When to fly
If you’re travelling to Nairobi to visit the magnificent Nairobi National Park then you may want to book flights during the high season, which is July through March. This is when over 100,000 visitors come to catch a glimpse of the Kenyan wildlife in its natural habitat. It’s best to avoid the rainy months of March to May and October to December. In addition, when you plan your visit to the Park you may want to book a tour early or late in the day as these are the best viewing times. The animals tend to be asleep in the midday sun.
While for many Nairobi is a transit point on the way to a safari holiday, the city has many attractions in its own right. These include the Nairobi National Park, where lions, cheetahs, black rhinos, giraffes, zebra and wildebeest can be seen against the backdrop of the city skyline. Tourists may also want to visit the Giraffe Centre, a breeding and educational centre for the Rothschild Giraffe, and Dame Sheldrick’s Elephant and Rhino Orphanage. Further out, the Ol Donyo Sabuk National Park is centred around a mountain forest where you can see many primates and birds.
Nairobi National Museum contains many interesting exhibits, including discoveries by the Leakey family. The Karen Blixen Museum commemorates the author of the same name, whose books included ‘Out of Africa’.
Nairobi is a commercial city, and a visit to see life taking place in the business district is a must. The city’s buildings seem very Westernised, with skyscrapers and a range of corporate names emblazoned on restaurants and cafés. But the life that takes place in these surroundings is anything but. Spend some time shopping for souvenirs and you’ll soon encounter a typical African culture.
Almost at 6,000 feet (1.8km), Nairobi has sunny, warm summers and cool winters with chilly evenings. December to March is the sunniest part of the year, and daytime temperatures are usually in the mid-20s. June, July, and August temperatures usually range about the low-20s. August and September, though, are marked with overcast, drizzly days.The warm and dry climate during January and February make it a popular time to visit so finding cheap flights during this period is difficult. Nairobi, therefore this is the main tourist season. During the day you can expect temperatures on average to be in the mid-20s. June to September is another popular time, as this is when the area is at its driest and temperatures are slightly cooler but still around the low 20s.The two wet seasons make up the off tourist period in Nairobi. These are March to May and October to December, with the most rain in April and May. Although you may encounter some rain during these times, temperatures are still high in the mid-20s. The city is much quieter and you are more likely to find cheap flights and better accommodation rates during these months.
Getting around Nairobi
Car hire is an option in Nairobi, but rush hours are extremely busy and other road users can drive riskily. The lack of road signs can make navigating difficult. Prices should be agreed beforehand with taxis. Matatus are public minibuses operating between the city centre and suburbs; they can be overcrowded, poorly driven and theft is a concern.
Visitors should always keep valuables out of sight, especially if travelling on matatus, and stay alert for thieves and scams. Large amounts of money should not be carried and walking around at night is not recommended - use taxis where possible. Slums and areas such as Eastleigh should be avoided.
Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NBO) is the main airport in Nairobi. It is located about 9 miles (15 km) from the central business district. Wilson Airport is a smaller airport serving mainly domestic destinations. Pre-paid vouchers for official taxis (yellow or with a yellow line) can be obtained at the taxi service desk. Many hotels also offer airport pick-up. Other shuttle services and taxis can be reserved in advance but check their reputation before booking.