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.
Area: 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.
Population: Kenya’s current population is over 40 million, with Nairobi the capital city taking its preceded share of over 3.5 Million (Government of Kenya 2010)
Economy: 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.
Capital City: There are 3 cities in Kenya namely Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu with Nairobi as the capital city.
Official languages: English is the official language while Kiswahili is the National language and is widely spoken.
Some useful Swahili words to know:
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 tempratures of 27-31 degrees centigrade whilst the daytime tempratures in Nairobi is 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.
The Kenya Shilling (Ksh).
Four daily English language newspapers, one daily Kiswahili newspaper, seven local television stations and 19 local and two foreign radio stations.
Christianity is the dorminant religion. There is also a large Muslim and Hindu communities.
National Parks/Reserves: Kenya’s total conservation area is 44,359 sq. km of the total area. The main parks are 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.
Manufacturing: 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 3pm. However, a few banks operate late hours. The banks also operate on the first and last Saturday of every month from 9am to 11am.
Foreign Exchange Bureaus: There are several forex bureaus in major towns where you can purchase/sell major foreign exchange
Do I require a Visa?
NOTE: ITS ALWAYS ADVISABLE TO CHECK WITH YOUR LOCAL EMBASSY FOR THE MOST RECENT AND UPDATED INFORMATION.
There is no visa requirement for citizens of the Republic of Ireland and Commonwealth countries with EXCEPTION to citizens of the following countries who do require visas:
- South Africa (for visitors staying more than 30 days)
- Sri Lanka
- United Kingdom
- Malaysia (for visits of more than 30 days)
- New Zealand (for visits of more than 30 days)
- St.Christopher and Nevis
Citizens of the following countries need to have a visa PRIOR to arriving in Kenya:
- Nigeria (residing outside Nigeria)
- North Korea
The following countries have concluded visa abolition agreement with Kenya:
- San Marino
Visas are readily obtained at the Airport upon arrival as well as from the Kenya Embassies and High Commissions abroad prior to departure.
Where applicable, visa fees are as follows: –
- Transit Visa = US$10 per person
- Single Entry Visa= US$25 for three months (extendable for a similar period) Multiple Entry Visa= US$55 – valid.
Travel within East Africa If you are intending to have a multiple destination tour within East Africa, please request for the “Visitors Pass” upon arrival at the Airport. The Visitors Pass allows free RE-ENTRY to Kenya if you are travelling WITHIN East Africa (Uganda/Tanzania/Zanzibar). You will however be required to pay the normal visa charges for the other countries but may re-enter Kenya freely.The Visitors Pass is stamped on the passport free of charge for full visa holders.
Health & Medical Information.
A Certificate of inoculation against Yellow fever is required from travellers older than one year and originating from yellow fever endemic areas (i.e. along the tropics 20 N and 10 S. Visitors from the rest of the world are not affected.
You are advised to try and avoid mosquito bites by using repellant and by wearing suitable cover-up clothes in the evening.
Hotels and lodges supply clean drinking water but whenever in doubt, please insist on bottled mineral water from a certified source – this is readily available from most hotels and stores. Outside Nairobi and Mombasa, drinking water from the tap is not encouraged.
There are very good hospitals in the main towns of Kenya and the rural areas have small health centres where one can get first aid. It is highly recommended that all visitors carry some form of medical insurance to cater for any eventualities. Please ask your Tour Operator for more details on the Flying Doctor Service.