Once home to “Out of Africa” author Karen Blixen, who lends the suburb its name, Karen is 20 km southwest of the central business district has the feel of a sprawling country village, with the newly opened Karen Crossroads shopping centre and two small buisness centres, Langata Link and Karen Connection.
There are several top-class restaurants sitting behind high gates along the wide, leafy roads flanked by flower nurseries and wooden furniture stores. Until recently all accommodation here was in large elegant houses, surrounded by beautifully manicured gardens, which were built during the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s at the height of Britain’s colonial rule.
However now there is extensive modern development and, before the political crisis at the beginning of 2008, houses were selling off the drawing board. The area is served by the very modern Karen Hospital, a handful of international schools including Hillcrest, The Banda, Brookhouse and the Norwegian Community School, and the Karen Country Club, a sports and social club. It also has its own on-line newspeper, the “Karen Chronicle” and a strong local residents’ association.
Buses and matatus run along the two main roads, Ngong Road and Langata Road, which link the suburb to central Nairobi, but there is no public transport serving the long residential lanes between main routes and taxis are few and far between. A taxi from the city centre will cost KSh1,000. It is almost essential to own a car here.
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Karen and Langata
Langata, Nairobi, Kenya