Wednesday, September 19, 2012

A visit to Kenya's capital

The road up to Nairobi once again started out pretty bumpy. In fact we found it easier to use “side roads” instead of the road as it was quicker and had less impact on Ruth (the side roads are just tracks resulting from vehicle use overtime). As we got closer to Nairobi (from Narok Road) the road did improve significantly. It is perhaps worthwhile mentioning here that only weeks before we arrived, Maasai Mara tour drivers had actually gone on strike for two full days over the state of the road. From what we were told, no one was allowed in or out of the park. The result was that the government of Kenya had six weeks to make a start on improving the road before further protests. See what happens!
The road to Nairobi?? Hhhmm!

We were told lots of stories about the roads in Nairobi and were expecting the worst only to find them actually quite civilised. We headed directly to Jungle Junction, an unsigned haven for self-drive overlanders and backpackers near the centre of town. Jungle Junction was great; if offers camping, dorms and rooms all at very reasonable rates and the owner, Chris, is full of information and was very helpful regarding car matters (

I found Nairobi to be one of the nicer Africa cities we had been to, nothing like it had been described to us "Nairobbery", although admittedly we didn’t venture far from the better parts of town. We did head into the city centre one day, however it was a weekend so probably not as crazy as busy as it would normally be. It was also surprisingly cold. I don’t know why but I’ve always pictured Nairobi to be hot, however given its 1500m+ altitude, it makes sense that it’s not so warm.

In the city centre we visited the Kenyatta International Conference Centre which offers a great view of the city from the top of its tower. 

Kenyatta International Conference Centre
View of Nairobi city centre from Kenyatta International Conference Centre
Much greener than I expected!
.....and me!
More of Nairobi
The building from where we had our great views
Evidence of the colonial influence left behind
We also checked out a couple of the local malls which offer significant evidence of a growing Kenyan middle class as well as the strong expat community there. The malls were amazing despite the rigorous security checks required before one can enter them.

Westgate Shopping Mall
Evidence of the ever growing middle class in Africa
One of our afternoons in Nairobi we headed out to the Karen Blixen Museum which is definitely worth checking out! Neither Mike nor I (I’m embarrassed to say) had read any of her books or seen the movie “Out of Africa”; I definitely think it would have helped to have this background. But the tour guides are great and when I left I was keen to at least see the move. From memory entrance into the museum was around $8pp, so pretty reasonable.

Karen Blixen Museum....

....and old colonial house
Set on large grounds

In Nairobi we also ate extremely well with visits to Artcaffe as well as a much anticipated BBQ meal at "Fogo Gaucho" Steak House and Lounge Bar. We had actually planned on eating at the famed “Carnivores” well known in the past for its variety of exotic meats on offer, e.g. Giraffe, hippo, zebra, etc. Carnivores haven’t been offering these choices for a while however we both thought that they would still have a reasonable selection of game meats. However it turns out that this is not the case, with beef and chicken the standard fare but at exuberant prices. Given this information we opted for "Fogo Gaucho" Steak House and Lounge Bar, a Brazilian style of BBQ with an awesome salad bar, leaving both Mike and I very happy J

Mike waiting for his coffee :-)

Anyone for meat??
Happy customer :-)

We only spent a few days in Nairobi and I would say that’s enough. I really enjoyed the little luxuries it offered, but at the end of the day it is just another city and we had sun and sand on Kenya’s coast calling us.


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