The complete guide to: Nairobi travel

April 15, 2018
Urban Adventures

Ready to book a trip to Nairobi? We support this decision! Kenya’s capital is bursting at the seams with interesting things to see and do, and unique experiences to knock off your travel bucket list. From close encounters with nature, to maze-like markets jam-packed with local goodies (and much, much more), there are many reasons to check out Nairobi. Once you decide to go, our local Nairobi tour guides have you covered for everything you need to know about getting in, getting around and getting the most out of your trip.

Getting to and from NBO

There is a public bus from the airport, but it is not easy to find, so your best bet to get where you want to go in time would be by private vehicle. Taxis are plentiful and parked right outside the terminals. You can also use free airport wifi to hail a taxi with any number of ridesharing services. From the airport to the CBD (city centre) you can pay anywhere from KES 300 to KES 1500 and the ride takes around 30 minutes. Taxis are generally safe, but always be vigilant.

Getting around Nairobi

City of Nairobi

Nairobi skyline | Photo via Pixabay

There is a vast, sprawling, and often overwhelmingly confusing public transport system in Nairobi, comprised of large buses and smaller matatus (14-seater vans) which can carry you across great distances for well under KES 100. However, it’s often difficult to find your way as a traveller, and you’ll want to carefully plan your route. Stops aren’t usually marked so you’ll need to know exactly where you’re going. A ride in a matatu starts from KES 10, and within the city you’ll never pay more than KES 100 for a single ride. You buy a ticket once you’re in the bus and the conductor comes to collect your fare. Be sure to know what the fare should be, or you could easily get scammed! Public transport in Nairobi runs from around 5am to 11pm (depending on the line).

Taxis are everywhere, and ridesharing apps are now part of daily life in Nairobi. You can use Uber, Taxify or Little Cabs, and be assured that you’ll be safer and less hassled than with traditional cabs. Be warned that drivers don’t often follow maps, so you’ll most likely need to tell them exactly where you are. Most ridesharing journeys within the city will cost between KES 300 and 800.

Walking in most parts of the city is relatively safe during daylight hours, however, avoid carrying items of value, be vigilant and avoid walking alone. Generally, Nairobi is a city of distinct sights and locations, and it’s not recommended to stroll the streets aimlessly.

Things to do in Nairobi

baby elephant

Elephant feeding time | Photo via Pixabay

If you’re a sports fan (or you just feel like hanging with the locals), make sure to catch a Rugby 7s game. Tickets can be purchased at the gate for KES 100 to 300. Kenyans old and young flock to the rugby matches at Harlequin Stadium on Ngong Road to soak up the sportsman vibes, enjoy the sun, and just let loose!

Depending on when you’re in town, the Blankets and Wine festival is a great event to put on your itinerary. The crème de la crème of Nairobi’s alternative music, arts and culture scene rub shoulders with well-to-do families and young expats at this quarterly music festival. Tickets cost KES 2500 to 3500 and can be purchased online.

While you’re in Nairobi, you’ll also want to put Nairobi National Park on your list. Located just outside the city centre, the park is home to a wide variety of wildlife including black rhino, lions, leopards, cheetahs, hyenas, buffaloes, giraffes and hundreds of bird species. There are also picnic sites, three campsites and the walking trails for hikers.

David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust is an acclaimed animal rehabilitation centre that takes in young orphan elephants and rhinos and nurses them back to health. The trust has, to date, successfully hand-raised over 150 infant elephants (among other amazing conservation efforts). You can stop by to see the baby elephants get fed, which is about as cute as it sounds (which is to say, extremely cute). You’re also likely to see the babies having a mud bath, which makes for some great photo ops.

Nairobi Day Tours

Looking for more things to do? Urban Adventures offers several day tours in Nairobi, all led by local experts who will give you a taste for local life in the city:

Nairobi Experience
Nairobi is a sprawling, perenially busy city that’s hard to crack on your own. Join this Nairobi tour and benefit from a local guide who’ll not only show you the sights but also lead you to the perfect lunch spot to try some local cuisine.

Giraffes & Elephants in Nairobi
Head to the leafy ex-colonial suburbs of Nairobi to visit two of the city’s most famous attractions: the Africa Fund for Endangered Wildlife’s Giraffe Centre and David Sheldrick’s Elephant Orphanage.

Hells’ Gate National Park
With a name like Hell’s Gate, it’s no wonder this park is less-visited than others in Kenya. Take the chance to visit one of the few parks you can walk in on this Nairobi tour that also includes a visit to the Elsamere Conservation Centre where you’ll be tempted to sing ‘Born Free’.

Nairobi by Night
Trade wildlife for nightlife on this Nairobi evening tour that takes you round some of the hottest spots in Nairobi after dark. Because after a day of making friends with giraffes, you’ll want to hang out with the city’s other (more human) locals – over a beer and local nosh, no doubt!

In Focus: A Day with the Maasai
Get the total Maasai experience while supporting a local non-profit dedicated to alleviating poverty. Head beyond Nairobi to the stunning Ngong Hills, where you’ll learn to make Maasai jewellery, and discover the song and dance traditions of the local culture.

In Focus: From Farm to Feast
We’re picking up chicks (and pigs too!), on this Nairobi tour that explores the relationship between farming and food. You’ll deliver a supply of chickens and pigs to a local community and find out how a local non-profit is helping to alleviate poverty and malnutrition in Kenya.

In Focus: The Resilient Women of Kenya
Spend an incredible day with some inspiring women who are overcoming hardship and turning their lives around, thanks to a unique social enterprise. Get to know these resilient women and hear their stories as you gain insight into what it means to be a woman in Kenya.

Nairobi on the big screen

Nairobi Half-Life (not for the faint-hearted), Kati-Kati (Oscar-nominated) and Out of Africa (blast from the past starring the iconic Meryl Streep and Robert Redford) are some good films to watch before a visit to Nairobi.

Nairobi on record

Sauti Sol is Kenya’s best-loved all-male pop group, who sing in a mixture of English and Swahili.

Nairobi in books

Prep for your trip to Nairobi by reading Out of Africa (the book that inspired the movie) by Karen Blixen, Princess Adhis and the Naija Coca Broda by Tony Mochama (a brutally honest depiction of Nairobi’s underground drug and crime scene), or The River Between by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o (shortlisted for the Man Booker International Prize).

Get in touch with us

Email us at info@nairobiurbanadventures.com to plan your Best. Day. Ever. while you’re in town. You can also follow our In Focus non-profit partner One Horizon on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Nairobi Tours | Urban Adventures

Exciting and noticeably cosmopolitan, Nairobi is the social hub of East Africa, and Nairobi Urban Adventures provides your VIP ticket into the heart of it. Our one of a kind Nairobi tours offer the ideal way of getting out and experiencing the sights, smells, and sounds of this vibrant city and its surroundings, uncovering the real character and people of the ever-fascinating Nairobi.