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Kenya Country Guide

kenya-travel-tips

With snow-tipped mountains, lakes, deserts, forests and diverse range of wildlife which includes lions, giraffes, wildebeests, buffaloes, and herds of Zebras, Kenya is a very popular African holiday destination. Its position near the equator makes year-round travel possible, so it is no surprise that tourism in Kenya is growing.

Kenya key facts

It has a tropical climate which varies by altitude, region and time of year. It's hot and humid by the coast, cooler inland, and very dry in the north. What is the population of Kenya? Approximately 48.5 million. Its capital Nairobi is the country's heartbeat and its most cosmopolitan city, an exciting concrete jungle with over 3 million inhabitants.

The countries national parks and safaris are one of the most popular things to do in Kenya, you can see the range of species which the country is famous for. It is home to some of the world's best game reserves and national parks where you can find rare animals only found in certain parts of the world such as pink flamingos and red elephants.

Kenyan history: The country gained its independence from British colonial rule 1963 and its struggle for freedom (Kiswahili) and has a strong sense of national pride. There are many different ethnic groups and tribes in Kenya though it is predominantly Christian. Some of Africa's best-known peoples originate from there including the Maasai, the Samburu, the Turkana and the Swahili. Kenya is the largest economy in East Africa and although the middle class is growing quickly, real poverty exists there and there is a striking difference between rich and poor.

Poaching, especially elephant poaching, is a long-standing problem in Kenya and many species were nearly wiped out in the 1970s and 1980s. However, things have changed for the better, conservation, community development and tourism have been brought together to work harmoniously. Eco-tourism in Kenya now plays an important role, and you can help make a positive difference in Kenya by helping to support it.

Many visitors choose to spend some time volunteering in Kenya with the local community. This can include teaching, community development, conservation work, or healthcare and medical projects.

Kenya is a great destination for beach holidays in Africa, the coastal regions and the city of Mombasa are home to some stunning coastlines. After heavy investment in tourism, Kenya has also become a popular destination for golf holidays in Africa, with numerous beautiful courses around the major urban areas.

Kenya Basic Information

  • Country: Kenya
  • Capital: Nairobi
  • Population: 48
  • Currency: Kenyan shilling
  • Language: English, Swahili
  • Time Zone: GMT+3

When to Go

Kenya’s weather system is fairly unpredictable and the impact of climate change is only making it harder to say when the best time to go is. Kenya has a tropical climate moderated by altitude. It’s hot and humid at the coast, temperate inland, and very dry in the north and northeast parts. Kenya receives a great deal of sunshine all year round and summer clothes are worn throughout the year.

Here is a rough seasonal guide

  • January to March – Hot and dry.
  • April to June – Hot and wet.
  • July to October – Warm and dry.
  • November to December – Warm and wet.

When is the best time to go to Kenya?  Going when it’s dry is more practical and makes it easier to spot wildlife. The best months to visit Kenya are December to January and July to August. July to September is the best time to go for game viewing. October, November, and March are the best times for scuba diving and snorkeling. The rainy seasons are also nice times to go, the rainfalls come in short bursts and rarely last a long time.

Kenya is a good destination for:

Kenya Entry Requirements

To enter Kenya you need a valid passport with six months remaining from the date of expiry, with at least two blank pages.

It is also necessary to obtain a visa before traveling to Kenya, unless you are a resident of Cyprus (in which case you do not need a visa). The easiest way is to apply for an eVisa to Kenya online in advance (this saves times at the airport), though it is also possible to get one on arrival.

If you require a multi-entry visa, you are advised to get this in advance.

If you plan to also visit Rwanda and Uganda you can apply for east Africa cross-border joint visa, which allows entry into all three countries.

There are many different types of visa which vary in cost and duration, you should allow 3 days for eVisa processing.

Kenya Country Atractions

Spectacular landscapes, iconic wildlife, a rich history and UNESCO heritage sites mean that you are not short of things to do in Kenya.

Things to see and do in Kenya

  1. Go on a safari: The diversity of wildlife in Kenya is simply astounding and brings out the adventurer in everyone. Iconic predators, elephants, herds of zebra and a wide variety of game are just some of the sights you can expect to see on a safari in Kenya. An extra special sight is the famous Maasai Mara migration that takes place between August and October as hundreds of thousands of wildebeests make the long, arduous journey.
  2. Gede ruins and museum: These remains of a Swahili town date back to the twelfth century. Surrounded by enchanting forests the museum has numerous ruins, including houses, mosques, and the palace. This UNESCO site and the mystical cultural life of its old town is an unmissable, popular tourist attraction in Kenya.
  3. Nairobi National Museum: Initiated in 1910, the museum takes you on a comprehensive, fascinating journey through Kenya’s history and cultural heritage. You can also see the famous snake park, enjoy the botanical gardens and go on a nature trail. After closing for refurbishment, the museum reopened in 2008, complete with shopping and dining facilities.
  4. Lake Turkana National Parks: Widely known as the Jade Sea because of the color of its waters, the single body of water is over 250 kilometers long. A national treasure, the lake has one of the longest living histories on Earth. It is home to the world’s single largest crocodile population and they grow to record sizes there. This remote destination, a place of stark beauty makes for a truly rewarding visit.
  5. The Mijikenda Kaya Forests: Spread across 200km of coastline, these 11 separate forests contain the remains of numerous villages and are now regarded as sacred sites and are maintained by councils of elders. Mount Kenya National Park on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1997. The site is inscribed as bearing unique testimony to a cultural tradition and for its direct link to a living tradition. Since being abandoned as places to live the sites have taken on a spiritual significance.
  6. Lamu Old Town: Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage List in 2001, the town of Lamu began as a 14th century Swahili settlement. Since the island has been shaped by many different influences, including Portuguese explorers, Omani Arabs, and Turkish traders. Over time Lamu developed its own culture and its streets markets and squares, where donkeys are more common than cars, remain unchanged today. Get ready to take it easy as life in Lamu is slow, relaxing and exotic.

Travel Tips

  • Is Kenya safe to visit? Kenyans are incredibly friendly and welcoming, tourists are targeted for theft. There is extreme poverty and as with much petty crime, it’s entirely opportunistic.  Take care not to draw more attention to yourself, you’ll minimise yourself as a target if you don’t wave around an expensive camera and wear expensive jewelry. Wear a money belt under your clothes.
  • You need to have a number of injections before traveling to Kenya including diphtheria, hepatitis A, tetanus, and typhoid, you’ll also need to take malaria tablets. Make sure you see you doctor a few weeks before you go to give yourself time to get them done.
  • Drink bottled water. Though the water is fine to drink if you’re used to it, it may upset your stomach and for this reason, it’s best to avoid it. You can use it to wash and to brush your teeth.
  • Be prepared for insects. With its tropical climate, Kenya has its fair share of insects. Cover yourself in insect repellent to minimise the number of times you’re bitten. There are also a number of products available in the shops to deter them from entering your room at night.
  • Are there ATMs in Kenya? There are plenty of ATMs around Kenyas cities and towns. The only problem that you may encounter is your card not working, in a city there are many ATMs so this is not a big problem but try to avoid a situation where you are in a smaller town, at the mercy of a singular ATM. Make sure you advise your bank that you’re going to Kenya before you go.