Planning a trip to Kenya? Take note that since 1 January 2021, it is mandatory to have a Kenya visa before arrival. Many tourists who want to tour Kenya arrive at the airport of Nairobi. This city is located near several national parks and is therefore the perfect base for a safari. However, it is also worth spending a few days in the capital itself.
Metropolis with great contrasts
Nairobi - Kenya's capital - is one of the largest cities in Africa, with more than four million inhabitants. The city only came into being at the end of the 19th century, when the British built the Uganda Railway. Places along this railway became easily accessible and began to grow. Nairobi lies 1,661 metres above sea level, which means that it is not very hot and the temperature is pleasant throughout the year. The name Nairobi therefore means “cool waters” in the language of the Masai.
Despite being a very young city, Nairobi has quickly developed into a commercial centre. The city has a large business centre - the Central Business District - where various international companies are located. In addition, the city has numerous modern shopping malls, restaurants and entertainment venues.
Nairobi, however, is a city of strong contrasts. In addition to the luxury shops, there are markets of the Masai on different days throughout the week. Here, traditional handmade products are sold. A large part of the city lives in poverty. Along its skyscrapers, Nairobi has various slums, including Kibera, the largest slum in all of Africa.
How to get there?
An e-visa for Kenya allows you to arrive at only a limited number of locations in the country. One of these locations is Nairobi Airport: Jomo Kenyatta Airport (NBO). A direct KLM flight from London will take you to Nairobi in about 8 hours. There are also flights to Nairobi from Frankfurt, Paris, Amsterdam and Zurich.
In addition to Nairobi airport, an e-visa allows you to land at the following airports: Eldoret International Airport, Garissa Airport, Kisumu Airport, Lamu Airport, Lokichogio Airport, Malindi Airport, Moi Airport Mombasa, Wajir International Airport and Wilson Airport. In addition, there are ten seaports and eleven border crossings where you can arrive in Kenya with an electronic visa.
Nature and wildlife just a stone's throw away
Only a few kilometres from the city centre is the Nairobi National Park. In this national park it is possible, with a little luck, to photograph rhinos, buffaloes, giraffes and leopards with the Nairobi skyline in the background. Animal lovers are advised to visit the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, a sanctuary for young elephants and rhinos whose parents have been killed by poachers. In addition, just outside the city is the Giraffe Centre, where young giraffes are bred to prevent the extinction of this endangered species. Here you can also learn more about Kenyan nature conservation projects.
Nairobi also has plenty to offer culture lovers. For instance, there is the Nairobi National Museum, the largest museum in the country. The museum focuses on the history of Kenya. There is also an anthropological and earth science collection, and a botanical garden.
Another popular location is the Karen Blixen Museum which is located in the colonial house at the foot of the Ngong Hills where the Danish writer lived for a time and ran a coffee plantation. Karen Blixen is known for, among other things, the world-famous book "A Song of Africa", which was later filmed under the name Out of Africa. The museum offers a glimpse into the life of the writer.
Kenya visa application
To visit Nairobi, you need a Kenya visa. Since 2021, it is no longer possible to obtain a visa on arrival at the airport in Kenya. Travellers must therefore apply for a visa before departure. The visa for Kenya must be applied for online. After filling in the digital application form, a number of documents have to be provided. Once all documents have been received, the application will be processed. The visa is then granted after an average of 3 working days and sent by e-mail.
The e-visa for Kenya is valid for a stay of up to 90 days. This gives you enough time to not only go on safari, but also to visit the capital. Do you want to stay in Kenya longer than 90 days? Then it is possible to extend the maximum stay a single time to 180 days at the immigration office in Nairobi.