Nairobi is a metropolis of African culture surrounded by some of the most spectacular natural landscapes in the world, from the Masai Mara to Nairobi National Park.
Inside the cosmopolitan city, colonnaded colonial architecture sits alongside urban slums. Shimmering tower blocks loom over beautiful green parks, designer boutiques and bustling street markets. Some of the best shopping in Nairobi can be found in the Yaya Centre near Hurlingham and The Mall in Westlands while the Maasai Market in the Village is an eye opener of colourful local crafts and souvenirs.
The Karen Blixen Museum and the Nairobi Museum and Gallery vividly depict the region’s history and show off its artistic and cultural side while the Parliament building and the Jamia Mosque are fine examples of the city’s architectural diversity.
Nature and wildlife enthusiasts will be in their element in Nairobi. Nairobi National Park, the Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage, the Giraffe Centre and Mamba Village are full of strange and wonderful animals from crocodiles and lions to wildebeest, cheetahs, hippos and zebra. Equally beautiful are their natural habitats including the Tana River where white water rafting and kayaking are popular pastimes, lush landscaped Uhuru Gardens and Lake Naivasha, a haven away from the city.
Day trips to Mount Kenya offer unparalleled views and invigorating hikes while the 14 Falls at Thika are a mesmerising cascade of water. By night the bustling, trendy Westlands district is the place to find the best of Nairobi’s nightlife from restaurants and bars to clubs that have locals and visitors dancing until sunrise.
The following information is correct as of January 2015 and is subject to change. Please check with the airline directly for complete accuracy.
Nairobi Jomo Kenyatta International airport is located 10 miles from Nairobi city centre and can be reached by car in approximately 15-20 minutes. Regular bus services depart from outside the arrivals halls of the airport and take 45 minutes to reach the city centre. Shuttle buses to local hotels, and taxis, also operate from outside the terminal building.
What you need to know
Currency: The Kenyan Shilling
Visas: UK nationals do require a visa to enter Nairobi. A passport with six months validity from the date of departure is also required. Visas can be obtained on entry although multiple entry visas must be obtained prior to travel. Nationals of other countries should check with a local embassy or the Foreign Office website for more information on visa requirements.
Laws: The legal age for purchasing and consuming alcohol in Kenya is 18. There is a smoking ban that prohibits smoking in all public indoor places such as bars, cafes, restaurants, public transport and even in hotel grounds and on public beaches.
Best Time to Visit
The best time to visit Nairobi is from June to October when tourist numbers are fewer, the sun is still warm and the wildebeest begin their annual migration across the Maasai Mara. January and February are peak tourists times due to the clear warm days and easier to spot wildlife. Avoid March to May which are rainy season and on the whole not very pleasant months to visit. Christmas and Easter are other peak times when flights are more expensive.
February is also Whale Shark Diving season for those with nerves of steel while March brings ballet, jazz and other musical delights. April sees the start of the Safari Rally, a motorsport enthusiasts dream and May the famous Rhino Charge off road race and the Dugong Dolphin Festival. The summer brings marathons and fashion week, rugby and storytelling and plenty of literary and music festivals to while away the days. The autumn sees the start of the International Film Festival, Puppetry Festival and Mombasa Carnival.
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