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Overview

The Kenyan capital Nairobi is East Africa’s largest city and home to the region’s busiest international and domestic airports. Although it’s an important center for business travelers, diplomats and NGOs, most tourists simply view the city as a gateway to some of Africa’s most exciting safari and beach destinations. But it is an attractive city in its own right, set at a temperate altitude of 1,800 meters (5,900 feet), and the smarter suburbs are studded with plush hotels whose manicured gardens are interspersed with relict patches of indigenous forest. Arguably the most remarkable feature of the city is the presence of the superb Nairobi ...

The Kenyan capital Nairobi is East Africa’s largest city and home to the region’s busiest international and domestic airports. Although it’s an important center for business travelers, diplomats and NGOs, most tourists simply view the city as a gateway to some of Africa’s most exciting safari and beach destinations. But it is an attractive city in its own right, set at a temperate altitude of 1,800 meters (5,900 feet), and the smarter suburbs are studded with plush hotels whose manicured gardens are interspersed with relict patches of indigenous forest. Arguably the most remarkable feature of the city is the presence of the superb Nairobi National Park on its southern outskirts, fenced on the city side, but not along its other boundaries, allowing for free movement of wildlife to and from the Athi Plains to the south. Here, lion, cheetah and rhino are often seen below the backdrop of the CBD’s shimmering skyscrapers, and a checklist of 400 bird species includes the massive ostrich, secretary bird and southern ground hornbill. Otherwise, Nairobi boasts few "must see" tourist attractions, exceptions being the recently refurbished National Museum and the suburban Karen Blixen Museum (the former home of the "Out of Africa" author, used as a set in several scenes in the movie). The city also boasts a good selection of shopping malls, restaurants and music venues, though high crime levels mean these are best explored in the company of a knowledgeable local.

Philip Briggs
About the Expert

Philip Briggs has written or contributed to 50-plus editions of Bradt, Insight, AA and Berlitz guidebooks to African destinations.

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Philip Briggs for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Eastern Africa, bordering the Indian Ocean, between Somalia and Tanzania
  • Language: English (official), Kiswahili (official), numerous indigenous la
  • Currency: Kenyan Shilling
  • Research: Wikipedia
  • Weather: Rainfall

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Nairobi can be visited at any time of year. For most visitors, timing is influenced by outside factors, for instance, the presence of the wildebeest migration in the Maasai Mara over August-October.