Kenya's capital is cosmopolitan, lively, interesting and pleasantly landscaped. Its central business district is handily compact and it's a great place to tune into modern urban African life. Unfortunately, it's also a great place to get mugged. Security, especially at night, is a definite concern.
Originally little more than a swampy watering hole for Maasai tribes, Nairobi grew with the advent of the railway and had became a substantial town by 1900. Five years later it succeeded Mombasa as the capital of the British protectorate. Today it's the largest city between Cairo and Johannesburg.
Like most cities, Nairobi has its crowded market, trading and transport areas, its middle class/office workers' suburbs and its spacious mansions and flower-decked gardens for the rich and powerful. The first is an area full of energy, aspirations and opportunism where manual workers, exhausted matatu (minibus) drivers, the unemployed, the devious, the down-and out and the disoriented mingle with budget travellers, whores, shopkeepers, high-school students, food vendors, drowsy security guards and those with life's little illicit goodies for sale. Centrally located, it's called River Road, and even if you're not staying in the area it's worth a look.
Facts for the traveller
Off the beaten track