Kibera is located in a valley not far from downtown Nairobi and is generally considered to be the worst slum in the world. It covers an area of approximately four square kilometers and is home to more than 1.5 million people who live in mud and tin shacks without electricity or even running water.
A visit here is a must for anyone who wants to get to know modern Africa as it is. Although it theoretically possible to visit Kibera independantly during the day, a better option is to take an organised tour. If you do feel the need to head up there alone, take a taxi or walk to Kibera Olympic which is on the edge of the slum (off Millimani Road). However be warned and please stay alert and do not venture in too deep; what ever you do, make sure you are well out of there by nightfall. If you find the prospect of entering Kibera alone too daunting to contemplate (and I wouldn’t blame you), the three-hour organised tour offered by Victoria Safaris (http://www.victoriasafaris.com/kenyatours/propoor.htm) represents, in my opinion, very good value. The price depends on the number of people in your group and works out at around 50$ per person singly or in pairs (2009/10). The company’s owner, James, will pick you up at your hotel in a minibus and drive you over to Kibera where you hook up with a minder and a couple of local guides who will show you around. A typical tour includes a visit to one of the many NGO’s operating in the slums, several houses/dwellings, the biogas plant, the train tracks (featured in the film ‘The Constant Gardener’) and, of course, a good walk around the streets to appreciate the enviroment and atmosphere. The minder and guides are all well-known and respected members of the community and taking an organised tour with them will not only serve to keep you safe but also to make your visit rewarding and educational. It will also provide them badly needed employment and income.
As you will see, Kibera is a city within a city and very much a world unto itself. Not to be missed are the public toilets in the centre of the slum which have been cleverly designed also function as a biogas plant. The two-level structure has a café at the top which serves good, cheap tea and its height means that it affords good views over the corrogated iron roofs stretching away in every direction. Also memorable, or should I say haunting, is the small river flowing at the bottom of the valley, its reeking water, and the carefree play of the children on its banks amid the filth and countless ‘flying toilets’ (rags and bits of paper used to wipe yourself and then tossed away). It is certainly not the kind of thing that pampered Western visitors will forget in a hurry.