KENYA TRAVEL GUIDE
It's for a good reason that Kenya is one of the top destinations in Africa — jam-packed with beautiful and diverse landscapes, from a tropical coastline dotted with miles of white sand beaches and coral reefs, to spectacular national parks with endless opportunities for safaris.
Kenya also contains one of the most colourful arrays of tribal cultures anywhere in Africa. Kenya’s Rift Valley contains prehistoric fossils and other evidence that have continued to delight archaeologists all over the world, ever since Louis Leakey carried out his famous ‘digs’ in the area. Kenya is also one of the most tourist-friendly countries in Africa, despite the political tensions prevailing there. Kenya is totally geared for the tourist with extensive tourist infrastructure that makes its wonders accessible, and friendly villagers in the countryside who will make your trip an enjoyable one.
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KENYA QUICK FACTS
- Capital: Nairobi
- Currency: Kenyan Shilling (KSh, KES)
- Area: 582,650km²
- Population: 51,39 million (2018)
- Language: English (official), Kiswahili (official), approx. 72 indigenous languages
- Religion:Protestant 45%, Roman Catholic 33%, indigenous beliefs 10%, Muslim 11%, other 1%
- Electricity: 240V, 50Hz (UK plug)
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KENYA PUBLIC HOLIDAYS
- 1 May, Labour Day
- 1 June, Madaraka Day (Self-Rule Day)
- 10 October, Moi Day
- 20 October, Heroes’ Day (Mashujaa Day)
- 12 December, Jamhuri/Independence Day
Holidays falling on a Sunday are observed the following Monday.
Business openings and work schedules may be significantly affected by Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, Islamic, Jain, and Sikh holidays and festivals.
FESTIVALS IN KENYA
BEST TIME TO VISIT KENYA
Kenya has two main seasons: the rainy season and the dry season.
The rainy season, also known as the long rains, typically runs from March to June. During this time, the country experiences heavy rainfall and high humidity, which can make travel difficult in some areas. However, this is also the best time for bird watching as migratory birds arrive and the landscape is lush and green.
The dry season, also known as the short rains, runs from October to December. Although it is called the "short rains," the dry season is actually the longest of the two seasons. The weather during this time is mostly dry and sunny, making it the most popular time to visit for safaris and wildlife viewing. This is the peak season for tourism.
The period between the two seasons, June to September, is known as the "long dry season." The weather is dry and hot, making it a great time to visit the coast, but not a good time for wildlife viewing.
The peak tourist season for Kenya is from July to October, when the wildebeest migration is taking place in the Maasai Mara. This is also the best time to see the big cats hunting. The weather is dry and the days are warm. If you're interested in bird watching, the best time to visit is during the rainy seasons, which are March to May and October to December. The temperatures during these months are cooler and the landscape is lush and green.
KENYA WEATHER SYNOPSIS
Kenya's climate ranges from tropical (along the coast) to arid (in the mountain regions). Kenya's climate is impacted by the El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO), as well as the movement of the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ). The rainy season in Kenya usually begins in March and decreases in May to June. The second wet season begins around September/October and shows a decreasing trend in December. The windiest time of the year occurs during the southeast monsoon, which extends from May to September.
KENYA TOURIST SEASONS
Most destinations have different times of the year when they’re more or less popular with tourists.
Off Peak Season
SPORT & ACTIVITIES
SNOW SPORT IN KENYA
There are no ski resorts in Kenya, but it is technically possible to ski on Mount Kenya, if you are a professional and make the necessary arrangements beforehand.
HIKING & CYCLING IN KENYA
You can enjoy outdoor activities in Kenya throughout the year. The rainy season is typically in April, May and November. The best weather conditions in which to climb Mount Kenya are from January to March and from June to October but it can be climbed all year round.
BEACH OPTIONS IN KENYA
The beaches of Kenya are best enjoyed from October to January as these months also offer the best conditions for diving and snorkelling. Some of the best beaches are: Diani Beach, Nyali, Lamu Beaches, Vipingo, Watamu Beach at Turtle Bay, Gazi Beach, Bamburi Beach, Kikambala and Shanzu.
SURFING IN KENYA
Kenya offers some great surf from March to June, although the months of May and June are by far the best. Some good surf spots are: Baobabs, Mombasa Channel, Kiwayu, Shanzu Beach, Shela Beach, Nyali Beach, Watamu Bay, Malindi Bay and Manda Island.
KITESURF IN KENYA
You can find beautiful wind and kitesurfing conditions in Kenya pretty much all year round. The most reliable and consistent wind is from December to early March and you can get big waves and some really strong winds from June to September. Galu Beach is the place to be!
For more details on kite surfing in Kenya expand this section!
HEALTH RISKS IN KENYA
Be aware of possible health risks in
Yellow fever - The yellow fever virus is found in tropical and subtropical areas of Africa and South America. The virus is spread to people by the bite of an infected mosquito. There is no medicine to treat or cure an infection. To prevent getting sick from yellow fever, use insect repellent, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants, and get vaccinated.
Zika Virus - Zika is spread mostly by the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. These mosquitoes bite during the day and night. Zika can be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus. Infection during pregnancy can cause certain birth defects. There is no vaccine or medicine for Zika.
Malaria - Malaria is a serious and sometimes fatal disease caused by a parasite that commonly infects a certain type of mosquito which feeds on humans. People who get malaria are typically very sick with high fevers, shaking chills, and flu-like illness. Although malaria can be a deadly disease, illness and death from malaria can usually be prevented.
Dengue - Dengue is spread mostly by the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. These mosquitoes bite during the day and night. About one in four people infected with dengue will get sick. For people who get sick with dengue, symptoms can be mild or severe.
KENYA TRAVEL COSTS
The cost of traveling to Kenya can vary depending on a number of factors, such as the time of year, the length of your trip, and your personal travel style. Some expenses to consider when budgeting for a trip to Kenya include:
- Airfare: Round-trip flights to Kenya can range from around $500 to $1,500 or more, depending on your departure city and the time of year.
- Accommodation: Prices for accommodations in Kenya can vary widely depending on the type of accommodation, location, and time of year. Budget options such as guesthouses and camping can start from as low as $5-10 per night, while mid-range options like lodges and hotels can cost $50-150 per night. Luxury accommodations can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars per night.
- Transportation: Kenya has a good public transportation system, however the prices vary. The costs of a private taxi or car rental can vary depending on your destination, but you can expect to pay around $50-100 per day.
- Food and drink: Meal prices can vary depending on where you eat, but you can expect to pay around $5-10 for a budget meal and $20-30 for a more upscale meal.
- Activities and excursions: Prices for activities and excursions, such as safari tours, hiking, and cultural experiences, can vary widely. The cost of a safari tour can range from around $100-500 per day.
It's important to keep in mind that these are approximate costs and your actual expenses may be more or less. It is always a good idea to research prices for different options and budget accordingly.
KENYA TRAVEL TIPS
Here are some travel tips for Kenya:
- Get vaccinations and take precautions against malaria before you travel.
- Be prepared for the heat. It can be very hot in Kenya, especially in the dry season. Bring lightweight, breathable clothing and plenty of sunscreen.
- Pack a good pair of walking shoes and comfortable clothing for safari and other outdoor activities.
- Be respectful of local customs and traditions. Dress modestly and avoid public displays of affection.
- Learn a few basic phrases in Swahili, the local language, as it will be helpful in your travels.
- Bring cash, as many places in Kenya do not accept credit cards. U.S. dollars and Kenyan shillings are widely accepted.
- Be aware of your surroundings and avoid walking alone at night.
- Be prepared for power outages and water shortages, which are common in Kenya.
- Be prepared to haggle when buying souvenirs, as it is common practice in the markets.
- Be mindful of the environment. Do not litter or damage the natural surroundings.
- Do not take pictures of people without their permission, as it is considered rude.
- Always carry a photocopy of your passport and important documents in case of loss or theft.
- Lastly, be open-minded and ready to experience new cultures, customs and way of life.
By following these tips, you will have a safe and enjoyable trip to Kenya.
SIGHTS & HIGHLIGHTS OF KENYA
Kenya is a country with diverse landscapes and cultures, which is divided into several regions. Here are some of the main regions of Kenya and the highlights of each region:
- Maasai Mara: This region is located in the southwest of Kenya and is known for its wildlife, particularly the annual wildebeest migration. Visitors can go on safari to see the big five (lion, elephant, leopard, buffalo, and rhino) and other wildlife, as well as visit the Maasai villages to learn about their culture and traditions.
- Amboseli National Park: This park is located in the south of Kenya and is known for its large elephant population and views of Mount Kilimanjaro. Visitors can also spot other wildlife such as lions, cheetahs, and zebras.
- Lake Victoria: This region is located in the west of Kenya and is known for its beautiful lake and the local culture. Visitors can go on boat rides to see the lake, visit the local fishermen, and learn about the local way of life.
- The Coast: This region is located on the Indian Ocean and is known for its beaches, coral reefs, and marine life. Visitors can go snorkeling and diving, visit the local villages and learn about the Swahili culture, and also go for deep sea fishing.
- Nairobi: The capital city of Kenya, Nairobi is the economic and cultural heart of the country. Visitors can explore the city's museums and art galleries, go shopping, and visit the famous Nairobi National Park, which is home to a wide variety of wildlife including lions, leopards, and rhinos.
- Samburu National Reserve: located in the Northern part of Kenya, this reserve is known for its wildlife and the Samburu people, a semi-nomadic ethnic group known for their customs and culture.
These are just a few of the many regions of Kenya and the highlights of each region. Kenya is a diverse country and offers a wide range of experiences for visitors.
Kenya is a country with a lot to offer visitors, here are some of the best things to see and do when visiting Kenya:
- Go on safari: Kenya is known for its wildlife, and going on safari is one of the most popular activities for visitors. The Maasai Mara and Amboseli National Park are two of the most famous safari destinations, where you can see the big five (lion, elephant, leopard, buffalo, and rhino) and other wildlife, such as zebras, giraffes, and wildebeest.
- Visit the Maasai Mara: Kenya's most famous wildlife reserve, the Maasai Mara, is a must-see destination. It's the place where the annual wildebeest migration takes place, and you can watch the big cats hunting. The reserve is also home to a wide variety of other wildlife, and visitors can also visit Maasai villages to learn about their culture and traditions.
- Visit the Samburu people: The Samburu people are a semi-nomadic ethnic group known for their customs and culture. Visitors can learn about their way of life, including their traditional dances, and visit their homes and villages.
- Visit the coast: Kenya's coast is known for its beautiful beaches, coral reefs, and marine life. Visitors can go snorkeling and diving, visit local villages, and learn about the Swahili culture.
- Visit Nairobi: The capital city of Kenya, Nairobi is the economic and cultural heart of the country. Visitors can explore the city's museums and art galleries, go shopping, and visit the famous Nairobi National Park, which is home to a wide variety of wildlife.
- Visit Lake Victoria: The largest lake in Africa, Lake Victoria is known for its beautiful lake and the local culture. Visitors can go on boat rides to see the lake, visit local fishermen and learn about their way of life.
- Visit the Mount Kenya: The second highest mountain in Africa, Mount Kenya is a great place for hiking and climbing. Visitors can hike to the summit and enjoy the beautiful views of the surrounding landscape.
These are just a few of the many things to see and do when visiting Kenya, the country offers a wide range of experiences and activities for visitors, making it a perfect destination for those who love nature, culture and adventure.
WHAT TO EAT IN KENYA
Kenya has a diverse cuisine that is influenced by its many ethnic groups, as well as by its Indian, Arab, and European colonial past. Here are some traditional Kenyan dishes that you should try when visiting Kenya:
- Ugali: This is a staple food made from cornmeal, which is mixed with water and cooked to form a thick dough. It is often served with a variety of stews, such as beef or chicken, or with vegetables.
- Sukuma wiki: This dish is made with collard greens, tomatoes, and onions, and is often served with ugali.
- Nyama choma: This is a popular dish of grilled meat, usually beef or goat. It is often served with a side of vegetables or fries.
- Pilau: This is a popular dish made with rice, spices and meat or vegetables, it is often served as a main dish or a side dish.
- Samosas: These are fried or baked pastries filled with meat or vegetables and spices, they are a popular street food.
- Chapati: This is a type of flatbread that is often served with stews or curries.
- Chai: This is a popular tea that is made with black tea, milk, and spices such as cinnamon, cardamom, and ginger.
- Kenyan beers and wines are also available and worth to try, Tusker beer is the most popular beer in Kenya, and the wines from the highlands of Kenya are also appreciated.
Keep in mind that these are just a few examples of the many delicious dishes that you can try when visiting Kenya, and there are many more to explore and enjoy depending on the region and local culture you are visiting.
LGBTQ IN KENYA
WHERE TO STAY IN KENYA
When visiting Kenya for the first time, it's important to consider your specific travel goals and interests when deciding where to stay. Here are a few options to consider:
- Maasai Mara: If you're interested in wildlife and the annual wildebeest migration, staying in the Maasai Mara is a great option. There are a variety of accommodations available, from luxury tented camps to budget-friendly options.
- Amboseli National Park: If you're interested in elephants and getting a great view of Mount Kilimanjaro, Amboseli is a great option. There are a variety of accommodations available, from luxury tented camps to budget-friendly options.
- The Coast: If you're interested in beaches and marine life, the coast is a great option. There are a variety of accommodations available, from luxury resorts to budget-friendly options.
- Nairobi: If you're interested in exploring the capital city of Kenya, staying in Nairobi is a great option. There are a variety of accommodations available, from luxury hotels to budget-friendly options.
- Samburu: If you're interested in culture and the Samburu people, staying in Samburu is a great option. There are a variety of accommodations available, from luxury tented camps to budget-friendly options.
It's important to note that depending on the time of year, some places may be more or less crowded and prices may vary depending on the season. It's always a good idea to research different options and book ahead to ensure you get the accommodation that best suits your needs and preferences.
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