Kenya lies across the equator on the east coast of the African continent. Neighboring countries are Ethiopia to the north, Somalia to east, Tanzania to south, Uganda to west and Sudan to north-west. The Indian Ocean lies on the southeastern border of the country. The country occupies an area of Sq Km 582,646 (the size of France).
Yes, visitors require a passport to enter Kenya. Passports must have a sufficient number of unused pages for endorsements abroad and they must also be valid for at least six months past the projected stay in Kenya.
Yes, visitors require a visa to enter Kenya. For details, please consult the Kenyan embassy or Consulate nearest to you. You can also apply for a visa at the point of entry. To download a visa application form, log onto this site.
$50 or £35 for a single-entry visa
A health certificate is not a requirement for travel to Kenya unless traveling from a Yellow fever zone. It is highly recommended that travelers to Kenya take precautions against Malaria. The best choice in vaccines for your trip depends on many individual factors, please consult your doctor on specific information regarding your health needs prior to departure.
Kenya is no different from any other destination in the world. Common sense is all that is required. Avoid displaying expensive possessions; walking through unlit urban areas at night, and follow the guide’s instructions in the bush. It is also recommended that you leave valuables and airline tickets in the hotel’s safe.
Security Issues: Yes, Kenya is a safe destination. However, we are host to over 300 foreign correspondents in East Africa. In most cases, regional stories filed from Nairobi give the impression that Kenya is on fire. Kenyans recognize the economic value of tourism to the country’s economy. Disturbances are infrequent and tourists are very rarely affected. Use common sense when traveling in Kenya or any other developing country.
Terrorism Comes Up: Terrorism is a global phenomenon that we in Kenya take very seriously. Since we have been hit twice, the Kenya Government, in collaboration with other governments has enhanced security at our airports, entry ports and in areas frequented by tourists. The Tourist Police Unit (TPU), – a special force formed to ensure the safety and security of tourists in the country has been revamped and bases established at the Coast Region, Nairobi, Shaba-Isiolo and Naivasha. Plans to establish more bases in other tourist attraction areas are under way.
Kenya enjoys a mild tropical climate. The average annual temperature for the capital city, Nairobi (altitude 4,980 feet) is 77ºF maximum and 56ºF minimum. The coastal town of Mombasa (altitude 50 feet) is 86ºF maximum and 73ºF minimum. There is plenty of sunshine all the year round and summer clothes are worn throughout the year. However, it is usually cool at night and early in the morning. The long rains occur from April to June and short rains from October to December. The rainfall is sometimes heavy and when it does come it often falls in the afternoons and evenings. The hottest period is from February to March and coolest in July to August.
The annual migration of wildlife between Serengeti National Park in Tanzania and Maasai Mara National Park in Kenya takes place between July and October. The migration of almost two million wildebeest, zebras and other species is nature’s greatest spectacle on earth.
Kenya is a great destination year-round. The main tourist season is December to March, since the hot, dry weather at this time of year is generally considered to be the most pleasant. It’s also when Kenya’s bird life flocks to the Rift Valley lakes in the greatest numbers. June to September could be called the ‘shoulder season’ as the weather is still dry. The rains hit from March to May (and to a lesser extent from October to December). During these months things are much quieter – places tend to have rooms available and prices may decrease. The rains generally don’t affect travelers’ ability to get around because it usually rains in the evening while the days are dry.
Both temperatures and climate vary drastically from region to region and even throughout a single day. You should be prepared for hot, cold, wet and dusty conditions. Ultimately your packing should be dictated by the activities you are planning to undertake. If you are traveling extensively throughout the country make sure that you bring suitable luggage. Suitcases and bags should be able to withstand plenty of handling.
If you are traveling by domestic/chartered flights within Kenya, remember that there are luggage weight restrictions, particularly on smaller aircraft. Check in advance with your Charter airline or Safari/Tour operator.
Kenya’s wilderness areas are famous worldwide. Kenya represent far more than you would ever expect, protecting and showcasing a broad range of habitats and species. Some of the many animals that you may see may include the fabled “Big Five” Elephant, lion, buffalo, leopard and rhino. Just a few other examples include: zebra, wildebeest, cheetah, giraffe, hippo, crocodile, monkey, gazelle, impala, and bird life. Take a beach safari on the coral-reef protect coast and you can also experience tropical fish, dolphins, sea turtles and more.
If you have a particular wildlife or birding interest, look for a Safari operator who can offer you specialized guiding and services to suit your needs.
The Ministry of Tourism & Wildlife website offers a lot of information about the destination.
Kenya is a terrific country for families and it is an amazing experience to share with children who are already enchanted with the idea of Africa and its wildlife. If you’re considering taking young children, however, you should ask yourself if both you and your child can deal with the adventure. For children under 5, Kenya is a mixture of fun; in the pool, on the beach, with other kids and tedium on a game drive, or in a restaurant. Consult your doctor about your health-related concerns related to bringing your child to Africa.
Kenya is renowned for its wonderful gastronomy and array of exotic and international cuisine. Keep to established hotels and restaurants for meals. Drinking water from the tap is considered risky. Hotels and lodges usually furnish safe water in a thermos flask in guest rooms. Bottled mineral water is available in every hotel and supermarket.
The official currency is the Kenya Shilling. Visitors to Kenya can change foreign currency at banks or authorized hotels and Burex. Most international currencies are easy to exchange in Kenya. Travelers checks 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 major international credit cards. There are no restrictions on the amount of foreign currency that can be brought into Kenya. Anyone wishing to take more than Kenya Shillings 500,000 out of the country will require written authorization from the Central Bank.
Like most international destinations, Kenya charges an airport departure tax for all international flights. The tax is $20, but is included in the airline ticket price. If it is not included, visitors may be required to pay the tax at the airport upon departure. Departure taxes can be paid in Kenya Shillings or U.S. Dollars.
Most major hotels and restaurants include a service charge. Tipping is not obligatory and is entirely at your discretion. Porters at airports, hotels or lodges may be tipped a $1.00 per piece of baggage. A gratuity of 10% is customary at restaurants and bars where a service charge is not included.Note that on safaris, tips are considered almost part of the pay. A tip for your guide of $2.00 to $5.00 per person per day is appropriate.
The electricity supply in Kenya is 220/240 volts AC, 50HZ. Plugs are 3 point square. If you are planning to bring a video camera charger or any other electrical device, please bring voltage and plug adaptors where appropriate. Major hotels usually provide hair dryers, irons and other electrical amenities upon request.
English is the language of communication in Kenya. It is widely spoken in hotels, restaurants and visitor establishments.Swahili is Kenya’s national language. A little Swahili goes a long way in Kenya. It is worth learning a little, and most Kenyans are thrilled to hear visitors attempt to use any Swahili at all. For example, ‘Jambo’ means hello and is often the first word learned by visitors to Kenya. Additional translations can be found in the Kenya Tourist Board’s Web site www.magicalkenya.com or most travel guides.
Kenya is where you can experience a different safari every day. The country offers an endless array of activities for travelers.
There is just as much variety in the types of accommodations in Kenya as in its terrain. The sheer scale and breadth of our accommodation will come as a pleasant surprise to those not familiar with what Kenya has to offer. The spectrum runs the gamut from five-star hotels, to exclusive lodges and bush homes, to budget camping and all-inclusive beach resorts. We recommend working with your travel agent to find a quality tour operator that meets your budget and travel expectations.
There are very good private hospitals in Kenya with facilities comparable to those in other parts of the world. Some of these boast five star hotel facilities. The flying Doctor Service operates immediate help and evacuation services from the remotest part of the country to the nearest hospital, perhaps even faster than you might get through the traffic to your local hospital at home. The facility is available for a small membership fee and can be organized by your tour operator.
The tourism sector in Kenya has continued to play an important role in the countryâ€™s economic development through its contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP 12.5%), foreign exchange earnings (KSHS. 49Billion), employment (Informal: 3.7Million, Formal: 175,000) and poverty reduction, becoming the leading foreign exchange earner.
In the last three years, visitor arrivals to Kenya have almost doubled. In 2005, we received 1,670,429 tourists compared to 1,358,134 in 2004 and a 23% increase over 2004.
The Ministry of Tourism & Wildlife is diversifying the product offering by developing new products and tourist circuits in areas that are not visited by tourists. So far, four new tourist circuits have been opened in Western Kenya, North Rift, Mt. Kenya and Tana River.
It is possible to rent a car and a guide but we recommend you use reputable companies that are members of Kenya Association of Tour Operators (KATO). We have embarked on a beautification programme that will see our streets clearly lit and labeled.