Welcome To Nairobi, Kenya
The capital Nairobi is the largest city in Kenya. The word “Nairobi” is actually a Maasai phrase which means cool water. However, this is misleading because Nairobi is actually a creation of the Imperialist British East Africa Company and was initially a railway depot. Previously, the Kenyan city of Machakos was the capital city, however it was quickly replaced after the founding of Nairobi.
The Modern City of Nairobi, Kenya
Today Kenya’s capital city has a population of about 3.5 million people. The Nairobi population is not excessively large for a modern global city. Although it is still one of the most congested cities in the world. The root of the problem is that the main transportation route between the Mombasa port and Uganda runs through Nairobi. Therefore, all the trucks loaded with imports and exports wreaks havoc on the cities infrastructure. Unfortunately, the new truck route which has been under construction for a long time is still not completed!
Nairobi’s “Modern Architecture”
The Kenyatta International Convention Center is promoted as the best location for conventions in Africa. It is a 28 story building located downtown dedicated to the Kenyatta political dynasty. There is a nice observation deck on top which provides a 360 degree view of the surrounding city. Plus, it appears that the observation deck serves as a helicopter landing pad for African dignitaries.
Unfortunately, I think it may be leaning slightly although this can be verified independently. As a result, I tilted the camera slightly to create a straight up effect. I hope you like it.
Corruption in Nairobi, Kenya
Corruption is a political reality in every country. Unfortunately, in East Africa it has reached epic proportions. Is Nairobi Safe? There is a saying in Nairobi: “if you hear gunshots duck, if the cops show up RUN!”. This is the unfortunate reality for many of the locals including my friend Grace who lives there. Additionally, Kenya has been featured on multiple occasions in the globally respected Economist newspaper for excessive corruption including summary execution by the police.
Notoriously, Kenyan first responders have been seen looting in such high profile events as the Westgate Mall terror attack and also the fire at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.
Conspiracy theorists in Kenya (privately) think that the Westgate Terror attack was actually not the doing of Al Shabaab but local politicians instead. Similarly, some of the attacks on the east coast have aroused the suspicions of the conspiracy theorists. The same thing has been said about the Charlie Hebdo “terrorist” attack in Paris.
Nairobi Kenya Points of Interest
You can discover some good restaurants and some pubs downtown although the best attractions are on the city outskirts. However, the downtown area is a great place to acquire a good guide to visit some of the country’s iconic safari parks. After your safari is planned and prepared it is time to visit some local Nairobi Kenya points of interest.
Visit Nairobi’s Giraffe Center
The Giraffe Center supports the education of local school children covering the conservation of the country’s natural resources. 90% of the proceeds from the entrance fees go to support this cause.
Plus, for a small fee you can purchase some food to give the friendly giraffe.
Mamba Village Crocodile Farm
The crocodile farm is another way to spend a few hours of fun in Kenya’s capital city. The location is only 13 kilometers outside the city. Fortunately, traffic isn’t so bad during non peak hours.
Should you eat at the Carnivore Restaurant?
A world famous dining establishment in Nairobi is called the Carnivore Restaurant. The main draw is the anticipation that you will be eating exotic wild meat. Fortunately, the conservation efforts in Kenya are taken very seriously and therefore there is really no wild exotic meat on the menu at Carnivore. So if you would know the difference, then you will likely agree that Carnivore is mostly an expensive disappointment.
However, it is common in other African countries such as Namibia and South Africa to find some of the exotic fare at the local supermarkets. For example: kudu, springbok and ostrich can be found as readily as beef on the local store shelves and they are farmed sustainably.
Nairobi National Museum and Snake Zoo
Last but not least, stop by the Nairobi National Museum and the adjoining Snake Zoo. Fortunately, these locations are only a few kilometers outside the city center. The museum has large cultural, wildlife and historical exhibits.
Additionally, if you have time afterwards you can visit the adjoining snake exhibits. Don’t forget to leave early to get ahead of the traffic going back into town!
A good guide is imperative if you intend to have a optimal safari experience. Therefore, while we were in Nairobi we took the time to discuss our options with a few local tour companies. Previously, I had never used a guide for my safari trips in South Africa, Namibia and Mozambique. However, in Kenya guide service is compulsory if you intend to enter the Maasai Mara and Amboseli Parks. Fortunately, we got lucky and our guide was fantastic. I have the photos to prove it which I will show you in my other posts.
Nairobi itself is lackluster and potentially dangerous if you are in the wrong place at the wrong time.