"Nairobi - Crossroads of Africa" Top 5 Page for this destination Nairobi Area by Saagar

Nairobi Area Travel Guide: 724 reviews and 1,697 photos

Heaven and hell

Nairobi is really the crossroads of Africa. Here you have the air transport links to just about every corner of the continent, and hre you have several Pan-African organisations and instiutions. People from all over Africa also converge on this city as hopeful immigrants and treasure seekers, business people, rural migrants, refugees, globetrotters, safari tourists and aid workers. Nairobi is both rootless and continental. Hard to describe, really. The city is interesting, at least there are interesting lements for a traveller, but also slums and hopelessness, nondecript office buildings and colonial and some more well-thought-of modern architecture. Coming in from a safari or long roadtrip or months in the bush, Nairobi must be like heaven: reading, feeding, relaxing, showering and recovering.

What to do in Nairobi

First thing: have a Tusker! Always good after a safe landing at the hotel lobby bar coming into Nairobi.
If you have business to do here, I suppose all is set, if you are a tourist/transit traveller, things are different... You may have to get things organised, check out the city and get a feel for it. My advice, do not linger, and be determined and picky when you visit Nairobi. After a long overland or bush visit the food is Nairobi is very welcome: Asian, Italian, Afrcian sea food and Nile perch, the Carnivore. Rinse off the desert dust in a hotel swimming pool. There are museums and gardens and some beauty to behold. Seeing the other side of Nairobi is a wake-up call for social activism; the Kebere and Mathara slums, Africa's biggest, is a challenge, cruel as they are in their simplisity and profound dehumanising ways. Having come from far away, the scenery around Nairobi is something to behold. You can get a few days' good activities by using Nairobi as a day tripping base. There is some good shopping here, too; Africana, books, clothing. But do not linger, get organised and get out of here!

How to survive in Nairobi

Be careful in Nairobi; this is not a safe place to visit unless you take some extra care. Check for local advice once there - which streets are ok, which are not. Hotel break-ins happen, car jackings likewise. Street muggings are common and pickpocketing on minibuses - the matatus - are standard fare for unaware visitors.
I am not particularily paranoid, and nothing has ever happened to me in Nairobi, but the advice I was given of mapping which places to avoid in the city and how to move streetwise and watching valuables have been good. Friends who did not adhere to advice had to pay for it... A couple of times I have had armed guards assigned to me while on job duties in town at off-hours, but that was exceptional. Never walk alone in central Nairobi after dark - take a taxi. Avoid dark parks. Together with locals I have visited the dreaded slums of Kebere and Mathare without anything but friendliness and genuine hospitality been shown to me.
Adhere to local advice, use hotel safes and don't be paranoid - that sums it up.

  • Last visit to Nairobi Area: Nov 2005
  • Intro Written Jan 24, 2006
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Saagar

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