Kenya's capital city, Nairobi, is served by the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport - the largest and busiest airport in East and Central Africa. As the major travel hub for East and Central Africa, Nairobi has been dubbed the Safari Capital of Africa and is also the main commercial and cultural centre in the region. Flying to Nairobi is often your cheapest option for getting to other destinations in the region, especially if you're coming from or via Europe. Nairobi is also the cheaper option from North America, travelling via European cities, and from Australia, flying via Asian or Middle Eastern hubs.
Arriving in Kenya you will fly into the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NBO), located about 18 km east of Nairobi. The airport to city transfer takes about 15 to 25 minutes or longer, depending on the notorious traffic flow. For most nationalities you can fill out visa applications before arriving and get your visitors visa on arrival at the airport, paying in cash (about USD50) with most major currencies and avoiding long queues. This convenience does not however apply to all nationalities or multiple entry visas (about USD100) which need to be obtained at an embassy back home - be sure to check.
If you plan to travel between December to March (peak season) you will need to book well in advance and can expect flights to be more expensive than during the rainy season when availability is better.
From the airport you can catch a taxi to the city for about USD20 - first agree on a price. Alternatively you can hire a car, with rentals at about USD70 per day. Private transfers and public buses also operate at the airport. The bus is your cheapest option (under 5USD), but there are no dedicated stowing areas for your luggage and the bus stops in the city centre, from where you will need to take a taxi. Unlike taxi services and private airport transfers, buses don't run throughout the night.
The Wilson Airport, south of Nairobi, serves as a hub for reasonably priced domestic flights with various airlines, including Airkenya which also flies to Kilimanjaro International Airport in Tanzania. Several budget airlines, such as Fly540, also fly from Jomo Kenyatta to local and regional destinations, as well as Kenya Airways.
Catching a train from Nairobi Railway Station is an affordable option, with daily trips running between Nairobi and Mombasa and Kisumu. First and second class passages offer sleeper coaches and there is also a general class for the intrepid on an extreme budget. Tickets can be purchased in Nairobi or online. Another affordable and reliable means of travelling overland is to take a bus from Nairobi to other cities in Kenya, but this is a slow and often cramped way of getting about. Long-haul bus and shuttle services run from the Nairobi airport to a number of popular tourist destinations, including Arusha in northern Tanzania.
The Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi is one of Africa's biggest and busiest airports. This is the largest and busiest airport in East and Central Africa, with weekly traffic averaging at over 2000 international departures and over 300 domestic flights. Kenya's principal airport, Jomo Kenyatta handles more than 5 million passengers annually. The airport lies about 15 km south-east of the Nairobi city centre and is named after Kenya's first president.
There are about 55 airlines operating at Jomo Kenyatta International, offersing direct flights to and from some 67 cities worldwide. These airlines offer direct flights between the Nairobi International Airport and major hubs in Europe, the Middle and Far East and some 50 countries on the African continent. Airlines include Ethiopian Airlines, Air France, Air Kenya, British Airways, Egypt Air, Etihad Airways, Fly Emirates, Kenya Airways, KLM, Lufthansa, Qatar Airways, Swiss International Airlines and Turkish Airlines.
Kenya Airways is the national airline, travelling from and to destinations across Europe, the Asia-Pacific area and Africa, as well as within Kenya itself. Several domestic airlines offer affordable flights from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport to game parks and other cities in Kenya, as well as offering competitively priced flights to Arusha, Dar es Salaam and Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.
The main terminal consists of three zones - two for international flights and one for domestic flights. Taxis, buses, private shuttle services and car rentals are available at the airport.
Visiting the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, next door to the Nairobi National Park, is a must in Nairobi. Get up close to young elephants at this successful wildlife sanctuary that rescues and rehabilitates orphaned elephants.
See and even touch endangered Rothschild giraffes on an educational tour of the Agatha Giraffe Centre in the suburbs of Nairobi. Giraffes are raised here for release back into the wild where possible.
Shop at bustling African markets like City, Kenyatta or Maasai, or splurge at upmarket malls like Galleria or Panari Sky Center. Stop at Jamia Mosque, Chapel Church, All Saints Cathedral and Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Hindu Temple or head to the top of the Kenyatta Conference Centre for spectacular views over Nairobi. Pop in at Nairobi's art galleries, including Banana Hill for East African art and highly-rated Nairobi Gallery.
Spot an array of wildlife at close range with Nairobi city as the unusual backdrop. This compact park makes a fantastic day or half-day trip from Nairobi city, especially for packing in the wildlife sightings. Nairobi National park hosts wildebeest, zebra, antelope, buffalo, lion, giraffe, baboon and white rhino, as well as lots of birds.
The Karen Blixen Museum and its peaceful gardens are located on the fringes of Nairobi where the authoress of 'Out of Africa' lived, offering an interesting journey back into colonial times. The African Heritage House, home of Alan Donovan, is a treasure trove of African art and collectibles.
At the Nairobi National Museum you can discover more about not only the history and culture of Kenya, but also the evolution of mankind. Other places of historical interest include the National Archives and the Railway Museum.
Nairobi has a reputation for its lively nightlife, with pulsating dance clubs, popular bars, lounges and a thriving music scene. Enjoy a local cocktail on the roof top at Sankara or on the manicured lawns of the Norfolk Hotel, among many ideal spots for a sundowner. There's also the Imax movie option and several excellent restaurants or the casino.
For some nostalgic British colonial relaxation have high tea in a leafy garden at Muthaiga Country Club, Windsor Golf and Country Club, Mukutan Garden Cafe, Hemingways or one of the other grand old hotels in Nairobi. The renowned Carnivore restaurant is for the meat lovers, serving tasty dishes from crocodile and lamb to pork and ostrich. This cosmopolitan city proffers up a diverse culinary range in some fine establishments.
For a little peace and quite in nature, take a walk to the lovely waterfall in Karura Forest Reserve or drive into the Ngong Hills overlooking the Rift Valley. Walk the Oloolua Nature Trail to cave and waterfall through dense forest for some bird watching and quiet nature time.
Take a guided tour into one of the townships or slums, among the biggest being Kibera, to gain insight into what contemporary life is like for many Kenyan people.