Nairobi Travel Guide
Introduction to Nairobi
Nairobi is the capital and largest city in Kenya. Commonly known as the ‘Green City in the Sun’, Nairobi lies on the Nairobi River and is surrounded by several villa suburbs, including the notorious Kibera slum with an estimated population of 170,000 people, while the entire city’s population sits at around 3 million.
Founded by the British in 1899 as a modest rail depot linking Mombasa to Uganda, the town rapidly grew to become the capital of British East Africa in 1907, and finally the capital of a free Kenyan republic in 1963. During Kenya's colonial period, the city was a centre for the colony's coffee and tea industry. The city is blessed with lots of green space; from the Nairobi National Park to the lush spaces within the city limits such as Central Park, Uhuru Park, Jeevanjee Gardens and Nairobi Arboretum. The parks are a great place to come and relax after a night out enjoying the lively Nairobi club scene.
The Nairobi-Mombasa line is one of the world's most famous rail journeys. Taking this journey is like stepping back in time on a leisurely (it’s slow and is starting to show its age) steam ride, but a first-class ticket will get you your own cabin with 2 bunks and a vanity sink, a 3-course dinner and a hot breakfast on tables laid with white tablecloths and vintage china.
Nowhere says Africa like the Rift Valley, located just an hour outside Nairobi, with its savannah, geology, fauna and its status as the 'cradle of human life'. The Rift's steep sides and wide plains are at their most dramatic on a clear day when you can see for hundreds of miles right down to Tanzania. Speaking of views, the Ngong Hills, located to the west of the city, are a standout feature of the Nairobi area. Then there’s Mount Kenya, situated north of Nairobi, and Mount Kilimanjaro is towards the southeast. If you’re lucky, on a clear day both mountains are visible from the city.