Kenya, an East African nation, spans more than 224,000 sq. miles (582,000 sq. Km). This beautiful and world famous East Africa tourist country is situated on the equator and is bordered by five countries: Uganda (to the west), South Sudan (to the northwest), Ethiopia (to the north), Somalia (to the northeast), and Tanzania (to the south). Along its southeast edge, is Kenya’s tropical coastline that connects the country to the Indian Ocean.
Kenya is blessed with a wide range of topographical features – from the low plains found along the coast, bisected by the Great Rift Valley, to the fertile plateau in the west. The Great Rift Valley is home to a number of lakes, arid and rugged landscapes, and volcanic landforms with areas of active hot springs and geothermal activity.
The highland areas of Central Kenya provide fertile ground for farming, making Kenya one of the most agriculturally productive countries in Africa. The north of Kenya, however, is largely desert land scattered with thorn bush. This contrasts greatly with the Kenyan coast, which features many beaches, coral reefs, creeks and coral islands. The coastal strip is largely flat, giving rise to the rolling Taita hills.
Kenya enjoys a tropical climate:
The coastal area is warm and humid, the central highlands are temperate, and it is both hot and dry in Kenya’s north and northeast regions.
Rainfall in Kenya is seasonal with most rain falling between the months of April and June and shorter rainfalls occurring between October and December.
Kenya People and Culture
Kenya has a population of more than 38 million people, with about four million residing in its capital city, Nairobi. There are 42 ethnic groups who call Kenya home; each group has its own unique language and culture. Although Kikuyu is the largest ethnic group, the Maasai are the most well known due to both their long-preserved culture and their involvement in Kenyan tourism.
Kenya is also home to immigrants of other nationalities, including Americans, Europeans, Asians, Arabs and Other African Nationalities. This country’s people are very hospital and welcoming.
Kenya’s official languages are English and Swahili.
Tourist Attractions in Kenya
Game Safaris and wildlife tours, nice clean sandy beaches and cultural tours are Kenya’s biggest attractions, drawing many visitors to the country each year. Kenya manages more than 45 National Parks & Game Reserves, where visitors can view some of the country’s most spectacular wildlife, including the “Big Five” animals. In fact, the “Big Five” are the central focus of the majority of safari tours and wildlife expeditions offered within the parks. Kenya’s most popular and worldwide famous reserve is the Maasai Mara Game Reserve, which borders the Serengeti plains in Tanzania. Between July and September, visitors can witness the remarkable annual migration of wildebeests and zebras as well as other ungulates such as Thompson & Grants Gazelles. These are followed by a good number of predators.
Kenya’s many beaches along the Indian Ocean are the country’s second biggest tourist attraction. Visitors can enjoy clean beaches lined with palm trees and studded with luxury resorts, with coral reefs located just offshore. The City of Mombasa is the entry point to the coast, with beaches extending south to Malindi and north to Lamu Archipelago, a world heritage site.
Why millions of tourists are flocking to Kenya
If you love fun and adventure, Kenya is a melting pot with an endless array of activities and destinations that promise you an undiluted fun.
It is the world famous center for game safaris and active adventure holidays.
A variety of activities to enjoy and not found anywhere in the world in one country includes:
wildlife safaris, bird watching, windsurfing, horseback riding, golfing, canoeing, kayaking, sailing, mountain biking, snorkeling, scuba diving, hot air ballooning, mountain climbing, hiking, water skiing, fishing, and many more wonderful activities.
Handy preparations for your Kenya visit
Visa and Passport Information
Before you buy your airline ticket to Kenya, you want to be sure you have everything you need or will be able to get it once you arrive in Kenya. Depending on your nationality or country of origin, you may need to apply for and get a visa before visiting Kenya. It is important that you do so immediately upon making the decision to travel, and that you make sure your visa does not expire during your travel. You can apply for and get a Kenya visa from your nearest Kenyan embassy or consulate.
Also, make sure you have a current and valid passport, that it is not about to expire. Expect that your passport could take up to six weeks to arrive, so make sure you plan well in advance for your passport needs. As a rule, your passport should expire no sooner than six months before the end your travel.
When making preparations for your passport, it is advisable to make several copies of the actual passport or visa (in addition to the original). This is for your own safety because the last thing you want to do is to be out of your home country without any way to provide proof of your identity, should you lose your passport. You should leave one of the copies at home before you travel, just in case. When you travel with the original passport, always keep it locked up safely, in a hotel safe or other secure location.
Before you leave for Kenya, make sure you have the following:
- Valid Passport
- Return Ticket
- Adequate Funds
- Visa (if required
Not everyone needs a Kenya visa.
You can view a full list of countries and nationalities on who need and do not need a Kenya Visa by browsing the this Website:: http://www.immigration.go.ke/
Health advice for Kenya
Before you travel to Kenya, make sure that you are up to date on all immunizations. Although there are currently no inoculations that you must have when traveling to Kenya, if you intend to visit other countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Egypt, or other such areas that may be deemed infected, you will need inoculations. In such cases, you should make sure you have the following immunizations (depending on the specific area you intend to visit and it is good to consult your physician):
Hepatitis (A and B)
Other health advice when traveling to Kenya is to make sure you protect yourself from mosquito bites, which could lead to malaria. Some protective measures against mosquito bites include wearing long sleeved shirts/blouses and long pants, using mosquito repellent with a minimum of 30 percent DEET, and using mosquito nets. If you will be traveling to the Kenyan, it is advisable to take anti-malaria pills.
It is also advisable that you purchase adequate travel and medical insurance while abroad, just in case something happens. These types of short-term insurance services are available through some travel agencies and medical insurance companies. They may also be part of the services you already receive with your credit cards, so check with your credit card company. It is better to play it safe than end up sorry.
What to pack for your Kenya travel?
Proper planning and packing is the key to a safe and comfortable trip to Kenya.
Make sure you keep the following in mind when packing for your trip.
Remember that Kenya has a tropical climate. You should prepare yourself for a wide variety of conditions that may include dust, and wet, hot and/or cool weather. Put careful thought into your preparations and pack accordingly depending on your reason for traveling to Kenya and the activities you intend to participate in. Furthermore, make certain that your luggage can withstand harsh conditions as well, particularly if you intend to travel to different parts of the country. You also need to keep the luggage limit requirements of the airline you will be flying with in mind. And don’t forget to leave some space to bring back some gifts!
Here are some basics to have when packing for your trip to Kenya:
- Basic essentials
- Comfortable, lightweight, and casual clothes (if you are on a safari, neutral is best, bright and bold is not)
- Comfortable and strong shoes or boots
- Brimmed hat
- Insect repellent
- Formal / Occasional wear (depending on your reason for travel)
- Prescription medication
- Sunglasses (and a spare pair)
- Medical kit (for exploration)
- Swiss Army Knife (for exploration)
- Flashlight (for exploration)
- Video camera and accessories
- Travel documents – passport, visa, others
- Vaccination Certificates
- Insurance Documents
- Traveler’s cheques
- Credit / Debit cards
- Sandals or flipflops
- Kenya maps – city/town maps and travel guides
- Notebook, tablet or smartphone
Dress code and clothing – what to wear in Kenya?
When it comes to clothing, you need to take extra caution as Kenya often exhibits unpredictable weather patterns. Here’s a basic guide of the kind of weather to expect at certain times of the month.
- January- mid March: Most parts of the country are hot and dry. Light dressing would be appropriate. You can however carry moderate clothing for the cold nights.
- Mid-march-June: Most parts of the country are experiencing the long rains, but the weather is warm. Carry warm clothing.
- June-mid October: Fairly hot. The plains are green and it is a good time to explore. Carry a mix of light and warm clothing as the temperatures drop drastically in the evening and nights.
- Mid-October-December: Short rains. Most parts of the country are fairly cold and wet. It would be in order to carry warm and light clothes.
A point to observe is that in the major Kenya cities, most people appreciate contemporary culture and don’t place too much emphasis on dressing. In the rural areas however, because of the reserved African culture, there still exist prejudice towards women dressing in excessively short skirts, short dresses or shorts and pants.
- Business suits and business casual for men and ladies is the accepted wear if traveling to Kenya on business.
General prices in gift shops
- Small items – rings, bracelets, necklaces and ash trays usually range between US$2 to US$5. Upscale curio shops may however double the prices.
- Bigger items – traditional stools, chess boards, soapstone carvings usually range between US$15 and US$40
- If you’re going on a tour, it would be advisable to consult with your tour guide, if you have one, as curio and gift shops often extend varying prices, depending on the customer. Some allow for a customer to bargain the offered price.
Safety and security
You always want to be aware of your surroundings when traveling away from home. Traveling to Kenya is no different. Be vigilant when in public places and even more when venturing out at night. In-case of robbery, report the incident at the nearest police station. Kenya has a Tourist Safety and Communication Center that is always on call. They offer a 24hr tourist helpline (02-604767) where you can seek assistance if needed.The Tourist Safety and Communication Center is available to help with updates, travel advisories, road conditions, health issues, and security. Please contact them if you have any trouble during your visit to Kenya.
Kenya travel tips – travelling do’s and don’ts
- We understand that you want to take as many pictures of the beautiful country as possible, but before you begin to take pictures of houses or people, ask for their permission. In some cases, you may be required to offer a tip for those pictures.
- Watch your money. Make sure that, when switching currency you do so in a reputable hotel, foreign exchange bureau or bank.
- Do not display your valuables to the world; this will keep you from being the target of theft.
- Only carry what you need in regards to money when venturing out.
- Keep yourself “undercover” – do not display jewelry.
- If you are going on a safari, watch your clothing choices. Bright colors (such as whites and blues) attract wild animals as well as insects. Camouflage clothing, is in some cases, illegal to wear.
- Never approach a wild animal, even if they appear harmless.
- Drinking water – it is safer to drink bottled or mineral water.
- Tipping is OK although not mandatory in most places. A tip of US$1 per bag for luggage per move, $5 for driver guides and professional safari guides per day per person for a group of say 4 passengers and above (or equivalent) and 10% of your consumption in the lodges for lodge staff is acceptable. In the hotels, except for the porters taking care of your luggage, placing a good tip in a tip box is more appreciated as it will benefit even the back office staff such as chefs, house keepers, cleaners etc
We hope above Kenya travel tips will be helpful and will prepare you for a wonderful visit to Kenya.
Accommodation in Kenya
This ranges from 5-star hotels to remote tented camps, accommodation in Kenya is as diverse as the the countries range of tourist products. Whether you’re after a family beach resort, a city-centre guest house or a classic safari lodge in Big 5 game country, Kenya’s accommodation will ensure that you get the favourite experience