Travel Guide – Overview
Kenya is where the first commercial safaris were pioneered, back in the 1930s, and it remains one of the world?s top wildlife-viewing and beach destinations. Tropical beaches protected by offshore reefs, ideal for diving and snorkeling. Vast swathes of savannah, where lions and elephants roam below the snow-capped peaks of Mount Kenya and Kilimanjaro. The spectacular contours of the Great Rift Valley, its floor studded with lakes tinged pink with flamingos. Jungle-bound ruins of medieval trading outposts and lava-strewn badlands inhabited by desert nomads.
Kenya is a land of extraordinary scenic variety. Bordered by Tanzania to the south, Uganda to the west, and Sudan, Ethiopia and Somalia to the north, it owes much of this diversity to the combination of an equatorial location and latitudinal span that ranges from the sultry Indian Ocean, along its eastern border, to the glacial peaks that cap the central highlands.
Kenya’s immense scenery is matched by its rare biodiversity. This was the original home of the safari. And it remains an exceptional wildlife destination, though the modern safari industry emphasizes photography rather than hunting, and is increasingly geared towards community-based conservancies.
Kenya’s main attraction is its superb game reserves: Amboseli, Nakuru, Tsavo, Samburu and above all the Maasai Mara, where the peerless drama of the million-strong wildebeest migration is enacted every year. The country also boasts several more intimate low-key reserves, for instance Meru, Kakamega Forest and Hell’s Gate. And these terrestrial wonders are complemented by the spectacular offshore reefs that run along the length of the coast, supporting a mind-boggling diversity of marine life.
Culturally, Kenya is a fascinating country, and one that regularly challenges preconceptions about Africa. On the one hand, there is Nairobi, which ranks among the continent?s largest and most modern and industrialized cities. Yet you needn’t drive far from the capital to find yourself in areas inhabited by Maasai and other pastoralists whose lifestyle is visibly informed by ancient ancestral values. Somewhere between these worlds are the coastal Swahili, whose rich Islamic legacy, forged by a millennium of international trade, lives on in ports such as Mombasa, Malindi and Lamu.
How to get to Kenya.
The easiest way to reach Kenya is by air, landing at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) in Nairobi. The major Kenyan airline is Kenya Airways.
Other airlines that fly to Nairobi from Europe include British Airways (London), KLM (Amsterdam), SN Brussels Airlines (Brussels), and Swiss/Crossair (Z?rich).
From the USA, a connecting flight must be taken. Other international airlines that fly to Nairobi include El Al, Egyptair, South African Airways, Ethiopian Airlines, Emirates, Air Malawi, Air Zimbabwe, and Qantas.
Only a couple of German airlines fly direct from Europe to Moi International Airport in Mombasa, from Munich (LTU) or Frankfurt (Condor). You can find flight schedules from your home to Nairobi at Amadeus.
Best time to visit Kenya.
The best time of the year to visit Kenya is the summer, from July to September. A second choice would be the winter, especially January and February. Obviously, all this months correspond to the high season, hence the prices are more expensive. Seasonal rains condition both road communications and some cyclic wildlife movements.
Citizens from most countries are required to obtain a visa that costs 50 USD. Visas can be obtained directly on entry. However, if there is a Kenyan diplomatic mission in your country, it is advisable to obtain the visa in advance. The visa is valid for 90 days.These are required and information can be obtained from any Kenya/Tanzania/Uganda tourist office, Embassy, High Commission.
Warm days and cool early mornings and evenings in most parts of the country, at altitude the temperatures are moderate.
There are two rainy seasons, the “long rains” from March to June and the “short rains” from October to December (for more details, read the climate and vegetation page). During these months, some dirt roads become heavily muddy and some parks get flooded, hindering road transit and even supply to the lodges.
On the other hand, the wildebeest herds at Masai Mara, one of the most visited parks,migrate on a cyclic basis from this reserve to Serengeti and back. Wildebeests and their zebra escorts arrive to Masai Mara right after the long rains, searching the young and salt-rich pastures.
Thus, wildlife is more abundant in Masai Mara during the summer. In January and February, the weather is generally drier and hotter than in August. These months are suitable for visiting the country, but in the arid north temperatures go high, while few wildebeests and zebra can be found at Masai Mara.
Informal, light weight clothing is recommended. Mornings and evenings can be cool so a sweater/jacket should be considered as well as a hat for protection from the equatorial sun.
(A) As a precaution,anti-malaria prophylactics should be taken before,during and after a visit to Kenya.Good hospitals and medical care facilities are available.
(B) Recommended-Certificates of inoculation against Yellow fever and Cholera are required from visitors coming from countries where these are endemic.
Nairobi Hospital and the Aga Khan Hospital are two of the best hospitals in Africa and the staff and facilities are able to provide for most any emergency. Most medications are available and chemists are not as strict about prescriptions as in other parts of the world, but it is best that you bring an adequate supply of any medications you require during travel
Flying Doctor’s Rescue fee (available at USD30 per person–recommended).