Kenya lies astride the equator on the eastern coast of
Africa. Kenya is bordered in the north by Sudan and Ethiopia, in the east
by Somalia, on the southeast by the Indian Ocean, on the southwest by Tanzania
and to the west by Lake Victoria and Uganda.
Kenya is notable for its' geographical variety. The low-lying,
fertile coastal region, fringed with coral reefs and islands, is back by
a gradually rising coastal plain, a dry region covered with savanna and
At an altitude of about 1,524 m and 300 miles inland,
the plain gives way in the southwest to a high plateau, rising in parts
to 3,048 m, in which about 85% of the population and the majority of economic
enterprise are concentrated. The northern section of Kenya, forming three-fifths
of the whole territory, is arid and of semidesert character, as is the
bulk of the southeastern quarter. In the high plateau area, known as the
Kenya Highlands, lie Mt. Kenya (5,200 m), Mt Elgon (4,322m) and the Aberdare
Ranger (rising to over 3,963 m). The plateau is bisected from north to
south by the Rift Valley, part of the great geological fracture that can
be traced from Syria through the Red Sea and East Africa to Mozambique.
In the north of Kenya, the valley is broad and shallow, embracing Lake
Rudolf (160 miles long), while further south it narrows and deepens and
is walled by escarpments 610 to 930 mtr high. West of the Rift Valley,
the plateau descends to the plains that border Lake Victoria. The principal
rivers are the Tana and the Athi, flowing southeast to the Indian Ocean,
the Ewaso Ngiro flowing northeast to the swamps of the Lorian Plain, and
the Nzoia, Yala and Gori, which drain eastward into Lake Victoria. Low
plains rise to central highlands, divided by the Great African Rift Valley.
WINTER: June - August
SUMMER: September - March
Kenya is divided by the equator and enjoys a tropical
climate that varies greatly. It is hot and humid at the coast, temperate
inland and very dry in the north and north-east parts of the country. The
hottest period is in February and March and the coldest in July and August.
The average annual temperatures in the main areas are as follows:
Mombasa 22ºC (72ºF) 30ºC (86ºF)
Nairobi 13ºC (55ºF) 25ºC (77ºF)
North plainlands 23ºC (73ºF) 34ºC (93ºF)
The long rains occur from April to June and short rains
from October to December. Rainfall is sometimes heavy and tends to fall
in the afternoon and evenings.
Generally, casual comfortable clothing is suitable throughout the year. The most practical items to pack for safari
Khaki, green, beige and neutral colours
Blouses and shirts with long sleeves (even in summer,
they will protect you from the sun and from mosquitoes)
Shorts or a light skirt
Jeans or safari trousers for evenings and cooler days
Some hotels and country clubs require gentlemen to wear
a jacket and tie and women to be suitably attired for dinner
A windbreaker and sweater are recommended for early morning
and evening game drives
Swimwear and beach apparel
Comfortable walking shoes
Sunblock, sunglasses, hat, insect repellent, moisturiser
and lip salve are all essentials
Good quality, locally made clothing and shoes for safaris
are available in Nairobi and Mombasa shops at a reasonable price.
All visitors are required to carry a passport
that is valid for six months beyond the intended length of stay. There
should be sufficient blank pages for entry stamps upon arrival.
Nationals of the following countries do not require visas
for a tourist stay of 30 days or less:
South Africa, UK, Switzerland, Belgium, France, the Netherlands,
Luxembourg, Germany, Spain, Italy, Austria, Japan, Australia, New Zealand,
United States and Canada.
Nationals of some countries may obtain visas upon arrival.
Those wishing to enter Kenya on business or for longer
than 30 days, should obtain a visa from their nearest Kenyan Consulate.
Visitors travelling through Nairobi en route to Tanzania require a transit
Requirements for this are:
visa application form
business letter (for business visa)
one passport photograph
proof of sufficient funds and onward travel/return ticket
Visas cost about US$30 and are valid for three months.
All visitors may be requested to show proof of sufficient funds and onward
This is guide only, for up-to-date information, please
check with the Kenyan Consulate.
Kenya has an extensive network of roads, mostly
sealed and passable throughout the year. You may have problems on unsealed
roads, particular in the game reserves, during the rains if you don't have
4 wheel drive.
Driving is on the left hand side and although not required
it is convenient for you to have an International Driving Licence. You
can drive on your own valid licence but you need to get it endorsed at
the Road Transport Office in Nairobi.
As well as all the major international car hire firms,
there are numerous local ones as well and it is worth shopping around for
the best deal. Always compare the inclusive insurance. Most companies require
renters to be over 23 years of age and under 70 and must have held a licence
for at least 2 years.
Most reputable car hire firms are members of the Automobile
Association of East Africa and have road patrols on the major highways.
Nearly all lodges in the Parks have resident mechanics.
Inoculation against yellow fever and cholera
are not mandatory but recommended. Anyone entering Kenya from or via a
yellow fever infected area must, however, be in possession of a valid International
Certificate of Vaccination against yellow fever.
It is imperative that you obtain malaria prophylactics
before entering Kenya. When purchasing these, please tell your doctor or
pharmacist that you intend visiting Kenya. It is important to note that
the Kenyan authorities have banned the use of chloroquine combinations
as prophylactics, and instead recommend the use of either mefloquine (Lariam/Mefliam)
or doxycycline. Start your course at least one week before entering Kenya
and continue taking the pills for six weeks after leaving the country.
If you suffer from side effects, try taking your malaria prophylactics
at night, after dinner, as this usually minimises the effect of the symptoms.
Precautionary measures that you can take to prevent contact with mosquitoes
are: sleeping under a bed net or in room/tent with mosquito proofing (remember
to keep the flaps zipped at all times), spraying your accommodation with
insecticide, making use of a mosquito repelling lotion or stick and wearing
long sleeve clothing and socks when outside at night.
Anyone who has any special medication should take enough
supplies to last their visit.
Adequate medical services are available in Nairobi and
Mombasa. Doctors and hospitals expect immediate cash payment for health
services. We therefore recommend that travel insurance should also include
medical cover. These policies are relatively inexpensive, compared to the
cost of a medical evacuation. There are also frequent outbreaks of cholera,
and malaria is endemic in Kenya outside Nairobi.
Do not use ice cubes, rare meat, eat raw seafood or dairy
products. Avoid roadside stands and street vendors and only eat well-cooked
foods while they are still hot and fruits that can be peeled without contamination.
1 Kenyan shilling = 100cents
All the major Credit cards are widely accepted, as are
travellers cheques which can be changed in any bank. Bear in mind they
have varying commission charges.
Banks: Monday to Friday: 09:00-14:00 (16:30 in the major cities).
The airport banks are open until midnight every day.
The national language is KiSwahili although English is spoken throughout.
Kenyans involved in the tourist trade speak English. However,
it is good to have a working knowledge of Swahili (KiSwahili). In total,
there are 42 ethnic languages in Kenya.
sun block, sunglasses, hat, insect repellent - essentials!
binoculars and a camera are a must
track suit - good for sleeping in during winter months
light, compact raincoat is a good idea for the summer
swimsuit and snorkelling and diving gear
towel, torch and sleeping bag for camping safaris (sleeping
bags can be hired from most safari operators)