About Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NBO)
Address: Avis Counter, Jomo Kenyatta Intl Airport, Nairobi, 00100
The primary entry point for international air travel to Kenya, Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NBO) is located 15km (9 mi) from central Nairobi. Airport car rentals are offered by Avis, Hertz, Europcar, Sixt, and Budget. Look for signs outside baggage claim directing you to the car hire counters.
Despite a lingering reputation for car jackings and reckless motorists, driving in Nairobi is not terribly prohibitive, especially if your car has GPS and you avoid driving at night. Visitors to this sprawling metropolis will quickly realize that renting a car is the best way of getting around. Most roads in central Nairobi are in good shape and well marked. The speed limit in central Nairobi is 50 km/h — though you probably won’t ever be travelling that fast — and 110 km/h outside of town. Speed and mobile cameras are typically posted with a warning that you’re entering a control zone. Minor challenges come in the form of acclimatizing to right-hand, left-lane driving, and livestock on major roadways.
It’s when you venture outside Nairobi that things get a little hairy. By far the most popular reason for renting a car in Nairobi is self-driven safari, which comes with a separate set of warnings, rules, and contingencies. Of course, all-wheel drive vehicles are absolutely essential for any kind of off-road driving. But you must familiarize yourself with the basics of wilderness travel in order to fully enjoy a safari — before you rent a car.
Do be advised that Kenyan car hire providers have a unique set of policies regarding insurance, deposits, and use of their vehicles. For example, you can get a cheaper rate by agreeing to only visit certain destinations in Nairobi.
Choosing your car
Choosing your car at Nairobi Airport is made simple by natural selection. Japanese cars dominate the fleet of vehicles, and that’s good, because Japanese cars are known for two things: efficiency and reliability — the latter of which is crucial when driving in Kenya. Toyota compact and intermediate cars are ideal for small groups with minimal baggage. Step up to a fullsize Hyundai for more space and legroom. Mazda and Mitsubishi offer midsize SUVs that were designed for safari life. Families and larger groups will gravitate toward the Toyota 7-9 seater minivan, the top people carrier available in Nairobi.
Tips and advice
Handicapped (disabled) parking does not exist in Kenya. However, parking outside of central Nairobi is ample and generally free of charge.
There are no toll roads in Kenya. At the same time, there are but a handful of major roads that criss-cross the country. Route planning won’t involve a lot of second guessing. There’s usually only one way of getting to a destination.
Never leave valuables in unattended vehicles, even if left in secured parking.
Keep your doors locked when travelling anywhere in Kenya by car.
Avoid any kind of activity outside of a secured compound after dark, especially at ATMs.
Airport car rentals are equipped with either automatic or manual transmission. Your car rental provider may offer you a different car than what you reserved, often at a substantial discount. Also, many cars in the rental fleet have already sustained some cosmetic damage, so it’s important to do a thorough spot check of the vehicle before signing the contract.