At a glance …
“Magical Kenya” they call it, and indeed it is a magical place.
Located on the equator, Kenya is a relatively small country compared to many other safari destinations. However, it fits a lot of safari highlights into a small area.
Undoubtedly the jewel in the crown is the Masai Mara National Reserve. This is one of the world’s great wildlife sanctuaries. However, there is so much more for the wildlife enthusiast.
The flat plains of Amboseli provide the iconic view of Mount Kilimanjaro. The arid Samburu home to unique species. The wildlife rich waters of Lakes Nakuru and Naivasha.
The famous lions of Tsavo and the equally famous forests of the Aberdares. This is just the start, Turkana, Laikipia, Losai, Lewa and the list goes on and on!
Then there is the beautiful Indian Ocean coast. Famed for its long white sand beaches and turquoise seas, it is the perfect end to a safari. Mombasa, Malindi and Diani are synonymous with lazy days in the tropical sun. Don’t forget the beautiful Unesco World Heritage island of Lamu, where vehicles are banned and donkeys rule!
Beyond bush and beach, lie lakes and mountains as well as an incredibly rich cultural heritage.
Kenya really is magical!
Masai Mara National Reserve
Samburu National Reserve
Amboseli National Park
Aberdares National Park
Tsavo East and West
Meru National Park
Indian Ocean Coast
Hot Air ballooning over the Masai Mara
Lake and ocean fishing
Travel info …
You can buy a local Safaricom sim from any Safaricom shop (which you will find in every town of any size throughout the country). Safaricom also have outlets at both Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta Airport and Mombasa’s Moi Airport. You will need to show your passport.
Ask the shop assistant to set up your sim for you. Bundles with calls and data are relatively cheap. Coverage is surprisingly good. You are likely to have signal in most areas, including some of the national parks.
Most of the hotels and lodges in Kenya offer wifi facilities somewhere on the property. However, a sim is useful if you need to be in touch on the long drives between destinations.
Kenya, according to the World Health Organisation, is a country where there is a risk of yellow fever transmission. As such when visiting Kenya you must have a valid yellow fever certificate (this will be asked for in whichever country is your destination after Kenya). For full details please click here. Please note that if you are coming from a yellow fever risk country that you need to carry your yellow fever certificate with you!
Year round we recommend you take anti-malaria medications, for all areas of Kenya. Please consult your doctor. Both malaria and dengue fever are common in Kenya.
Do not carry large sums of money with you, or conspicuous amounts of jewellery/camera equipment etc. Avoid walking at night if possible, especially in larger towns and cities.
However, the British Foreign Office advise against all but essential travel to anywhere within a 60km distance of the Somali border. This corridor also extends down to the coast to just north of Mombasa.
For the coast from Mombasa southward, the island of Lamu (if flying in), and all the safari areas, there is no restriction advised beyond standard security measures.
While on tour in the safari areas, there is little threat of anything more than petty theft. Always keep valuables locked in your hotel safe.
There are sometimes complaints of harassment by “beach boys” of beach goers along the coast. Mostly they are just trying to sell good – just be vigilant, but don’t let is spoil your enjoyment.
As with all other destinations, be aware of your surroundings, and if a situation doesn’t feel right move on.
If you have questions you can follow the official advise of the British Foreign Office here and the US Sate Department here.
US$ will be accepted at many tourist lodges, curios shops and agencies. In many of these establishments prices will be displayed in US$. In these establishments it is also common practice to tip in US$ (although KSh are likely to be preferred). However, most everywhere else you will need to use Kenyan Shillings. We recommend that you do convert money into Kenyan Shillings for your time in Kenya, unless you are only flying from place to place.
Exchanging money is best done at bureau de change (airports and main towns) or banks. US$, British Pounds and Euros are readily accepted for change. With US$ it is better to have later issue, clean notes.
Many of the lodges and hotels (and some high end shops and restaurants) will accept payment by credit or debit card, however, some may levy a fee. VISA is the most widely accepted, Mastercard less so, and do not bother with American Express or Diners.
ATM/cash point machines are available in most towns, and main airports. Some will only accept VISA, but more and more now also accept Mastercard. Note that some ATM’s (like Barclay’s) charge a “foreign card” fee.
All visitors to Kenya require a valid passport, valid for at least six months from date of entry.
With the exception of certain African, Caribbean and handful of others, most people require a visa to enter Kenya. You can get your visa in advance through the eVisa facility here . It is also still possible for citizens of most countries to get your visa on arrival at Nairobi Jomo Kenyatta. However, we suggest that unless there are time constraints or difficulties in doing so, that passengers obtain an evisa prior to travel.
A transit visa costs US$20 (allows 72 hours in the country, if on a connecting flight out of Kenya and not leaving the airport no visa is needed), single entry is US$50 and an East African Visa US$100. The East African visa allows you to travel between Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda on just one visa, and is issued by the country in which you first arrive.
If in any doubt contact your nearest Kenyan embassy or consulate.
There are no special conditions for travelling to Kenya as there are with South Africa and Botswana.
Poor road conditions and poor driving standard through much of the country prevail. There is a high fatality level on Kenyan roads.
We are able to assist with 4×4 vehicle rental in Kenya for experienced 4×4 drivers who are used to African road conditions. Ask us for more information.
In Kenya the standard voltage is 240 V and the frequency is 50 Hz. You can use your electric appliances in Kenya, if the standard voltage in your country is in between 220 – 240 V (as is in the UK, Europe, Australia and most of Asia and Africa). If the standard voltage in your country is in the range of 100 V – 127 V (as is in the US, Canada and most South American countries), you may need a voltage converter in Kenya. Many small electronic devices now have dual voltage converters as standard.
The standard plug in Kenya is a three square pinned plug as show above – often referred to as a type G (as used in the UK). We suggest travelling with an adaptor (unless travelling from the UK) – although most hotels and lodges will be able to assist (a deposit may be required).
Generally speaking December to March is a hot dry period. This is also arguable the best time to be on the coast, as the sea is calmest and visibility best.
April to early June is the “long rains”. It is unusual to rain the whole day, but heavy downpours are frequent.
Late June to October is the “cooler” dry season. Although other than at altitude (Mount Kenya, Aberdares etc) temperatures will not be really cold. Many consider this the best time for safari. Temperatures will rise through September and October.
November – December usually sees the “short rains”. They break the building heat and refresh the dry savannah.