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fanny packrat
Mar 24, 2018


Does anyone have any tips/advice/recommendations for a first time traveler to Nairobi? I'll be there for three weeks this summer doing research, staying in Eastleigh. This will also be my first trip to Africa so any general wisdom is appreciated, to the extent that there can be "general wisdom" about Africa.

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Blinkman987
Jul 10, 2008

Gender roles guilt me into being fat.


Was just there a few months ago for about a week, and I've been to Africa before, though that was my first trip to that region. I had not visited Eastleigh as I had no need to and fun fact, it's currently on the US Dept of State "Don't travel there" list.

Overall, my impression of Nairobi is that it felt like a truly African city but also reasonably safe in the areas I stayed in, in contrast to Cape Town and Lagos respectively. I don't know what your travel experience is so I apologize in advance if any of this comes off as condescending. If you've traveled a decent amount to a variety of non-western countries, you'll find nothing out of the ordinary in terms of infrastructure. If you've only traveled to extremely (relatively) rich countries, you might have some adjusting to do and this could be a wonderful trip for you to see what another area of the world is like.

First question-- are you white? If you're white, you're very clearly foreign and it's not like the city is a huge draw for western tourists to begin with. Upside-- no one will ever think you're a terrorist, domestic or foreign. Downside-- you'll be targeted for all the standard travel scams.

Uber exists and is very useful, but you'll want a local phone number for it as all the drivers want to call you. Addresses are imperfect so research your routes thoroughly and try to help with Google Maps if you can.
Traffic can be absolute hell in the city, and I say this as someone who lives in Los Angeles. Plan your travel carefully.
This isn't a modern Western city, though it has parts of that flavor. Like you'll see a mall with western electronics for sale while you're stuck in traffic because some cattle grazing on the shoulder of the interstate highway got loose. Be prepared for that mix, as well as getting into some areas that are very run down.
Kenya has a huge music scene. Try to get out to hear some live music.
It's technically a yellow fever zone so you'll want the vaccine, which is currently in short supply so plan to get it well in advance. If you travel to Tanzania, for example, most of the time they'll want to see your yellow fever card when you land. When I landed in Jeddah from Nairobi, nobody gave a poo poo about the yellow fever card. From what I read, it's hit or miss.
Cell coverage was actually pretty decent in the city. Nairobi itself has a nice startup tech industry.
Before you go somewhere, make sure you research which neighborhood it's in. I took a cab to one bar which was highly recommended on some standard western travel site and when we got there, the cab driver and I looked at each other and simultaneously said "you're not getting out here."
The political situation was pretty dicey when I was there, and it seems to have only gotten more tense since then. The area around the state houses was mostly locked down when I visited.
Speaking of Tanzania, you're very close to it! I don't know what your budget is for extra travel, but the Serengeti is right there and so is Kilimanjaro. Though note that flying from country to country within Africa is comparably quite expensive to flying around in Europe.
The Sheldrick Wildlife Trust was my favorite experience. I got to pet a baby elephant.

fanny packrat
Mar 24, 2018


Great, thanks for the info!

Yeah, I am very aware of what the State Department has to say about Eastleigh, but it's where my research is, so here's hoping I don't get pwned too hard. I don't plan on doing any other travel (limited funding, not that I'm complaining), but I may try to go on a safari while I'm there. I'm not too into it, but it'll make my girlfriend's mom extremely jealous, and a friend who goes to Nairobi monthly said it's worth doing once.

Did you eat anywhere particularly memorable?

Saladman
Jan 12, 2010


Well, thereís Carnivore which you canít miss if youíre not a vegetarian.

I spent 4 days in Nairobi about 10 years ago. It was the first sub Saharan and first ęthird world†Ľ country I had been to and I was surprised at how modern and clean it was, at least in downtown and the rich suburbs. They had a huge cleanup campaign while I was there with tons of new trash and recycling bins everywhere so I hope that was not a temporary fad, as I have since been to a serial other African and N/S American cities that were strewn with trash piles everywhere.

Make sure to do something notable while there even if you donít have the money. Unless you think youíll also be going back regularly like your friend.

Weaponized Autism
Mar 26, 2006

All aboard the Gravy train!

Blinkman987 posted:

Was just there a few months ago for about a week, and I've been to Africa before, though that was my first trip to that region. I had not visited Eastleigh as I had no need to and fun fact, it's currently on the US Dept of State "Don't travel there" list.

Overall, my impression of Nairobi is that it felt like a truly African city but also reasonably safe in the areas I stayed in, in contrast to Cape Town and Lagos respectively. I don't know what your travel experience is so I apologize in advance if any of this comes off as condescending. If you've traveled a decent amount to a variety of non-western countries, you'll find nothing out of the ordinary in terms of infrastructure. If you've only traveled to extremely (relatively) rich countries, you might have some adjusting to do and this could be a wonderful trip for you to see what another area of the world is like.



Where exactly did you stay in Nairobi? I'm planning a trip myself (US citizen, indian) for next year. From what I've read there actually does seem to be a large Indian population there so I'm hoping that won't be an issue, especially with me being vegetarian.

Things I want to go see:
National Park
Sheldrick Wildlife Trust
Maybe some of the village markets?

theflyingorc
Jun 28, 2008

THE REPUBLICAN DEFENDER HAS LOGGED ON


Young Orc

I'm on my way there next week, and it looks like the roll of the dice i took on cheap plane tickets is going to bite me - lots of rain. Is the rain this late in the we season an all-day affair, or is it more like "2 hours in the afternoon"?

Also, how safe are the city markets? I've heard that the streets are bad in general at night, but are those fine during the day?

Blinkman987
Jul 10, 2008

Gender roles guilt me into being fat.


I didnít eat anywhere memorable. I passed on carnivore as Iíve done the gimmick game meat thing elsewhere and I regularly travel to areas with excellent steakhouses, but people seem to like it a lot.

I stayed at the Hilton downtown which was an old building whose time had clearly passed but was still reasonable by western standards, excellent by Nairobi standards. It was also safe in that area by my experience but at the same time itís actively policed.

The market we visited seemed fine but ymmv

Didnít do the National Park since we were going on safari for a week after Nairobi, but everything about it looked good if youíre not going to the Serengeti.

Blinkman987 fucked around with this message at May 20, 2018 around 18:59

Saladman
Jan 12, 2010


theflyingorc posted:

I'm on my way there next week, and it looks like the roll of the dice i took on cheap plane tickets is going to bite me - lots of rain. Is the rain this late in the we season an all-day affair, or is it more like "2 hours in the afternoon"?

I guess you've already found out, but many countries have "short rainy season" and "long rainy season" which doesn't mean the season itself is longer or shorter, but it means the rains within those seasons are longer or shorter. That is, "short rainy season" means thunderstorm/downbursts and then clear skies, while "long rainy season" is more like summers in the southern United States where it will pour rain for hours and then drizzle the rest of the day.

Looks like you're in the tail end of "long rainy season" for Nairobi so maybe you'll get lucky and they won't really be long rains.

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theflyingorc
Jun 28, 2008

THE REPUBLICAN DEFENDER HAS LOGGED ON


Young Orc

Saladman posted:

I guess you've already found out, but many countries have "short rainy season" and "long rainy season" which doesn't mean the season itself is longer or shorter, but it means the rains within those seasons are longer or shorter. That is, "short rainy season" means thunderstorm/downbursts and then clear skies, while "long rainy season" is more like summers in the southern United States where it will pour rain for hours and then drizzle the rest of the day.

Looks like you're in the tail end of "long rainy season" for Nairobi so maybe you'll get lucky and they won't really be long rains.

I didn't actually know that.

We had one day of really heavy rain, but the rest of the time was clear. Perfect weather with views of Kilimanjaro down in Amboseli National Park.

Nairobi itself isn't super great, but Kenya's pretty wonderful outside of the city. Had a great time.

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