Kenya is one of the world’s most popular tourism destinations attracting millions of tourists annually. The country has many attractive tourist sites, rich culture, striking geographical diversity and landscapes ranging from beautiful beaches, to animal parks and archeological sites.
The capital city is Nairobi the green city in the sun and is the East African economic hub. Other cities in Kenya include Mombasa, Kisumu and some of the major towns are Nakuru, Nyeri, Eldoret,Thika and Nanyuki.
Kenya is also referred to as cradle for human kind because evidence of some of the earliest human settlements has been found in Kenya, suggesting that it was the cradle of humanity from which descendents moved out to populate the world.
Kenya lies across the equator on the east coast of Africa and it covers a total land area of 582,000 sq. km (which includes 13,600 sq. km of inland lakes). In the west it is bordered by Uganda, in the north by Ethiopia and the newest country in the world, South Sudan; in the south by Tanzania, and in the east by Somalia and the Indian Ocean
Kenya shares Lake Victoria, the largest lake in Africa with Tanzania and Uganda and is the main source of the Nile River.
Kenya has the second highest mountain in Africa, Mt.Kenya after Mt.Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.
As a country situated on the equator, Kenya has generally good and pleasant weather all year round. The weather varies from tropical along coast to arid in the interior. The hottest months are February and March, while the coldest months are July and August. April and June are commonly referred to as the long rains season and the short rains are from September to December.
Kenya has a population of approximately 40 million people.
English is widely spoken in East African regions with few words of Swahili, however in Kenya it is widely spread and spoken in all the counties.
Protestants make up 45%, Roman Catholic 33%, indigenous beliefs 10%, Muslim 10% and others 2%. A large majority of Kenyans are Christian
“Jambo’’ and “Habari “ ( Hello and how are you in Swahili) accompanied by a handshake are the common greetings throughout the country and are the first words a tourist hears when they arrive in Kenya.
Kenyans are world known for their warm hospitality, they are easy going, and helpful.
The Kenyan currency is the shilling (kes/kshs) and is available at all local banks and foreign exchange bureaux. The shilling comes in denomination notes of 1000, 500, 200, 100, 50 and 40,20,10,5,1 in coins.
Visitors to Kenya should change foreign currency at banks, bureaux de change or authorized hotels. The easiest currencies to exchange are US Dollars, Pounds sterling and EURO.
Travellers Cheques are widely accepted, and many hotels, travel agencies, safari companies and restaurants accept Credit Cards. Most Banks in Kenya are equipped to advance cash on credit cards.
There are no restrictions on the amount of foreign currency that can be brought into Kenya.
Before departure, travellers are advised to convert any excess Kenya shillings into foreign currency at a bank or bureau de change before departure. Departure taxes can be paid in local or foreign currency.
Anyone wishing to take more than 500,000 Kenya Shillings out of the country will require written authorization from the Central Bank.
Banks are open from 9:00am to 3:00pm Monday to Friday. Some branches open on Saturdays from 9:00am to 11:00am.
Many banks are now equipped with 24 hour ATM machines.
Visa and passport requirements
A valid passport is required for all foreigners entering Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. Visa requirements vary according to country of origin. Most nationality however, require visa to enter Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. We advise that you check with the nearest Embassy of Kenya, Tanzania or Uganda, if traveling to the respective country. Visa can be processed at the airports upon arrival but this can be very slow. We therefore advise clients to purchase them from their countries of origin before traveling. However a valid visa possession does not warrant entry to the country therefore one must fulfill the immigration requirements.
No immunizations are required by law to enter Kenya if you are travelling directly from Europe or the US. However, if you are from any country which has Yellow fever or Ebola, a certificate to show you have been immunized against them is required for entry into, or travel between, some African countries including Kenya
Vaccines commonly recommended for travelers to Africa include those against;
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
- Yellow fever
Food and Drinks
Sometimes the weather can get really hot and all visitors should drink bottled water, which is available in supermarkets, restaurants, hotels, resorts and shops in towns.
Kenya is a major horticultural exporter and has a lot of healthy, sweet and juicy fresh fruits and a variety of vegetables available throughout the year although some are seasonal.
Kenya offers a cross-section of international cuisines from Japanese, French, Thai, Italian, Brazilian, Indian, Chinese, coastal cuisines and others.
Kenyans are known to have the best roast meat “choma”, so there are many Nyama choma joints (restaurants) dotted all over the country. Nyama choma is always accompanied by a choice from the several Kenyan brewed beers, some of which have won world awards.
Hotel check-out time
The standard checkout time in Kenya is 10 a.m. regardless of the actual departure time from your hotel. Day room facilities maybe available for clients leaving in the evening or they may allow you keep your room until departure depending on the occupancy of the Hotel. A charge will be payable locally for this service.
Kenyan Public holidays include:
1st January New Years Day
February/March Idd il Fitr
March/April Good Friday
March/April Easter Monday
1st May Labour Day
1st June Madaraka Day
10th October Moi Day
20th October Kenyatta Day
12th December Jamhuri Day
25th December Christmas Day
26th December Boxing Day
The Muslim Festival of Idd il Fitr celebrates the end of Ramadhan. The date varies each year depending on the sighting of a new moon in Mecca.
Dates for the Christian festival of Easter vary from year to year.
Kenya has a good network of telephone, cellular and satellite connections. Most hotels and lodges offer International telephone and fax services. In larger towns, private telecommunication centres also offer international services. If you have a mobile phone with a roaming connection, then you can make use of Kenya’s excellent cellular networks, which covers larger towns and tourist areas.
When calling Kenya, the International code is +254.
Internet – Kenya has good Internet Service Providers. Email and Internet services are offered by many hotels and lodges. In most towns, there are plenty of private business centres and cyber cafes offering email and internet access.
Take out travel insurance to cover loss of baggage or valuables, personal accident and medical expenses.
Kenya is a generally safe country. Keep an eye on your belongings. Don’t walk in the towns or cities at night – take a taxi. Don’t carry cameras or large amounts of cash; beware of pickpocketers. Use hotel safety deposit boxes to safeguard valuables and obtain a receipt. Leave valuable jewellery at home.
The tourist areas and hotels sell a wide range of souvenirs, jewelry and trinkets. Don’t be afraid to haggle at roadside curio stalls.
Tipping is not mandatory in Kenya. Guides, drivers, waiters and hotel staff can be tipped at your discretion (max 10%) will be appreciated. $10 – $15 per day for driver or tour guide
East African time zone is GMT+3. Most businesses in Kenya are open from Monday to Friday, though some also trade on Saturday. Business hours are generally 9:00am to 5:00pm, closing for an hour over lunch (1:00pm – 2:00pm).
Most businesses in Kenya are open from Monday to Friday, though some also trade on Saturday. Business hours are generally 9:00am to 5:00pm, closing for an hour over lunch (1:00pm – 2:00pm).
Kenya has several English language newspapers. The most popular are the Daily Nation (www.nationaudio.com) and the East African Standard (www.eastandard.net).
The East African is a weekly newspaper sold throughout Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.
There is a Swahili newspaper, Taifa Leo.
There is also locally produced television and radio media.
International newspapers and magazines are widely available in Kenya.
Digital Satellite Television has become widespread throughout Kenya. Many hotels provide this South African based service, offering a range of channels.
The electricity supply in Kenya is 220/240 v 50hz.
Plugs are 3 point square.
If you are planning to bring a video camera charger or any other electrical advice, bring a universal adaptor and a torch (flashlight) or headlamp.
Driving is done on the left. An international license is required. Plan long safaris carefully, ensuring your vehicle is road worthy with two spare tyres, an operational jack and tool kit. Carry extra fuel, spares and water.