Best safety tips for visiting Nairobi
Popularly known as the green city under the sun, Nairobi city is the 5th largest city in Africa with a population of 4 million people.
The city has seen rapid growth in the recent past making it the next silicon savanna of Africa.
Being the largest city and the capital of Kenya, it is a central location for everything you may need from the international airport, embassies, vibrant nightlife, festivals and parks.
Walking from one point of the city to the next can be pleasant if you do not stray away from the main streets.
Security in the city has been improved and many visitors have enjoyed their stay here.
Like your next best city, Nairobi has its pockets of crime. Such incidents can be avoided whilst enjoying your trip.
Here are the best safety tips for visiting Nairobi.
Know the neighbourhoods in Nairobi
It is important to know the neighbourhood you will be staying in.
Most of the posh neighbourhoods like Runda, Gigiri, Lavington, Kileleshwa, Kilimani, Westlands area, Kitusuru are some of the safest.
The central business district is safe during the day but might not be at night since some of the streets are deserted.
Avoid walking alone at night and ensure you stay on well-lit streets.
If you feel unsafe, ask your hotel or guide to refer you to a trusted taxi driver.
When in doubt ask a guard
Being in new in a foreign city could be overwhelming and scary at the same time.
Asking for directions from strangers may not work out all the time since some locals may take advantage of newcomers.
Thanks to technology, we can find our way easily, however, this may fail at times.
When this happens, the next wise thing to do is enquire from passers-by.
If this happens during your stay in Nairobi, do not be stranded. Look for a guard, they are all the city, at the entrance of all building or banks.
They are the best and safest option in finding your bearing of the city.
Avoid using your cell phone in public vehicles
If you choose to use any public vehicle while in Nairobi, avoid using your phone.
There are muggers on the lookout for anyone too engrossed in their mobile device to notice them. If you intend to use your phone ensure you avoid the window seat or ensure it is safely locked.
These men are very swift and never miss, they skilfully slide the window and in snatch the phone or any other valuable they can reach.
While in the Matatu, as the public buses and vans are known, ensure you hold your bag well and keep all valuable and money safely.
While Kenyans love to exchange pleasantries, not all are well-meaning
Kenyans love to shake hands and exchange pleasantries with both friends and strangers.
While this may seem warm and welcoming, many people have fallen prey to conmen. These group of mischievous men and women lure their victims by pretending to be asking for direction or help.
They lace their hands with substances that will disorient their victim upon which they rob them. Always keep a safe distance while talking to a stranger and never shake hands or hug them.
Oops someone dropped money
This is one of the oldest tricks used by muggers and thieves in Nairobi city.
It is usually a group of two men who pretend to be minding their business and do not know each other.
So here is what happens, you will be walking down the street and then someone (who is seemingly always in a rush) will dash past you and drop an envelope. A second person will follow and quickly pick it up and whisper to you, I’ve found money.
He (they are mostly men) will then try and convince you that its real money and you should count it for proof. Before you do this though, he will ask you to leave your bag or phone with him just in case you run with the money.
Once you fall into his trap, he runs with your valuables and leaves you with an envelope stuffed with old newspapers.
If this ever happens while in Nairobi, or any other Kenyan town, keep walking no talking.
Don’t cross the street while talking on your phone
It is against the law in Kenya to cross the road whilst on your phone. This is not only for your safety but also for other road users too.
There is always a kanjo (the city council officer) secretly observing the crowd.
They are not the most pleasant people to deal with as they are ruthless and merciless.
You will not only be charged a hefty fine but will be bundled up in the ricketiest van and be the guest of the state. Not something you would want during your visit here.
Dress appropriately while in the city
Nairobi may be a modern city but not all its inhabitants are. There have been cases of women being stripped naked for wearing short dresses or skirts (above the knees) during the day.
Government offices do not allow women in short skirts or dresses or any revealing clothing. Always enquire about the dress code before venturing out only to be harassed.
Any clothing deemed indecent or too revealing will attract stares and uncomfortable attention from men in the streets.
Leave your Valuables at the Hotel
As is with most cities, leaving your valuables behind such as expensive jewellery, passports, money should not go everywhere with you.
Ensure you carry enough money in loose change and keep them separately.
There are pickpockets who ‘accidentally’ bump into you and pretend to apologize while stealthily emptying your pockets.