Nairobi, the capital of Kenya and the business capital of East Africa, is one of the most dangerous cities in Africa. It’s often called “Nairobbery” due to all the car-jackings, kidnappings and armed robberies. And let’s not forget the rapes, terrorist attacks, violence, explosions in public places and police corruption.
My time in Nairobi was very brief and unenjoyable. One night, a group of us went out to dinner and even though the restaurant was really close, we were advised to absolutely not walk there at night, so we took an overpriced taxi. Two too many of us squeezed into a taxi van and some armed guards at a hotel saw this, stopped us, yelled at us and threatened us, with their fingers on the triggers of their AK-47s. But they were mostly yelling at me because I happened to be the closest to them. I was already having a really bad day, so I really wasn’t in the mood and I was furious because I knew they were just trying to unnecessarily intimidate us to get a bribe. Our driver ended up yelling at and shaming the guards because their actions were really bad for tourism, so we got away without paying a bribe. That same night, one of the girls got into a taxi alone and the driver started taking her 45 minutes outside of the city, in the opposite direction she wanted to go. She realized this, so she called him on it and ended up having to yell at him so he would turn around and take her where she wanted. Luckily, he complied, but that could’ve ended really badly for her.
Nairobi is also very expensive and a complete rip-off of a city, especially by East African standards, which is also why it’s fair to call the city Nairobbery. It’s one of the worst cities and countries for souvenir shopping. $500USD was asked for the purchase of a crappy carved wooden bowl at a crappy tourist shop (this is common in Kenya, in general- they honestly believe that $500USD is nothing to westerners) and a crappy hotel tried to charge me $70 to do just the basics of my laundry, so I did my washing in the sink.
But some people love Nairobi, so if you want to give it a chance, here is the need to know:
- Don’t go out at night alone, but if you do go out, take a taxi, no matter how short the distance.
- When you’re out during the day, walk with confidence and purpose.
- The traffic, particularly rush hour, is horrendous and can take hours to go a few kilometres
- Nairobi is known to have good nightlife.