Nairobi is a large, bustling, cosmopolitan city with excellent restaurants, cafes, shops, boutique hotels and modern hotels. The largest and most important financial, communication and business centre of East and Central Africa, the city bristles with modern glass offices, a bustling Central Business District, as well as elegant gardens, leafy suburbs and a perfect climate. A favourite posting for the international expat community, complete with world class schools and competent medical centres.
The name “Nairobi” comes from the Maasai phrase Enkare Nyrobi, which translates to “cold water”. The phrase is also the Maasai name of the Nairobi river, which in turn lent its name to the city. Nairobi is popularly known as the “Green City in the Sun” and is surrounded by several expanding villa suburbs.
Founded by the British in 1899 as a simple rail depot on the railway linking Mombasa to Uganda, the town quickly grew to become the capital of British East Africa in 1907, and eventually the capital of a free Kenyan republic in 1963. During Kenya’s colonial period, the city became a centre for the colony’s coffee, tea and sisal industry. The city lies on the Nairobi River, at an elevation of 1795 m above sea-level.
Nairobi is now one of the most prominent cities in Africa both politically, financially and culturally. Home to thousands of Kenyan businesses and over 100 major international companies and organisations, including the global Head Offices of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the main co-ordinating and headquarters for the UN in Africa & Middle East, the United Nations Office in Nairobi (UNON). The Nairobi Stock Exchange (NSE) is one of the largest in Africa and the second oldest exchange on the continent. It is Africa’s fourth largest exchange in terms of trading volume and capable of making 10 million trades a day.
On most safari itineraries guests will be in Nairobi for at least one meal, either on arrival or just before their departing international flight, but depending on international flight timings, some guests may have a bit more time. Here is some information we have collected, on the best places to stay in Nairobi, things to see, and our favourite places to eat. Enjoy!