Kenya is one of the most popular destinations in the world as no other country on earth can offer the visitor as much to see and do. Kenya is famous for its amazing landscape (scenic beauty), savannah rich with magnificent wildlife (lion, elephant, rhino, buffalo and leopard etc), diverse cultures unchanged by the modern world, pristine beaches and coral reef, equatorial forests and mighty snow-capped mountains, an exotic history and fascinating modern culture, and endless opportunities for adventure, discovery, relaxation and so much more than you ever expected.
When to come
The main tourist seasons are December-January and July-August responding to the international vacation schedules.
The Great migration of wildebeest and Zebra usually reaches Kenya’s Maasai Mara during July-August. October-January is the best time for a beach holiday. The rainy seasons are usually in April-May and November.
Kenya occupies a total area of 582,650 sq.km and straddles the Equator. Of this area, the lakes occupy a total area of 16,600 sq. km.
Kenya shares common borders with 5 (five) nations namely; Tanzania to the south, Uganda to the west, Sudan and Ethiopia to the north and Somali to the east.
Kenya’s current population is over 40 million (Government of Kenya 2009)
Agriculture employs over 80% of the entire working population, contributes 29% to GDP and accounts for 50% of export earnings. Tourism is among the largest single export earner. The industrial sector contributes about 16% to the GDP.
There are 3 cities in Kenya namely Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu with Nairobi as the capital city.
English is the official language while Kiswahili is the National language and is widely spoken. Each ethnic group has a different indigenous language. In the urban areas, most people speak and understand English whereas in the rural areas fewer speak the language but there will most likely be someone who can understand and interpret amongst a group.
Kenya has a single time zone – which is GMT/UTC +3 all the year round with an almost constant 12 hours of daylight. Sun rises at 6.30 am and sets at 6.45 pm daily.
Kenya is a multiparty democracy.
The Coast is always hot with an average daytime temperatures of 27-31 degrees centigrade whilst the daytime temperatures in Nairobi are 21-26 degrees centigrade. July to August marks the Kenya winter. January to February is dry. March to May is wet. June to September is dry. October to December is dry.
Kenya Shilling (Ksh). The exchange rate from foreign currency to Kenyan shillings is mainly determined by the international market and prevailing circumstances. You may exchange cash and travellers checks on arrival at the airport. Foreign currencies may also be exchanged to Kenyan shillings at banks all over the country, foreign exchange bureaus, and in hotels and lodges. Credit cards, VISA, MASTERCARD and AMERICAN EXPRESS are widely accepted in Kenya.
Several daily English language newspapers, one daily Kiswahili newspaper, several local and international television stations as well as radio stations are available.
Christianity is the dominant religion. There is also a large Muslim and Hindu communities.
Kenya’s total conservation area is 44,359 sq. km of the total area. The main parks are Maasai Mara, Aberdares, Amboseli, Lake Nakuru, Meru, Mt. Elgon, Mt. Kenya, Nairobi, Tsavo East and West, Hell’s Gate, etc.
There are two major marine parks namely Mombasa and Malindi. There are over 80 major animal species ranging from the big five down to the tiny antelopes. There are also over 1,500 species of birds in Kenya. Some of these are found in the 60 important bird areas in the country.
Kenya has over 400 historical sites ranging from prehistoric fossils and petrified forests, to 14th century slave trading settlements, Islamic ruins and 16th century Portuguese forts.
Major products include cement, chemicals, household utensils, light machinery, motor vehicles, paper and paper products, and textiles. Food processing is a major industry.
Power voltage supply ranges from 220 – 240 volts with the most commonly used plugs being 3 pin/square.
There are several hospitals in Kenya. There are also many Doctors who are highly qualified and specialized in different areas. The main hospitals are the Kenyatta National Hospital, Nairobi, Aga Khan, Mater Hospital etc.
There are several banks (local and international) in major towns. They operate from Monday to Friday between 9am to 4pm. However, a few banks operate late hours. The banks also operate on Saturdays from 9am to 12noon.
Foreign Exchange Bureaus
There are several forex bureaus in major towns where you can purchase/sell major foreign currencies.
Tap water is not recommended. Be sure to take bottled water during your stay in Kenya. This can be bought in shopping malls or small retail shops.
Please be careful when and where you take pictures. It is illegal to photograph airports, government personnel and buildings. Always ask for permission before you take a picture of an individual as some dislike having their pictures taken while those in tourist areas expect to be paid. If you are not sure, ask your driver.
You need a Visa to enter Kenya. You can get it at the airport on arrival. However, it is better to plan ahead in your country of origin. Details and forms on applying for and receiving a Kenyan visa can be found on the Kenyan Embassy website.
When travelling to Kenya, do not carry excess baggage. Two pairs of comfortable walking shoes, sunscreen lotion to counter the blazing sun, insect repellent, a camera, jacket, a few wash and wear outfits depending on your duration of stay are usually enough. Remember to spare some room for souvenirs.