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Tips for Traveling to Nairobi, Kenya

by Aleia 1. November 2012

Nairobi is the largest city in Kenya and has roughly 3-4 million people. The official languages are Kiswahili and English so while English-speakers may have an easier time getting around, it is still always best to know a few phrases in the local language.


  •   You will need both your passport and a visa in order to travel in Kenya.  For a single entry visa it is normally $50USD and these can be obtained prior to travel or once in the Kenyan airport,  although it is suggested that you acquire one before traveling so there are no mix-ups. 
  •  Citizens of certain countries are not required to have a visa for entry, for a complete list of these please visit the following link:
  •   As a rule most international credit cards are charged fees so that is something to keep in mind when entering the country.

When to Travel:

  •  The high season is November to February and is the most popular with tourists. If you are traveling on a budget you might like to travel during the rainy season (Marc h to May/ October to December) as the flights and hotels are less expensive.
  •  Taking weather into account the summer tends to be sunny and warm, but not intensely hot and winters are mild and cool, and can become very chilly in the evenings. When planning a trip it is important to keep this in mind.


  •   DO NOT accept advice on accommodations from taxi drivers.
  •  Traffic in Nairobi is notoriously bad so any activity or meeting that there is a time limit on should include long traffic waits during the planning phase.
  •  Taxis are the safest way to get around the city but always ask for a price before departing, many taxi drivers will take advantage of tourists. Taxis here are marked with a yellow line on the  side.
  •  The buses are usually reliable and everyone should travel in a Matatu (mini-bus or shuttle) at least once. Matatus are normally obtained on River Road which can be a dangerous place so it is wise to have a taxi pick you up/drop you off there.
  •  DO NOT walk around after nightfall.


  • The number for emergency services is:999
  • The number for less urgent Police matters is: 240000
  • 24hr Tourist Safety Hotline 02-604767
  • Current travel along the Kenya/Somalia border and within 60 miles of it is discouraged.
  • Always be aware that theft is relatively commonplace. Do not carry around large amounts of cash and be aware that they have a mobile case movement that is very popular in the area, one of which is the M-Pesa.
  • Many young children will enthusiastically speak to you and can be excited to see travelers but avoid any children over approximately 10 years old because there is a chance they are pick-pockets.
  •  It is important to try and get vaccinated roughly 6 weeks before travel to any African country most specifically: Tetanus, Dyptheria, Polio, Typhoid, Hepatitis A & B, Yellow Fever, Rabies, and Meningitis.
  •  BRING bug spray (preferably one with DEET) and make sure to spray any exposed areas and your lodgings on a regular basis.
  • DO NOT smoke in the streets, it is illegal. There are designated smoking areas available.
  • The Nairobi Hospital is a private hospital located at Argwings  Kodhek  Rd,, P.O. Box 30026, Nairobi, G.P.O 00100 Kenya.  They have a 24-hour Accident and Emergency Centre and are fully staffed for all medical emergencies.
  • When traveling it is important to buy Travel Insurance because most insurance companies do not take care of costs accrued during international travel.  Being prepared for all eventualities is the best way to avoid potential problems during traveling.

Things to Do:

  •  Nairobi has a thriving nightlife with many clubs, bars, and hotels to choose from.
  • If you are adventurous when it comes to cuisine be sure to check out The Carnivore Restaurant where you can try ostrich, zebra, and ox balls. Also for sale is traditional Kenyan barbequed meat.
  • Nairobi is considered the safari capital of the world and has many amazing safari options to choose from.
  • Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage is an amazing place to visit especially for animal-lovers.
  • 14 Falls is a beautiful place to visit with a park to wander in.
  •  Maasai Market is a great flea market/bazaar to visit, it can be found somewhere in the city most days of the week and is excellent place to hone your bartering skills. When carrying cash always try to have change on hand to make bartering easier.


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