Nairobi Travel Blog

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We flew in to Kenya on Kenyan Air, and it was every bit as nice as Virgin Atlantic, maybe even a bit nicer.  No problems on the flight, good meals, free drinks, etc.  Getting in to Kenya was terribly easy, the Visa/Customs pass through took about 10 minutes, and for some reason the Visa only cost half as much as we were expecting.  Before we made it out of customs (where you become fair game for all the touts that want to drive you to the hotel that gives them a kickback for bringing you in) I asked at the airline's help counter if they could get us in to a hotel.  They sent us out and upstairs and we met up with someone who I thought worked for the airline, but turns out worked for some random tour company.
  She started showing us hotels that ran over $200 per night and I explained that we were looking for more "middle of the road" accommodations.  I settled for paying $115 total  for a hotel that probably would have ran about $20 in Thailand and a private car to the front door of the hotel.  Nairobi has a bad reputation for robbery and crime, so it didn't seem terrible to pay extra for a safe place and to not have to navigate the bus system with our big bags and after not sleeping or showering for 2+ days.  As I write this now, I don't feel too bad about it.  Day one for me in a new country is usually an expensive day because I'm more concerned with just taking a damn shower and less for bargain hunting.
  Plus, day one is always the day when i have the most money. We ended up sleeping from when we got in around 9am until about 3pm, and only got up because at some point we knew we had to eat, and it gets dark at 6pm, and you don't want to be out roaming around blindly after dark here.
    As far as Nairobi goes, I'd describe it as on average slightly less developed than Bangkok, but much much better off than Kathmandu.  The driving here is hectic, but I've seen far far worse.  They do have well marked lanes, traffic lights and roundabouts, but these things act mostly as suggestions for getting around rather than strict rules of the road.  Still, at no point during the time that we were zipping around in pretty bad traffic was I concerned.
  Nairobi does not have the "might makes right" approach to traffic like Nepal did (i.e. the bigger vehicle always has right of way because if you get in its way it will demolish you).  The people walking around (there are lots of them) are all dressed very nice, most wearing dress pants and button up collared shirts.  The city center during the day felt at least as safe as a city in the US, but i could see how the outskirts of town at night may get a bit rough.  English is spoken everywhere and by everyone, and all the signs are in English, so there is no language barrier to navigate.  We learned and got to use a few of the basic Swahili greetings tho, just to feel a bit more involved.
      I somewhat suspected that the guy who drove us to the hotel was going to be hanging out waiting for us so that he could take us to the tour company that he worked for so he could keep earning commissions, and I was right.
  I know that in places where tourism is a major source of income, people try to get a hold of you and walk you through every experience, so that they can reap as much benefit from the money you are spending as possible.  It's not necessarily a bad thing, especially if they actually provide solid help.  I was weary of how this guy (his name is Johnston) was going to be, but he turned out to be pretty helpful.  MJ and I left the hotel with the intention of walking around and maybe finding a bus ticket to take us closer to Kili the next morning, but when we ran in to Johnston he took us to the city center area and sure enough to the office of his tour company.  There we met Ben, whose nickname was "the Doctor" and we talked about what we wanted to do.  Thanks to the Doc, we now have our Kili plans all set up, and for much much less than I was expecting to pay.  After feeling like we had overpaid for the hotel, saving a lot on the trek was very reassuring.  I am very glad that we did not set up the trip in the US, the price for the trek is almost 50% less than what I had found on the internet while still in the states.  We leave tomorrow morning, drive to the town of Arusha in Tanzania, stay the night there, and start hiking on Wednesday. If all goes well, we should be on the summit to see the sun rise on Saturday morning, and be sleeping back in the town of Arusha on Sunday night, ready for whatever we decide is next.
     Now that we had taken care of business it was time to eat.  I felt like I could indulge a little after saving so much on the trek, so MJ the vegetarian and I hopped in the car with Johnston and went to this restaurant named "Carnivore".  This place has been voted amongst the top 50 restaurants in the world on a few occasions, and it's famous for serving up all kinds of meat (including wild game meat) until you can't stand to eat any more.  I couldn't not go there, and I know that MJ secretly really wants to eat meat, so she "reluctantly" agreed to go.  The place was about 15km outside of town, and on the way in you have to drive through a security checkpoint manned with multiple guards.  A few minutes past the checkpoint you pull up to the front, and you see a place that looks like it is going to have a "Rainforest Cafe" like ambiance without the crappy animatronic animals.  You walk in and discover that the place is huge, with large seating areas inside and outside.  On the way in you pass by the large barbecue, and you get to smell all the different types of meat that you are about to eat.  Tonight's "exotic" meets included ostrich meatballs, crocodile and camel.  There was also a selection of more familiar items such as roast pork, roast beef, chicken, sausage, etc.  The menu is buffet style, and for just under 2,000 (about $25) Kenyan schillings you get soup, salad, potato, all you can eat meat, desert and coffee.  South African red wine to go with the meal is pretty cheap and tasty, and they had some regularly priced cocktails as well, margaritas, daiquiris, etc..  Hands down the best meat was the ostrich meatballs.  The crocodile was better than alligator I've had - usually alligator comes deep fried and breaded so you don't get much meat taste.  This may not sound appealing, but the crocodile tasted like a fishy-chicken.  I'd certainly eat it again but it wouldn't be my first choice.  The camel was the blandest meat, more of a good story than a good food.  Everything else was very good, and the numerous sauces they give you to pair with the meats made for some great taste combinations.  During the desert, I thought for a few minutes that i had eaten so much that I may actually have to go vomit, but thanks to years of drinking too much I was able to focus and get my stomach under control and avoid such an unpleasant end to the evening.
    So now all we have to do is get up early and hop on a bus.  The Kili climb is all set, and I'll send out another email once we are back down in Tanzania and have figured out what our next step is.  Part of me wants to get to Durban quickly so that I can be there for every game.  I'm getting more excited for the World Cup than for any of the other things we are doing.  I've been studying players and teams so that I will sound less like an idiot when I am talking to people from around the world who actually have games broadcast in their countries, and I think I'll be able to hold my own,  especially for an American.
missandrea81 says:
I'm very jealous that you get to be there. Thanks for this blog.
Posted on: Jul 07, 2010
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Nairobi Hotels & Accommodations review
The hotel itself is average - small rooms, lukewarm water in the shower, crusty decor - but the location was less than stellar and the price was way t… read entire review
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