Enkare Nai Robi (“the place of cold water”) is worldwide known as just Nairobi and it is the beautiful capital city of Kenya. It is also the only real metropolis in East Africa with over 5 millions inhabitants which make it an important city. Still, it did not exist 200 years ago! The region of Nairobi, as the name itself says, was a swampy place and impossible to live in. It had always been so, but everything changed as soon as the British settlers decided to build a railway line. In order to shorten the distances between the first colony Mombasa and Uganda, they had to drain the swamps. This let a fertile plain come out and it became a nice place for settling. Nairobi started in the 19th century as a small village around a small station … hard to believe, today, as you look at its million bright lights!
Nairobi, a wild mountain capital
Nairobi is in the middle of a plateau, 1661 metres a.s.l. . Even the climate, here, is cool and nice, different from any other part of Kenya and Africa. The capital city is a mountain place and enjoys all the advantages of the situation: few rains, cold winters, not too hot summers. This allows people to live very well, in the city, and tourists to enjoy their stay.
It also allows nature to surround the city in full harmony, in fact Nairobi has its own National Park. The plain savannah that borders the city area lets wild animals live just a few kilometres from the outskirts. If you go safari at Nairobi National Park you might admire giraffes and elephants walk with the skyscrapers shining in the background. A unique vision, worth the experience!
What to see in Nairobi
If you stay in Nairobi, then “live” Nairobi thoroughly. Of course you should visit the National Park, and the Giraffes Sanctuary included in it, but try to also explore the city. You can visit the Karen Blixen Museum, dedicated to the author of the famous book “Out of Africa” which describes Kenya in a complete and impressive way. Or visit the Bomas Centre, a place where you can see the local tribes’ culture and learn about it by also meeting the people. The great statue of Jomo Kenyatta – the Father of the Nation – stands at the modern Kenyatta International Convention Centre.
More to see: Uhuru Park, Kenya National Museum, the Monument to Independence (Monument to Peace).
The Capital of Safari
Nairobi is also called “the Capital of Safari” because the tradition of the trips in the wild was invented right here. And from the capital start 90% of the African safaris, leading to the many important National Parks of Kenya. Not only you can find many tour operator planning and organizing your safari, over here, but you can also learn about the story of this tradition in the local museums. Most safaris starting from Nairobi go to Nairobi National Park, to Hell’s Gate Park, to Mt Kenya National Park and to Amboseli. But you can really choose your destination to every single region of Kenya, from here.
Nairobi has 3 airports and the most important one is Kenyatta International Airport. The city was born as a railway station and still has the most important station in East Africa, connected to many parts of the continent. You can use trains also to go from the city centre to the outskirts and the poor slums, outside. Train is a common urban means, so is the most economic bus, the best choice to move throughout the city.
BE CAREFUL if you must pass through or walk in the “slums“. Poor areas of Nairobi are also the most violent places, there.