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Kenya

Country info

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 thornbush.
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.

Travel info

Climate
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:

Minimum Maximum
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.

Clothing
Generally, casual comfortable clothing is suitable throughout the year. The most practical items to pack for safari are:
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)
T-shirts
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.

Visa
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 visa.

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 travel/return ticket.
This is guide only, for up-to-date information, please check with the Kenyan Consulate.

Car hire
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.

Health
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.

Currency
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.

Commercial Banks
Banking hours
Banks: Monday to Friday: 09:00-14:00 (16:30 in the major cities).
The airport banks are open until midnight every day.

Language
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.

Accessoires
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)
                                                       copyright: Paul Janssen