film set in Nairobi, is Out of Africa. The book was written by Karen Blixen (pen name Isak Dinesen), and it is her account of living in Kenya. Karen Blixen lived in the Nairobi Area from 1917 to 1931 (the neighbourhood in which she lived, Karen, is named after her).

In 1985, Out of Africa was made into a film, directed by Sydney Pollack. The film won 28 awards, including 7 Academy Awards. The popularity of the film prompted the opening of Nairobi's Karen Blixen Museum.

Nairobi is also the setting of many of the novels of Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o, Kenya's foremost writer.

Nairobi has been the set of several other American and British films. The most recent of these was The Constant Gardener (2005), a large part of which was filmed in the city. The story revolves around a British diplomat in Nairobi whose wife is murdered in northern Kenya. Much of the filming was in the Kibera slum.

Most new Hollywood films are nowadays screened at Nairobi's cinemas. Up to early 90s there were only few film theatres and the repertoire was scanty. There are also two drive-in cinemas in Nairobi.


Nairobi is the centre of the Kenyan music scene. Benga is a Kenyan genre which was developed in Nairobi. The genre is a fusion of jazz and Luo music forms.

In the 1970s, Nairobi became the prominent centre for East and Central African music. During this period, Nairobi was established as a hub of soukous music. This genre was born in Kinshasa and Brazzaville. After the political climate in the region deteriorated, many Congolese artists relocated to Nairobi. Artists such as Orchestra Super Mazembe moved from Congo to Nairobi and found great success.[35] Virgin records became aware of the popularity of the genre and signed recording contracts with several soukous artists.

More recently, Nairobi has become the centre of the Kenyan hip hop scene. The genre has become very popular amongst the East African youth, and Nairobi acts have become some of the most popular in the region. Successful artists based in Nairobi include Jua cali Nonini and Nameless. Record labels include Ogopa DJs and Calif Records.

Many foreign musicians who tour Africa, perform and visit Nairobi. Bob Marley's first ever visit to Africa started in Nairobi. Acts that have performed in Nairobi include Shaggy, Sean Paul, Ja Rule and Morgan Heritage.


Exterior of the 60,000 capacity Moi International Sports Centre.

Nairobi is East Africa's sporting centre. The premier sports facility in Nairobi is the Moi International Sports Centre in the suburb of Kasarani. The complex was completed in 1987, and was used to host the 1987 All Africa Games. The complex comprises a 60,000 seater stadium, the second largest in East Africa (after Tanzania's new national stadium), a 5,000 seater gymnasium, and a 2,000 seater aquatics centre.[36]

Coca Cola National Stadium [37] formally known as Nyayo National Stadium is Nairobi's second largest stadium. Completed in 1983, the stadium has a capacity of 30,000.[38] This stadium is primarily used for football. The facility is located close to the Central Business District, which makes it a convenient location for political gatherings.

Nairobi City Stadium is the city's first stadium, and used for club football. Nairobi Gymkhana is the home of the Kenyan cricket team, and was a venue for the 2003 Cricket World Cup. Notable annual events staged in Nairobi include Safari Rally (although it lost its World Rally Championship status in 2003), Safari Sevens rugby union tournament, and Nairobi Marathon.

Football is the most popular sport in the city by viewership and participation. This is highlighted by the number of football clubs in the city, including Mathare United, AFC Leopards, Gor Mahia and Tusker FC.

There are six golf courses within a 20 km radius of Nairobi.[39] The oldest 18-hole golf course in the city is the Royal Nairobi Golf Club, founded in 1906 by the British, just seven years after the city was founded. Other notable golf clubs include the Windsor Country Club, Karen Country Club and Muthaiga Country Club. The Kenya Open golf tournament, which is part of the Challenge Tour, takes place in Nairobi.[40]. The Ngong Racecourse in Nairobi is the center of horse racing in Kenya [41].


A giraffe at Nairobi National Park, with Nairobi's skyline in background

Nairobi is not a prime tourist destination, but it does have several tourist attractions. The most famous is the Nairobi National Park. The national park is unique, in being the only game-reserve of this nature to border a capital city, or city of this size. The park contains many animals including lions and giraffes. The park is home to over 400 species of bird. The Nairobi safari walk is a major attraction to the Nairobi national park as it offers a rare on-foot experience of the animals.[42]

Nairobi is home to several museums. The National Museum of Kenya is the largest in the city. It houses a large collection of artifacts, including the full remains of a homo erectus boy. Other prominent museums include the Nairobi Railway Museum and the Karen Blixen Museum.

Nairobi is nicknamed the Safari Capital of the World, and has many spectacular hotels to cater for safari-bound tourists. Five star hotels in Nairobi include the Nairobi Serena, Laico Regency (formerly Grand Regency), Windsor (Karen), Holiday Inn, East African Safari Club (Lilian Towers), The Stanley Hotel, Safari Park & Casino, InterContinental, Panari Hotel, Hilton, and the Norfolk Hotel.

Nairobi is also home to the largest ice rink in Africa: the Solar Ice Rink at the Panari Sky Centre. The rink, opened in 2005, covers 15,000 square feet (1,400 m2) and can accommodate 200 people.[43]

Shopping Malls in Nairobi include; The Yaya Centre (Hurlingham), Sarit Centre(Westlands), Westgate Shopping Mall(Westlands), ABC Place(Westlands), The Village Market(Gigiri), Junciton Shopping Centre(Ngong Road), Prestige Plaza(Ngong Road), Crossroads Shopping Centre(Karen), and T-Mall(Langata). Nakumatt, Uchumi and Tuskys are the largest supermarket chains with modern stores through-out the city.

The Nairobi Java House is a popular chain of restaurants with multiple branches located around the city including one at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.

Other notable sites include Jomo Kenyatta's mausoleum, Kenya National Theatre and the Kenya National Archives. Art galleries in Nairobi include the Rahimtulla Museum of Modern Art (Ramoma) and the Mizizi Arts Centre.

Places of interest



An aerial of the cargo terminal at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, the largest and busiest airport in East Africa.

Nairobi is served primarily by Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. It is the largest airport in East and Central Africa,[44] and handled over 4.9 million passengers in 2008.[45] The airport is a major transit hub for passengers flying to East Africa's natural attractions, and other smaller cities in East and Central Africa. The airport is situated 20 km (12 mi) from Nairobi's Central Business District. The airport directly serves intercontinental passengers from Europe and Asia. There are currently major plans underway to expand the airport to accommodate growing air traffic[46].

Wilson Airport is a small, busy airport to the south of Nairobi. It handles small aircrafts that generally operate within Kenya, although some offer services to other East African destinations.

Eastleigh Airport was the original landing strip in the pre-jet airline era. It was used as a landing point in the 1930s and 1940s British passenger and mail route from Southampton to Cape Town. This route was served by flying boats between Britain and Kisumu and then by land-based aircraft on the routes to the south. The airport is now a military base.


A Nairobi Matatu, after the regulation changes.

Matatus are the most common form of public transport in Nairobi. Matatus, which technically means, "three cents for a ride" (nowadays much more) are privately owned minibuses, and the most popular form of local transport,[47] and generally seat fourteen to twenty-four. Matatus ama(or) mathree operate within Nairobi and from Nairobi to other towns. The matatu's destination is imprinted on the side of the bus. Matatus plying specific routes have specific route numbers. Matatus were easily distinguishable by their extravagant paint schemes. Owners would paint their matatu with their favourite football team or hip hop artist. These days some even paint Barack Obama's face on their Matatu. They were notorious for their poor safety records, which was a result of overcrowding and reckless driving.[citation needed] Matatu drivers were pressured to make as many round trips as possible to maximise profits for their operator. They are very popular within the city. Most are equipped with high music systems and televisions which attract customers as competition is very high between matatus. The more round trips with the more customers basically means more money for the workers and the owners.

However, in 2004, a law was passed requiring all matatus to include seat belts and speed governors and to be painted with a yellow stripe.[48] At first, this caused a furore amongst Matatu operators, but they were pressured by government and the public to make the changes. Matatus are now limited to 80 kilometres per hour (50 mph).


Buses are increasingly common in the city. The three bus companies operating the city routes are the traditional Kenya Bus Service (KBS), and newer private operators Citi Hoppa and Double M. The Citi Hoppa buses are distinguishable by their green livery, the Double M buses are painted purple while the KBS buses are painted blue.

Companies such as; Akamba, Coast Bus, Modern Coast, Eldoret Express, Chania and Mash run scheduled buses and luxury coaches to other cities and towns.


Smartbus-Kenya is the latest bus operator in Kenya and serves Nairobi and the areas around it. Presently, the company operates buses to Kitengela, Kiserian, Rongai, and Ngong. Passengers have a smartcard which they must swipe in order to gain access to the vehicle. Passengers top up their smartcard and the fare is deducted from the amount of money in the account. The fare is determined by the point at which the passenger enters and the point at which the passenger exits the bus. Smartbus is safe, reliable and is certainly a modern way to travel around the city.


Nairobi was founded as a railway town, and the Kenya Railways (KR) main headquarters are still situated there, near the city centre. The line runs through Nairobi, from Mombasa to Kampala. Its main use is freight traffic, but regular nightly passenger trains connect Nairobi to Mombasa and Kisumu. A number of morning and evening commuter trains connect the centre with the suburbs, but the city has no proper light rail, tramway or subway lines.

Nairobi is also the junction for a branch railway to Nanyuki.


Taxis are available in most parts of the city. They are costly in comparison to matatus and buses but are a safer and more convenient form of transport. They park outside most hotels, at taxi ranks in the city centre and at shopping malls.


Driving in Nairobi is straight-forward. Most of the Roads are tarmacked and there are signs showing directions to certain neighborhoods. The city is connected to the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport by the Mombasa Highway which passes through Industrial Area, South B, South C and Embakasi. Ongata Rongai, Langata and Karen are connected to the city centre by Langata Road which runs to the south. Lavington, Riverside, Westlands etc. are connected by Waiyaki Way. Kasarani, Eastlands, Embakasi are connected by Thika Road, Jogoo Road and Outer-ring Road.

Highways connect the city with other major towns such as Mombasa, Machakos, Voi,(A 109), Kisumu, Nakuru, Eldoret, Namanga Border Tanzania(A 104) etc.


Nation Center, headquarters of the Nation Media Group

Nairobi is home to most of Kenya's news and media organisations. The city is also home to East Africa's largest newspapers: the Daily Nation and the The Standard. These are circulated within Kenya and cover a range of domestic and regional issues. Both newspapers are published in English.

Kenya Broadcasting Corporation is a state-run television and radio station, is headquartered in the city. Kenya Television Network is part of the Standard Group and was Kenya's first privately owned TV station. The Nation Media Group runs NTV which is based in Nairobi. East Africa Television Channel 5 is 24 hour music channel based in Dar es Salaam Tanzania and broadcasts in Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya.

Several multinational media organisations have their regional headquarters in Nairobi. These include the BBC, CNN, Agence France-Presse, Reuters, Deutsche Welle and the Associated Press. The East African bureau of CNBC Africa is located in Nairobi's city centre, while the Nairobi bureau of the New York Times is located in the suburb of Gigiri.


There is a wide variety of standards of living in Nairobi. Most wealthy Kenyans live in Nairobi but the majority of Nairobians are poor. Half of the population have been estimated to live in slums which cover just 5% of the city area.[49] The growth of these slums is a result of urbanisation, poor town planning and the unavailability of loans for low income earners.[citation needed]

Kibera is one of the largest slums in Africa,[50] and is situated to the west of Nairobi. (Kibera comes from the Nubian word Kibra, meaning "forest" or "jungle").[51] The slums cover two square kilometres[52] and is on government land. Kibera has been the setting for several films, the most recent being The Constant Gardener.

A middle-class Nairobi residential suburb, with the Central Business District in the distance.

Other notable slums include Mathare and Korogocho. Altogether, 66 areas are counted as slums within Nairobi.[53]

Many Nairobi non-slum-dwellers live in relatively good housing conditions. Large houses can be found in many of the upmarket neighbourhoods, especially to the west of Nairobi. Historically, British immigrants have settled in Gigiri, Muthaiga, Langata and Karen. Other middle and high income estates include Parklands, Westlands, Hurlingham, Milimani, Spring Valley, Lavington, Rosslyn, Kitisuru, and Nairobi Hill.

To accommodate the growing middle class, many new apartments and housing developments are being built in and around the city. The most notable development is Greenpark, at Athi River town, 25 km (16 mi) from Nairobi's CBD. Over 5,000 houses, villas and apartments are being constructed at this development, including leisure, retail and commercial facilities.[54] The development is being marketed at families, as are most others within the city. Eastlands also houses most most of the city's middle class and includes; South C, South B, Embakasi, Buru Buru, Komarock,Donholm, Umoja, and others


Nairobi has experienced one of the highest growth rates of any city in Africa. Since its foundation in 1899, Nairobi has grown to become the largest city in East Africa, despite being the youngest city in the region. The growth rate of Nairobi is currently 4.1%.[55] It is estimated that Nairobi's population will reach 5 million in 2015.[56]

Year Population Growth
1906 11,500 0
1911 14,000 2,500
1921 24,300 10,300
1926 29,900 5,600
1929 32,900 3,000
1931 47,800 14,900
1939 61,300 3,500
1944 108,900 47,600
1948 119,000 20,100
1955 186,000 67,000
1957 221,700 35,700
1960 251,000 29,300
1962 266,800 17,800
1965 380,000 113,200
1969 509,300 129,300
1979 827,775 318,475
1989 1,324,570 496,795
1995 1,810,000 485,435
1999 2,143,254 333,254
2005 2,750,561 607,307

Kibera Slum

New Apartment buildings being constructed next to Kibera

The Kibera slum in Nairobi, with an estimated population of 1.5 million people, is Africa's second largest slum. Most of its people live in extreme poverty, and most people make less than $1.00 per day. Unemployment rates are high. AIDS is rampant throughout the slum.[57] Cases of assault and rape are common. There are few schools, and most people cannot afford an education for their children. As many people cannot afford water, some drink from sewage. AIDS and other diseases are prevalent, and the great majority of people lack access to healthcare. Most people live in shanties. An Amnesty International delegation visited the slum, and interviewed many of the residents. Kibera resident Michael Nyangi, an entreupenear and head of the microfinance organization Lomoro participated in a conference with the United Nations, the World Bank, and several Non-governmental organizations on October 17, 2008, trying to raise awareness, and was featured in an Amnesty International video. Kibera is the third largest slum in the world. It is the second largest slum in Africa, second only to Soweto, in South Africa in terms of size and population.

The Government is attempting to solve the problem, having initiated a program to replace the slum with a residential district consisting of high rise apartment buildings, and moving the residents in upon completion. The apartments are currently under construction, but the district does not have enough apartments to hold all of the 1.5 million residents of the slum. Many of the residents will not be able to afford to pay the rent, although cheap. The Government hopes to eventually relocate all residents so as to tear Kibera down.


Throughout the 1990s, Nairobi had struggled with rising crime, earning a reputation for being a dangerous city and the nickname "Nairobbery". In 2001, the United Nations International Civil Service Commission rated Nairobi as among the most insecure cities in the world, classifying the city as "status C". In the United Nations report, it was stated that in 2001, nearly one third of all Nairobi residents experienced some form of robbery in the city.[58] The head of one development agency cited the "notoriously high levels of violent armed robberies, burglaries and carjackings.[59] Crime had risen in Nairobi as a result of unplanned urbanisation, with a minimal number of police stations and a proper security infrastructure. However, many claim that the biggest factor for the city's alarming crime rate is police corruption, which leaves many criminals unpunished. As a security precaution, most large houses have a watch guard, burglar grills, and dogs to patrol their grounds during the night. Most though occur around the poor neighborhoods where it gets dangerous during night hours.

In 2006, crime decreased in the city[60], due to increased security and an improved police presence. Despite this, in 2007, the Kenyan government and U.S. State Department has announced that Nairobi is experiencing a greater level of violent crime than in previous years.[61] Since then, the government has taken measures to combat crime with heavy police presence in and around the city while U.S. government has updated its travel warning for the country.


The Majority of schools follow either the Kenyan Curriculum or the British Curriculum. Top Schools include Makini Schools, Riara Schools, Kenton College, Braeburn Schools, Brookhouse Schools, Nairobi Academy, Strathmore School, St. Mary's, Rosslyn Academy and Hillcrest School. There is also International School of Kenya which follows the North American Curriculum and the German school in Gigiri.

Higher Education in Kenya

The grounds of Kenyatta University

Nairobi is home to several universities.

  • The University of Nairobi is the oldest university in Kenya. It was established in 1956, as part of the University of East Africa, but became an independent university in 1970. The university has approximately 22,000 students.[62]
  • Kenyatta University is situated 23 km (14 mi) from the centre of Nairobi. The university was established in 1985, offering mainly education-related courses, but has since diversified, offering medicine and environmental studies as well as Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Commerce degree courses.
  • Strathmore University started in 1961 as an Advanced Level (UK) Sixth Form College offering Science and Arts subjects. The college started to admit accountancy students in March 1966, and thus became a university. In January 1993 Strathmore College merged with Kianda College and moved to Ole Sangale Road, Madaraka Estate, Nairobi.
  • Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology.
  • United States International University - Nairobi is a branch of the United States International University, which has campuses across the world. The Nairobi campus was established in 1969. The university has accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, in USA and the Government of Kenya.
  • Daystar University is a Christian liberal arts university located in Athi River, an outlying town south-east of Nairobi, with a satellite campus on Nairobi's Ngong Road.
  • In 2005, The Aga Khan Hospital, Nairobi was upgraded to a teaching hospital, providing post graduate education in medicine and surgery including nursing education, henceforth renamed the Aga Khan University Hospital.
  • The Catholic University of Eastern Africa which obtained its "Letter of Interim Authority" in 1989. Following negotiations between the Authority of the Graduate School of Theology and the Commission for Higher Education (CHIEA), the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences was established three years later, culminating in the granting of the Civil Charter to CHIEA on 3 November 1992.
  • The Africa Nazarene University, located in Ongata Rongai, is a private chartered Christian university sponsored by the Church of the Nazarene International and it is a member of the worldwide family of Nazarene institutions.

Sister cities

United States Denver, Colorado (1975)[63]

See also

International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology


  1. ^ a b Central Bureau of Statistics — Population Projections by Province
  2. ^ Pulse Africa. "Not to be Missed: Nairobi 'Green City in the Sun'". Retrieved 2007-06-14. 
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  4. ^ History - Nairobi
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  9. ^ United Nations University. "Nairobi: National capital and regional hub". Retrieved 2007-06-17. 
  10. ^ Paul Reiter (5 December 2009). "The inconvenient truth about malaria". Spectator. 
  11. ^ RCBowen Kenya. "Attractions of Nairobi". Retrieved 2007-06-18. 
  12. ^ Merriam-Webster, Inc (1997). Merriam-Webster's Geographical Dictionary. Merriam-Webster. pp. 786. ISBN 0877795460. 
  13. ^ Dutton, E.A.T. (1929). "1". Kenya Mountain. Introduction by Hilaire Belloc (1 ed.). London: Jonathan Cape. pp. 1–2. 
  14. ^ United States Embassy. "Quiet Memorials Mark Fourth Anniversary of Embassy Bombing". Retrieved 2007-06-17. 
  15. ^ Perceptive Travel. "Nairobi by Degrees". Retrieved 2007-06-14. 
  16. ^ The East African (1998-11-02). "Karura: Are We Missing the Trees for the Forest?". Retrieved 2007-06-14. 
  17. ^ United Nations. "Travel and Visa Information". Retrieved 2007-06-20. 
  18. ^ Gaisma. "Nairobi, Kenya - Sunrise, sunset, dawn and dusk times, table". Retrieved 2007-06-22. 
  19. ^ "Average Conditions Nairobi, Kenya". BBC Weather. Retrieved August 18, 2009. 
  20. ^ Nairobi City Council. "Councillors, Wards & Constituencies". Retrieved 2007-06-20. 
  21. ^ See: Nairobi Province
  22. ^ Nairobi City Council. "Living in Nairobi". Retrieved 2007-06-20. 
  23. ^ Monsters and Critics. "Urban Somali refugees call Nairobi's "Little Mogadishu" home". Retrieved 2007-06-20. 
  24. ^ The Standard. "Kenyans must have a sustained campaign against land grabbing". Retrieved 2007-06-25. 
  25. ^ See: Nobel Peace Prize
  26. ^ Millennium IT. "Live Trading commences at Nairobi Stock Exchange". Retrieved 2007-06-28. 
  27. ^ Business Daily. "General Electric moves Africa's hub to Nairobi". Retrieved 2007-06-18. 
  28. ^ Press Media Wire. "Cisco Inaugurates East African Headquarters in Nairobi". Retrieved 2008-07-20. 
  29. ^ "KenGen Heads Index of Africa's Top 40 Stocks". Retrieved October 15, 2006. 
  30. ^ Nairobi City Council. "The Beautification of Nairobi City Project". Retrieved 2007-06-28. 
  31. ^ Kenya Broadcasting Corporation. "Vice president Moody Awori urges investors to market the country". Retrieved 2007-06-28. 
  32. ^ Emporis Buildings. "Nairobi High Rise Buildings". Retrieved 2007-06-25. 
  33. ^ United Nations Office at Nairobi. "The "Green City in the Sun"". Retrieved 2007-07-02. 
  34. ^ Serena Hotels. "About Nairobi, Green City in the Sun". Retrieved 2007-07-02. 
  35. ^ "Orchestra Super Mazembe". National Geographic. Retrieved 2007-11-04. 
  36. ^ "Moi International Sports Centre". Stadia. Retrieved 2007-11-04. 
  37. ^ "Nyayo National Stadium renamed in $1.5M". variouse. Retrieved 2009-02-04. 
  38. ^ "Nyayo National Stadium Facilities". Stadia. Retrieved 2007-11-04. 
  39. ^ "Golf in Kenya with Tobs Kenya Golf Safaris". Retrieved 2007-11-04. 
  40. ^ "PGA Golf Tournament Begins in Nairobi". Kenya Tourist Board. Retrieved 2007-11-04. 
  41. ^ The Standard, April 3, 2009: Kenya Derby is main Jockey Club of Kenya event
  42. ^ "Kenya Wildlife Service – Nairobi National Park". Retrieved 30 December 2009. 
  43. ^ BBC NEWS | World | Africa | East Africa's ice skating first
  44. ^ Kenya Airports Authority. "Welcome to Jomo Kenyatta Intl. Airport". Retrieved 2007-06-25. 
  45. ^ Kenya Airports Authority (2009-09-22). "JKIA Voted Best Marketed Airport In Africa Once Again". Retrieved 2010-01-14. 
  46. ^ JKIA Airport Expansion Plans
  47. ^ United Nations Offices Nairobi Interns. "How to get around Nairobi". Retrieved 2007-07-05. 
  48. ^ "Crackdown hits Kenyan commuters". BBC. 2004-02-02. Retrieved 2006-07-03. 
  49. ^ Where the Sidewalks End
  50. ^ BBC News. "Living amidst the rubbish of Kenya's slum". Retrieved 2008-08-25. 
  51. ^ IRIN In-Depth | KENYA: Kibera, The Forgotten City | East Africa | Kenya | Environment Urban Risk | In-Depth
  52. ^ CSG Kibera. "What is Kibera?". Retrieved 2008-08-25. 
  53. ^ High Beam Encyclopedia. "The slums of Nairobi: explaining urban misery". Retrieved 2007-07-02. 
  54. ^ Kenya Engineer. "Housing estate being developed at Stoney Athi". Retrieved 2007-07-02. 
  55. ^ [1]
  56. ^ Build cities to contain population explosion
  57. ^ Video: The women of Kibera in Kenya | Amnesty International
  58. ^ U.N. Study Says Nairobi Is Inundated With Crime -
  59. ^ Xinhua News. "U.N. Starts Crime Study in Kenya's Capital". Retrieved 2008-08-25. 
  60. ^ Kenya Police. "Comparative Crime Figures for the Year 2005 and 2006" (PDF). Retrieved 2008-08-25. 
  61. ^ OSAC - Kenya 2007 Crime & Safety Report
  62. ^ "University of Nairobi". Retrieved 2007-01-13. 
  63. ^ Sister Cities International

External links


Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Africa : East Africa : Kenya : Nairobi

Nairobi is the capital of Kenya and the largest city in the country.


Nairobi has a population of between three and four million. The city is the largest and fastest growing city in Kenya and one of the largest in Africa and lies on the Nairobi River.


The word Nairobi (pronounced /naɪˈrəʊbɪ/) 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, which Mombasa was 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 railroad system in the system helped it to have drastic 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 a port in Nairobi leading to the creation of big hotels primarily for the British hunters. Also, Nairobi has an East Indian community, who are the descendents of original colonial railway labourers and merchants.

Get in

Prior to entering Kenya, citizens of some countries have to have a visa before entry. These countries are Afghanistan, Jordan, Senegal, Azerbaijan, Lebanon, Somalia, Armenia, Mali, Syria, Cameroon, North Korea, Tajikistan, Iraq, Nigeria, Ivory Coast and Stateless Persons. Citizens from most other countries will need a visa which can be obtained on entry at the airport or border crossing (if overlanding). A single Entry Visa costs US $25 (has gone down from US $50) valid for three months and a transit visa will cost US $15 Since mid of 2009 border visa can also be paid in Euro. If you are only traveling through the country via a connecting flight and will not leave the secure area of the airport you will not need a visa.

By plane

Regular flights are to Nairobi are operated by Air Kenya, Kenya Airways, KLM, British Airways, Turkish Airlines, Emirates and Qatar Airways. Kenya Airways is the national airline for Kenya, and travels throughout Europe, America, Africa and the Asia-Pacific region. Nairobi’s main airport is JKIA Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (IATA: NBO), which is 15 km southeast from the center of the city. If taking a taxi from JKIA, use a reputable taxi, many are waiting outside for to give you conveyance, and the cost should be very near or on 1,500KSh (or £13) to the city centre; Westlands or such places more west or north will be more. Use for exact & reliable cash currency transfer rate comparisons. When taking a taxi to your accommodation, do not be inveigled into taking their recommendation for accommodation although this is very at your own risk. There is also Wilson Airport, 11 km south from the city's center, that is for domestic flights throughout Kenya [1], more lighter, Cessna-type aircrafts can be seen there. The military/ government airport is in Eastleigh district (pron: "East-Lee"), a very large residential area of housing in the east/north-east of Nairobi, but the government airport is fenced around and does not handle civilian traffic. From the center, you can take Bus #34 for 50 KSH, to the international airport, from in front of the Ambassador Hotel.

By train

The city is also accessible by trains, with daily arrivals and departures at the Nairobi Railway station. The Trains go east to Mombasa and West to Kisumu. There are 3 classes: First, Second and General. 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 costs around $50 all inclusive: bedding, breakfast, dinner; Second is $35 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 online[2].

By bus

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, which is the centre of the bus network.

By boat

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.

Get around

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 taxi

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. Matatus (public minibuses/ commuter buses) are all right for traveling to the suburbs, but 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.

By foot

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.

By road

Car hire from the airport is possible, and fairly painless with prices in line with other African countries. Nairobi in recent past has had a severe car-jacking problem, but because of increased police check-points it is marginally safer these days.


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 sq km 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. This 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.
  • Ol Donyo Sabuk National Park, 65 km from Nairobi, is centred around a 2,146 metre mountain. This is a mountain forest and plain land, 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.
  • 14 Falls, a waterfall at Thika.
  • 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.
  • Nairobi National Museum, where visitors can learn about Nairobi, its history and culture. Currently the museum is open again after major renovations.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Uhuru Gardens, built in remembrance of the struggle for independence, which Kenya was granted in 1963. The monument is a 24 metre 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.
  • 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


There are quite a number of networked banking machines in major shopping areas of Nairobi as well as the arrivals area of the airport. 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 charged a CDN$5 fee for a withdrawal with a maximum of 40,000/= per day.

Cash is dispensed in units of 1000/=. 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.

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 three primary supermarkets in Nairobi are Tusky's, Uchumi, Naivas and Nakumatt. For goods beyond supermarket fare, try either the Sarit Centre, YaYa centre or Nakumatt Westlands, which are both located in the Westlands suburb.

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 movie theater. Other malls in Nairobi include Yaya Centre near Hurlingham and The Mall in Westlands.

Nakumatt Westgate is a just finished competitor to Sarit Centre. It is a large building with many spaces for stores to move in to (they have yet to move in at the time of this writing, however the building is still unfinished). Currently, the primary occupant is the Nakumatt itself, which has modeled itself to emulate a Super Wal-Mart type experience.

Any taxi driver will know these two shopping centers by name, so getting there is not a problem.

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 buchery.

For local curios and souvenirs, the most easily accessible and tourist-friendly is the Maasai Market, held on Fridays at the Village Market, an upscale, open concept shopping center near the United Nations and American Embassy complexes. Bargaining is necessary, and one should probably not spend more than $1000KSH ($20) 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 (a traditional wrap for Swahili men, predominantly at the coast).



Roast House in the city centre facing the matatu station on Tom Mboya Road. Regular local prices with more selection, excellent food, friendly service. Very busy at lunchtime. Visited on 23 Sept 2009.


Nairobi has a fantastic array of mid-range eateries.

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. Prices average about 500KSH - 750KSH ($10-$15US) for a complete meal. Another popular coffeehouse is Dormans

Trattoria is an Italian restaurant. Do not expect anything decent when it comes to the mains (all around 700KSH). However, there is a fabulous and extensive dessert menu, including crepes, tiramisu, souffle, and a coffee granita with fresh cream (250-500KSH).

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, renowned for their sizzling Fajitas, steaks and seafood dishes. Reasonably priced. Open daily til late.

Village Market Food Court, Has an array of different ethnic cuisines, including Thai, Italian, Chinese and German, as well as a Mongolian Barbeque. Good prices as well, between $10-$20US for complete meals. 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 cuisins.

Common fast food restaurants include Steers, Debonairs, Wimpy, 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 (lit: 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 levys. Reservations might be a good idea, ask at your hotel.

Furusato, located in Westlands, has fantastic Japanese food. For a price. Expect to pay $40 - $50 per person.

The Rusty Nail, in Karen, has been super in the past, but mediocre of late. No reason not to give it another chance. Approx. $20 -$40US per person.

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 upscale bistro / fusion / grill restaurant in a lovely outdoor setting. Fantastic food, about $50 for a meal with wine.

"Pango Brasserie" at the Fairview Hotel features upscale french and continental dishes. Dinner begins in an underground stone winecellar where the chef will send out complimentary tasters while you sip a bottle of wine of your choice. $40 for a three course meal with wine.

"Alan Bobbe's Bistro" is a venerable, legendary restaurant now located on Riverside Drive. Founded in 1962, the restaurant features French haute-cuisine at about a third of what you would pay in Paris! $35-$50 for dinner with wine.



The area around the main bus station has a ton of budget hotels for around $10, and you can save on a taxi.

  • Milimani Backpackers & Safari Centre, P.o Box 21005 - 00500, +254 722 347616, [3]. A little further out of the city is Milimani Backpackers on Milimani Road. It has internet, cable TV, WI-FI, hot showers, 24hr self-service bar, restaurant, fireplace, and a parking area. They offer dorms, doubles, singles, twins, camping space, permanent tents, and cabins. from 600 KES for dorms.  edit
  • International Guest House, UpperHill, Matumbato Road, (Next to Don Bosco Church, 10 minutes walk from Kenyatta National Hospital), +254 020 2726966. 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 from 600 KES to mid-range at 2000 KSH.  edit
  • Olive Gardens Hotel, Argwings Kodhek Road, Hurlingham (Opposite Nairobi Womens Hospital), P.O Box 3049 - 00506, Nairobi, Kenya, +254 20 2737854, 2727777, [4]. Olive Gardens Hotel is located along Argwings Kodhek Road in Hurlingham, Nairobi, Kenya. Across Nairobi Women’s Hospital, the hotel is only a 30-minute drive from the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. Each of the 62 beautifully decorated rooms is amply furnished with cable TV, Internet access, mini-bar, and refrigerator. A cozy living room recreates the calming ambience of your own home for pure relaxation.  edit
  • Country Lodge, [5]. On upper hill, the Country Lodge is aimed at the budget business traveler. Single rooms are about $65 (USD) per night including breakfast. Probably the best deal in town.
  • The Heron Hotel:, [6] ,
  • 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. Prices around $150 (USD) per night include breakfast.
  • InterContinental Hotel. Located only 5 minutes from the city center and 15 minutes from the airport with views of the city. Prices around $150 (USD) per night include breakfast.
  • Nairobi Hilton. Part of the Hilton family of hotels and located near the city center. Prices between $100 and $150 (USD) per night include breakfast.
  • Nairobi Safari Club. Kenya's only all-suite hotel. Prices around $140 (USD) per night include breakfast.
  • Panafric Hotel. Located in the city centre and only 20 minutes from the airport. Prices around $100 and $120 (USD) per night include breakfast.* Karen Blixen Cottages. Located in the suburb of Karen, 20 miles from downtown, the cottages offer a unique change from the normal hotel fare. Prices around $300 (USD) per night include breakfast.
  • 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. Prices around $220 (USD) per night include breakfast.
  • Norfolk Hotel. Opened on Christmas Day over 100 years ago, this hotel that has served many special guests is located only 30 minutes from the airport, and a short distance from the shopping district. Prices around $180 (USD) per night include breakfast.
  • Safari Park Hotel. Started as a retreat for British Army officers more than 50 years ago, this hotel is only 15 minutes from downtown. Prices around $170 (USD) per night include breakfast.
  • 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. Prices around $150 (USD) per night include breakfast.
  • Windsor Golf and Country Club. Located 15 minutes from the city center, 45 from the airport. Features a 18 hole golf course on site. Prices around $200 (USD) per night include breakfast.
  • Giraffe Manor. The converted home of the founders of the African Fund for Endangered Wildlife, located a few miles from the city center, sitting on 140 acres of land. The giraffes can be fed at the front door or even from the second floor bedroom window! Prices around $600 (USD) per night include meals.
  • Ngong House. Located 30 minutes drive from the city center and airport, the Ngong House is on land that was orginally part of a vast coffee estate. Located on the grounds are five traditional looking, yet elegantly decorated tree houses. Prices around $650 (USD) per night include meals.
  • Ole Sereni Hotel, Mombasa road, Opposite Zain offices/Parkside towers, P.O. Box 18187-00500, Nairobi, Kenya (5 km from Jomo Kenyatta international airport off Mombasa road opposite Zain offices), [7]. checkin: 1200; checkout: 1200. Wildlife resort located just off the Mombasa Road overlooking the Nairobi National Game Park. 220-320. (-1.326888,36.845956) edit
  • Gipsy:, Opp,Barclays,Bank Westland, Box 40322, Nairobi, Tel: 020 4440964,4440836, Mob: 0733 730529,
  • 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, [8]
  • 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:, Leobag Investment Ltd, Baricho Road
  • Chillers:, Anniv Towers
  • Havana: Its an expats favorite on Thursdays nights.The live band on Saturdays attracts a good cosmopolitan crowd. Bar snacks available throughout the night.[9]
  • Apple Bees: (Strip club)
  • 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:, Westlands, Mpaka Road, Bishan Plaza, e-mail
  • Florida 2000 (F2):, Located at Commerce House, Moi Avenue. [10]
  • New Florida Clubs (F1):, The New Florida, locally known as Madhouse or Madi, is in the heart of Nairobi on Koinange Street.
  • Pango (F3):, Commerce House, 1st Floor, P.O.Box 55381 - 00200 Nairobi, Tel:+254-20-229036/217269, 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.


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 Gmail or YahooMail Beta even probably use a webcam or watch Youtube. Prices are usually at ranges from 0.5ksh/minute to 1ksh/minute, usually with a minimum fee of 5-20ksh. The more expensive internet cafés are rarely better and the best ones charge 1 ksh/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 in the city. 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 coverage for the two main providers, Safaricom and Zain(formerly Celtel) extending to most populated parts of the country. The phone system is GSM 900 (European standard). Phones and SIM cards are available at many locations throughout Nairobi and the country. 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. All phones are sold "unlocked" for use on any 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 8/= per minute and SMS at 3/50. Overseas calls cost around 30/= per minute to North America (~USD$0.40/minute) if the VOIP feature is used.

GPRS/EDGE/3G data service is available in most coverage areas on Safaricom or Zain with enabled phones. Newer mobile providers including Orange Kenya and Econet have coverage in urban areas and competitive pricing.

Stay safe

Nairobi has a reputation for thievery. Beware of snatch and grab, con artists, or groups of people following you. The best advice for a tourist is to stay in city centre, know where you are at all times, and pretend you know where you're going (even if you don't). Don't carry large quantities of money or passports on the street, and the general rule is that anyone trying to talk to you (there will be many) is up to no good. Scams abound. In recent years, crime has significantly reduced, though one should still be wary.

Apart from the inner city centre, Nairobi dies out at night. Streets are mostly empty. Do not walk alone after nightfalls. Always use taxi.The areas north and east of River Road should be avoided, especially if you're not a local!

Stay healthy

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. Before eating, make sure that the food is freshly and thoroughly cooked and served hot. Do not eat buffet, re-heated or food that has been exposed to flies. Also avoid seafood, 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.


In Africa you are going to be exposed to yellow fever, dengue fever, other viral diseases, sleeping sickness, filariasis and malaria. 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. For most people 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.


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.

Get out

Lake Naivasha is worth a day's visit, and lakeshore country clubs are a good place for lunch. You can take a boat ride on the lake to see hippos, or go for a walk among zebra and giraffes on Crescent Island.

Further afield, Nakuru National Park deservedly warrants a 1-night stay for a late-afternoon and early-morning game drive.

This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

NAIROBI, capital of the British East Africa protectorate and of the province of Ukamba, 327 m. by rail N.W. of Mombasa and 257 m. S.E. of Port Florence on Victoria Nyanza. Pop.

(1907) 4737, including 350 Europeans and 1752 Indians. Nairobi is built on the Athi plains, at the foot of the Kikuyu hills and 545 0 ft. above the sea; it commands magnificent views of Kilimanjaro and Mt. Kenya. It is the headquarters of the Uganda railway, of the military forces in the protectorate, and of the Colonists' Association. It is divided into European, Indian and native quarters. Midway between the European and Indian quarters stands the town hall. The other public buildings include railway works, places of worship (Protestant, Roman Catholic, Mahommedan and Hindu) and schools, an Indian bazaar, a general hospital and waterworks - the water being obtained from springs 13 m. distant.

The site of Nairobi was selected as the headquarters of the Uganda railway, and the first buildings were erected in 1899. For some time nearly all its inhabitants were railway officials and Indian coolies engaged in the construction of the line. In 1902 the surrounding highlands were found to be suitable for European settlement, and Nairobi speedily grew in importance; in 1907 the headquarters of the administration were transferred to it from Mombasa. The town is provided with clubs, cricket and athletic grounds and a racecourse.

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

Wikipedia has an article on:




Proper noun


  1. The capital of Kenya.



Italian Wikipedia has an article on:

Wikipedia it

Proper noun

Nairobi f.

  1. Nairobi


Simple English

A view of the Nairobi cityscape.

Nairobi is the capital and largest city of Kenya. About three million people live there. The city was founded in 1899 as a railway depot linking Uganda to Mombasa. Nairobi is the fourth largest city in Africa.

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