Kibera, the largest slum both in Nairobi and Africa, is home to more than a million residents packed into an area less than a square mile (2.6 square kilometers). While life here isn’t easy—it’s one of Nairobi’s poorest neighborhoods and the lack of running water and electricity are constant problems—the slum has its own buzzing industries, which include rows of tilted shacks selling produce, charcoal, homemade breads, secondhand clothes, and shoes.
While the thought of visiting one of the world’s largest urban slums might sound overwhelming, the experience of spending a few hours in this vibrant, multifaceted community is an educational one. With its maze-like network of unmarked streets and narrow alleys, Kibera is best visited on a small-group or private tour led by a guide from the community who can shed light on the inspiring creativity, resilience, and ingenuity employed by Kibera residents to survive under challenging circumstances in what they call the “city of hope.”
Things to Know Before You Go
- A Kibera tour can be an education experience, allowing for a better understanding of Nairobi and its history.
- Wear closed-toed shoes suitable for walking over uneven surfaces.
- It’s best to leave unnecessary valuables like jewelry and large cameras in your hotel room.
- Profits from Kibera tours sometimes go toward funding community projects.
How to Get There
Catching a bus or matatu from center city to the outskirts of Kibera is easy, but without a tour guide, finding a bus for the return trip can be difficult. Travelers can walk the streets alone safely, but traveling with a tour guide familiar with the narrow passes and abandoned railways can make navigation easier and the experience more insightful.
When to Get There
The best time to visit the Kibera slum is during daytime business hours when it’s possible to see the neighborhood’s inventive industries in full swing. January, February, and July through October are the driest and most pleasant months weather-wise.
A Note on the Ethics of Slum Tourism
We are sensitive to the issues and concerns surrounding slums, and we understand that tours of them may not be suitable for everyone. We strongly believe that these tours are educational and allow for a better understanding of life inside Kibera.