Located in the magnificent Great Rift Valley and presided over by the majestic Mount Kilimanjaro, Kenya is characterised by beautiful landscapes of forested hills, farms, wooded savanna and vast forests brimming with an abundance of wildlife.
Kenya’s diverse range of traditional African cultures is influenced by more than 70 unique ethnic groups from the Maasai, Samburu, Kikuyu, and Turkana tribes to the Arabs and Indians who settled on the coast.
Due to its location on the equator, Kenya has a pleasant tropical climate. However, several factors including altitude, can influence large regional climatic variations.
Temperatures drop by about 6°C for every 1 000m you climb (or 3.5°F per 3,280 feet). Daytime temperatures average between 20°C/68°F and 28°C/82°F. The coastal areas experience warmer temperatures and high humidity.
Kenya is too close to the equator to experience a real winter and summer. The wet season is from November to May, while the dry season is from June to December.
Banking hours in Kenya are Monday to Friday from 09:00 to 16:00, and Saturday from 09:00 to 12:00. Banks in Mombasa and the coastal areas typically open and close half an hour earlier.
Credits Cards are widely accepted in all major hotels and more upmarket establishments – the most recognised cards are MasterCard and Visa. American Express and Diners Club cards are occasionally accepted.
It’s a good idea to carry some cash because smaller shops don’t accept cards. Almost every bank has an ATM now, and they are increasingly being installed at petrol stations in cities and large towns.
Traveller’s cheques are no longer accepted in Kenya.
Nairobi has two airports for domestic and regional flights – Jomo Kenyatta International Airport and Wilson Airport (www.kaa.go.ke). Kenya has more than 150 domestic airports and airstrips, with daily flights to the most popular destinations. Several private charter companies operate out of Wilson Airport.
Kenya Airways (www.kenya-airways.com), Air Kenya (www.airkenya.com), Fly 540 (www.fly540.com), Mombasa Air Safari (www.mombasaairsafari.com) and Safarilink (www.flysafarilink.com) serve the most popular safari destinations, plus many others such as Lake Victoria.
Main roads between the major cities and towns are generally in good condition, and easy to navigate in a car. In the South most roads are paved, but that’s not the case in the North.
While major roads are generally in a good condition, most minor gravel roads have deep potholes which deteriorate further in the rainy season. Dirt roads, including those in the parks and reserves, are extremely rough, and some are only passable with a 4-wheel drive.
You can hire self-drive and chauffeur-driven cars from travel agents and international hire companies. Drivers must be at least 23 years of age. Budget (www.budget.com) and Europcar (www.europcar.com) have outlets at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi. Budget also has a desk at Moi International Airport in Mombasa, while Europcar has an office in town. Car hire can be expensive and rates vary significantly.
You’ll need a driver’s licence from your home country (and a translation if this is not in English) or an International Driving Permit. Third-party insurance is mandatory when you hire a car – it’s advisable to take out the additional collision damage waiver. Vehicles drive on the left-hand side of the road.
Electric power is 220V to 240V running at 50Hz. The plug type used in Kenya is the 3 large flat prong (UK).
Good to know
It’s advisable to drink bottled water during your stay. Don’t drink tap water unless you know it has been boiled, filtered or chemically disinfected.