Nairobi is best characterised by its variety of locally-given
descriptive names, representative of the city's contrasting images
- of wealthy spacious suburbs, charming flower-lined streets and a
refreshing climate, alongside crime, corruption, filth and poverty.
Names like 'Green City in the Sun', 'City of Flowers' and the Masai
name 'Place of Cool Waters' attempt to overshadow the all too real
version of 'Nairobbery' that stands as a well-found warning to
newly arrived tourists.
Nairobi is one of Africa's largest and most interesting cities.
It is a place of enormous energy, a tireless and thriving bustle of
people, and a city of differences. Assorted races, tribes and
origins are all a part of its make-up. Rural immigrants and
refugees are drawn by the hope of wealth and opportunity,
international businessmen are attracted by profitable business
prospects, and tourists are promised the makings of the perfect
safari. The city centre buzzes with the energy, aspirations and
opportunism of moneychangers, safari touts, would-be thieves, food
vendors and trinket sellers, prostitutes, shoppers, security
guards, and sharp-eyed shoe shiners assessing the footwear of the
hurried throngs. Among them are the disillusioned faces of the
unemployed, the beggars and the destitute.
Kenyatta Avenue is the city's favourite tourist image, a broad
avenue fringed by trees and flowers that was originally designed to
allow a twelve-oxen team to make a full turn. There are several
museums and places of interest in the centre, including the
National Museum and Snake Park. There are numerous markets selling
traditional crafts, especially the appealing Masai market. Just
outside of the centre is the Nairobi National Park, and the nearby
Bomas of Kenya host performances of traditional dancing and
singing. The Langata Giraffe Centre offers visitors the chance to
hand-feed the Rothschild giraffes that inhabit the area.
Nairobi is also the safari capital of Africa and a good base for
travel in Kenya. From here excursions and safaris can be arranged
to any of the national parks or reserves in the country.