Safari Traffic Jam

Safari Traffic Jam

Never start your safari in Nairobi on a weekday morning.

I estimate there are 120-140,000 cars that try to get into Nairobi’s downtown area each morning, on only four roads into the city. The west and north sides aren’t impossible, but the east and south sides which include access to the international airport, are horrible.

It’s not a good way to begin a safari vacation. From about 6:15a to 10:30a, what should be a 20-minute, 10-12 mile journey, becomes a 90-120 minute, 10-12 mile journey.

The fumes are horrendous. The road, although newly built from the airport, is inadequate, with many parts not totally completed, cars and road rage vying for supremacy. I’ve spoken to hotel staff at the Norfolk who must leave home at 3 a.m. to begin work at 8 a.m.

And if you’re a tourist looking forward to a super safari, it’s hardly the best way to begin. I haven’t usually recommended certain air carriers over others, but whatever difference may exist, it doesn’t matter. You want to arrive at night, or during the weekend. Anything else is unmitigated disaster. Nothing else matters.

The poor workers who must get into Nairobi and who can drive must now pay Ksh 1400/- per day to park anywhere in the city center. That’s around $15-17 per day that goes straight to the Nairobi City Council. For a typical business office worker, that’s a quarter to a half of the entire salary.

So it goes to show that there are rich people in this society, but even speculating that there are as many as 3 people per private vehicle parked in the city center, it’s a small if fractional percentage of the millions of poor and unemployed.

But for visitors coming on safari, avoid the horror of being a part of this. Make sure you arrange to arrive only at night or during Saturday or Sunday.