Kenya is a crossroads country in Africa, which means a little bit of various African countries reside there. More than 40 languages are spoken and as many as eleven different ethnic groups can be identified. The religious breakdown is also very diverse. Despite this variety, the country has a fairly harmonious existence. The national slogan is harambee which loosely translates to lets pull together.
Where is Kenya?
Kenya is 582,646 sq km and lies on the equator and is bordered on the north by Sudan, Somalia and Ethiopia; Uganda and Lake Victoria lie to the west; Tanzania and Mount Kilimanjaro are to the south while the Indian Ocean lies to the east.
The tourist industry in Kenya is so far the leading export earner. Kenya’s tourism offers the best wildlife and beach safaris. A concrete infrastructure combined with a devotion to wildlife conservation has propelled Kenya to the front position of the regional tourism industry.
1 Jan New Year’s Day.
2 Apr Good Friday.
5 Apr Easter Monday.
1 May Labour Day.
1 Jun Madaraka Day.
10 Sep Eid al-Fitr (End of Ramadan).
10 Oct Moi Day.
20 Oct Kenyatta Day.
16 Nov Feast of the Sacrifice.
12 Dec Independence Day.
25 Dec Christmas Day.
26 Dec Boxing Day.
Safaris in Kenya
Kenya is a part of the vast continent of Africa and yet it can provide you with an experience that is out of Africa. A Kenyan Safari is something that everyone visiting Africa should go for. The beaches of Kenya are untouched and unexplored. There is a vast coastline, which is protected by Coral reefs and hence is devoid of any pollution or sharks. You might be the only people on this beach except for the locals. Hence, it will give you the experience of a remote island. These beaches are surrounded by a vast expanse of wildlife.
The famous safaris of Tsavo, Masai Mara and Lake Nakuru are situated in Kenya. Kenya is called the Cradle of Humanity and has unsullied beaches and thriving wildlife. The migration of wild beasts in the Masai Mara has been recorded a million times but you have to see it to believe. You should be sensible when visiting Swahili cities as they can be dangerous.
Tsavo is another place, which has featured in the movies. Famous for its ingenious man-eaters of Tsavo, made famous by the movie starring Val Kilmer, the place is another good tourist attraction. You will keep hearing the word ‘Karibu’, which means welcome in the local dialect. There are various flights connecting Kenya to the rest of the world. Most of them fly straight to Mozambique.
Lake Magadi is the most southerly of the rift valley lakes in Kenya. The place is very remote and hence is scarcely visited by tourists. However, it is an excellent place to visit as the thick encrustation of soda gives it a lunar appearance. This is the most mineral rich of all the soda lakes.
History enthusiasts can head to the Gede ruins hidden in the forests. These ruins consist of a vast colony of houses and mosques, which are engulfed in mystery. There are no records of this place’s existence in the textbooks of history making them even more mysterious. Excavations, which were carried on in this place, have led to the discovery of startling facts about the history and trade of the place.
Kenya Travel Guide
Kenya is the land that has given birth to the most popular African activity for tourists, namely the safari, and its easy to see why. Blessed with tremendous topographical diversity stretching over four climatic zones and featuring coral reefs, desert landscapes, volcanoes and snow-capped mountains, Kenya has it all in one.
Inhabiting these diverse landscapes and wilderness areas are Kenya’s world-famous wildlife, which can be viewed from horseback, 4×4 vehicle, verandah or on foot. There are over 1000 species of birds and huge colonies of colourful butterflies. Also attractive is the rich history, which dates back to the Stone Age, and the various cultures expressed through the sought-after arts and crafts.
So, if you are lazing on the white sand beaches of exotic Mombasa or gazing at the world’s greatest wildlife spectacle, the annual wildebeest migration, you are sure to enjoy a world-class experience.
Best Places to Visit
Maasai Mara National Park:
National Reserve The world’s most famous Game Reserve due to the annual wildebeest, zebra and gazelle migration over this vast plain offering breathtaking views; home to a profusion of wildlife and birds; activities include excellent game viewing year round, balloon rides and bird watching.
Tsavo East and West:
The twin national parks of Tsavo, totalling 10 million acres of wilderness, form Kenya’s largest National Park, which make it ideal for those who enjoy solitude; of the two Tsavo West is visited more; apart from the wildlife and birds, visit Lugard Falls, the volcanic Mzima springs and a unique underwater observatory.
One of the world’s most exotic tropical ports with a turbulent history. Visit the magnificent Fort Jesus and harbour, see the Arab architecture in Old Town and smell the scent of spices. Many fine temples and mosques can be explored such as the Shiva Temple, the Baluchi mosque and the Dawoodi Bohra Mosque. Also don’t miss the Mombasa Marine National Park, the Moi Avenue gateway arch, dhow cruises and the beaches.
Amboseli National Park:
One of the most popular national parks in Kenya with a wide range of accommodation; the landscape is dominated by Mount Kilimanjaro and the park is famous for its big game and scenic beauty; bird life is abundant.
Lake Nakuru National Park:
Famous for its flamingoes and so popular with bird watchers and other nature lovers. Make full use of the view point and visit the Euphobia forest.
Mount Kenya National Park:
The country is named after Mount Kenya, the second highest mountain in Africa. For mountain climbers and hikers, it offers easy and challenging ascents with superb scenic beauty. The local tribes believe it is the home of Ngai (God). A number of unique, rare and endangered species can be found here and there is abundant bird life.
A peaceful tropical island with a fascinating history, which can be explored in the winding streets of its medieval stone town, a World Heritage Site partly due to it being the oldest and best-preserved Swahili settlement in East Africa.
Lake Turkana National Parks:
The three national parks serve as a stopover for migrant waterfowl and are major breeding grounds for the Nile crocodile, hippopotamus and a variety of venomous snakes. Turkana is outstanding for the study of plant and animal communities and the Koobi Fora fossil deposits have contributed more to the understanding of paleo-environments than any other site in Africa, it is also the most saline of Africa’s large lakes and a World Heritage Site.
Aberdare National Park:
A must for landscape lovers, where one can view spectacular mountains, waterfalls, rainforest, trout streams, moorlands, thickets of giant heath, caves, abundant bird life, duikers, the black rhino and the elusive, rare Bongo – a forest antelope. This area is ideal for walks, picnics, trout fishing, camping and night game viewing.
Mount Elgon National Park:
One of Kenya’s most beautiful and pristine areas where you can find giant trees, about 400 animals, over 240 bird species and ‘cave elephants’ that venture deep into the four caves at night to feed on the salt rich deposits. Mount Elgon is also a famous botanical locality with a great wealth of Afro alpine flowers. Hot springs occur and sport fishing is popular on the Suam river.
Quick Information About Kenya
Four climatic zones exist: tropical, equatorial, semi-desert and desert. Only two seasons are identified, namely dry and rainy. Due to altitude and topographical differences of the various regions, these seasons and temperatures are not uniform and vary greatly. However, in general the climate is warm and humid at the coast, cool and humid in the central highlands, and hot and dry in the north and east.
The official currency is the Kenya Shilling. Traveller’s cheques are widely accepted and many hotels, travel agencies, safari companies and restaurants accept credit cards. Foreign currency such as US dollars, British pounds and Deutschmarks can be exchanged at banks, bureaux de change and authorized hotels. There are no restrictions on the amount of foreign currency that can be brought into Kenya, but taking out more than 500,000 Kenya Shillings requires written authorization from the Central Bank. Before departure, travellers are advised to convert any excess Kenya Shillings into foreign currency at a bank or bureau de change. Departure taxes can be paid in local or foreign currency.
220/240 volts, 50Hz. Plugs are 3-pin square.
A yellow fever vaccination is recommended if the traveller comes from an infected country or area. Visitors are also advised to take pre-arrival precautions against typhoid, hepatis A, polio, malaria and meningitis depending on the area visited and time of year. Other health concerns include cholera, rabies, the Nairobi beetle (don’t touch, threaten or kill), dysentery and diarrhoea.
English is the official language, but Kiswahili is the national language.
New Year’s Day (1 Jan); Good Friday (09 Apr); Easter Monday (12 Apr); Labour Day (1 May); Madaraka Day (01 Jun); Moi Day (10 Oct); Kenyatta’s Day (20 Oct); End of Ramadan (14 Nov); Independance Day (12 Dec); Christmas Day (25 Dec); Boxing Day (26 Dec)
Traditional artefacts, beaded jewellery and decorative items, animal wood and soapstone carvings, furniture, coffee, precious stones, furniture, Khanga and Kikoy cloths, musicical instruments, modern art, basket work e.g. Kiondoo/Chondo sisal baskets, Maasai Shukka blankets, ‘Thousand Miler’ sandals, ‘elephant hair’ bracelets.
Culture here is a mix of the modern and the traditional, with European habits prevailing throughout the country. Kenyans are a very friendly nation and you can dress informally for most occasions.
TIME DIFFERENCE:GMT +3
Not mandatory. Guides, drivers, waiters and hotel staff can be tipped at your discretion.