A country with so much rhythm, it’s no surprise the Kenya Music Festival, which goes down in Nairobi every August, is a big deal. The festival draws groups of students from schools and universities all over the country to compete. Categories include African, Western and Oriental music, and can be vocal, instrumental or dance-oriented. A major drawcard of the festival is the folk songs performed by native Kenyan tribes. Want to know more about this fascinating city? Read on.

Visa Requirements

Australian passport holders must have valid visas to enter Kenya, which you can apply for through the Kenya High Commission in Canberra. Visas will only be issued to applicants travelling to Kenya for a short-term holiday or for business purposes, and are valid for 90 days. Make sure your passport has at least 6 months’ validity from your planned date of return to Australia. Please be aware that this information is only a guideline. For up-to-the-minute visa information, contact your local Embassy or Consulate of Kenya.

Currency

Kenya uses the Kenyan Shilling. The exchange rate between the Australian Dollar and the Kenyan Shilling changes constantly, so keep an eye on the exchange rate and purchase Shillings when the rate is at its best. For safe spending while overseas, consider using a credit or debit card.

Food

In Nairobi, you can eat well on either a prince or a pauper’s budget. For lunch, join the queue at Roast House grill for a cheap hearty meal. If your wallet agrees with the mid-range price bracket, head over to Open House in Westlands for the best ginger chicken wings in town. Several places serve cheap and delicious Ethiopian cuisine – Motherland and Mesob are the frontrunners. If you want something a little more exotic (i.e. European), try Trattoria for an Italian pasta and tiramisu binge, or if you’d rather some sizzling fajitas, Havana Bar has you covered. Better still, head to Village Market Food Court and choose from Thai, Chinese, German, Mongolian or Japanese fare. If you’ve got cash to blow, make a beeline to The Carnivore – listed as one of the top 50 restaurants in the world. It’s expensive by Kenyan standards, but if meat is your heart’s desire you’ll be well catered for  in this luxury restaurant located just outside the city by Uhuru Gardens. Wash it all down with a cold Tusker beer – the local brew.

Nightlife

Nairobi is starting to get a name for an evolving nightlife scene. Now offering more than just your average dive bar, Nairobi is becoming home to a more discerning cocktail-loving crowd. This burgeoning cosmopolitan movement has made way for clubs such as Gipsy Bar, which features 3 bars under the one roof, The Crimson Lounge is for Kenyan hipsters who like to shisha (smoke a waterpipe), and then there’s Boxer Bar with its plasma screens for sport lovers. At Champagne and Fishbowls – yes, you guessed it – champers cocktails are served in fishbowls and it’s a great place for groups. At Nest on the top floor of the Tribe Hotel, order a traditional dawa (a Kenyan cocktail of vodka, lemon and honey) with a rooftop view. Havana Restaurant and Bar is an old-fashioned, Latin-style cocktail salon bar located in Westlands frequented by locals and expatriates alike.

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