Visiting Nairobi

Nairobi, a busy metropolitan city, has risen to become a major East African hub for business. This has been as a result of pro-growth government policy, a diverse economy and an innovation of start-ups, international companies and universities. As of 2016, Nairobi’s population was about 3.5 million. 

The official languages in Nairobi, and most of Kenya, are English and Kiswahili. It is generally warm in Nairobi, with the colder season falling between June & August. The wet season starts in April through to May. Known as the place of 'Cool Waters', it is home to many tourist attractions like, the Nairobi National Park, the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust elephant orphanage, Karen Blixen Museum, the Bomas of Kenya, The Giraffe Center, The National Museum of Kenya and the Kenya National Theatre. The city presents a rich urban and historical cultural mix. It is a city that hosts a blend of people from all cultures and social backgrounds. 

We at the CGC | Nairobi Center are always happy to assist you with any logistical needs. Please contact us at: nairobi.cgc@columbia.edu

    • The formal currency is the Kenya Shilling. You can convert currency at a forex bureau at the airport, within the city or at any major bank. 
    • ATM machines can be found in shopping malls and gas stations. Most credit cards are accepted at the major shopping malls, hotels and restaurants.
    • Mobile money, commonly known as MPESA is a widely used form of payment. To use it, you will need to visit a Safaricom support center (found in all major malls), buy a Safaricom sim-card and activate MPESA.
    • To acquire a sim-card locally, you will need your passport to register into any local cellular network. Safaricom has the widest coverage followed closely by Airtel and Telkom networks. You can purchase sim-cards at the airport or from major malls from between $1 - $2. Request for assistance in setting up for a data bundle to facilitate internet access.
    • Taxi companies like Uber, Little Cab, Mondo Ride and Taxify are well established to cater for your transport needs within Nairobi.
    • Public shuttle buses are available from the airport and within Nairobi. Fare prices range from KES.50 to KES.150 ($.50 - $1.50) in the city and its environs. You can also catch the famous ‘Matatu’, the loud vibrant mini-bus that has been called a cultural museum on wheels. They ply set routes and are used for both inter and intra city travel. The fare prices also range from KES.50 to KES.150 ($.50 - $1.50).
    • The standard power voltage is 240v.
    • Nairobi has 3 star hotels averaging $75 and 5 star hotels averaging $213. CGC | Nairobi has been able to secure low corporate rates with most of these hotels which are availed to our guests upon request. Hotels that are located near us are Sankara, Park-Inn by Radisson, Tune-Inn, Pride-Inn, Jacaranda, La Maison Royale, Concord Hotel, Villa Rosa Kempinski, Wasini Luxury suites and Mayfair hotel. 
    • Bed and Breakfast facilities are also available for budget travelers – for more information on B&B visit; https://www.airdna.co/top/ke/nairobi
    • Popular restaurants are Java Coffee House, Fogo Gaucho, and a wide range of American eateries like Subway, Dominos, Coldstone Creameries, KFC, Burger King and Pizza Hut.
    • Popular malls near the Center are Sarit Center, Westgate mall and Lavington mall. 
    • One of the great experiences for visitors in Kenya is a visit to the Maasai Market. At these open-air markets, you will find curios, art work, African-print fabric, and jewellery, hand-made by local artisans. You can buy all your souveniers and gifts in one-go but get ready for some serious bargaining. For the schedule, please visit: http://www.kenyanpoet.com/2014/04/04/the-maasai-market-open-days-schedule-in-nairobi

    If you need a visa, you can process one on arrival at the port of entry. Ensure you have the following:

    • Supporting documents showing the purpose of your visit
    • A valid passport for no less than 6 months
    • $50 / €40 / £30 for a single entry visa

    Some Helpful Links:

    • In 2016, Nairobi City was ranked among the top 20 successful cities globally in innovation, liveability and capacity to reinvent itself. (Source: City Momentum Index (CMI))
    • In 2017 Nairobi was ranked as the most dynamic city in Africa, ranking 10th in the world. Ranking was done on the basis of innovation and technology.  This placed Nairobi in the best position to the current ever changing economic landscape. (Source: City Momentum Index (CMI))
    • In 2017 Kenya was ranked top in Africa as having the fastest internet connectivity speeds. This has led to a significant influence on e-commerce and also resulted in enormous social and economic benefits for the country.  (Source: Content Delivery Network (CDN))
    • In 2014 and 2015, Nairobi was named the most intelligent city in Africa. The ranking was done based on the population that has taken “conscious steps” to create an economy that can prosper in the “broadband economy”. (Source: Intelligent Community Forum (ICF))