Kenya is officially known as the Republic of Kenya. It located on the east central coast of
Africa and is
bordered by Tanzania to the south. Its western border is formed with
Lake Victoria, Uganda and South Sudan. To the north is Ethiopia and
to the northeast is Somalia. The Indian Ocean forms its eastern
coastline. Kenya gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1963
and became a republic shortly thereafter. The country has a
population in excess of 40 million. Its capital and largest city is Nairobi.
The official languages are Swahili and English. There are over 40
native tribes in Kenya, with their own dialect and heritage, but most
speak Swahili as well. English is commonly spoken in the cities and
Kenya has comfortable year round temperatures with highs averaging 25 - 30 C (75 - 85 F) each day and lows of 10 - 14 C (50 - 60 F). This can
vary with altitude. Areas on the coast are warmer with high
humidity. Most of the country experiences two rainy seasons over the year, the long rains during April and May, and the short rains in November.
The most commonly visited areas are the Maasai
Mara for the Great Migration, Lake Nakuru for
its rhinos and flamingos, and Amboseli for its
elephants against the back drop of Mount Kilimanjaro.
A visa is required for most
nationalities to enter Kenya, however there are more than 40
countries on the list
of exceptions too. The visa can be obtained and paid for at
the Nairobi airport on arrival or arranged in advance through a Kenyan
embassy or a visa service.
Our recommendation, based on our visit in 2013, is to obtain the visa upon
arrival. The line ups are just as long whether you have your visa
ahead of time or not. Check your specific country at VisaHQ.
For a list of exempt countries, visit Project
Kenya's currency is the Kenyan Shilling, which reflects the influence
of the British.
For Kenya, we suggest consulting a travel clinic. Hep A, Hep B,
yellow fever, tetanus, typhoid and malaria are standard protection.
A yellow fever certificate is required when arriving from a yellow fever
zone, while other medications and injections are at the discretion of the
traveler. Malaria is a risk only in areas with suitable wetland for
female anopheles mosquitoes. The Maasai Mara and other areas outside
Nairobi are good places to take malaria medication. Review our
general medical recommendations too.
There are hundreds of safari companies to choose from in Kenya. Two international
companies that tour regularly are G Adventures
Travel. Safari companies
will supply vehicles, English speaking driver/guide, permits, water and accommodation
arrangements. The camps and lodges usually do not have internet,
but will have radio communication with Nairobi and mobile reception.
Tented accommodation is not what North Americans might expect - large
tents, often with queen beds, and separate washrooms with running water
and showers. Use the provided nets over the bed for protection from mosquitoes
while sleeping. Voltage throughout the country is 220-240 AC, so
North Americans should bring an adapter
to charge their batteries and electronic equipment. A minimum 200 mm lens is
suggested for wildlife photography. Ask the driver to turn off the
vehicle for photos and stabilize the camera on the frame of the vehicle.