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Amboseli

Maasai Mara

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KENYA

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Elephants, Amboseli National Park, Kenya
Amboseli, © Can Stock Photo / paul104

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 on safaris.

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.

Visas:

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 Visa.

Currency:

Kenya's currency is the Kenyan Shilling, which reflects the influence of the British.

Medical:

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.

Safaris:

There are hundreds of safari companies to choose from in Kenya.  Two international companies that tour regularly are G Adventures and Intrepid 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.

Best Time to Visit Kenya:

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 Maasai Mara

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 Nairobi

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