Kenya Travel & Holiday Information
Kenya is the 'Land of the Lion King' and sits at the center of the African safari experience, with an outstanding variety of wild animals and Big Five viewing opportunities. Although safaris are its greatest attraction, it is a country of great diversity with much more to offer than splendid wildlife.
Essentially it is a place for outdoor living - the coast offers beaches and water-based activities, the mountains present a challenge to hikers and climbers, and the rolling Savannah are a game-viewers paradise. The country sits astride the equator and offers fabulous scenery and a variety of tribal cultures. From its central location, the sacred peaks of Mt Kenya reign over a landscape primarily covered by grasslands and thorn trees, much of it enclosed within its many parks and reserves.
To the west the spectacular Great Rift Valley is sprinkled with lakes teeming with a variety of bird life, whose shores and surrounds are traversed by agricultural farmlands. To the east lies the promise of an idyllic beach holiday with the requisite white palm-fringed beaches and pristine coral reefs. Inhabiting the highlands and Rift Valley are two of the most well known of the numerous tribal cultures, the Kikuyu farmers and the tall, red-clad Masai cattle herders. The coast is home to ancient Swahili civilizations and old port towns that are rich in a history of exotic spice trading and fighting.
Kenya has a sophisticated tourism infrastructure, with two major cities controlling the majority of the tourism trade. Nairobi, the capital, is the safari and hiking hub, situated in the cool Central Highlands, while on the east coast the hot and humid trading port of Mombasa functions as the gateway to the resorts and pristine beaches of the area. Kenyan People are friendly and visitors can choose to do as little or as much as they like, and the combination of wildlife, together with its beaches and mountains, make Kenya a fantastic holiday destination.
Time: Local time is GMT +3. Electricity: 240 volts, 50Hz. UK-style square three-pin plugs are used.
Language: English is the official language but Swahili is the national language, with 42 ethnic languages spoken.
Travel Health: Travellers should get the latest medical advice on inoculations and malaria prevention at least three weeks prior to departure. A malaria risk exists all year round, but more around Mombasa and the lower coastal areas than in Nairobi and on the high central plateau. Immunisation against yellow fever, polio and typhoid are usually recommended. A yellow fever certificate is required by anyone arriving from an infected area. Other risks include diarrhoeal diseases. Protection against bites from sandflies, mosquitoes and tsetse flies is the best prevention against malaria and dengue fever, as well as other insect-borne diseases, including Rift Valley fever, sleeping sickness, leishmaniasis and Chikungunya fever. AIDS is a serious problem in Kenya and the necessary precautions should be taken. Water is of variable quality and visitors are advised to drink bottled water. Cholera outbreaks occur frequently, and travellers should take care not to drink contaminated water and be cautious of food prepared by unlicensed roadside vendors. There are good medical facilities in Nairobi and Mombasa but health insurance is essential.
Tipping: Tipping is not customary in Kenya, however a 10% service charge may be added to bill in more upmarket restaurants. Otherwise small change in local currency may be offered to taxi drivers, porters and waiters. On safari, however, drivers, guides and cooks often rely heavily on tips to get by, but these are discretionary.
Safety Information: Visitors should take sensible precautions when driving. There is a high threat from global terrorism in Kenya and visitors should be vigilant in public places and tourist sites. Local Customs: The taking of photographs of official buildings and embassies is not advised and could lead to detention. It is illegal to destroy Kenyan currency. The coastal towns are predominantly Muslim and religious customs and sensitivities should be respected, particularly during Ramadan; dress should be conservative away from the beaches and resorts, particularly for women. Homosexuality is against the law. Smoking in public places is illegal, other than in designated smoking areas, and violators will be fined or imprisoned.
Business: Business in Kenya tends to be conducted formally and conservatively, with the appropriate formal attire of a jacket and tie. Punctuality is important. Business cards are exchanged and handshakes are standard.English is the principal language of business. Business hours are usually from 9am to 1pm and 2pm to 5pm Monday to Friday.
Communications: The international access code for Kenya is +254. The outgoing code is 000 followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 00027 for South Africa), unless dialling Tanzania or Uganda when the outgoing codes are 007 or 006 respectively. City/area codes are in use, e.g. (0)41 for Mombasa and (0)20 for Nairobi. International Direct Dial is available throughout most of the country, but the service is expensive and inefficient. Hotels usually add a hefty surcharge to their telephone bills; it is less expensive to either call from one of the international phone services, which are available in larger towns or buy a pre-paid calling card for use in the public telephone booths. For international operator-assisted calls call 0196. All major urban areas are covered by the mobile network; the local mobile phone operators use GSM networks that have roaming agreements with most international mobile phone operators. Internet cafes are widely available in most towns and tourist areas.
Duty Free: Travellers to Kenya over 16 years do not have to pay duty on 227g tobacco or 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars; 1 bottle of alcohol; and 473ml perfume. Prohibited items include fruit, imitation firearms, and children's toys pistols. No plants may be brought into the country without a Plant Import Permit (PIP).
Health: Travellers should get the latest medical advice on inoculations and malaria prevention at least three weeks prior to departure. A malaria risk exists all year round, but more around Mombasa and the lower coastal areas than in Nairobi and on the high central plateau. Immunisation against yellow fever, polio and typhoid are usually recommended. A yellow fever certificate is required by anyone arriving from an infected area. Other risks include diarrhoeal diseases. Protection against bites from sandflies, mosquitoes and tsetse flies is the best prevention against malaria and dengue fever, as well as other insect-borne diseases, including Rift Valley fever, sleeping sickness, leishmaniasis and Chikungunya fever. AIDS is a serious problem in Kenya and the necessary
precautions should be taken. Water is of variable quality and visitors are advised to drink bottled water. Cholera outbreaks occur frequently, and travellers should
take care not to drink contaminated water and be cautious of food prepared by unlicensed roadside vendors. There are good medical facilities in Nairobi and
Mombasa but health insurance is essential. View information on diseases: Yellow fever, Typhoid fever, African Sleeping Sickness, Malaria, Leishmaniasis, HIV/AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Diseases, Dengue Fever, Cholera.
Contacts: Visa Agencies Travel Visa Pro, San Francisco, USA. or
Kenyan Tourist Board: or www.magicalkenya.com Kenya Embassies Kenyan Embassy, Washington DC, United States: .
Kenyan High Commission, London, United Kingdom (also responsible for Ireland): .
Kenyan High Commission, Ottawa, Canada: .
Kenyan High Commission, Canberra, Australia (also responsible for New Zealand): .
Kenyan High Commission, Pretoria, South Africa: /50/51.
Foreign Embassies in Kenya United States Embassy, Nairobi: .
British High Commission, Nairobi: .
Canadian High Commission, Nairobi: .
Australian High Commission, Nairobi: /9.
Honorary Consul of Ireland, Nairobi: .
New Zealand Consulate, Nairobi: .
Kenya Emergency Numbers Emergencies: 999.
MAJOR AIRPORTS KENYA: Moi International Airport (MBA) Location: The airport is situated six miles (10km) north west of Mombasa. Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NBO) Location: The airport is situated 10 miles (16km) south east of Nairobi.
Climate: The climate of Kenya ranges from tropical on the coast, where the weather is hot and humid, to temperate inland, cool and wet in the highlands, and dry in the northern areas. The capital, Nairobi, experiences cool winters and mild, pleasant summer temperatures.
Money: The unit of currency is the Kenyan Shilling (KES), divided into 100 cents. It is not advisable to take Kenyan Shillings out of the country, as they are difficult to exchange elsewhere. Travellers cheques in Sterling or US Dollars are recommended for your trip to Kenya. US Dollars in particular have become commonly used in many of the country's main hotels and safari lodges. Foreign currency can be changed at banks, bureaux de change and hotels; easiest to exchange are US dollars, pounds sterling or Euros. Street exchange merchants should be avoided as they are operating illegally. Banks open Monday to Friday from 9am to 3pm and on the first and last Saturday of the month.Banks and bureaux de change at the international airport stay open 24 hours. Credit Cards (American Express, Visa and MasterCard) are accepted in the larger hotels and stores, and some camps and lodges. ATMs are widely available in Nairobi and the major towns.
Passport & Visa: Visa Agencies: Avoid the stress and queues, get a visa agency to arrange your visa. Entry requirements for Americans: United States citizens require a valid passport and a visa. Three-month visas are available on arrival.
Entry requirements for UK nationals: British citizens require a valid passport and a visa. Visas for no longer than three-months are available on arrival.
Entry requirements for Canadians: Canadians require a valid passport and a visa. Three month visas are available on arrival. Entry requirements for Australians: Australians require a valid passport and a visa. Visas for no longer than three months are available on arrival.
Entry requirements for South Africans: South Africans must have a valid passport. No visa is required for a stay of up to 30 days. Entry requirements for New Zealanders: New Zealand citizens require a valid passport and a visa. New Zealand nationals can obtain a visa on arrival for no longer than three months. Entry requirements for Irish nationals: Irish nationals require a valid passport and a visa. Visas on arrival are issued to Irish citizens for a no longer than three months.
Passport/Visa Note: Visas can be obtained by most nationalities on arrival. Visas cost $50, are valid for a period of three months and must be paid in a convertible currency. This may result in passenger delays and it is preferable to arrange a visa in the country of origin. A transit visa costs $10. Required by all passengers are onward or return tickets, documents needed for next destination and sufficient funds for length of intended stay (at least US$500). Passports must be valid for at least six months upon arrival. It is highly recommended that passports have at least six months validity remaining after your intended date of departure from your travel destination. Immigration officials often apply different rules to those stated by travel agents and official sources.
A visa is required to enter both Tanzania and Kenya. You can obtain a visa at the airport, upon arrival, or in advance from the Kenyan or Tanzanian embassy. Visit www.kenyaembassy.com or
http://tanzania.travisa.com/ for details.
Visa Services:Embassy of Kenya:
Note: Passport and visa requirements are liable to change at short notice. Travellers are advised to check their entry requirements with their embassy or consulate.
Flights to Kenya
Flights to Kenya from the UK: There are direct flights to Kenya from the UK, arriving at Moi International Airport (10km north-west of Mombasa) and Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (16km south-east of Nairobi). The flight duration from London to Kenya is approximately 8hrs 30mins. Which airlines fly to Kenya? Direct cheap flights to Nairobi in Kenya
are offered by British Airways from
Heathrow, Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow, while Kenya Airways and Virgin Atlantic also depart from Heathrow. Low-cost direct flights to Mombasa depart from Heathrow on Kenya Airways and Condor, while Thomson Airways and Thomas Cook
leave from Gatwick and Manchester. Cheap direct flights are also available on Monarch and Avro from Gatwick. Flights to Kenya from the USA: There are connecting flights from the USA to Kenya arriving at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, 10 miles (16km) south-east of Nairobi. Which airlines fly to Kenya from the USA? There are connecting cheap flights to Kenya from Washington, New York, Boston, Houston and Chicago on KLM and British Airways, and from Boston, Seattle, Chicago, Atlanta and Los Angeles on Brussels Airlines. Indirect flights to Kenya are available on Qatar Airways from Washington, Seattle, Houston, Chicago and Los Angeles, and on Northwest Airlines from Washington, Boston, Seattle and Atlanta. Connecting flights to Kenya depart from New York, Houston and Los Angeles on Emirates, from Atlanta on Delta, and from New York on Alitalia.
GAME PARKS AND NATIONAL RESERVES: Tips, Do's and Dont's
• Respect the privacy of the wildlife,
this is their habitat.
• Beware of the animals, they are wild
and can be unpredictable.
• Don't crowd the animals or make
sudden noises or movements.
• Don't feed the animals, it upsets their
diet and leads to human dependence.
• Keep quiet, noise disturbs the wildlife
and may antagonize your fellow
• Stay in your vehicle at all times,
except at designated picnic or
• Keep below the maximum speed limit
(40 kph/25 mph).
• Never drive off-road, this severely
damages the habitat.
• When viewing wildlife keep to a
minimum distance of 20 meters and
pull to the side of the road so as to
allow others to pass.
• Leave no litter and never leave fires
unattended or discard burning
• Respect the cultural heritage of
• Never take pictures of the local
people or their habitat without asking
their permission, respect the cultural
traditions of Kenya and always dress
• Stay over or leave before dusk,
visitors must vacate the Park
between 6.00 p.m. - 6.00 a.m
unless they are camping overnight.
• Night game driving is available
through special arrangements.
You need to take into consideration the design or fashion of your safari clothing, be it the style, the colour, lightness or thickness of tour clothes, hat, shirt, jeans, vest and shoes depending on the type of safari you’re taking. Khaki clothing is usually the most preferred African safari outfit.
The following is a list of what is recommended for an African safari;
• One Pair of smart / casual trousers/
4 shirts / T-shirts
• 1 light cotton dress for the ladies.
• 2 fleece / jersey for the cool evenings
• 1 wind-breaker / water proof jacket
• 1 warm jacket
• 1 pair of walking / running shoes
• 1 pair of sandals / reef shoes (useful
• Underwear and socks
• More formal attire for your stay at
prestigious city hotels.
• 1 swimming costume
• 1 sun hat, 1 towel, toothbrush /
• Comb / hair brush razor & blades
(preferable battery operated shaver)
• Suntan lotion / sunblock
• Hand cream & moisturising cream
• Insect repellent, bug spray,Insect
repellent e.g. Tabard, Rid, Jungle
• Tissues or disposable moist tissues
• Plastic bags (to pack wet / dirty
• Sunglasses / Spectacles
• shampoo & hair conditioner
• Plasters / band aids
• Aspirins / paracetamol
• Anti-diarrhoea pills (consult your
pharmacist for advice)
• Throat lozenges
• Antiseptic cream
• Anti-malaria pills
• Self testing malaria kit
• Fungal infection powder
• Rehydration powder
• Personal medication
• Eye drops, Sunscreen, Moisturiser
• 3 pairs of shorts
• Good walking shoes or boots
• Camera equipment and plenty of film
• If you wear contact lenses, we
recommend that you bring along a
pair of glasses in case you get
irritation from the dust
• Binoculars - Newman's bird book if
you are a keen birder.
• Personal toiletries (basic amenities
supplied by most establishments)
• Basic medical kit (aspirins, plasters,
Immodium, antiseptic & anti-
histamine cream etc)
• Tissues/"Wet Ones"
• Visas, tickets, passports, money etc
• Waterproof/dustproof bags/cover for
• Please note that bright colours and
white are NOT advised whilst on
• Passengers should bring only soft sided
bags on safaris.
Baggage on Safari
Baggage allowance for domestic flights is 15kgs per person including hand luggage. Soft-sided luggage or duffels are preferable to hard luggage for storage on safari vehicles and aircrafts used within East Africa. Large suitcases of dimensions greater than 24"x 17"x 7" are impossible to store in vehicles and on aircraft and should not be used. (Baggage and personal effects are at owner's risk throughout the tour and baggage insurance for members is strongly advised).