Getting there British Airways and Virgin Atlantic fly direct daily from Heathrow to Nairobi. Kenya Airways offers two direct flights daily. Indirect options include Swiss, KLM, Brussels Airlines, Lufthansa, and Emirates. Nairobi's airport is located about 10 miles south-east of the city centre. Visas can be purchased upon arrival at the airport for £20 (single entry) or £30 (multiple entry). Have exact money ready and be patient as queues can be long. Taxis are available outside the arrivals hall, or better still, pre-book with a reliable car hire service.
Business climate Nairobi is Kenya's capital and largest city. Founded in 1899 as a rail depot linking Mombasa to Uganda, the town grew quickly to become the capital of British East Africa in 1905. Nairobi is now the most populous city in East Africa, with a population of more than three million people, one-third of whom live in slums. Home to many large companies and organisations, including the United Nations Environment Programme (Unep), Nairobi is an established business hub.
Etiquette Kenyans are conservative, formal, mild-mannered and extremely polite. Greet people by saying "jambo"; use "asante" for thank you. A smile and a handshake, albeit not firm, are appropriate. Always shake hands using the right hand and avoid prolonged eye contact. Do not offer expensive gifts. Service and hotel staff rely heavily on tips as wages are low.
Don't miss the Karen Blixen Museum, the Giraffe Centre, and Daphne Sheldrick's Elephant Orphanage. A bumpy two-hour drive away is Amboseli National Park, offering views of Mount Kilimanjaro, and Lake Nakuru National Park, which has fabulous safari options. Nairobi National Park, Kenya's first national park, is five miles south of the city centre.
Culture Pubs and karaoke bars can be found throughout Nairobi but beware of walking the streets at night. Some hotels may offer traditional dance venues. Shopping offers a rich array of locally made items such as wood sculptures, colourful hand-woven sisal baskets, Maasai beaded jewellery, gold and silver jewellery, musical instruments, tribal masks, batik cloth, and traditional kikois (sarongs).
Where to stay Five-star hotels are reasonably priced. Among them are the Holiday Inn Mayfair Court, which dates back to colonial Kenya; Laico Regency, offering conference facilities; Nairobi Safari Club, Kenya's only all-suite hotel; the elegant Nairobi Serena, which features sculptures in its lobby, and, for a special treat, the Giraffe Manor, famous for its resident herd of Rothschild Giraffe.
Eat like a local Try nyama choma, charcoal-grilled beef or goat meat, popular in authentic Kenyan restaurants and bars. Tea time is also customary. Although touristy, there's the open-air meat speciality restaurant Carnivore. Or try the Brazilian steak house, Fogo Gaucho. The Havana Bar & Restaurant, located in the entertainment area of Westlands, is popular with both Africans and expats. A pleasant option is the Karen Blixen Coffee Garden for an afternoon respite.