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Anonymous8 Feb 2014
For anyone heading down to Kenya, be aware there is a raised state of security in place causing delays at the airport.
Aside of the usual city traffic, at peak times it can take an hour to get through the checkpoint on the perimeter road (all vehicles being stopped) and 30 mins or more to get through the xray machines into the terminal.
My passport and BP were checked 8 times as well (with varying degrees of thoroughness) between entering the terminal and getting seated on the plane.8 Feb 2014
Yep, agreed, I was there a week ago and it took us about an hour to get through the checkpoint in the middle of the afternoon. Hate to think what its like at busy times.
Crews are also being delayed getting to the airport – the KLM flight next to my BA one was delayed by 90 mins due to them suffering the same delays.8 Feb 2014
They checked your blood pressure ;-)?
I’m not surprised – sounds like a real ordeal. The only place I’ve come across that sort of level of security is at Baku, and also at Bucharest-Otopeni in the immediate post-Ceaucescu era.
Cheers, Simon9 Feb 2014
Thanks for the heads up SimonS1. It’s very sad what is happening in Kenya. I’ve several friends living in Nairobi and they aren’t reporting anything bad (since the mall), in fact life as normal they say apart from the odd roadblock and check, but that it seems was normal before as well. However they are reporting more checks than usual when you leave the city.
I’m due to visit Tanzania in a few months time, and was going to drive to NBO (part of a long term ambition) but friends have now advised against this so I’ll most likely fly that leg.9 Feb 2014
LP – if you go up Tanzania through Moshi and cross the border at Namanga I think you would be fine. However avoid the route through Mombasa. Serious riots there last week and 100 people arrested in a police raid on the main mosque as part of an anti Al-Shabab crackdown.
It also slipped out last week that a incident at one of the Nairobi airport resturants in Jan which the police claimed was a lightbulb dropping into a garbage can was actually a small explosive device.
On the positive side the new airport terminal buildings seem structurally complete and the western bypass is apparently 3 months from opening.9 Feb 2014
Thanks Simon, you seem to know the way rather well?
I’ll be coming from Dodoma, so the Arusha / Namanga road is definitely the best. I’ll certainly avoid Mombasa.
Have you made the border crossing there? Just wondering if it’s an easy crossing.9 Feb 2014
I used to live in Nairobi LP, albeit about 15 years ago, but have also been going back regularly over the years (including last week).
I haven’t made the border crossing at Namanga, but most of the expats I know consider it the best route as it avoids Mombasa which has had its share of issues. You can get an entry visa at the border as well (certainly up until 6 months ago).9 Feb 2014
Just flown back from Tanzania through NBO to LHR – Kilimanjaro (Moshi) airport a breeze, 45 minute flight and avoids the queues getting in to NBO by road. Unfortunately had to spend 6 hours at NBO – the sooner the new terminal is rebuilt the better – existing is awful13 Feb 2014
I have never been to Nairobi but will shortly be going for a 2-night trip. I still don’t know where I will be staying….roughly how long should I give myself for an 08:25 return departure?
Hotel recommendations would also be appreciated.
Thanks19 Feb 2014
There are a lot of uncertainties but I would be looking to be at the airport 2 hours before. Passport control can be slow and there can also be queues to get into the terminal depending on how many entrances are open.
Say another 30 mins for the police checkpoint if they are still stopping every car (bearing in mind you have arrivals pick up vehicles queuing as well). That means you need to be hitting the perimeter by 6 and probably leaving the city at 5. You may get lucky but better to be safe than sorry.
Hotels. There are several good new ones now. Kempinski and Sankara both excellent as is Tribe if you are near the UN area. The Norfolk is now a Fairmont property but like Serena, Jacaranda and Southern Sun a bit colonial and old fashioned. In Nairobi location is key, so it probably boils down to whether you need to be in Westlands, City Centre or Gigiri/UN. I hear mixed things about Intercon downtown (dated but good staff) but avoid the Hilton as a renovation is underway.
Must say though I have always had excellent service in the hotels, the Kenyans are warm, friendly people who will do their best for you.19 Feb 2014
I stayed at the Intercontinental when I was last there, however that was about 7 years ago, and it was actually very good. I had a “club” room which was pleasant, and one of the more modern rooms at the time, the food was always decent, and the staff always very helpful. The bar was busy and had a good atmosphere, and the pool was not too small. I recall the Internet being very slow however, but I am sure will be OK by now.
It also has a good location, within walking distance of the city centre, although some would not recommend that!
SimonS1 will know much more than me as he has been far more and much more recently. When I was there the Serena was considered the best hotel, and seemed nice when I met clients there for a few drinks, albeit a bit dated.
There is also a Crowne Plaza there now.
It seems your time there will be limited. I have been to Naivasha/Nakuru, which were lovely (scary drive there however in thick fog), but also Nairobi National Park is right next to the city and you can see much of it on a 4 hour tour.
I guess you are in transit but it would be interesting to know where else you will be going in that part of the world.
Wish you a happy, safe and smooth trip!20 Feb 2014