Those who love Nairobi believe this is place where everything East Africa should happen. This is a city that hustles and has hassles! Be prepared for its notorious driving and snaking traffic jams. They’re just one sign of how much is happening: excellent nightlife, a variety of restaurants to keep the palate busy, and cultural and entertainment surprises. Be prepared to discover a dynamic city that’s changing quickly, growing far beyond its reputation.
English and Swahili are the two main languages. You’ll hear lots of “jambo”, especially if you’re a tourist. Kenyans never greet one another in this way. “Mambo” (what’s up), is more street with the response being, “poa” (cool). “Habari” (how are things?) and “nzuri” (good) is the more common greeting. Also handy: “asante” (thank you); “karibu” (you’re welcome); “sawa sawa” (ok).
The currency is the Kenya shilling (ksh). Major credit cards work everywhere, with ATMs widely available. You’ll be asked to offer your passport when changing money.
Getting in Touch
Country code is +254 and the city code is 20. Getting a local SIM card is easy; they’re available at the airport and most anywhere else in Nairobi. The 3G network is pretty fast and reliable.
This is a city built for cars! Nairobi’s traffic jams have given the city a bad reputation, and on a bad day, they can be epic. The driving can euphemistically be described as organic and needs steely resolve at times. Give yourself plenty of time to get to your appointments. The most popular public transport is the matatu (mini-bus). They can be noisy, claustrophobic and need getting used to. If you do choose to use public transport, use the Metro and City Shuttles. They’re a lot more spacious and less manic. Some will have route numbers and you’ll have to ask for the direction that they are heading to. But that could change, if the driver runs into traffic. Taxis can be costly but more reliable. There aren’t metered and you’ll have to negotiate a price. Ask what the recommended taxi fare is from locals or your hotel.