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Layover In Nairobi: The Ultimate Guide 2022

Published by: Bounce17 September, 2021

When you have a Nairobi stopover you'll be spending it at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport which is the airport that serves the Kenyan capital. While NBO is one of Kenya's busiest and the one on the African continent that handles the most passengers, compared to some US airports it is relatively small. There's only one runway and two terminal buildings to cater for the ten million passengers using the two thousand aircraft that land and take off there every year.

The Jomo Kenyatta International Airport is eighteen kilometers from Nairobi. There is no metro service so transport choices are limited to bus or taxi. Bus 34 departs every twenty minutes from outside the terminal and takes approximately forty-five minutes to an hour to get to the city. A taxi ride into Nairobi, depending on which part of the city you go to, will take around thirty minutes.

6 hour layover in Nairobi

A six-hour layover isn't long enough to allow you to go into Nairobi, but after you've cleared all the necessary channels and left your bags at a luggage storage service in Nairobi, you will have a couple of hours free. Spend them by grabbing a cab to the nearby Gateway Mall which is just a ten-minute drive away. Browse around the shops, have a coffee or quick meal and before you know it it'll be time to head back to catch your Nairobi connection.

  • If you decide to stay at the airport during your short Nairobi layover the best thing to do to pass it comfortably is to pay for a place in one of the VIP lounges.

  • There are public showers at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport which you can use if you want to freshen up before your connecting flight takes off.

8 to 10 hour layover in Nairobi

When you have a layover in Nairobi that's eight to ten hours long you'll have just enough time to go on a short safari through Nairobi National Parks and hopefully get to see some of the animals Kenya is famous for. Short safaris usually depart from a guest's hotel accommodation but with prior arrangement, some companies will pick you up, and drop you back, at the airport. You'll be driven through the park in an open-topped 4x4 and taken to places well-frequented by warthogs, zebras, wildebeest and buffalo.

  • The Nairobi National Park is where the Nairobi Animal Orphanage is located. When you go on a short safari you'll have a one-hour visit there to see the orphaned babies.

  • If you don't want to go on a safari but still want to see animals up close, consider taking a tour that visits one of the elephant orphanages.

  • Get a fascinating insight into life in Africa for a Danish lady by making the half-hour trip out to visit the Karen Blixen Museum.

  • With six to seven hours of free time on your Nairobi layover you'll be able to plan a visit to a Maasai village and learn about the lives of the Maasai people. 

12 hour layover in Nairobi

While it's easy to get distracted by the natural beauty of Nairobi's national parks and the incredible fauna that roams at large through them, there are more things to do in Nairobi on a layover than going on a safari. Practice your bartering skills by heading for one of the city's local markets like the City Market or the Maasai Market and see how much you can haggle down the price of the souvenirs you want to buy.

  • See for yourself that all the tea in the world doesn't come from China by going out to the Limuru tea plantations. There you can walk through the fields of tea and learn how tea gets from the bush to the teapot.

  • Explore Nairobi on foot with a guided walking tour. Wear loose clothing and use sunscreen as it can get pretty hot and you won't want to go back to the airport to catch your Nairobi connection glowing like a ripe tomato.

  • Take in a cultural show performed by traditional dancers while eating typical Kenyan food.

24 hour layover in Nairobi

An overnight layover in Nairobi will give you the opportunity to go further afield and maybe even get a glimpse of the country's famous peak, Mount Kenya. Hire a car and go with a local guide or join a tour that heads out to the Ngare Ndare Forest. There you can hike through the forest, walk across rope bridges strung through the treetops and swim in natural waterholes.

  • Take a picnic and plenty of drinks if you go to the Ngare Ndare Forest or you could find yourself hungry and dehydrated.

  • For keen cyclists, one of the best places to go on a Nairobi stopover is Lake Naivasha. There are endless cycle trails around the lake, but don't forget that wild animals roam freely here and they have right of way on the paths.

  • Take a short but scenic boat ride across Lake Naivasha and if you're lucky, you may well spot hippos wallowing in the shallows.

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