Insider Secrets: Crowd-sourced Nairobi

Associate web editor Peter Moore is in Nairobi for the Storymoja Hay Festival. He asks locals where to go when you visit their city

8 mins

1. Street food Kenya style

You always hear about great street food in Asia, but what about Africa?

To find the best alfresco food in Nairobi head to the corner of Mpaka Road and General Mathenge West, arriving just as the sun is setting. Here you’ll discover a gang of street  vendors serving up the most delicious roasted mahindi (maize) and mhogho (cassava), served with a seasoning of salt, chilli and lemon and washed down with fresh coconut water.

The hot cassava chips, straight out of the frying pan, are also scrumptious.

– Radha Upadhyaya

2. Art on-the-go

The Matatu Stage at Gil House on Tom Mboya Street is an art gallery with a difference. The canvases are the city’s notorious minivans.

The matatus wear some of the most authentic Kenyan art you’ll find in any gallery. They are decked out in bright colours, with murals that address themes ranging from politics, sports and daily Kenyan life. The stage is a moving gallery where each piece is gaudier than the one before and more gripping than the one after.

– Nahabi Waidera

3. Picnic and hike on the city’s doorstep

Looking to escape the noise and fumes of central Nairobi? Head to the Oloolva Forest and Nature Trail. This lush 400 acre natural tropical forest is approximately 20 kilometres from the city centre and only a few minutes drive from the Karen Blixen Museum.

Explore the trails, find the water fall and camp overnight. The reserve comes under the remit of the National Museums of Kenya and visits must be pre-booked on +254 208827714. There is a nominal entry fee.

– Shaleen Keshavjee

4. Beer without the taxes

Looking for an ice cold beer at less than half the price? Then head to the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation, smack bang in the centre of the city and opposite the Norfolk Hotel.

State Corporations don’t pay taxes, so while you’ll fork out 120 to 200 shillings for a Tusker everywhere else in town, the same beer will only cost you 60 shillings at the KBC.

Walk in as if you own the place. If anyone challenges you say you’re there to meet Juma. There’s always a Juma propping up the bar.

– Edwin Mokaya

5. Rock down to Electric Avenue

It may be known officially as Mpaka Road, but after dark the locals know this corner of Westlands as Electric Avenue, Nairobi’s liveliest club district.

From the upmarket Taboo Bar and Bacchus Lounge to the more pocket-friendly options of Rezorus and Black Diamond, there is something for every taste and budget.

Be sure to check your receipt against the official bar-list prices. “Miscalculations” are the norm rather than the exception. But on the whole the locals are friendly and always up for a chat about anything from local politics to English football.

– Samir Dave

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