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Getting acquainted with Nairobi

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By Evelyn Masaba

Whispers about realisation of Julius Nyerere’s East African integration dream into one borderless region are making rounds across the region. The concept of freely travelling through Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania the way you travel from Kampala into another district without a stopover for visa checks and approvals is definitely tantalizing.

What best way to enjoy this freedom than by learning more about these East African countries? A lot of the region’s citizens have not gone past the borders of their home countries, yet it is not expensive.

A good example would be when travelling from Uganda to Kenya; a bus ride from Kampala to Nairobi is estimated to cost Ugs80,000 and you pay the same amount when coming back, depending on which bus you use.

If you are a first timer in Nairobi and want to enjoy the city as much as you can, what do you do?

First off, if you plan on having a busy day 1 in Nairobi, it is important that you book your accommodation prior. For a seamless experience, it is best to book online with platforms such as Jumia Travel. If you have family members in the city, plan with them for accommodation, not forgetting to organise for bus station pickup. Catch the evening bus at 7pm, which will arrive in Nairobi at around 6am the following day.

After a few hours of well deserved rest, start off your itinerary, having planned on what you would be doing for your holiday in Nairobi.
Get acquainted
It is always best to learn more about your new environment in order for you to easily access the city. Learn some of the best footpaths you can use back to your hotel or home. If you will be using public transport; note that buses are the best mode of transportation since boda bodas (motorcycles) are not allowed in the Central Business District, which has helped decongest the city though you might find them along the roads.
Look around to know the city streets and where they lead to, which is best done on foot with a guide. The city usually has citywalk tours conducted daily to help first time visitors get acquainted with Nairobi; join them and bring a camera along.
Nairobi National Park
Known as the ‘World’s Wildlife Capital’ Nairobi rules with the serene beauty bestowed by the Nairobi National Park, which lies in the backdrop of the city’s iconic scrapers; bringing a sense of wild beauty to Nairobi.
The Park is home to a variety of wildlife that include leopards, rhinos, giraffes, and cheetahs, among many others. There are buses that take the route leading to the park, so it is not hard for you to access it. You can also have the hotel help you find a guide to ease your exploration.
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Kibera
Slum tourism has risen higher than anticipated around the world, and there’s no better way to see it firsthand than visiting one of Africa’s largest slums located in Kenya. Just right out of the city centre, you will find Kibera with so many shanty makeshift houses for thousands of people who call it home. Nairobi is a metropolis growing at a very fast rate and with that comes many cons to it, which will always include areas like slums no matter how much effort the concerned authorities make to create cheaper housing. It is best to have a guide with you and carry nothing that can be easily snatched away from you.
Carnivore Langata
Why move all the way from Uganda and not pass by one of the largest open air restaurants in Kenya? The Carnivore, as its name states, would not be good for you if you are a vegetarian since all you will find is meat and more meat. The most intriguing would be crocodile meat, which most people are quite curious about. The restaurant also serves up game meats, including ostrich and buffalo. These exotic delicacies will cost you about Ugs60,000 but then again, nothing worth experiencing comes easy.
The nightlife
Day Five in Nairobi should be when you rest up and get ready for a wonderful night ahead. Our neighbours next door are as hyped about their nightlife as Ugandans are, so expect an array of nightclubs to choose from or maybe head straight to a bar near you and sip a cold beer or two. The most popular places include Havana, Club Cubano, Klub House, K1, New Florida Club and Pavement, among many others. You will find the clubs’ setting similar to those in Kampala, with DJs mixing music and drinks flowing throughout the night, depending on how much money you have. You are advised to carry a copy of your passport, just in case of any emergencies.
Shopping at the Maasai Market
If you are looking for unique statement pieces made by local artists, do not go further than the Maasai Market and, no, it is not run by the Maasai tribe. You will find different craft pieces and if you have a knack for languages, make sure to speak in Kiswahili or the prices will automatically hike. Bargain as hard as you always do in Luganda and make sure to not easily part with your money before examining the merchandise properly.

Nairobi is a buzzing city that you will need to visit more than twice to get the full feel of it. It grows by the day and you cannot exhaust it in a week; there are restaurants to visit, parks to walk through and people to meet.

The writer is the public relations manager at Jumia Travel in Uganda. Travel.jumia.com is Africa’s No.1 hotel booking website, allowing you to get the best prices for more than 25,000 hotels in Africa and more than 200,000 hotels around the world.
Jumia Travel has offices in Lagos, Accra, Dakar, Abidjan, Algiers, Douala, Kampala, Dar Es Salaam, Nairobi, Addis Ababa, Porto and Paris.
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