A lot of people tend to get surprised when they visit Nairobi for their first time. I must say that Nairobi is the best place in the world for safaris. Whether you are a foreigner or a Kenyan who has been living in other Kenyan cities and it’s your first time to visit Nairobi, these are some of the crazy and annoying things you need to know.
Nairobi traffic is crazy. So don’t be shocked when you spend hours stuck in traffic. Even Nairobians got used to it. The main reason for that is because, we are in a developing country and as you move around you will see massive constructions going on. You will find that some of the key roads have been closed and this even makes it worse. Approximately, you may end up spending 3 to 4 hours for a journey that could even take you thirty minutes to arrive at your destination. But that just for the time being and as soon as the road construction is complete, we hope that things will be better.
Many people especially Europeans and Americans think that simply because Kenya lies on the equator, Nairobi is hot. Well, that’s a whole misconception. The weather in Nairobi varies depending on the time of the year. Like right now it’s June and it is extremely cold. Not the coldness in places like Canada but for a typical Kenyan, it is cold. Usually, the cold season takes two months, that is June and July. Then August and September are usually hot. It is usually the best time to go for safaris because there is no rain, I mean who would want to get rained on when on a safari? But there are also other fun things you can do in Nairobi if the weather favors you. The city is huge so make sure you explore.
Nairobi is a city of about more than 4 million people living there and young people constitute to the highest percentage of the population. So, when in Nairobi especially downtown, expect to see people running up and down and this are some of the places where you need to be extra careful because you might end up losing you belongings. Things like phones get snatched so if it is your first time make sure you walk around with a local who knows how to maneuver the streets of downtown Nairobi. That doesn’t apply to the rest of the city because it is a big city and there are other places where you can have some good time.
4. Security checks.
You will notice that every time you are entering a building especially shopping malls or public institution you get frisked. This may seem abnormal to people from the western countries. It is not a way of disrespecting you but it is a measure that the government has put in place to combat terror attacks, like the one that happened in Westgate shopping mall in 2013. But we are happy the security is now tight and Nairobi is as safe as any other European city. Fell at home!
I don’t know how to frame this but these are challenges developing countries are facing. As you walk on the streets of Nairobi, people will ask you to give them some coins. It is a stereotype that people here have towards white people. They think that if you are from Europe or America, you are automatically rich. So be wise and if the person asking for money is aggressive, find a polite way of saying no. This is not a challenge only foreigners face, but the local people also face it but they have mastered how to deal with that.
Otherwise, Nairobi is diverse with loving and happy people. It is also the economic hub of east and central Africa, so it is as modern as other cities in the developed world.