Tips for Expats Driving in Nairobi

Driving in a new country can be daunting. These tips offer insight into what to expect when driving in Nairobi.

1. Understanding the Traffic

Driving in Nairobi can be quite challenging, especially during peak hours. The city is known for its heavy traffic, which can be chaotic and unpredictable. It’s not uncommon to see drivers ignoring traffic rules, so you need to be alert and cautious at all times. It’s also important to note that Nairobi has numerous roundabouts, which can be confusing for newcomers.

2. Car Recommendation

Most expats recommend a 4×4 vehicle for driving in Nairobi. The city’s roads can be rough and uneven, especially during the rainy season when potholes are common. A 4×4 vehicle is also useful if you plan to travel outside the city, where road conditions can be even worse.

3. Parking Situation

Finding parking in Nairobi can be difficult, especially in the city center. Most parking spaces are metered and can be quite expensive. However, there are also private parking lots and garages available. It’s advisable to always park in a secure area, as car theft can be a problem.

4. Driving License for Foreigners

Foreigners can drive in Kenya with an international driving license for a period of one year. After this, you will need to obtain a Kenyan driving license. To do this, you will need to pass a driving test. It’s advisable to take a few driving lessons in Nairobi to familiarize yourself with the local driving conditions and rules.

5. Safety Measures

Always ensure that your car is in good condition before hitting the road. Regularly check your tires, brakes, and lights. Keep your doors locked and windows up, especially when driving at night or in less crowded areas. Be wary of carjackings and never pick up strangers.

6. Patience is Key

Patience is a virtue when driving in Nairobi. The heavy traffic and disregard for traffic rules can be frustrating, but getting angry won’t help the situation. Stay calm, be patient, and give yourself plenty of time to reach your destination.

7. Familiarize Yourself with the City

Before you start driving in Nairobi, take some time to familiarize yourself with the city. Learn the main roads and landmarks. Use a GPS or a map to help you navigate. This will make your driving experience less stressful and more enjoyable.

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder and President of Expat Exchange and is one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Prior to Expat Exchange, Betsy worked at AT&T in International and Mass Market Marketing. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in International Business and German.

Some of Betsy's articles include 12 Best Places to Live in Portugal, 7 Best Places to Live in Panama and 12 Things to Know Before Moving to the Dominican Republic. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.

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