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Nairobi

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© Lonely Planet Publications
95

NAIROBI

Nairobi
Who’s afraid of big bad Nairobi? Quite a lot of people – the city’s reputation precedes it, so
much so that most visitors dive in and out as quickly as possible. Unsurprising perhaps, as it’s
true that Kenya’s capital requires more big-city common sense than most, and it’s hard not
to feel a little nervous once the shutters come down and the streets empty after dark.
However, it’s easy enough to sidestep the worst dangers here, and there’s no reason why
a streetwise traveller can’t enjoy a stay here. In terms of facilities, the city has more going for
it than any other Kenyan conurbation: there’s a comprehensive range of shops, the matatus
are the funkiest around, most safari companies are based here, the cinemas screen recent
movies, the cultural scene is thriving, the nightlife is unbridled and it’s virtually the only
place in the country where you can get a truly varied diet. Even café culture has reached the
downtown area, adding a soupçon of sophistication to the supposed urban badlands.
Even if the inner city does terrify you, it’s easy to get out into the suburbs, where you
can relax with the large local expat community and make the most of even more top-rank
amenities, award-winning restaurants and friendly bars.
In fact, whatever its shortcomings, we actually like Nairobi. Take the time to look beyond
the safari offices and supermarkets, throw yourself into the vibrant entertainment scene
and, who knows, you might just come to agree.
HIGHLIGHTS
Broadening your appreciation of all
things cultural and environmental at
the National Museum (p104)
Surveying the cityscape from the
grand heights of the Kenyatta Conference Centre (p106)
Digging in to the country’s most varied cuisine scene at any of Nairobi’s
posh restaurants (p111)

National Museum
Westlands

Treating yourself to a shopping spree
(p119), feeding frenzy (p111) or
boozy bender (p117)

Kenyatta Conference Centre;
Restaurants;
Nightclubs

Acclimatising yourself to Tusker and
Kiswahili rap at one of the city’s allnight clubs (p117)
The smug feeling of surviving a stay
here!
TELEPHONE CODE: 020

POPULATION: 2.9 MILLION

AREA: 680 SQ KM

HISTORY
As you might guess from all the tower
blocks, Nairobi is a completely modern creation and almost everything here has been
built in the last 100 years. Until the 1890s
the whole area was just an isolated swamp,
but as the rails of the East Africa railway
fell into place, a depot was established on
the ed...
NAIROBI
95
Who’s afraid of big bad Nairobi? Quite a lot of people – the city’s reputation precedes it, so
much so that most visitors dive in and out as quickly as possible. Unsurprising perhaps, as it’s
true that Kenya’s capital requires more big-city common sense than most, and it’s hard not
to feel a little nervous once the shutters come down and the streets empty after dark.
However, it’s easy enough to sidestep the worst dangers here, and there’s no reason why
a streetwise traveller can’t enjoy a stay here. In terms of facilities, the city has more going for
it than any other Kenyan conurbation: there’s a comprehensive range of shops, the matatus
are the funkiest around, most safari companies are based here, the cinemas screen recent
movies, the cultural scene is thriving, the nightlife is unbridled and it’s virtually the only
place in the country where you can get a truly varied diet. Even café culture has reached the
downtown area, adding a soupçon of sophistication to the supposed urban badlands.
Even if the inner city does terrify you, it’s easy to get out into the suburbs, where you
can relax with the large local expat community and make the most of even more top-rank
amenities, award-winning restaurants and friendly bars.
In fact, whatever its shortcomings, we actually like Nairobi. Take the time to look beyond
the safari offices and supermarkets, throw yourself into the vibrant entertainment scene
and, who knows, you might just come to agree.
Nairobi
HIGHLIGHTS
Broadening your appreciation of all
things cultural and environmental at
the National Museum ( p104 )
Surveying the cityscape from the
grand heights of the Kenyatta Con-
ference Centre ( p106 )
Digging in to the country’s most var-
ied cuisine scene at any of Nairobi’s
posh restaurants ( p111 )
Treating yourself to a shopping spree
( p119 ), feeding frenzy ( p111 ) or
boozy bender ( p117 )
Acclimatising yourself to Tusker and
Kiswahili rap at one of the city’s all-
night clubs ( p117 )
The smug feeling of surviving a stay
here!
Westlands
National Museum
Nightclubs
Restaurants;
Kenyatta Conference Centre;
TELEPHONE CODE: 020 POPULATION: 2.9 MILLION AREA: 680 SQ KM
© Lonely Planet Publications
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