Nairobi Kenya s mile-high capital is only 90 mi/138 km south of the equator. Founded by the British little more than a 100 years ago, the city now has a population of more than 2 000 000. Its a modern commercial center with some interesting high-rises and lots of bustle. Visitors can find things not so common in other parts of Africa, such as nice theaters showing the latest films, expensive restaurants serving every type of food, as well as E-mail facilities, faxes and any other sort of modern technology you may want to use. The city is constantly alive, especially at night. Unfortunately, Nairobi has acquired a reputation of being a dangerous city and petty crime is rampant.

Besides being a convenient place to take care of administrative matters and contact people back home, Nairobi has much to offer to travellers. If you want to hang out, there is a wide array of restaurants, clubs, pubs and discos to choose from. While in Nairobi, be sure to visit the City Market, the National Museum, the Arboretum (excellent collection of East African flora) and the superb Kenya Railway Museum. Exhibits about the period leading to independence can be seen at the Kenya National Archives. There are casinos at the Safari Park Hotel and the Inter-Continental Hotel and theres also Sunday-afternoon horse racing.

For those who cant wait to see animals (or who are only visiting Nairobi), the nearby Nairobi National Park has lions, giraffes, impalas and more wild animals in addition to an animal orphanage. Or you can take a rather pricey taxi ride to the Giraffe Center in the suburb of Langatta where the Rothschild giraffe was saved from extinction. At the facility, you can feed the giraffes and the gift shop has some of the best prices we found in Nairobi. However, the Giraffe Manor (the manor house turned into a hotel) elsewhere on the grounds has some of the steepest daily rates in the citybut then its the only place where giraffes may join you for meals.

This excursion to Langata is often combined with a visit to the former home of Karen Blixen (who wrote under the pseudonym Isak Dinesen), author of Out of Africa. Blixens farmhouse, which was presented to the Kenyan government by Denmark, is now a museum its located nextdoor to the Karen College. Langatta also has The Bomas of Kenya which is a terrific cultural center that regularly hosts traditional song and dance performances.

A day trip (a two-hour drive each way) can be made to Lake Magadi to visit Olorgesailie in The Rift Valley for its prehistoric campsite. The scenic region inhabited by Masai farmers has a wide variety of birds.