Kenya’s capital city has risen in a single century from a brackish uninhabited swampland to a thriving modern capital.
When railway construction workers reached this area in 1899, they set up a basic camp and supply depot, simply called ‘Mile 327’. The local Maasai called this highland swamp Ewaso Nai’beri – the place of cold water.
The camp became a rustic village, and then a shanty town, which by 1907 was the capital of all of British East Africa. It was soon an important centre for the colony and a mecca for adventurers, hunters and travellers from all over the world.
Modern Nairobi is still the safari capital of Africa, but the modern world has quickly caught up with the city. A frontier town no more, Nairobi has become one of Africa’s largest, and most interesting cities.
The city has not lost its sense of the past, with an excellent museum and the historical home of Karen Blixen, author of Out of Africa open to visitors. This is not a modern capital separated from the great wilderness that surrounds it. Just outside the city is Nairobi National Park, 113 sq kms of plains, cliffs and forest. The park is home to large herds of Zebra, Wildebeest, Buffalo, Giraffe and more. Rhino, Cheetah, and a large number of Lions are all found here, living wild within 20 minutes of the centre of town.
Further out of town, the spectacular 27 metre deep 'Fourteen Falls' waterfalls at Thika are perfect for a scenic day trip. Nearby Ol Donyo Sabuk National Park, is centred around an imposing 2,146 metre mountain.
For the adventurous, take an hour's drive from town and you will find white water rafting on the beautiful Tana River.
From the wildlife to the nightlife, Nairobi is a city unlike any other. With a fantastic music scene, excellent international restaurants and an endless and colourful array of shops and markets, there is plenty on offer for the visitor.
The coastal city of Mombasa is one of Africa’s major tourist destinations, with some of the best beaches in the world. Located on Kenya’s Eastern coastline bordering the Indian Ocean, Mombasa has become popular for its exotic beaches, diverse marine life, world-class hotels and friendly people.
Mombasa has undoubtedly one of the best white sandy beaches in Africa. The warm waters of the Indian Ocean cater to all types of tourists: those looking for a quiet swim, a place for kids to play, deep-sea fishing, and water sports activities such as scuba diving and sailing. When coupled with its large selection of beachfront hotels, Mombasa becomes an ideal place for a vacation.
In addition to its beautiful beaches, Mombasa offers a diverse cultural history. The City traces many of its cultural traditions to former Portuguese, Arab and British settlers – all of which have left a lasting influence on the City’s food, architecture, and people. Tours of the town, safaris in game parks, and camping trips can all be included in your vacation plan.
Nightlife in Mombasa is always exciting, and the City offers many dance clubs and casinos that cater to a variety of entertainment tastes. Or, you can always catch a movie at the cinema, go bowling, or grab a drink at the local pub. Mombasa is also home to a variety of different languages, the most common being Swahili and English. Most visitors – particularly those who speak German, French, or Dutch – will also have no problems communicating in the City.
Similarly, there is diversity in the cuisine available to visitors, including a host of quality restaurants offering everything from British, Chinese, Indian and Italian cuisine, to a variety of local and traditional Kenyan dishes. Given its ocean-side location, seafood options are abundant and outstanding and can often be eaten within a couple of hours of being caught.
Kampala is the largest city and capital of Uganda. The city is divided into five boroughs that oversee local planning: Kampala Central, Kawempe Division, Makindye Division, Nakawa Division and Lubaga Division. The city is coterminous with Kampala District. Mutesa I, the Kabaka (king) of Buganda, had chosen the area that was to become Kampala as one of his favorite hunting grounds. The area was made up of hills and wetlands. It was an ideal breeding ground for various game, particularly a species of antelope, the impala (Aepyceros melampus). The origin of the word impala is likely from the Zulu language in South Africa.
The city grew as the capital of the Buganda kingdom, from which several buildings survive, including the Kasubi Tombs (built in 1881), the Lubiri Palace, the Buganda Parliament and the Buganda Court of Justice. Severely damaged in the Uganda-Tanzania War, the city has since then been rebuilt with constructions of new buildings including hotels, banks, shopping malls, educational institutions, hospitals and improvement of war torn buildings and infrastructure. Traditionally, Kampala was a city of seven hills, but over time it has come to have a lot more.
Dar es Salaam (Arabic: ??? ??????? Dar as-Salam, "house of peace"), formerly Mzizima, is the largest city in Tanzania. It is also the country's richest city and a regionally important economic centre. Dar es Salaam is actually an administrative province within Tanzania, and consists of three local government areas or administrative districts: Kinondoni to the north, Ilala in the center of the region, and Temeke to the south. The Dar es Salaam Region had a population of 2,497,940 as of the official 2002 census. Though Dar es Salaam lost its official status as capital city to Dodoma in 1974 (a move which was not complete until 1996), it remains the centre of the permanent central government bureaucracy and continues to serve as the capital for the surrounding Dar es Salaam Region. In the 19th century Mzizima (Swahili for "healthy town") was a coastal fishing village on the periphery of Indian Ocean trade routes. In 1865 or 1866 Sultan Majid bin Said of Zanzibar began building a new city very close to Mzizima. He named it from an Arabic phrase bandar as-salam meaning harbour of Peace. A popular but erroneous translation is "haven of peace" resulting from a mixup of the Arabic words "dar" (house) and "bandar" (harbour). Dar es Salaam fell into decline after Majid's death in 1870, but was revived in 1887, when the German East Africa Company established a station there. The town's growth was facilitated by its role as the administrative and commercial centre of German East Africa and industrial expansion resulting from the construction of the Central Railway Line in the early 1900s. Saint Joseph's Metropolitan Cathedral constructed in 1897-1902
German East Africa was captured by the British during World War I and from then on was referred to as Tanganyika. Dar es Salaam was retained as the territory's administrative and commercial centre. Under British indirect rule, separate European (e.g. Oyster Bay) and African (e.g. Kariakoo and Ilala) areas developed at a distance from the city centre. The town's population also included a large number of South Asians. After World War II, Dar es Salaam experienced a period of rapid growth.
Political developments, including the formation and growth of the Tanganyika African National Union (TANU), led to Tanganyika attaining independence from colonial rule in December 1961. Dar es Salaam continued to serve as its capital, also when in 1964 Tanganyika and Zanzibar merged to form Tanzania. However, in 1973 provisions were made to relocate the capital to Dodoma, a more centrally located city in Tanzania's interior. The relocation process has not yet been completed, and Dar es Salaam remains Tanzania's primary city.
Kigali, population 965,398 (2009), is the capital and largest city of Rwanda. It is situated near the geographic centre of the nation, and has been the economic, cultural, and transport hub of Rwanda since it became capital at independence in 1962. The main residence and offices of the President of Rwanda are located in the city, as are the government ministries. The city is coterminous with the province of Kigali City, which was enlarged in January 2006 as part of local government reorganisation in the country. The city's urban area covers about 70% of the municipal boundaries. Kigali was founded in 1907 under German colonial rule, but did not become the capital until Rwandan independence in 1962. The traditional capital was the seat of the mwami (king) in Nyanza, while the colonial seat of power was in Butare, then known as Astrida. Butare was initially the leading contender to be the capital of the new independent nation, but Kigali was chosen because of its more central location. Since then the city has grown very quickly and is now the major political, economic and cultural centre of Rwanda.
Beginning on April 6, 1994, Kigali was the scene of the Rwandan Genocide — the slaughter of approximately one million Tutsi and moderate Hutu by Hutu militias (interahamwe), and some members of the Rwandan army — and of fierce fighting between the army (mostly Hutu) and Tutsi-dominated Rwandese Patriotic Front. Although damaged, the city's structure has recovered.