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Cheap Flights from Johannesburg to Nairobi

Hakuna Matata ("no worries in Swahili)". Direct flights from Johannesburg to Nairobi are with Kenya Airways and South African Airways, but 1-stop flights with the likes of Ethiopian Airlines are often cheapest. All flights from Johannesburg are from O.R. Tambo International Airport. SAA is using its new Airbus A320s on the JHB-NBO flight route.

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Here's a video of an SAA flight from Johannesburg to Nairobi:

Airlines

Airlines were ordered using a spot survey with cheapest at the top, but this will have changed since the page was set up (airfares change continuously). With the 1-stop flights keep one eye on duration, as whilst these flights are often cheaper, they can take over 24 hours (and time is money!).

Airline
Airports
Stops

Ethiopian Airlines

Johannesburg Airport to Nairobi Airport (NBO)

1-stop (10 hours)
Addis Ababa (ADD)

South African Airways
Uses Airbus A320s.

Johannesburg Airport to Nairobi Airport (NBO)

non-stop (4 hours)

Kenya Airways South Africa

Johannesburg Airport to Nairobi Airport (NBO)

non-stop (4 to 5 hours)

Egyptair

Johannesburg Airport to Nairobi Airport (NBO)

1-stop (29 hours)
Cairo (CAI)

LAM Mozambique

Johannesburg Airport to Nairobi Airport (NBO)

1-stop (7 to 10 hours)
Maputo (MPM)

Emirates

Johannesburg Airport to Nairobi Airport (NBO)

1-stop (16 hours)
Dubai (DXB)

Air Botswana/Kenya Airways

Johannesburg Airport to Nairobi Airport (NBO)

1-stop (9 hours)
Gaborone (GBE)

Rwandair

Johannesburg Airport to Nairobi Airport (NBO)

1-stop (7 to 8 hours)
Kigali Airport

Air Mauritius

Johannesburg Airport to Nairobi Airport (NBO)

1-stop (13 hours)
Mauritius

News

  • December 2012. Air Malawi enters voluntary liquidation.

  • 1 December 2012. Kenya Airways introduces 4 new weekly flights from Johannesburg to Nairobi, leaving on Sundays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays; at 16h10.

  • 17 September 2012. Precision Air quits flying from Joburg to Dar es Salaam, so no more 1-stop flights to Nairobi.

  • 3 September 2012. SAA increases its JNB-NBO frequency from 7 to 10 flights a week: "Kenya is a key destination in our East Africa operation and by increasing capacity we are rewarding our loyal customers with a variety of travelling options that they can tailor to match their travel needs," said South African Airways' General Manager, Theunis Potgieter.

  • 16 March 2012. A Kenya Airways flight from Johannesburg to Nairobi is aborted after an hour due to a cabin pressure malfunction, and returns safely to Johannesburg's O.R. Tambo International Airport.

Flight path

The diagram below shows the shortest flight path from Johannesburg O.R. Tambo International Airport to Nairobi Jomo Kenyatta Airport (ignoring air traffic, restricted flight zones and wind). To fly the shortest flight path, leave Johannesburg Airport on a heading of 20° North and fly 2600km to Nairobi Airport.

flight route from Johannesburg to Nairobi, Kenya

About Nairobi

Nairobians refer to their city as the "Green City in the Sun". The word Nairobi is derived from the Maasai name for the Nairobi River, Enkare Nyrobi, which means cold water. Whilst there go visit the Nairobi National Park, the Giraffe Centre, the Nairobi National Museum or the Bomas of Kenya. To ease some of the worst traffic jams in the world, in November 2012 Nairobi opened a new train system, which included the new Syokimau station some 16km out of town, and refurbishing trains.

For information on all flight routes, visa requirements and attractions in the country in general, see our flights to Kenya page.

 

Nairobi
The first thing that typically comes to mind when most people think of Kenya, is safaris - and with good reason.  Kenya is after all one of the premier destinations in the world for wildlife tours, game viewing and experiencing the wild bush of Africa. But there’s more to this East African country than safaris. The next time you land at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, don’t rush off to the game reserves. Stay a little longer in Kenya’s capital Nairobi and get a taste of what this “City in the Sun” has to offer.

  • Airport

Your international flight into Kenya will most likely land you in Nairobi at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA), Kenya’s largest aviation facility and the busiest airport in East Africa. The airport is located in Embakasi, 15 kilometers to the south-east of the Nairobi Business District, and about half an hour’s drive from the city centre.
Free Wi-Fi is available at the airport arrival terminal and the international departure lounges. There are also food cafes, restaurants and forex exchange bureaus located at various points. Public transport is available at the airport at affordable rates. Taxis are also readily available from the airport to the city centre, such as the Kenatco and London style cabs that work at a fixed rate and charge per kilometer.
If you are catching an early flight, a good place to spend the night would be the Panari Hotel, Kenya’s first transit hotel. Located only 10 minutes from the JKIA and 7km from the Nairobi City centre, The Panari Hotel is a central point for any air traveler.
Allow yourself at least 2 hours before your flight to negotiate the airport security check at the entrance and passport control which can result in long queues. If you are already in Nairobi and need to get to the airport, you should also plan at least 2 hours to get there due to the heavy traffic jams.

  • Transport in Nairobi

Nairobi is infamous for its rush hour traffic when most of the main roads are gridlocked. Whatever you do, try your best to avoid rush hour which occurs from 7am to 9am and between 5pm and 7.30pm.
Bus
It’s easy to get around most areas of Nairobi using matatus - privately operated minibuses which are cheap and quick for short and medium distances. Nairobi's matatu drivers like to pimp their rides with fat wheels, fluorescent lighting, blaring mini-TV screens, massive sound systems and colorful exteriors with graffiti or portraits of personalities such as Michael Jackson, Bruce Lee or even Osama bin Laden. If NASCAR tickles your fancy, then a ride in a Nairobi matatu is right up your alley. Hold on tight as the driver races with his rivals through the city traffic!
For a cleaner and less hectic ride around Nairobi, get on the Citi Hoppa - a larger size bus run by private companies, which ply the same routes as matatus in and out of most Nairobi suburbs.
Taxi
Hire a taxi for about $15 an hour, but be sure to agree on the price in advance as not all taxis are metered.
Car Hire
Hiring a car for a day at $70 would be the best option for travelers who intend to move around a lot.

  • Attractions

Nairobi National Park
Nairobi is the proverbial modern urban jungle with a natural landscape beauty that is as energizing as the music of an African drum. Beyond Nairobi’s jagged skyline are vast plains and grass fields spotted with acacia trees, stretching out under the golden light of Africa’s sun and filled with wildlife. This is one of Nairobi’s most extraordinary features: the only Capital city in the whole world with a wildlife park that you can visit by taxi or bus. This city lets you view wild animals against a backdrop of skyscrapers and airliners approaching to land at the nearby airport.
Travelers craving the silence of wild Africa don’t have to leave the city to escape the crowded streets, dizzying skyscrapers and sweaty bars. Simply visit the Nairobi National Park for a game drive or safari walk to see the black rhino, leopard, lion, cheetah, zebra, buffalo, hyena, giraffe, wildebeest, eland, gazelle, and hippo, as well as over 400 bird species that call this park home.
David Sheldrick Orphanage
Don't miss the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust inside the Nairobi National Park, where between 11 a.m. and noon you can watch keepers escort the orphaned baby elephants and rhinos for their daily mud baths. David Sheldrick Trust is the most successful orphan-elephant rescue and rehabilitation program in the world and is involved in rescuing and hand rearing orphan elephants and rhinos. You can visit the adorable baby elephants after their feeding and even pet them if they decide they like you enough to come closer!
Giraffe Centre
If your visit to the national park left you craving a closer encounter with African game, drive down to the Giraffe Centre, located on the western edge of town. But be careful what you wish for because your close encounter might just involve kissing a giraffe! The keeper will ask you to place a biscuit between your teeth; and the giraffe will then try to snatch it away, while slapping its huge pink tongue across your face. This successful centre breeds the Rothschild Giraffe, a rare species that is only found in the Eastern Africa region and has successfully overseen the return of several giraffe couples to the wild. There’s also an education centre that teaches conservation to school children to raise awareness locally on conservation.
Kitengela Glass
Kitengela Hot Glass is a magical place that produces unique items from recycled glass. There are sleek sea-colored vases, lovely coffee tables, extravagant murals, goblets, majestic bejeweled chandeliers, mosaic windows, glowing lamps and Maasai necklaces, all of which offer an explosion of light and color. Each piece is handmade, eye-catching and beautiful, a statement of functional art and great design.
National Museum
Located just outside the city centre, the National Museum is home to many exhibits of the cultural, geological and natural history variety. It has an Art Gallery that offers great contemporary art from artists around East Africa for sale. Its botanical gardens are quiet, and peaceful, with a natural beauty that is complemented by the installation of several colorful glass mosaics from Kitengela Glass. The Museum also regularly holds events to showcase Kenya's rich heritage such as concerts, exhibitions, workshops and film screenings.
Go-Down Arts Centre
The Go-Down Arts Centre is a converted warehouse located in Nairobi’s Industrial Area, reminiscent of the artsy Maboneng Precinct of Johannesburg. Fast becoming a hub for the blossoming art scene of Nairobi, the Centre hosts several art studios, and promotes visual and performing arts through regular shows, workshops, exhibitions and open cultural nights.
National Archives
Located in the bustling heart of Nairobi, the National Archives is home to a wealth of historical objects preserved in honor of Kenya’s history, traditions and culture. There’s a vast collection of documents, reference material, as well as an eclectic selection of contemporary art, historical photos of Nairobi, cultural artifacts, furniture and objects from Kenya’s diverse ethnic groups.
Railway Museum
This interesting little museum offers a fascinating display of relics from the East African Railway, successor to the infamous “Lunatic Express”. There are train and ship models, photographs, tableware and an assortment of historical oddities from the beginning of the railway. In the grounds you will see numerous fading locomotives in various states of disrepair, dating back from the steam days.

  • Emergency Telephone Numbers

Some important Nairobi emergency telephone numbers:
Police

  • Central Police Station

(020) 222222

  • Police Headquarters  

(041) 2311401

  • 24Hr Tourist Helpline

(020) 604767 
Hospitals

  • Nairobi Hospital

(020)2846000/ 0703 082000

  • Aga Khan Hospital

3740000/3742531/5

  • M.P. Shah Hospital

3742763/4/7

  • Gertrude's Garden Hospital

3763474/3763477/3764097

  • Kenyatta Hospital

(020)2726300/2726556
Ambulance Services

  • Nairobi

999 or 222181/2/3

  • Ambulance Accident Services

222222

  • Saint John's Ambulance

(020)2210000

  • AMREF Flying Doctors Ambulance Service

315454/5

  • AAR Emergency Ambulance

(020)2717374
Fire Department
999 or (020)222181/2/3
If you have a Safaricom mobile phone line, you can also call the EMERGENCY number – 112, free-of-charge.

  • Best Restaurants in Nairobi

The Carnivore
Price Range: High End
Cuisine: African, International

If you fancy some mouth-watering barbecue, look no further than The Carnivore. Not only, do they offer the typical nyama choma (fire roasted meat) fare such as sausages, pork, lamb, chicken and beef, but you can also sample some barbecued ostrich, camel and crocodile. With a huge barbecue pit right at the entrance, this dining spot is an absolute must for dinner if you are in Nairobi, even if only for a night. For less than $20, you can devour a bowl of soup, a plate of salad, all you can eat barbecue, coffee and dessert. As long as the flag is flying on your table, the waiters continue bringing meat and carving it right at your table.

Amaica
Price Range: Mid Range
Cuisine: African, International

With its funky décor and relaxed atmosphere, Amaica is another great place to eat in Nairobi. The restaurant offers breakfast, lunch and a selection of desserts at great value for money. This gourmet journey through Kenya begins with the delectable breakfast menu that features a range of fruit juices including passion and mango, masala tea or millet porridge served in a calabash, quail eggs, pigeon peas, sweet potatoes and wild traditional mushrooms flavored with peanut sauce. Alternatively, those requiring a bit more energy for the day ahead can feast on osubuko beef stew with plantains. There is also a vegetarian platter available.

Ranalo’s
Price Range: Budget
Cuisine: African

For a taste of local Kenyan cuisine, your best bet is Ranalo’s. The food in this restaurant is fantastic and available at unbeatable prices for the budget traveler. The menu has a variety of traditional dishes ranging from stews to curries and there is also a bar that serves a variety of drinks. Many patrons will swear by the fresh tilapia fish in coconut stew, which may be savored with chapatti, curried rice or steamed matoke green bananas. The spicy bean curry is a great treat for vegetarians. The restaurant serves food the whole day and when night falls, there is entertainment either from a DJ or live performances.

  • Day Trips
  • Game Drive at the Nairobi National Park

Visit the Nairobi National Park for a game drive or safari walk to see the black rhino, lion, leopard, cheetah, hyena, buffalo, giraffe, zebra, wildebeest, elands, hippo and more than 400 species of birds that call this park home. The park offers an ideal retreat away from the crowded streets, dizzying skyscrapers and sweaty bars of Nairobi.

  • Lunch at Ranalo’s

Ranalo’s is your best bet for a taste of local Kenyan cuisine. Their specialty is fresh tilapia fish in coconut stew, which you can have with chapatti, curried rice or steamed matoke green bananas. The menu offers a wide variety of sumptuous traditional dishes, including a spicy bean curry ideal for vegetarians.

  • City Aerial View at the KICC

If you have a moment after lunch, stop by at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre, KICC. For a small fee, you get to take the elevator all the way to the 28th floor, where there is a helipad at the top of the building that offers a great aerial view of the entire city of Nairobi.

  • Shopping at the Maasai Market/ City Market

A vibrant festival of color, the Maasai Market is a nomadic market that changes location everyday of the week. The most popular one with Nairobians is the open air market in the city center, located at the back of the Hilton Hotel. The market is a treasure trove of souvenirs such as beaded jewelry, exquisite basketry, gourds, kikoy/ leso traditional fabrics, colorful batiks, tie & dyes, sandals, and a host of other handicrafts all available at a negotiable price. Be prepared to bargain hard.
If you can’t get to a Maasai Market location, there is a permanent curios and handicrafts indoor market at the City Market with dozens of stalls open daily. Traders spread their wares comprising wood carvings, paintings, shields, spears, masks, jewelry, musical instruments and soapstone sculptures, all hand-made by local artisans in Kenya. Shop till you drop at the markets to adorn your body, home or find gifts for your family and friends back home.

  • Dinner at The Carnivore

The Carnivore is synonymous with mouth-watering barbecue. In addition to the typical nyama choma (fire roasted meat) fare such as sausages, pork, lamb, chicken and beef, you can also sample some barbecued ostrich, camel and crocodile. Be warned: waiters will continue bringing tasty roasted meat and carving it right at your table until you place the flag down!

  • Clubbing at the Brew, Bistro and Lounge

Nairobi is a cosmopolitan hub whose cool evenings are best enjoyed with a cold beer in hand. If you still have energy after a long adventurous day around the city, drive out to the Brew, Bistro and Lounge which brews specialty premium craft beer. Depending on when you go out to sample Nairobi’s throbbing nightlife, you will be treated to afro beat, salsa, jazz, hip hop, house or the Genge sounds of Kenyan music, possibly from Jua Cali, Kenya’s biggest music star. Quite popular with nairobians, you can expect a festive atmosphere at the Brew almost any day of the week.

  • Languages

Swahili is the national language of Kenya and the main language spoken in Nairobi. Along with Swahili, English is one of the two official languages of Kenya, and is commonly spoken in Nairobi. There are also tens of other indigenous languages that are spoken in Nairobi, including Luhya, Kikuyu and Dholuo.

  • When To Go

Nairobi has a high altitude which is approximately one mile above sea level. This affords the city a mild climate the whole year-round. Visitors to Nairobi at any time of the year are guaranteed reprieve from the extreme blistering temperatures found in many other regions of Africa, and certain areas of Kenya. The best time to visit Nairobi is during the summer months of December through March.

  • Safety

It is a sensible precaution to seek the advice of a local, such as your hotel manager before going to a new place in Nairobi. Kenyans are generally very friendly and hospitable people so do take the time to go out and meet ordinary Kenyans going about their day to day business - the experience will be well worth it.
But do take certain precautions such as:

  • Make a copy of your passport and keep it in your luggage.
  • Do not walk alone at night or in isolated areas of the city.
  • Don't visibly carry around a lot of camera equipment.
  • Do not carry too much cash with you.
  • Hand in your passport, excess money and valuables at your Nairobi hotel reception desk for safe keeping.

 

Author Profile:
Makokha Opiyo is a journalist and copywriter with years of experience writing book reviews, articles on an assortment of interesting, engaging and informative topics, and blogging about music. Her main passion is travel writing - a fire which she keeps alive by backpacking around Africa whenever she can.

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